Why are My Mixes so Quiet in My Car?

If you’re just starting out with recording, this is a question that you ask a lot. You’re working on a song and it’s sounding awesome in your studio. After burning a CD, you take it to your car, and you can hardly hear it. So you drive around the neighborhood, banging your head against your steering wheel because you can’t figure out why it’s so quiet.

You go back to your studio and turn everything up as loud as it will go, but now all the tracks are clipping. So you decide to give up and go watch TV.

This is a really common question I get from readers here on HSC. The problem is that the music you listen to on CD’s and on the radio has been mastered. Mastering entails all sorts of things, but, in very general terms, it’s simply taking a finished mix and making it as loud as possible without harming the sound of the mix.