I normalized the songs to the same volume, then they loved them! Lol
Seriously, so I just did the first round of mixes on a 12 song album. Got a mediocre response from the band saying it sounded ok, but they wanted the mixes to sound more like the first test mix I did for them. They also asked why the songs weren’t all at the same volume and kinda quiet. I had already explained that they weren’t mastered so there would be some variation in volume.
So I just normalized everything and resent the mixes. The response?
“Wow! Everything sounds so much better, whatever you did was awesome! Thanks so much, they sound so much better now! We love them!”
Post by Michael Carnes on May 6, 2023 9:29:28 GMT -6
Although your instincts were pretty good in doing this, you should approach normalizing with some caution. Normalizing isn't the same as having a common loudness. It may work reasonably well if the instrumentation is the same throughout an album. But if something in the instrumentation is different, then you might still have the problem of some tracks being perceived as louder than others. Using a more up-to-date metric (like Integrated LUFS) is a more dependable way of making an album hold together in terms of level. This moves you a little into the realm of mastering and it's clear your clients didn't understand it when you told them it wasn't mastered. I expect that's not uncommon.
And at the risk of sounding like the grumpy old schoolteacher (I had a few of those back in the day), make sure not to normalize to 0dBFS. Leave yourself a dB or two below full scale and you'll avoid overshoot when the files are run through a mux like MP3.
Yup. You can't deliver any mixes without minimal normalizing / LUFS / Peak limiting anymore. If you're sending it out for mastering, your can remove, but those judging the mixes and OK'ing them can't make a positive decision without it. And not just bands. Even studio exec's need it to make a positive "mix is good" decision. Case in point - I mixed the Pirates Of The Caribbean" venue for Disney a few years ago. Could NOT get a positive mix OK from the powers that be (now mostly under 40 y/o). So I asked a good buddy who mixes A level film scores, and he told me that for the last few years, he has to "master" the scores to get them passed. I did that, and voila, everyone was happy. The young guys have no idea what music that's unmastered sounds like.