Mastering the tracks. Start with the "same" volume level

Hi guys,

I know that I’m not a master engineer, but I need to know whta I write in the topic title.

I mean, I’m creating my audio reel and my tracks start with differente volume. Listen the example of on of my track:

For example the track called READY - STEADY - Bang as a differente volume compared to the others…

How can I fix it, maybe they can’t start all at -0,3 db. But my focus is to don t let the client turn down or up the volume knob while listening my reel.

I use logic and izotope ozone 8.

Thank you :smiley:

This is a complicated matter, especially when combining different genres…

Level is one thing, and I’d consider the loudest part of each track first. You don’t want a dynamic orchestral track that can and should be played loud, followed by an aggressively maximized metal track that will burn the listener’s ears in ten seconds, obviously. Similarly, quiet pieces (like your “The Last Chapter”) will simply have to be quiet; you can’t master them with the loudest part as reference, because it will sound like the volume is suddenly much louder.

However, that brings is to the next problem: Dynamic range. If you set the gain of these aforementioned imaginary orchestral and metal tracks so that they’re both comfortably listenable at the same volume level, you’re probably going to end up with the loudest transients of the hybrid track being louder than any part of the metal track. (Which is perfectly fine. Some loud orchestral hits are fine, but constant guitar chugging at that same level will be painful.) Even so, this will not work when listening on low volume; the metal track will be fine, but the quiet parts of the orchestral track will be almost inaudible. Basically, it’s all non-linear, and no mix/master will work great on any playback volume.

I don’t think there is a perfect solution for this, unless possibly if you’re in full control of the whole experience (as in, you’re playing it live, through a sound system that you control), but if you really need to mix totally different genres in one reel, the best compromise is probably to nudge them towards a common dynamic range - which means reducing the dynamic range of the more dynamic tracks.

Ideally, one would also strive for a somewhat unified frequency balance and tone of reverbs etc, especially if the tracks are intended to be used in the same context. I suppose for film/game scores and the like, this is less critical than for a music album - or rather, cue mix/master should match the respective scenes and sound design they’re used with, rather than each other. For an OST or demo reel, one might have to do something in between, if the differences are too drastic for “out of context” listening.

The classic mastering technique (eg when your doing an album) is to carefully select the order of the tracks. That can be as significant as the actual mastering process. If you get tracks that work ok together it doesn’t matter if there dynamically that different. At the end of the day people can turn up or turn down the volume.

Perhaps aim for a similar LUF between the loudest parts of the tracks or aim for a general average LUF that’s in the same region if the tracks widely differ. I think though just use your ear and see what sounds best rather than aiming for an exact figure.

I’ve got a friend who used to be a mastering engineer so I’ll try and quiz him what he would do in that situation.

1 Like

Hi @Carlo_Tuzza,

I would suggest to do this (I would do it like this)…

  1. Put everything in one project (master project), after you mixed all of your tracks.
  2. Now arrange all your tracks in the order that makes sense to listen to. If you I would have a quiet solo piano piece, I most likely would put it in the beginning of all tracks. From here start to make logical and musical progressions…think here like you compose your “Trailer Track”, with intro, advanced intro, climax one, two…drop…and your final epic ending…
  3. You can X-fade slower tracks and cut parts in and out if you have more percussion/rhythmic material.

Your final impact should be your loudest impact/peak, which you limit or compress.

If you think one of your tracks is too quiet, then automate the volume. Volume-Automation is your friend for impacts and consistent level overall.

If you find your tracks don’t feel in the same space, send all of them to one reverb, but make it subtle.

You can glue them together through one compressor as well. Your reel is like your “symphony”, which should sound like it was made “all in once”.

If you have A LOT of time, you can actually compose a whole suite for 7 minutes or so, using the same instrument and template and compose multiple style in one. This would be the most ideal show-reel as it will instantly sound from one project, as well as music-wise you can change the parts, harmonies, etc. like you want.

Hope that helps!
Does it makes sense?
Alexey :slight_smile: