some random questions from the newbie

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Member Since: Oct 10, 2004

i just wanna get some things clear about these issues. first of all is it the best to normalise a whole track, or all vocals and instruments separately. same question, but this time it's about mastering. do they master the whole song, or each instrument and vocal separately? maybe this was a stupid question, but i'm fairly new to all these things.
one more thing. i'm using cubase sx v2 and i wanted to know how does the clipping affect the whole song if i don't do anything about it? and what can i do about it?
that's all for the time being!

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Since: Oct 25, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 11:54 am

I dont know much myself, but I think the normaliztion come after the song has been mixed. I guess if normalizing individual tracks, you do it and then mix the song varying the levels of the individual tracks in the mix.

For sure you dont want clipping in the mix or when mastering, cause you might hear it as distortion, or as crackling when put to CD. It means that there is something that is too loud. From my limited experience, it means that you bring the volume down a bit and can try applying a brick wall filter and setting it to let the music peak at about 0.2 decbels. At least this is what I do.

Bear in mind that a good sound card will allow you to push the envelope a bit more. Again this is personal experience usingthe onboard sound and and an Audigy. The difference was night and day. The Audigy allowed me to place the brick wall in the effects and up the input more than the onboard soundcard did.

Again I must say that I am also a newbie. I just experiment and do what works for me right now. I am attempting to learn the theory as I go so that I can work faster and more efficiently, instead of trying to experiment.

Experimenting is good though, you might find a sound that you like, just remember to write down the settings!!


Czar of Cheese
Since: Jun 09, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 12:06 pm

I usually normalize the whole song, as part of the mastering process.

Mastering, as defined in the good old HRC Glossary: 1. A completed collection of songs such as an album pressed to a glass master CD. 2. The process (art) of assembling songs in an album with consideration of flow of songs, flow between songs, Cohesive sound of all songs, etc.

Like EQ-ing, adding compression, sonic maximization, or other types of sound enhancement to give you a polished or finished sound.

At least that's my take on it.

Like Audiolust said, experiment, and if it sounds good to you then it is good.


Since: Oct 10, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 12:51 pm

thanks. i have an audigy 2. what's a brick wall filter? is there a plugin for it?

Since: Oct 25, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 01:25 pm

Hey Jethro,

Do a search for palancarware brick wall. You can try that one and get an idea what a brick wall is.

In my estimation, its a plugin that would not allow your track (tracks if used in the master channel) to go above a peak that you set. So if you set the peak to -0.2 db, then your music will not past this and go into clipping. Mind you this is not a license for you to turn up the sound to the max and believe the the brickwall will end distortion. It wont, so you still have to be careful with your levels.

OK. Its a limiter. I just checked online what the brick wall is and its a limiter. And it makes sense.... you set a limit and thats it.
!! :0)


Jack of all trades master of ___
Since: May 28, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 02:08 pm

If a mix is pissing me off. Occasionally I will normalize the individual tracks and mix my way down...It's kind of like starting with this big chunk of wood your going to make a sculpture out of. I can then chip, shave and sand away so everything is playing their role...

The next time I normalize is when I group all my tracks up to get them to the same volume...the proper term is "RMS Normalization"

Whatever you do, you don't want clipping! Even if your track is clipping and it sounds ok, it won't in most other systems thru CD. It will sound like crap.


My earlier recordings had clipping back when I didn't know what it was...On the levels would peak and the peak light would stay on, I knew it probably wasn't good...but it is the reason why those early works sound like junk

bace135 in the house tonight!
Since: Jan 28, 2003

Oct 26, 2004 02:18 pm

I sometimes normalize individual tracks if for whatever reason, I don't like the volume they are at. Now, I could just turn up/down the fader in my multitrack, but sometimes I just don't like having one track at -27db when the rest are at -5db. Does that make sense. So I normalize just to get it in the range of the other tracks.

Mastering is done to the final mixed down version of your song. In the mixing process, you will add effects and adjust levels to each individual track in your song. You will then use some of these same effects in your mastering process to the entire mixdown. Hope that helps.

Jack of all trades master of ___
Since: May 28, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 02:29 pm

I do the same as coolo when individual tracks are lopsided...

Mastering is the most time consuming effort in the recording process...It's a skill that is often overlooked and decides whether a 'master' itself sounds like an amatuer or sounds like a pro.

I shouldn't say its a skill...its a practice.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Oct 26, 2004 02:31 pm

It's a SKILL damnit!

Jack of all trades master of ___
Since: May 28, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 02:36 pm

its the practice of a skill ;)

right up there with practicing medicine and practicing law

Since: Oct 10, 2004

Oct 26, 2004 02:49 pm

thanks people! this really helped. now it's back to experimenting and reading more about these things.

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
Since: May 10, 2002

Oct 27, 2004 12:16 am

Normalizing is much simpler than it is made out to be. It is simply linear amplification. You set the amplifier were you want the peak volume of the selection to reside. It can be used to increase or decrease amplitude. Like many here, I will use it on the individual track that just didn't get recorded loud enough to mix easily. I don't use it in the pre-mastering process. That being setting the max preceived volume for a song. I use a loudness maximizer or hard limiter for that task. I will use it as a "fix" in the mastering process (matching songs on an album) if I didn't do a good job of matching songs up in the pre-mastering process. It is especially usless for most heavier rock applications as the pre-mastered songs are wall-to-wall maxed volume and getting the songs to match up has to do with density of signal not amplitude.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Oct 27, 2004 09:52 pm

I am with Walt on the Normalizing. I use it to get a weak track to the same level as the others. And as again with Walt, rarely will you normalize a finished stereo mix. That is the job of the mastering tech to get the most out of the final stereo mix he may use a maximizer or multiband compression to get the entire mix as audily loud as is needed.

Mastering is an art form in my opinion. I can and do master to an extent, but folks like dB are much more adapted to it then someone like myself. They have an ear for things I or someone else might not listen for. And it really is a good practice to allow an outside source do the mastering as it is a fresh set of unbiased ears who will make it commercially sound as good as it can get.

And a Brick wall refers to a type of limiter. Which is a processor that does just what it sound like. It stops the audio level at a pre-determined decibel level, so it cannot go over peak and distort. It is commonly used were maybe you might have a screamer vocalist who doesnt have good voice level control and will sing at a normal level for the most part but then bellar louder then needed.

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