Loudness, is it all an Illusion? - Part 2

Check out Part One First

In part one I talked about a few tricks to help your track appear louder, for part 2 I am going to talk about a few VST's and effects that can help with this as well. 

With all of these VST's, the way its mixed will be the deciding factor, however these can help you on your quest.

6. Ohmforce's Ohmicide -

It’s an absolutely crazy multiband distortion, compression, EQ and filter, which pretty much lets you do anything.
— Skrillex
We use Ohmicide on almost every track now. Essential purchase.
— Armin Van Buuren

This plugin is pure magic, legit my favorite effect. Period. It does a ton of stuff and the cool thing is its easy to use ( once you learn its odd interface ) . If you don't use this, try it out. Now

Some tips on what it can help with

- It just makes the channel its used on fatter. There are hundreds of " preset " combos that you can tweak.

- You can add the perfect amount of High Shine ( talked about on part 1 ) . This is a go to when I need to fill the high frequency of the track with nice white air.  I hear this ( or a plugin with the same gist ) on a ton of modern tracks. If you downloaded my recent preset pack, you noticed ALL sounds had Ohmicide presets as well.  I included them because it helps that much.

Reason Why I Use it- To make everything it touches sound huge in the mix and fill the speakers.

VST'S Site 

7. Massive's " Pan Position Slider " 

I wasn't going to include " a slider " as part of this, but since I know most of you use Massive, it felt like a sin not sharing this lovely button. To find

1. Open Massive

2. Voicing Tab 

3. Turn the Unisono to 5 ( other stuff works, just not 1)  5 is good to hear the effects.

4. Go Down to the Pan Position slider, turn it on

5. Listen how it moves the synth in the mix.

This is a GREAT tool, to use when you can't get the main lead " big sounding in the mix" . A good example of this style of effect would be W&W and Ummet Ozcan's - The Code. Listen carefully how the main drop synth sits. It's almost like there is a pocket above the kick ( in the center ) and the synth hangs off to the sides. Its like the synth is ever so slightly pushed off to the side of the speakers.  Its not a huge noticeable thing, but can make a massive difference. 

Some tips on what it can help with

- Getting your element wider in the mix.

- Allowing the kick drum to punch through the mix.

- Moving leads out of the way of centered vocals.

Its a great over all tool, I love it. Be warned though, it can and WILL do some funky things to the sound sometimes. So if you use it and it sounds like shit, keep tweaking.

8. Stop with the Compression 

"Wait, what? Seriously dude don't joke"

I'm serious, stop with ALL the compression. Some compression is amazing and can help, but when you are newer YOU CAN'T HEAR the damage its doing. I used to stack so many compressors, and limiters and fatteners on my track.  To me at the time is sounded better, years later I laugh at myself, but you don't need them all. 

If your compressing, have a reason to compress. If its just to " make it louder" use the volume knob. I used to compress samples ( that have already been compressed 10 times )  and then would compress the synths a few times, plus add a limiter, multi band and lord knows what else to the master channel. All I got was I giant mud bucket of a track. This is mainly referring to the over use of compressors IN THE MIX. ( like when you stacked a soundgoodizer, sausage fattener, limiter on the bass line ) 

Some tips on what it can help with ( by NOT COMPRESSING )  ( note, I get sent a lot of tracks 90% of them are over compressed, so I am going to assume this with these tips)

- By Compressing Less, you can get a LOUDER FINAL TRACK. Compression can cause a lot of unwanted noise build up in your track. Reverb can build up as well which is killing any chance you had for " element spacing "

- By Compressing Less, You can get a CLEANER TRACK . You want your mix to have space, you don't want all the elements..dun dun dun COMPRESSED together, you want them in their own pocket. If you compress everything to death, they will blend together in a bad way.

-By Compressing Less, you can keep your elements ADSR clean.  If Unaware, check ADSR here. But if you are over using compression, there is a good chance its wrecking havoc on your elements settings. Its a bit hard for me to explain, but when I hear over compressed tracks ( I mean real over compression, not loudness war compression )  It's like all the synths have no attack, and the drums are not smacking. Over compression and bad settings can cause this.

Just learn to use it properly, but most importantly realize its going to take a long time for your ears to be able to hear what its doing.

For what its worth, I do think compressors are awesome, when they are used in moderation . Just like most things in life more is not always better.

A few compressors I love...

- Cytomic's - The Glue 

- Cytomic's - The Glue 

FabFIlter - Pro C

FabFIlter - Pro C


9. Izotope's - Ozone 5 

It’s good for making shit jump out of the speakers
— Swedish House Mafia

Typically a " Mastering Plugin "  however you can use this on channel tracks if you have the CPU power to run a few of them. ( They eat up cpu).  

This includes a Reverb( nice one, great features for spacing including range selection ) . It has your standard compression and limiting, but if you don't know what your doing be careful ( above point on over compression ) The Harmonic's it can produce and its ability to produce them over a certain range is great. The stereo width tool can help make stuff sit fatter.

Basically, it's a beast at making elements sit nice. If you don't know what your doing, go easy on it, their site has some guides on how to use it ( lot of info but well worth learning ) . 

I got the idea to use it on each track from Swedish House Mafia ( around 4:40 in the video they talk about it briefly )

Some tips on what it can help with

- Honestly, it can pretty much do it all. I love the ability to only effect certain regions, and also for the advanced dudes it can Mid-Side Process the EQ ,Compression and Reverb which is huge esp if your mastering the track and don't have access to the full mix down. 


10. Improve Your Synth Skills

Ok, this is a bit of an odd one, I mean how will learning better synth skills make your mix louder? 

Simple, if you know your way around synth's ( how to adjust to get certain sounds ) then you are able to fill in the gaps that your mix is lacking. 

For example, before I learned massive, I legit would just preset hunt for HOURS, trying to find the perfect preset to fit in the mix. I never found it, nor did I know what the hell I was doing so stuff never fit together right.

Once I learned how to design sounds, even on a basic level it was MUCH easier to design a better mix around them and thus get a louder mix . 

The number one thing I ever learned was sound design, and I learned it by just sitting there and pressing/ twisting/ tweaking buttons for hundreds of hours. In the end this allowed complete control over the way things sat in the mix.

If you currently have 20 vst synths, turn some of them off. Learn one AMAZING, if you stop and learn one, the rest of them more or less make sense. I feel that the years I spent preset hunting was a huge waste of time. By preset hunting, I mean going from preset to preset trying to find the perfect sound.

You don't even need to know sound design from the ground up, basic stuff helps. 

Wrap Up -

That about covers it for tips on making your track loud. Really I could have answered this in two words

Amazing Mixdown ( and master )

However,  these 10 tips should point you in the right direction on getting a better mix. With a better mix comes loudness and with loudness comes power. Sounds cheesy but anyone that's played a bad mix on a club system knows what I mean.


Posted on September 25, 2014 and filed under Music Production.