Reply To: Q/A with State of Mind..
The old loudness question eh. Well first of all put a meter on your master output like waves WLM or similar. We aim to have our finished tunes within a certain range give or take. Generally i think about -3.5 short term LUFS is pretty good. Start going above that, and its getting pretty loud. If your Noisia you can probably get there without it sounding shit, but mostly it will sound like clip-fest.
So where do we set our tracks levels? We don’t give a fuck within reason. If you are working in full floating point 64 bit, with 32 bit samples and modern plugins you can’t really clip them. The clipping will happen on the output stage. Having said that, some plugins have a ‘built in limiting’ effect like camelphat. You can run a channel in hot and it comes out at zero… this can buy you a little more headroom if you use the technique of buses, which is what Kaido is saying i think. However if you limit out ALL the peaks, that can be as bad as too many big peaks. Your track will sound like mush. Some things need dynamics and transients to sound good.
Generally its good practice to have an operating level that works for compressors and limiters. If all your channels are at -20db, its kinda hopeless putting on limiters unless you can adjust the threshold. Many plugins you can’t. Also you don’t want to be working super hot. If you’re too hot a compressor might be hitting too much gain reduction even at you highest threshold setting. So where would our channels be metering? I guess a typical channel, like kick maybe, would meter +6db peak. There is a pretty big range of tolerance.
When you deliver audio to as master engineer, they usually like the stereo file to be at about -6bd peaking or something like that. The reason for that is they have more headroom to compress with and its just good practice to avoid possible clips. I advise people to take off all their master bus plugins bar dither. Turn down the input gain (not the output fader) until the peak reads -6. There you go. The thing is though, if your mix is a ‘quiet’ mix its really hard to make it loud with magic dust on the master bus. Volume comes from the mix and the big killer of mix volume is too much sub. Knowing how to keep that in balance is a big part.