Headroom and width?
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Old 30-06-2015, 12:10 PM   #1
Civy
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Headroom and width?

Hello

quick question guys.

1.when mixing How much headroom should I leave for mastering ?
I want it to be as loud as a track made by e.g headhunterz or lets say skrillex.

or would you say dont leave any headroom at all just get it loud during the mixing stage
and at the end just put an limiter to keep it from clipping?

2.and how can I get my tracks to be big and wide e.g when I listen to almost any edm track
most of the really sound so big and wide.I know adjust stereo will help and panning
but should I do that on every individual track or just on the master?

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Old 30-06-2015, 12:24 PM   #2
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

one dont try and sound like skrillex thats the first thing.
and two buses are roy friend look up seamless on youtube.
3 i always try to leave around -3db of headroom that way you get scope for your master but its subjective top each track really.
Also stereo enhancers are and panning do help but you dont need them really on every track i dont i have them on my busses (drum bust i keep relatively mono put i do like to add a bit of slight panning to my hats to add with to my drums, so even though ive equed them they dont stereo wise clash with kick drum and snare bass but i do add a stereo enhancer as its a great way to keep your basses mono but they don't clash with the sub bass )
Thirdly again headhunters really there just on the cusp of being as bad as skrillex.)
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Old 30-06-2015, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

thanks,appreciate your quick response!!

don't quit understand the two busses part,can you explain?
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Old 30-06-2015, 02:12 PM   #4
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

1. That depends on the mastering engineer. Some ask for -3dB others, like myself, ask for -6dB
2. You get it sound as perceivable loud as those guys by asking your me to squash the fuck out of your track and killing dynamics. That also requires as ever, a great mixdown to sound even slightly acceptable. However, the real truth is it will sound better to not squash the fuck out of your tracks, preserve dynamics and just turn up the gain on the playback
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Old 30-06-2015, 03:19 PM   #5
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civy View Post
thanks,appreciate your quick response!!

don't quit understand the two busses part,can you explain?
thye reason dubstep drum and bass infact pretty much all dance music these days os down to mainly just eq on channel and then haveing buss channels where you send other channels to that one channel.
and they use either a limiter or multi banded compressor on that channel to get things loud as a hole
so i have useally 4 channels i use for buses. One for all my drum parts im using one for pads one for synths and one for my basses (wub wubs reeces etc so mid range basses) youll be suprised at how little is needed really in dubstep and drum and bass processing wise.
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Old 30-06-2015, 08:28 PM   #6
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

I usually like to have at least -6db of headroom. i let my drums be the loudest on my track and i go from there. pan your tracks and eq unwanted frequencies. I use ableton and it comes with a tool called utility and you can use it to widen a track.
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Old 30-06-2015, 11:58 PM   #7
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

Don't worry about loudness. People try and make things loud because our ears trick us in to thinking that louder is better, but iTunes and YouTube have already implemented software that calculates the average volume of music and reduces it to a perceived -15dB no matter how hard you crushed it in to a limiter.

Since iTunes and YouTube are the biggest distributors of music worldwide, it won't be long before everything is this way, and all your tracks that used to be loud and epic will just be squashed and lifeless next to more dynamic music at equal loudness.

As far as how much headroom you should leave for mastering, you should have your loudest peak be at least -6dB, as anything below -6dB won't make full use of a 24 bit file. Some people have it around -3dB which is fine too. But you shouldn't rely on a limiter to keep your mix from clipping; you should get your volume levels where they need to be in the mix, and then let the master bring them all up together.

As far as wideness goes, there are lots of techniques for creating it. Record the same part twice and pan one left and one right, the slight variations makes it sound wide in your ears. Or take a single part and apply a delay plugin with the left channel at 1 millisecond and the right channel at 5 milliseconds, the same thing will happen. Or use one of bajillion stereo width plugins out there.
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:30 AM   #8
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Re: Headroom?? and widness?

Your mastering engineer should be able to help with both, more or less. However, you might want to tell him you don't want any dynamics, if you'd like it to sound like a Skrillex song.

If you like zero dynamics though, that's ok. Just make noise.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:23 AM   #9
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Re: Headroom and width?

