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Blackened

Recording question. Output volume...

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Hey guys Being I know we have a few guys that are knowledgeable about recording and getting decent production quality I figured this is as good a place to ask as any.

 

When I record on my PC using Acid Pro I notice that it doesn't have the BIG sound I am looking for. Now what I mean by that is OUTPUT.

 

For example, If I record my music, transfer it to a CD then play it in a CD player it sounds good, but when I put in a different CD that was recorded professionally it is so much louder than what mine did.

 

I have the output meter as high as I can go without distorting the tracks already, so is there something else I can do to get more volume out of it? Is there some kind of finalizing software I should be using or.... What am I missing?

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Hi Blackened -- I just upgraded to ACID Pro 7 and the learning curve is a bit steep. Do you have Sound Forge? I've fixed the same problem by using the Volume tool under SF's Process tab. Upping the volume just a few dBs is all you need.

 

BTW if you haven't heard, there is a "Loudness War" going on. Over the last 15 or so years CDs have gotten louder, but the sound quality has become poorer because of overly compressed audio tracks. Check out:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

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First of all, in most programs the output is separate from the recording, or track itself. So if you have a weakly recorded track, expect the output to suffer. Likewise a track that was recorded too hot and clips can be turned down at output but the distortion from clipping will not go away. Given your comment that your output is maxed, I can only assume that your track was recorded too low. Looking at the wave in your editor after you record, you want the wave to fill up as much of the track as possible at the loudest transients without actually touching (which should show up as clipping anyway during recording.) If I get a good tone/take/etc that I like but it is slightly weak, I will often run a compressor on it to boost the waveform as well as enhance the presence. Of course that requires trial and error to find and match a compressor you like to whatever kind of track you are working on but hey, what part of this doesn't? Save your presets!! I'm amazed at how often I will dial up a preset for a particular bass/etc only to find myself using it repeatedly on all kinds of instruments while only adjusting the output gain.

 

Once you have the process working well, I would suggest that you rip some of the tracks/artists whose music you want to sound like then watch them in a a nice, wide multiband frequency analyzer. Highly compressed songs will be flatter across the top. Flat with very little room left to get bigger (louder) means it is one of these "new" style of over-compression. The less compression, the more dynamic the volume will be and therefore you will see more wavey dips and curves along with more time spent between all the way up and all the way down. I'd say learn to match the styles that you are hearing in your head to what you are doing with your editing. That starts with individual track treatments long before the final mix. You can still use compression to liven tracks without squashing everything. I'd venture to guess that one reason that there is a war going on is because of the vast flood of diyourselfers who either don't know how, can't, or don't care how to make a radio-ready final mix. But you have the right idea, I listen to my final mixes everywhere.

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