Old 11-22-2019, 04:11 PM   #1
Derjayger
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Default Adjust track volume / constant master volume

Hey,

is there a way to keep the master volume constant while adjusting track volume? I'm talking about some kind of compensation: the louder the track volume, the softer the master volume.
I'm talking about +-6 dB.

Is this even possible?


[edit] Here is some clarification from a post below:
Quote:
I'm talking about a step _during_ the mixing process, a tool to improve workflow further. It's about relative levels, about volume comparison between two or more tracks.

If MV automation is sounding weird, let's scale it down for a moment: Imagine a track folder where there are two groups of instruments inside (i.e. lead and rhythm guitars). Now you want to fine-tune the volume of both without stepping into the psychological "louder = better" or "softer = worse" trap. Because whenever you turn up the lead guitars, the whole folder, even the whole mix, gets lounder.

Now a step further: You can compensate by turning down the rest of the folder (or, heck, the rest of the mix) manually. You can even turn down your speakers (or the MV) to avoid the "louder = better" trap, but it's a hassle to do so manually. (Or your ears can adapt to the new volume levels - often necessary, but never ideal).

And now even further: In principle, it is possible to do this automatically via some gain compensation in the other tracks, compareable to automatic makeup gain in compressor plugins (see my post above). Even a rough volume compensation would help. When the lead guitars get louder, the rhythm guitars would get a little softer, so the whole parent track folder would be roughly at the same volume. But: This can screw the balance between drums and rhythm guitars for example, so it's better to turn down the rest of the mix instead of just one track. Where is the fader for the volume of the whole mix? It's either a big parent folder or the MV.
(If MV is clipping, you can turn it down. It won't affect the relative levels of the tracks. If it's too soft, turn it up now or wait until the setting of relative levels is done. )

The question is just how to implement this in REAPER without clipping a limiter, compressor or the MV headroom.

(And please, don't dismiss the idea with "just get better", because we would be cutting tape manually if everyone would think this way :-P )

Last edited by Derjayger; 11-25-2019 at 11:56 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:23 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Derjayger View Post
Hey,

is there a way to keep the master volume constant while adjusting track volume? I'm talking about some kind of compensation: the louder the track volume, the softer the master volume.
I'm talking about +-6 dB.

Is this even possible?
Hi Derjayger, actually that's not the way things works.

You'll have to explain what you're trying to do for us to give you and answer.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derjayger View Post
Hey,

is there a way to keep the master volume constant while adjusting track volume? I'm talking about some kind of compensation: the louder the track volume, the softer the master volume.
I'm talking about +-6 dB.

Is this even possible?
As noted, why you want to do this and in what context (a full mix for example) will determine what the answers might be.

But with no background to go on...
-You could put a volume envelope or automation item on the track, adjust it to do what you want, then copy the automation item and place it on the master and invert the points, then it would do the exact opposite of the track. Of course this is manual.

-Or more automatically, group your regular track with the master, making the regular track the volume master, the master volume the volume slave, and tick reverse volume on one of them. Then when you move the volume up on the regular track, the master track will go down and vice versa (although unless you start at 0 db or unity on both tracks I'm not sure the movement will be inversely proportional). Also not sure, but I assume if you automate the volume of the regular track the master volume will move inversely.
Hope that gives you some ideas but without more context, again, difficult to say if what you want is possible.
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Old 11-23-2019, 02:38 AM   #4
Derjayger
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Thanks!

I'm having trouble while automating the track volumes while mixing, because when everything gets louder or quieter, I find it difficult to assess the relationship correctly.

Maybe I should adjust the master volume with a midi-fader.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:53 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Derjayger View Post
Thanks!

I'm having trouble while automating the track volumes while mixing, because when everything gets louder or quieter, I find it difficult to assess the relationship correctly.

Maybe I should adjust the master volume with a midi-fader.
Ah, I see.
Well, there are variations on the work flow that are not right or wrong, just different.
I like to leave my master fader at 0 once I get into the mixing process (recording, pre production all done etc). That way I can easily look at the master meters and see about where my mix is hitting volume/gain wise.

If I want to monitor the mix at a different level, I adjust the monitor/speaker output instead. I like this also because once i have things gain staged, I can turn the monitors up quite high, and I don't have the urge to keep bumping up individual track volumes to where everything is clipping (though clipping on the individual channels withing the box doesn't really matter, you just need to avoid master bus clipping).

-Regarding judging level relation ships, I think 85 db is suggested a lot as an average monitoring level. Another guideline is you should be be able to have a normal conversation with someone while the music is playing back, if you can't it is too loud. If it is too loud it will fatigue your ears and damage your hearing, and since the bass and highs get hyped some when it is cranked, you may mix them to low, then it will be weak and dull when played at a lower volume.
-However, if you mix at a lower level and it sounds powerful then it is unlikely to lose power as you turn it up.
-I think broadly speaking, mostly monitor at a medium level, but it is also helpful to monitor at a lower level, because it really helps you notice which things are popping out and if there are things that aren't present end enough at low levels, and just crank it up once in a while to check if there is too much bass or it is too harsh in the mids or highs. If you check all three, you will be covering your bases for having it translate across different playback systems. Of course check mix by listening on different speakers and playback devices as it gets closer to completion (ear buds, headphone, lap top, computer, car, home theater, etc). If you follow these guidelines, it should work out pretty well.
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Old 11-24-2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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Thanks!
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Derjayger View Post
Thanks!