1) Get your mix to sound good/even/balanced. Leave about 6dB of headroom. Then it's up to you and the ME to decide how much loudness the track needs.

2) It's about overall mixing and sound design - layering, sound selection, spatial effects, panning, Haas effect, M/S EQ, etc.

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Old 10-07-2015, 07:54 PM   #10
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Re: Headroom and width?

I'd recommend you just take one of your songs, do a mix with a limiter on the master track, then save a new version remix it without a limiter, compare.

Also maximizers and/or exciters can be used to help create the psychoacoustic perception of loudness.

And as others have said, your music doesn't need to be very loud. It just needs to be loud enough that the listener can turn it up to a volume they want to listen to it at.

Also I second -6dB as the right amount of headroom.
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Old 16-07-2015, 09:14 AM   #11
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Re: Headroom and width?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civy View Post
1.when mixing How much headroom should I leave for mastering ?
I want it to be as loud as a track made by e.g headhunterz or lets say skrillex.
The absolute maximum peak amplitude is -6.0 dB with no limiting/compression on the master chain. To simplify, 1bit ~ 6dB, so anything that exceeds -6dB essentially leaves no headroom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civy View Post
or would you say dont leave any headroom at all just get it loud during the mixing stage
and at the end just put an limiter to keep it from clipping?
No, I would say do the exact opposite of this. Instead of focusing on getting it loud during the mixing stage, instead focus on getting in mixed. That is what the mixing stage is all about. You can always turn things up later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civy View Post
2.and how can I get my tracks to be big and wide e.g when I listen to almost any edm track
most of the really sound so big and wide.I know adjust stereo will help and panning
but should I do that on every individual track or just on the master?
Stereo panning is one production technique for giving a mix width. Beyond this, there are more complex techniques like Mid/Side processing which you could apply to a mix, group or track. However, this kind of technique involves some complicated processes which if done incorrectly can create all kinds of issues in a mix that are difficult to deal with later.

Honestly, I wouldn't compare yourself to someone like Skrillex because when you hear a release, you hear his arraignment and production followed by some professionals who come in and clean everything up and polishing things off.
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Old 16-07-2015, 03:11 PM   #12
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Re: Headroom and width?

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Originally Posted by Jaded View Post
The absolute maximum peak amplitude is -6.0 dB with no limiting/compression on the master chain. To simplify, 1bit ~ 6dB, so anything that exceeds -6dB essentially leaves no headroom.
Hmm, really? I thought it was actually the opposite, that you want to exceed -6dB by just a touch so you're making full use of a 24 bit file. What's the advantage to keeping it under -6 and having an unused bit as headroom as opposed to just a few dBs as headroom?
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Old 23-07-2015, 08:25 AM   #13
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Re: Headroom and width?

If you're serious about making electronic music, especially among the genres of dubstep, don't listen to anyone who tells you not to try to make your track as loud as the pros. You need to read. These forums have a threshold of knowledge that just doesn't compare to a book dedicated to mixing and mastering and if you're truly, in your heart of hearts, serious about making music not for money but for the listeners, then you must, MUST get some books on this subject and READ. Take notes. Write down stuff that you don't understand and search somewhere else. Write down stuff you didn't know or want to refer to later on. This is the best advice I can give you. As for widening, I would probably go with a book that deals with understanding the mono/stereo fields. These books won't point out the answer to your questions (e.g; Turn this knob here for max loudz), but with a sound understanding of the mechanics of audio, you can and will achieve this. Loud music sounds bad? Look up Sound Remedy on soundcloud and press the play button on any of his tracks. The man is legendary. He spent years learning the ins and outs of audio processing and his tracks reflect his knowledge and passion. If you're passionate, you'll read.

As for where to find the books.. I got them for a modest turn. My FELCHING friend gave them to me.

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Old 23-07-2015, 01:57 PM   #14
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Re: Headroom and width?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caerulux View Post
don't listen to anyone who tells you not to try to make your track as loud as the pros.
Loudness will be completely irrelevant in 5 years. It's still relevant now, but major distributors have already taken steps to ensure that all music played through them is the same loudness no matter how much you crank the limiter. Once that becomes an industry standard, your song will only sound more compressed, not louder, and you'll probably end up wishing you had opted for dynamics instead of loudness. I've talked to multiple mixing and mastering engineers with decades of experience and they all agree that this is the case.

