I noticed that it has now become a standard procedure that people want their stuff loud over the years, with things even going to -14 LUFS on streaming and download services.

Things don't need to be super loud; they still need the RMS up high because the limiters act as compressors. They're making a certain sound on the track. They still have that compressed sound when they're pulled down to -14, but they're crushed up and are hitting a super loud level. If you're mastering up to -14, you won't get the same sound and feel as when you're pushing them into limiters and getting that more compressed sound that's -8, -6, -4. My suggestion is you keep things around -8.

As I say, this is my main job as a mastering engineer. It didn't use to be. It was all about getting something onto a CD or onto vinyl, and making sure it's correct. It's still part of my job to be the last port of call for record labels and things. But now a good part of it is to get things loud. Everybody wants them to a certain level before they're pulled down. So how do you do that? Okay, The main thing that I do is use limiters to gain staging.

I suggest using two or three limiters. I don't just use one and put, say, 9 or 10 dB on there and slam it into one. If you just use one limiter on anything, it's just going to be that one doing everything. Whereas, if you've got loads of little ones going like this, it leaves a lot more space with the analogy, and the limiter is able to work on a small bit of information rather than a massive amount. And what happens is, it's able to work in a much nicer way and leaves some of the dynamics, some of the sound, rather than just giving one limiter, a massive crush sound. The key to it is to gain staging through two or three limiters, rather than using one and smashing into one, and bringing up the level with that. Use a few.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published