Finished/mastered mixes very quiet?

Discussion in '2488 and DP-24/32 Digital Portastudios' started by J_bus, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. J_bus

    J_bus New Member

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    Hey y'all.

    Loving the interface/feel of the dp-24sd

    however, I have now tried mixing and mastering my song 4 different times and while they sound okay when turned up, they are super quiet compared to anything else in my library.

    has anyone found a solution to this? I am mixing down/mastering as loudly as possible without clipping but still when I export to my computer, the files are very quiet compared to any other music files I have.
  2. kenk

    kenk New Member

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    See what the wave looks like on your computer (Audacity, etc...). Does it seem to look a bit like a porcupine (lots of peaks)? If so, you may need to do some peak limiting, then raise the overall level. Doing this "mastering" well is another whole art besides recording and mixing. Lots of good articles available on the web.
  3. J_bus

    J_bus New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. So just to clarify this is something I need to do separately on a computer? Or does the 24SD have peak limiting as well? I bought the 24SD to avoid using computers as much as possible, but I guess I'll have to do more research into mastering after I take stuff off the recorder. I still find it weird that the tracks are so quiet regardless of whether or not peak limiting is the issue, but I probably just have more to learn. Will look more into the waveform etc. thanks!
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  4. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    One can normalize a song in a DP-24/32SD after doing the mixdown/mastering process. While not as loud as a track which has given modern mastering treatment, I find that normalized tracks (normalize: Make a track loud enough that it’s highest peak is at 100% level) are comparable in volume to other songs I have in my collection.
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  5. kenk

    kenk New Member

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    You can definitely do this WITHOUT a computer. This is part of what makes the DP-24 a great tool!

    Although I'm using a 2488 MKII myself (no in-the-box mastering capabilities), I took a look at the DP 24 manual. If you go to page 71, there is a good intro to MASTERING MODE that will get you started with some techniques to use for treating a "finished" stereo mix.

    Try some of the tools in the mastering section and see how they can affect your mix. This kind of processing is certainly like adding salt to your dinner; just enough will enhance and too much will destroy it!

    I'd recommend using a full band limiter (not multiband for now) with a high ratio, short attack and release, and no more than 2 - 3 dB only on the peaks...just a little spice. Then Normalize the mix as Sam recommended. You might be pleasantly surprised at how your mix jumps out of your speakers!

    Take some time to experiment and definitely let us know how it's going. :)
  6. J_bus

    J_bus New Member

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    little update here/more questions

    I remixed the song I am working on, adding some light compression, and then normalized. I then moved it to my computer and listened on my stereo. Still sounded quiet, and flat. I then went back to the DP-24 and did a bit more compression, and eq'd it a bit to make the highs pop out a bit more. It sounded better in the headphones, so I moved it off the DP-24 to my computer, and it still sounded quiet and flat. I opened up each mix in audacity, and noticed that the waveforms looked identical. Am I missing a step in mixdown where I actually save/apply compression and normalization? I am starting to think all the mixes I have moved to my computer to listen to are just the basic mix without compression/normalization/limiting etc.

    Here is my process:

    Mix the song, make sure levels are good without peaking

    Mark my in and out points

    press mixdown(the little spinning disc icon pops up)

    mixdown is now flashing or highlighted(I forget which)

    I press record and do my mix

    when it is finished I press stop

    then I press mixdown again which brings up EQ, Comp, and normalization options

    I do my compression settings and press ON so that they are applied and I can hear the diff. I do the same with eq

    I press normalization and it shows a small waveform, then an arrow and then a larger waveform

    I select YES and it shows the loading bar while normalization is applied

    once I have it sounding the way I want, I hit mixdown again and it returns to the normal song screen

    Doing this with a variety of settings on various mixes gave me 3 mixes with waveforms that appeared to be identical and it did not sound like any mastering settings were applied

    I'm hoping I am just missing a simple step that applies the settings because otherwise I am lost.

    when I move the song off my SD card, I am supposed to select the wav file with the song title that DOES NOT have the "z" at the end correct? I was told the "z" file is my backup?

    any help is appreciated and thanks again for the past replies!
  7. kenk

    kenk New Member

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    Hi! You've been working hard and I admire your patience with this. We're going to get this, I promise!

