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.

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Ask Joe #23 – DYNAMIC RANGE DAY! (WITH AUDIO EXAMPLES) [Podcast]

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Image by DTGraphix

TODAY IS DYNAMIC RANGE DAY!

I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT’S REALLY ANNOYING…AND SO IS RIDICULOUSLY, UNNECESSARILY LOUD MUSIC.

BACK OFF THE LIMITER, BOYS. YOU’RE KILLING THE MUSIC.

IN THIS EPISODE OF THE PODCAST, I TALK ABOUT DYNAMIC RANGE AND GIVE YOU SOME AUDIO EXAMPLES OF WHAT “TOO LOUD” SOUNDS LIKE. I ALSO ANSWER SOME READER QUESTIONS.

Enjoy!

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Loudness Wars – What Do You Think?

Too LoudHave you heard of the Loudness Wars? If you hang around recording forums or websites for long, you’ll probably run into people fighting to the death over this issue. 🙂

So what is it? The Loudness Wars refer to the ever-increasing volume of today’s albums.

If you were to pop in an album from 20 years ago and play it alongside an album from today, you’ll notice that the current album will be much louder.

How is this accomplished? Through compression and limiting. You squash the dynamic range of the recording, then bring up the overall volume. Probably the most popular tool for this is the Waves L-series of limiters (L1, L2, L3, etc.).

So why is everyone trying to make their records louder? I think it originally started as a way for you to make your track more noticeable on the radio. If your song was louder than everyone else’s, it’ll get attention, right?

Now it’s just becoming the norm. Everyone wants their album to be as loud or louder as everyone else’s.

Here’s my question for you. What do you think of this? To be honest, I kinda like it when my music is nice and loud and in-your-face. Some engineers take it too far and compress/limit to the point of distorting the audio.

What’s your take on these Loudness Wars? Leave a comment!

We’ll be covering the process of mastering in-depth in the HSC Production Club during Week 12. Today’s your last day to sign up. Doors close at 6pm CST. You can sign up here.

Photo credit – striatic