I'm having trouble while automating the track volumes while mixing, because when everything gets louder or quieter, I find it difficult to assess the relationship correctly.

Maybe I should adjust the master volume with a midi-fader.
The master is for what you are mixing into. In this case, you aim to make a file that is your mix. That means you want the master at full unity volume. No more, no less.

What you are having trouble with is your mix.
If something is too loud or quiet, that's precisely what volume automation or using multiple tracks for different bits of audio is for.

You said you're "having trouble while automating the track volumes".
Sometimes mixing can be difficult is really all you can say...
You need to end up with a mix of those parts you like. Keep at editing your volume envelope and other mix elements until you get there. Ask specific questions along the way.

But what you definitely don't want to do is take a mix that didn't turn out well and try to correct for it by adjusting the master out volume!
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Old 11-25-2019, 02:12 AM   #8
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serr: Yup, I was thinking about having enough headroom by turning down the MV beforehand. I'm talking about +-6dB changes by automation here, so the rough mix is done. When the automation is finished, there would be no problem in turning up the MV again.
Unfortunatly I can't automate the output volume of my audio interface.

Still have to try JohnnyMusics solution for the auto compensation I asked about. This is not as exotic as it might seem, as everyone is familiar with auto makeup gain in plugins, which is a very similar concept (a rough connection between threshold/ratio and output volume in compressors, for example. Now replace threshold/ratio with track volume). Plus everyone knows how important it is to compare with the same loudness (compressor, EQ, masters, etc.), so the need for a quick solution in volume automation shouldn't be anything too fancy.

Last edited by Derjayger; 11-25-2019 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 11-25-2019, 10:02 AM   #9
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Unfortunatly I can't automate the output volume of my audio interface...
Which is why you need to actually finish your mix properly!

You can't very well release a mix where someone has to keep their hand on their volume control and work it! That's literally what automating the master would simulate. ("Shoot, I screwed up the balance in the mix. Instead of redoing that bit, lets just try to pull and tug on it after it's already mixed!" Yikes...)

You wouldn't paint your house green and then ask how to 'master' that into red... You'd grab the red paint to begin with!

The master stays at precisely 0db unity for mixing. You are mixing into the wire/file at full signal level.
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Old 11-25-2019, 11:26 AM   #10
Derjayger
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I think we can skip the beginner stuff I'm talking about a step _during_ the mixing process, a tool to improve workflow further. It's about relative levels, about volume comparison between two or more tracks.

If MV automation is sounding weird, let's scale it down for a moment: Imagine a track folder where there are two groups of instruments inside (i.e. lead and rhythm guitars). Now you want to fine-tune the volume of both without stepping into the psychological "louder = better" or "softer = worse" trap. Because whenever you turn up the lead guitars, the whole folder, even the whole mix, gets lounder.

Now a step further: You can compensate by turning down the rest of the folder (or, heck, the rest of the mix) manually. You can even turn down your speakers (or the MV) to avoid the "louder = better" trap, but it's a hassle to do so manually. (Or your ears can adapt to the new volume levels - often necessary, but never ideal).

And now even further: In principle, it is possible to do this automatically via some gain compensation in the other tracks, compareable to automatic makeup gain in compressor plugins (see my post above). Even a rough volume compensation would help. When the lead guitars get louder, the rhythm guitars would get a little softer, so the whole parent track folder would be roughly at the same volume. But: This can screw the balance between drums and rhythm guitars for example, so it's better to turn down the rest of the mix instead of just one track. Where is the fader for the volume of the whole mix? It's either a big parent folder or the MV.
(If MV is clipping, you can turn it down. It won't affect the relative levels of the tracks. If it's too soft, turn it up now or wait until the setting of relative levels is done. )

The question is just how to implement this in REAPER without the trouble of clipping a limiter, compressor or the MV headroom.
JohnnyMusic has proposed a solution in post #3 which I still have to try!

Last edited by Derjayger; 11-25-2019 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 11-25-2019, 11:51 AM   #11
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Side-chaining one signal off another to have one manipulate the dynamics of another is very much a thing. It sounds like that's the kind of thing you're after.

An example often given (for good or bad) is side-chaining the kick drum track to a compressor on the bass guitar track in rock and/or roll mixes. Makes each kick hit lower the bass track to make room in a more tightly compressed mix. (Again, opinions on that aside... It's a thing and this is the common example given to explain it.)

You'd do all of this upstream from the master output bus of course! That was the non sequitur in this. You can make subgroup tracks as needed upstream from your master output bus all day long.

Reaper actually takes this side-chaining concept further and gives you bionic ability with it! Parameter modulation lets you control any plugin parameter with a side-chain from any audio signal or control signal coming from anywhere you wish.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:33 PM   #12
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I don't understand. Why not just set the volume of the guitar to X and adjust the vocals in relation to the level of the guitar? If you find that the vocals have to be to loud in relation to your level of listening comfort, turn your monitors down.
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