Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

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technobuka
KVRer
14 posts since 30 Oct, 2017

Post Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:45 am

I create melodic techno (similar to: Tale of Us, Mind Against, Adriatique etc.). My songs sound good in solo, but in a mix with other released songs they are lost... I noticed that all songs at the moment are very compressed and very loud. Could someone tell me and give me some advice on how to get closer to reference works and how to start mastering after the mixing process? I have a Ableton and iZotope Ozone 8.

mikeg.lazer
KVRer
1 posts since 15 Aug, 2018

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:29 pm

Hi technobuka,

This is a complicated question, but let me see if I can give you a few tips.

EQ- I mix a lot of club tracks for DJ's and one of the most common mistakes I find is that they either have the Kick Drum too loud, they don't have an EQ on the Master, or they don't cut out the right amount of bass.

If you don't do either, your compressor and limiter in Ozone is only going to be able to create the loudness based off the combination of all of your frequencies in your track. If you have too much bass energy eating up the compression the track is, in turn, going to sound muffled and smashed, you need balance.

I've found that if you turn down the kick, cut the bass on the kick at at least 30Hz with EQ, and also have an EQ on the overall mix cut to 30Hz, you will then be able to push the entire volume of the track louder.

Additionally, if you add more top end to your percussion and overall mix buss, your track will then have a louder more brighter tone. I know it sounds crazy to add top end to a techno track, but when you're playing those beats a club with subs the size of a grown man, you have to expect that the high end information could get lost and needs to cut through.

I personally use the Maag EQ by Plugin Alliance for top end and I use the Air Band.

Here are two free tutorials that I've found can help with brightening your tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sVNThuxQus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y5RaC-zpd4

technobuka
KVRer
14 posts since 30 Oct, 2017

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:38 pm

Thank you very much! It's very valuable information. Always when I turn "master assistant" in Ozone, I have too loud in "low end" - this may be an important issue... I always start mixing from the kick (I set it to -9dB) - maybe it's too loud?

HansR83
KVRer
9 posts since 27 Jul, 2018

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:49 am

The low end takes up a lot of headroom. If you tighten the lows, you end up leaving more headroom for the mids and the highs.
You can use XFer LFO tool for this. Take one instance, put it on your bass and sidechain it. Than, put an exact copy of that LFO tool on your kick, and in LFO routing, put the volume to -100. This will invert the sidechain.

If you do this correctly, your kick and bass will never play at the same time.

User avatar
ONST (UK)
KVRer
23 posts since 7 Aug, 2018

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:19 pm

It's not a problem with mastering, it's a problem with mixing 99.99% of the time. It just takes time to learn.

You just have to learn processing and the single best place to begin is with balance. One of the best ways to learn track balance is to pull in reference tracks and look at where the key elements peak using a visualiser. This gives you a visual base.

To add another element to your understanding of balance arsenal, calibrate your monitors for constant gain monitoring. Why should you do this? Because bass always sounds loud when you turn it up high - it might give you a false impression. It could also dissapear when the track is too low.

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... ing-levels

Start with these two things and you're already building your self a solid foundation to become a better mixer.

User avatar
ONST (UK)
KVRer
23 posts since 7 Aug, 2018

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:28 pm

mikeg.lazer wrote:Hi technobuka,

This is a complicated question, but let me see if I can give you a few tips.

EQ- I mix a lot of club tracks for DJ's and one of the most common mistakes I find is that they either have the Kick Drum too loud, they don't have an EQ on the Master, or they don't cut out the right amount of bass.

If you don't do either, your compressor and limiter in Ozone is only going to be able to create the loudness based off the combination of all of your frequencies in your track. If you have too much bass energy eating up the compression the track is, in turn, going to sound muffled and smashed, you need balance.

I've found that if you turn down the kick, cut the bass on the kick at at least 30Hz with EQ, and also have an EQ on the overall mix cut to 30Hz, you will then be able to push the entire volume of the track louder.



Additionally, if you add more top end to your percussion and overall mix buss, your track will then have a louder more brighter tone. I know it sounds crazy to add top end to a techno track, but when you're playing those beats a club with subs the size of a grown man, you have to expect that the high end information could get lost and needs to cut through.

I personally use the Maag EQ by Plugin Alliance for top end and I use the Air Band.

