The volume of the export session is very low; when I upload it on Soundcloud, it is obvious that the other songs have a much higher volume. Increasing the volume of the bus master only results in getting saturation, and very little volume increase. I tried with and without the “peak normalizing” option.
Have you tried putting a limiter on the master bus?
You may work on the dynamics of your master bus. The trick is to pack the dynamics, enough to get gain stage for your bus, nut not too much as it results in flat and tiring sound…more easy to say than to do
Use a compressor or limiter
Play around with the Analysis part of export. Normalize it using LUFS - Do a small section over and over until you get a good LUFS number.
What comprises a ‘good’ LUFS depends on type of music…classical could be 15 - 20,
Harder contemporary you want 13 - 16.
These are ballpark numbers, and a lot of people here are better at this than me.
Like others are saying, it seems like your problem is in your mix. That’s assuming you’re already normalizing the export to -.5 or -.3 or 0 dBFS (I’ve heard a so many numbers on the Soundcloud thing and I don’t know what I believe at this point…)
The quick and messy way would be to throw a limiter on the two buss, but I think it’s beneficial to look at the dynamics of the individual tracks themselves. Are there regions to be normalized to better fit the other parts of that track? Could a little bit of compression on this or that track take away some of the transients without sacrificing the mix? Etc., etc… If you’re pretty set on the mix, then sure you can go straight to processing the two buss.
At the two buss, compression and limiting might be helpful, but like others have said, too much can kill the track by destroying the dynamics. The more likely culprit is EQ, and that ties into @12strings2hands bringing up LUFS. Unlike dBFS, LUFS will give you a measure of the perceived loudness, which is dependent on frequency as well as sound pressure level. And as mentioned, your target LUFS will depend on genre. You could just normalize to an LUFS value in the export dialog, but I haven’t ever played with that to be honest.
Also remember that the listener will always turn his volume up or down to a level that he prefers. Audio engineers seems to forget this and think that they can affect the listening level at home by making the mix “hotter”. This is an illusion, there is no way to affect the listening level at home, people do use their volume knobs Just observe yourself when listening different youtube videos, you will find yourself adjusting volume between videos to your personal comfortable level.
Also there is no “common” level for music, so don’t be too concerned for being quieter or louder than others. Instead focus on getting your mix to sound the best you can and set your recordings to about the same loudness level so that it’s pleasant to listen through your catalog with the same listening level.
Compression can take the life out of your mix, and cause listening fatigue so use it sparingly. Don’t do something just because everybody else does it, use your own ears and judgment.
Thanks a lot guys for your answers.
I already used a compresser on some tracks, very lightly, to avoid having “jumps” of sound levels, but I find it difficult to use on the master bus, because as you say it kills the dynamical range that you want to create. LUFS was already at the max, so I couldn’t use that. Actually I noticed that a few tracks - mostly the low kick, but also more high pitch instruments - were responsible of the saturation, and playing with the band-pass filters to slightly move the frequencies could solve the problem, without dramatically changing the sound.
So, problem solved (in a very amateur way, but solved!). No more saturation and the level is now similar to other songs of the platform - I do think it is important, Mikael ; )