    I'm not a DP-24 owner (at least not yet), so I'm not experienced with the particulars of the settings/functions of the mastering mode of this unit. I've downloaded a copy of the manual and here's my best guess so far:

    I think that some of the quickest and smallest peaks are sneaking past your compressor settings, leaving your DP-24 with very little extra room to make your song louder during Normalization.

    For a visual, go to this link for an instant (http://www.auldworks.com/articles/webdyn1.htm). There are two diagrams shown in this article.

    Figure 1 - To little compression
    Figure 2 - To much compression

    Looking at Figure 1, you'll see that there are a couple of peaks that are higher than the rest of the entire song. If just a few of these could be QUICKLY reduced to the level of the rest of the song, Normalization would be able to raise the overall level much more. (P.S. Too much compression/limiting will ruin the sound of your music as possibly shown in Figure 2).

    For a beginning setting on your DP-24 mastering compressor, try the following (this is, of course, very subjective):

    Single Band compression
    Ratio - Max
    Attack - minimum
    Release - 30 ms
    Knee - middle-ish

    Threshold - set so that you get gain reduction (GR on the compressors meter) of no more than 3 or 4 dB. You actually won't see it doing a whole lot, just clipping off a few pesky peaks. This type of setting is considered a "brick wall" limiter and won't really affect the sound of your mix a whole lot, just make room for it to be louder.

    I'd suggest EQ'ing your mix before Limiting in this fashion,then normalize.

    If there is some confusion with the DP-24, you can also do this same type of process with Audacity. If you find yourself at your wits end, I'd be happy to "master" your tracks for you and send them back, if you'd like.

    Let me know what you find.
  8. J_bus

    J_bus New Member

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    Thanks for the fast response!

    This advice seems like it will improve upon my previous mastering attempts, and I will try it out tonight. My problem is that earlier today I tried out a few combinations of mastering settings, and when I compared the 3 different versions in audacity, their waveforms were all the same, which makes me thing even though I am adding settings that I like in the mixdown/master mode, they arent being applied to the file that I am taking off of my DP-24.

    I most likely just need re-read this section of the manual. Stoked to mess around with your mastering advice!
  9. J_bus

    J_bus New Member

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    I just checked out the manual more in depth and I was missing a crucial final step.

    After applying my mastering settings, I need to press record AGAIN in master mode which then applies the effects.

    I was so disappointed to listen to a mix I had just done only for it to sound exactly the same as my previous mixes. I feel like a jackass but I am also very excited to really hear how the compressors and normalization actually effect my mix.

    Thanks again for the help!
  10. Darran Buckley

    Darran Buckley New Member

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    To be honest........you won't be the first and certainly not the last :)
    I'm the type of person who dives straight in without looking at the manual and then wonders why things don't go the way I want them to. I then spend hours on the net looking for answers when a few minutes with the manual would have solved it :)
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  11. kenk

    kenk New Member

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    Glad to hear it was such a minor issue. Any one of us claiming to have never been in those shoes is lying! :geek:
    Experiment with mastering all you can. To me, it's just as enjoyable as the recording & mixing phases of a project.

    Cheers,

    Ken
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  12. TS-1

    TS-1 New Member

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    Hi !
    I had the same problem with my DP-32SD and yes, you have to rec at each step.

    1-Press mixdown/mastering and press rec to make you "mixdown file"
    2-Press mixdown/mastering again to get the "Mastering menu".
    3-Apply your EQ
    4-Press Rec
    5-Once it's recorded, turn the EQ off
    6-Apply your compression
    7-Press Rec
    8-Once it's recorded, turn off the comprssor
    9-Apply the normalisation
    10-Once it's done, press rec
    11-At the end of the recording, it's ok, your song is EQed, Compressed, Normalized and finished.

    In your SD Card, forget the file with the "z", this file is for your Tascam, not for you.
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  13. Phil Tipping

    Phil Tipping Well-Known Member

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    Just a few clarifications on the process...
    In MixDown mode, the IN and OUT points define the section to be processed when you press Record. When the OUT point is reached, the mixdown will stop automatically. You do not have to press Stop - if you do, you'll get a shorter mixdown file. The mixdown file can only be played back in Mastering mode.

