Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Sorta OT - how to get hot & clean mixes out of GB

Danny Linguini

Recommended Posts

I've made a couple of basic backing tracks in Garage Band on my Mac. Yeah, I know, we're not exactly talking world class here, but it's all I got, and I think all I need. The goal is to get them into WAV format so I can play them out of the media player built into the CP4. I balance the tracks so they're as hot as can be without the peaks capping and distorting. When I create a MP3 from the mix, it's soft as hell. Try to up the master volume, but then the peaks distort and sound like crap. So I mix the MP3 as loud as it can go and still sound good, then convert the MP3 to WAV using WavePad. It has built in amps and compressors and stuff so I can increase the overall volume, but it's still a major struggle getting it loud enough to use for accompaniment.


As a comparison I copied a couple of commercial MP3's to WAV's, and they're a perfect volume. But I can't seem to concoct it at home. Any suggestions?

D-10; M50; SP4-7; SP6

I'm a fairly accomplished hack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 3
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I have done a lot of mixing of our covers band using a multitrack recorder. You did not mention "mastering". Whatever tool you use for recording and mixing, the "mastering" step is very important as the final thing you do to your mix. I have not used GB, but a quick Google search suggests it has a mastering function. When mastering is done right, it raises the volume level without losing the dynamic space in the recording (search "Volume Wars" for discussion on how it can be done wrong).


I don't know if the mastering capability in GB is easy or hard to use, or how good its results are. I use an older hardware based multitrack recording which has a library of built-in mastering effects, and only one of them produced usable results for me. Some of the others just sucked the life out of certain songs.


Note that there are people who do mastering for a living, so you may or may not be able to get results from GB which please you.


Another thing to look at is whether you are applying some amount of compression on any vocal tracks - this is a pretty standard thing to do. Also you might want to search the (readonly) archives at studiotrax.net. That forum has been locked readonly, so you cannot post questions there, but there is a ton of information about recording and mixing from people who are real experts on this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you're really talking about is "apparent loudness." This is boosted in commercial releases; one of the "benefits" of CDs, when they first came around, was that you could generate greater signal strength without causing a needle to hop off a record. So engineers in the post-CD age began to master tracks hotter than records, and as a result, non-remastered releases that had originally been on LP, began to sound wimpy compared to those that went direct to CD. The ensuing "loudness wars" have us where we are.


For what it's worth, since more and more music listening is taking place through ear buds, this may begin to cool off just slightly--although any releases intended for the airwaves will almost certainly continue to undergo a boost in apparent loudness.


ANYWAY....there are mastering plug-ins you can buy, but I just opened up GB and see that there is one native to it: click the little dial on the top left, then the Master tab on the window that opens up.


If you haven't tried it, it might be worth playing with. They all work basically the same way: they raise the floor on the lower amplitude signals, which compresses the dynamic range but results in a 'hotter' track.


I would start there. Plus, as I typed this, I just had the thought that you could even double dip: run your track through GB Master plug-in, send to MP3, then import the mp3 and run that through the plug-in. It may be soup or it may end up with much higher apparent loudness. It will NOT have much dynamic range left, so you'll lose the benefit of any subtle balancing you might be doing. But either way (single-dip or double-dip), you might at least end up with tracks in the loudness range you're hoping to hear.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...