That said, loudness is still relevant right this second, so you should make your tracks fit in their current genre. Just be aware that the loudness war is almost dead, and tube-o-toothpaste waveforms should die with it.
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Old 23-07-2015, 08:22 PM   #15
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Re: Headroom and width?

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Originally Posted by Andantonius View Post
Hmm, really? I thought it was actually the opposite, that you want to exceed -6dB by just a touch so you're making full use of a 24 bit file. What's the advantage to keeping it under -6 and having an unused bit as headroom as opposed to just a few dBs as headroom?
I remember reading a book by Michael Stavrou saying that you want to record digitally as loud as possible so you can capture the full dynamic range of an instrument. Also I remember a rule of thumb saying that if you go -3db, that's essentially halving the power. Which would correspond to -3 = -1 bit of resolution...
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Old 23-07-2015, 11:05 PM   #16
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Re: Headroom and width?

2) When you create your synthesizer sounds, do it in stereo and don't make them all the same. Also adjust the width/spread parameter of the synths built-in effects if you use those. And don't be afraid to use autopanners or pan automation.

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Old 26-07-2015, 06:10 AM   #17
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Re: Headroom and width?

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Originally Posted by Andantonius View Post
Hmm, really? I thought it was actually the opposite, that you want to exceed -6dB by just a touch so you're making full use of a 24 bit file.
Well if your RMS is -6dB and your peak amplitude is 0dB, then you're not really making full use of the whole dynamic range of a 24-bit file, because the majority of your dynamics exist in a range of 6dB, which is represented by the last bit only. For simplicity's sake, consider 16 samples of 8-bit audio, it would look something like this:
01:1111 1111
02:1111 1110
03:1111 1111
04:1111 1111
05:1111 1110
06:1111 1101
07:1111 1110
08:1111 1111
09:1111 1101
10:1111 1110
11:1111 1111
12:1111 1110
13:1111 1111
14:1111 1111
15:1111 1110
16:1111 1101
Considering this, it's not really making much use of the file. In reality, there'd be a few more zeros than that. But if I made the example any more complicated than that my brain would explode.

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Originally Posted by Andantonius View Post
What's the advantage to keeping it under -6 and having an unused bit as headroom as opposed to just a few dBs as headroom?
It's not so much the advantage of any other operating level so much as it's the disadvantages of 0dB FS. For starters, if your audio peaks above -0.2dB FS it breaks the Red Book protocol for CD Digital Audio. If you've ever burned a 78 minute CD in or got a warning about possible clipping in an application like Nero, you would find that the CD you've burned would not play on a lot of older CD players. This isn't so vitally important today because we've mostly moved on from the CD. But I still think it's important to ensure backwards compatibility in your work. I mean think about DJs whose laptops or USBs fails. They have to have something on CD. That CD has to function on any CD player to ensure that it's a viable contingency.

So that's the disadvantage of going about -6dB FS.

The advantage of working at any level below that is that you're printing a more accurate render of your recording. For example, if you recorded every single piece of audio at a level nearing 0dB, you run the risk of digital clipping or brick wall compression or some other nasty process. More than that, after you record three or four tracks, you have to turn everything down and you get distracted by the balancing act that this entails. What this means is that instead of focusing on producing a good mix, you're wasting your time refactoring everything to fit in a very large box. This is silly because if you were tracking everything at around -12,-24, -36 dB you have more than enough room to fit the exact same things into the exact same box.

First thing I do in any project is turn every track fader down to -24dB. What this does is allow me to work on whatever I want without having to make decisions about gain structure. This is great because if you're at a very early stage in a production, you don't want to think about gain structure. Any decisions about gain structure you make at that point are redundant as the track structure evolves.

I don't know if any of this has answered your question. I'm a bit rusty on the old digital audio theory...

Last edited by Jaded; 26-07-2015 at 08:47 AM..

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