    In Mastering mode...
    Every time you press Record, the whole current mix/master file is fed through the EQ (if it's on) and the Compressor (if it's on), and the file is overwritten - this happens in real-time. In & Out points are no longer relevant.
    Every time you press Play, the same thing happens except the file is not overwritten. Because the file always passes through any FX which are on, you must turn them off when previewing a previous mastering pass.
    Normalising is different in that it processes and overwrites the file as an offline process, i.e. you do not press Record, so the process is a lot faster. It must be the final step to avoid distortion.

    This all means the EQ & Compression in steps 3-4 & 6-7 could be merged into one operation if you like, and that step 10 is not necessary. If you've left any FX on, pressing Record in step 10 will re-apply them, which may not be what you want.
  14. TS-1

    TS-1 New Member

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    Thank you for the clarifications ;)
  15. JImM

    JImM New Member

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    My 2 cents whining.

    I find it a real shortcoming that mastering overwrites the mixdown file. The mixdown is part and parcel of the overall song I think, so it should be preserved. You should be able to do several masters with varying eq and compression settings, go away for a bit, come back with fresh ears, and decide on which is best. Or go back and redo the mastering if none are best. This is not possible unless you have saved the mixdown file to your computer and then reload it.

    There is the undo function granted, but I believe it is only single undo,so if you eq, then compress, then normalize, you have lost the original mixdown file. Correct me if I'm wrong on that.

    With this setup, you could never buy a "Remastered Dark Side of the Moon', for example, because there would be nothing to remaster:}
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  16. TS-1

    TS-1 New Member

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    You could buy a "Remastered Dark Side of the Moon" because they keeped the tapes used to create the master.

    Here we have them too.

    "The tracks"
  17. Phil Tipping

    Phil Tipping Well-Known Member

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    You're right JimM, the single mix/master file is overwritten each time, and only one backup is kept for undo... but there is way of keeping the mixdown file which doesn't need a computer - use bouncing instead of mixdown (am just about to cover this in the tutorial). The 'mix' will occupy one track so you'll need a spare one, but you could keep up to 8 mixes by using its virtual tracks. When you're ready to master, just run that bounced track through the mixdown process and go on to mastering. I don't know a way of keeping multiple mastered files without a computer though... unless you maybe copy the song first?
    Update... just had a thought. What if you rename the song after mastering - does the machine also rename the mastered file? If not, then it will be preserved... needs an experiment methinks :)
    Update-2... renaming song does not rename the mix/master file... but if you try and re-master, it overwrites the old master file - damn! It works if you re-mix with a renamed song - it creates a new mixdown file with the correct name, but this doesn't help.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
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  18. JImM

    JImM New Member

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    you Phil, are brilliant!
  19. EeMm

    EeMm New Member

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    I mix and mastering everything prior to running the finished song into and through mixdown mode and mastering mode, so my question is this: Is it still necessary to go through the entire mixdown and mastering process in order to complete a project? I understand that it is necessary to complete the mixdown mode process, however, is it necessary to go into mastering mode and not have to press the record button again if I'm not going to use any of the mastering mode settings? I do know that after recording in mixdown mode and entering into mastering mode, it doesn't save the file as usual, with the spinning disk thingy, thus I'm assuming it is necessary to either press record in mastering mode and then press the mixdown/mastering mode button again to complete the process and reenter into regular track mode, or just soley hit the mixdown/mastering mode button without hitting the record button when in the mastering mode. The reason why I'm asking these questions is because I get pristine mixes and even mastered tracks prior to mixdown mode, and I'm concerned that taking them through any further processing may interfere with their quality, such as any potential hissing or noise or level changes, etc..
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  20. EeMm

    EeMm New Member

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    That pretty much requires me to ask, does hitting the record button in mastering mode effect/change the quality of the finished song recording if no mastering mode settings are used, or does it just merely run it through yet another recording pass without adding or subtracting anything to it?
    DASCAMAN likes this.

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