Sometimes, your song only needs to get a bit louder to reach perfection. The sounds are excellent, everything’s in order, but the volume is a bit too quiet for your taste.
It’s frustrating, yes, and what’s even more challenging is determining why your song isn’t loud. Most people will think it’s because of the mastering, but it all boils down to the mixing phase.
All of the tricks you do to make your song louder are in the mixing phase. If you manage to get everything balanced, you’ll get the output you’ve been working so hard for.
Here are some tips to follow if you want to get the desired loud volume.
- Balance the EQ
If your song’s sound is well-balanced, you won’t need to get it louder. It’ll fall perfectly well on your ears because everything will be as intended. If you maintain a low-shelf EQ, it’ll reduce the frequency spectrum’s low end. As a result, the song will sound harsher because the mid and high-range notes will be emphasized.
Harsher isn’t louder; it’s just the same volume with a piercing feel to it. The problem will often be that you don’t have a bottom end in your mix, and you think that’ll get you a louder volume.
That’s why maintaining a balance is essential. Ditching the low-end won’t get you that balance.
When adjusting the balance of your song, make sure to test it using your own ears’ sensitivity. If you depend on automated software, you may overdo it without taking notice. Everything’s better when balanced, so the song won’t sound harsh or too loud.
- Restrain With Your Bass
Taking it easy with the bass is always the right way to go. When the levels of your song go up, the first aspect to distort will be the bass. Try listening to ultra-loud songs, and you’ll find most of them with distorted bass.
To avoid this, make sure to keep the low frequencies from getting out of control by using a low-cut filter.
- Cut the Unnecessary Frequencies
If you have unnecessary frequencies in your mix, it’d be wise to remove them. They may be the reason you can’t achieve the loud level you want.
For example, your lead synth might have a lot of unnecessary bass frequencies. In most cases, you won’t need them, especially if you have a bass track for this purpose. In this case, it’d be better to cut these bass frequencies.
Cutting the unnecessary frequencies is a better approach than mixing several instruments with the same frequencies. This way, you’ll remove the frequencies that are fighting each other. You’ll also have a better-balanced mix and more headroom for loudness.
All that being said, you need to think well about your frequencies before removing them. Some audio tracks will already sound full. If you cut out their frequencies, the sound will become thin, which is totally against what you want.
In the end, it’s vital to consider what the overall mix will sound like. If the frequencies removed will get it louder, then go for it.
- Keep Your Limiter Level
Going over the top with your limiter can quickly ruin a good mix. The bad news is it’s actually pretty hard to avoid. The primary purpose of using limiters is to catch the loudest moments of your source and prevent distortion.
The way it goes, you drive your limiters harder, and in turn, the sound gets louder. Of course, when you achieve the loudness you want, you think that’s it, but the sound may have actually gotten worse. It’ll be harder to judge the integrity of the mix’s balance at this point because of the loudness.
Luckily for you, overcoming this is easy with modern limiters. Most of them have features that keep the output sound low, even when you crank up the input. That way, you won’t be tricked by the loudness, and you’ll be able to judge your sound right.
- Use Low Gain Reductions With Compression
It’s always recommended to use compression easily at first and at different stages through your mixing process. For example, you can use it on the instrument during playing and then on the mix itself. You can also try mild limiting and increase gradually.
Going gradually will allow you to judge the music correctly while getting higher levels. This way, you don’t kill the mix while trying to achieve loudness.
- Use Low Ratios
When using any compression, you need to use low ratios. Take it as a rule: the higher the ratio, the higher the threshold. So, it’d be wise to keep from over-compressing your mix.
Most ratios lie between 1.5:1 and 4:1. If you go higher than 4:1, you’ll be limiting.
It’s also recommended to avoid short attacks because they often kill the music. Try not to use any attack that’s shorter than 20ms. You can go up to 70ms attacks or longer in the mastering phase. Shorter attacks will sound lifeless, and they may be the reason your song isn’t as loud as you want it to be.
- Use Multiband Compression
If you want to boost the volume of your mix without introducing any pumping, you can use multiband compression. However, there are some things to take into consideration to avoid killing the mix.
For starters, it’s recommended to maintain the same ratio in all the bands. Sometimes, using different ratios will result in an unnatural sound. Secondly, you should avoid pushing a band too far, up to the point that the gain reduction becomes zero multiple times in one bar. If this happens, the sound will become squashed because the compression won’t work as it should.
Lastly, try to use the same amount of gain reduction in all the bands. If you do that, you’ll prevent the sound of the mix from changing too much.
To Wrap Up
The most vital aspect of making your music loud is getting everything in the right balance. If your EQ is balanced, your unnecessary frequencies are cut, and your ratios are low, you’ll hopefully get the sound as loud as you want it to be.