Here are two free tutorials that I've found can help with brightening your tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sVNThuxQus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y5RaC-zpd4
Use this advice but to add to it, only very few elements of tech house/techno peak in the high end. For example, your saturated closed hat/tambourine sound/ is doing much of the work with an open hat/ride under it. This gives the impression that the entire high end is balanced with the low end. You will be able to see this from referenced tracks which start with a kick, closed hat and clap.

Before jumping in to using expensive plugins I recommend just figuring out the basic balance first as you can easily achieve what you want with out a Maag EQ. These are just icing on the cake; nice/different takes on what you can achieve with your daw's stock plugins.

technobuka
KVRer
14 posts since 30 Oct, 2017

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:36 am

Good advices! I will definitely take everything into account. What will you say about compression? All of these released songs are very much compressed and look like "sausage";) When I look at my songs, they do not have such topped peaks. Can anyone refer to the compression of the whole?

legendCNCD
KVRian
732 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from there

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:50 pm

"It's not a problem with mastering, it's a problem with mixing 99.99% of the time. It just takes time to learn."
YES, THIS.

"Can anyone refer to the compression of the whole?"
Leave this to the mastering engineer, but its more of compression+clipping+limiting. Get the mix balance first.

technobuka
KVRer
14 posts since 30 Oct, 2017

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:46 am

Thanks guys. I always start mixing by setting the volume of the kick - my question is: what volume level of kick should it be?

Acid Mitch
KVRAF
1868 posts since 5 Oct, 2005

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:06 am

That depends on what else is in the mix, type of kick and how prominent you want the kick to be.

User avatar
ONST (UK)
KVRer
23 posts since 7 Aug, 2018

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:42 pm

technobuka wrote:Thanks guys. I always start mixing by setting the volume of the kick - my question is: what volume level of kick should it be?
Your question is answered by almost every techno track in the sub genre of techno you're aiming for which is why you should reference the shit out of your genre if you want to become a better mixer of that genre. Pull tracks in to your daw, put visualisers on the tracks. set a 'baseline' level that you can use going forward and look at where the fundamental of the kick is peaking relative to the bass's fundamental. The 2nd/3rd harmonics are also important for the bass and generally fall within the same ranges from track to track. Work out where the claps peak relative to the kick. Look at where the hats peak.

Work all this out visually and at the same time train your ears to become accustomed to a well balanced mix.

WIth techno/house it's only really the important elements (kick, bass, hats, claps) you need to work out how to balance. The rest is just preference and/or whatever else you have going on in the track at that particular moment.

User avatar
dangayle
KVRian
788 posts since 30 Mar, 2014

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:49 pm

This is all great stuff. I've started to learn that my monitoring setup doesn't reflect bass frequencies that well, so I end up pumping them up more than they should be. The ever useful car test turns my finely tuned track into a heap of flubby bass rubbish.

User avatar
ATS
KVRAF
5965 posts since 21 Dec, 2002 from MD USA

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:53 pm

technobuka wrote:I create melodic techno (similar to: Tale of Us, Mind Against, Adriatique etc.). My songs sound good in solo, but in a mix with other released songs they are lost... I noticed that all songs at the moment are very compressed and very loud. Could someone tell me and give me some advice on how to get closer to reference works and how to start mastering after the mixing process? I have a Ableton and iZotope Ozone 8.

My advice would be to don't master so loudly. Things generally sound much better when not squashed to death.
my music: http://www.alexcooperusa.com
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls ~ Pablo Picasso

nacorcb
KVRer
1 posts since 23 Sep, 2017

Re: Techno | Problem with mastering (compression and loudness)

Post Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:05 am

ATS wrote:
technobuka wrote:I create melodic techno (similar to: Tale of Us, Mind Against, Adriatique etc.). My songs sound good in solo, but in a mix with other released songs they are lost... I noticed that all songs at the moment are very compressed and very loud. Could someone tell me and give me some advice on how to get closer to reference works and how to start mastering after the mixing process? I have a Ableton and iZotope Ozone 8.

My advice would be to don't master so loudly. Things generally sound much better when not squashed to death.
I somewhat disagree. Insanely low dynamic range levels is an standard in most of Techno subgenres. Of course, listening to this kind of music for and extended period of time lends to ear fatigue after a while, but the truth is if the tracks are too dynamic, it doesnt make the cut when compared with commercial releases.

Being able to reduce dynamic range to a minimum whilst maintaining the punchiness of the kick, the clarity of the highs, and separation of the percussions and melodic elements, shows mixing and mastering skills.

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