X3A - Phonetics

How To Maximize The Loudness Without Clipping Or Distorting

In Tips & How To by MusicGearo

A lot of music producers are struggling with how to maximize the loudness of their music without clipping or distorting. Well, If your knowledge limits you, you are in the right place.

This time we’ll share with you tips and techniques that are not well-known for you, maybe you even didn’t hear them before. But it’s okay because you just have to find at least one tip that will work best for you and make your music production louder without clipping or any side effects.

Hype The Limiter To Hear The Loudest Instrument

If you don’t know what kind of sounds hold your tune’s back, put the maximizer or limiter on master channel to see the loudest sound. Most of the times it’s the sub-bass and bass so try to add some more B on your limiter, and you can adjust and decrease the level of the loudest instrument. Because if you are composing at the same volume all the time, then you might overlook this.

Of course, you have to use appropriate tools like spectrum analyzers to know which levels should particular instruments have, and hopefully, you will make a bit more balanced mix.

Fabfilter Pro L2
Fabfilter Pro L2

Producing Music Consistently

Simply but powerful – Shape your ears by composing music consistently. It will create almost something like matching EQ in your ears that will become more sensitive for sound adjustments. Don’t stop producing – it could be even hour a day, but results will be astonishing.

How can I make my sound louder without distorting it?

If you want to make a loud track, you have to maximize the sounds in your mixdown. But not to forcing them, of course not. You have to create loudness naturally without any clipping, distorting, or any side effects. Try to use different types of plugins for a particular bus and then compare it with the version that you made before.

Then choose the louder and cleaner version. Anyway, it’s recommended to favor cleaner and quieter rather than just a bit louder but with signs of distortion. The reason is that when you start with mastering, it will create more loudness but also amplify the distortion that you made earlier – try to avoid that. Create real and justified loudness, not the forced loudness.

Use Sidechain In Your Mix

Use the sidechain especially when it comes to kick and bass. This will create more space and headroom. With sidechain, your sounds will sound more clear and your mixdown will not only sound better and will have more pressure, but you will be able to make it louder, especially in the low-end section.

FL Studio Limiter Sidechain
FL Studio Limiter (Sidechain Mode)

Passive EQ and Dynamic EQ Benefits

Use dynamic EQ and passive EQ a lot. These two tools are needed if you are serious about music production. If you have felt that your track is empty, lifeless and flat, try to use dynamic EQ. Even though dynamic EQ. It’s a great tool for mastering, but also will find versatility when mixing your music. It will create the headroom that you are looking for to create a louder and fresher mix. Here is a video that describes Dynamic EQ more in-depth:

Achieve Great Kick-Bass Relationship

An essential part is to mix your kick with your bass properly to maximizer the loudness. There are tons of tutorials on how to mix bass with a kick, what to avoid, and what you have to do by using the spectrum to be able to fit it perfectly together. I think that the easiest and most effective way to find out which kick is great for the bass is to make kick first. Try to make a perfect kick, and then make a bass that will sound great each other. Also, don’t forget to check the spectrum analyzer to fine-tune it but trust to your ears first.

Use PSP preQursor 2

This is a more specific tip more than technique. If you are on a budget and you would like to make your production louder, you would like to check the info for this VST plugin.  Manufacturers call it “Specialized EQ” and even though the plugin looks pretty simple and easy to use, it’s potent and will make your music cleaner and louder without distorting or clipping.

It’s excellent almost for anything like drums, bass, vocals, guitars, synth, but also for mastering. It will bring a transparent and polish sound that you will notice immediately after a few tweaks. It’s all about utilizing – and with that said, you will use this plugin quite a lot. Also, a significant advantage is that it’s very light for CPU and RAM, so you don’t need to worry, and you can add this plugin almost on each of your insert without even noticing it. It’s a real winner.

Use Stereo Enhancers

It will apply the stereo widening on places where it’s needed. Without stereo enhancers your mix would be a bit dull , and what’s the maing thing, being less louder. Also, Read this post to further explain to you how to use stereo enhancers and stereo plugins. In case you are looking for some free VSTs, you can find some of them here.

stereo enhancers VST

Right Order of Your VST Plugins In The Chain

It’s not the secret that VST plugins will dramatically change the way of your sound. And it’s up to you to give it a direction.

1. Start with something that will make the most significant impact on your audio – It could be anything, it’s all about the sound you want to treat and improve – But in most of the cases it’s just basic active EQ.

2. Even if you think this action of adding EQ was definitely a right choice, it’s recommended to do A/B Test and compare if this step enhanced or just doesn’t improve your audio signal.

3. Now your thoughts are like – what’s the next plugin that I have to choose to don’t mess things up or even ruin my mix? The truth is that every single audio signal needs a different approach and effects to be appropriately enhanced without any side effects. Try various things, and choose the top 5 plugins that you will use after EQ. It could be a saturation, compression, exciting, anything. Well, let’s say you are adding plugins to your bass – on the second place after EQ in plugin’s chain order you will use saturation that will make it warmer and more consolidated.

Let’s say, that in this scenario we will use the bass scheme as we used in our bass of making a track (X3A – Mechatronics, and also same bass scheme applied for 2nd track on EP – X3A – Rotor – you will be able to hear it soon). Basically what we actually did is that we didn’t make sub-bass separated from the bass, but we glued it together, and we applied heavy saturation and compression on it, so when we made an automation for high-pass on the first plugin in the chain (EQ) it had rock-solid sound and it was also very loud together because it was saturated and compressed well.

X3A - Phonetics
X3A – Mechatronics (Bass insert)

So even when we started manipulating the EQ by high-passing, it still had that loudness as it has before we made high-pass automation. So even when it has HP filter effect, the plugin’s chain was strong enough to modify the bass spectrum and make the mix more versatile rather than go with the straight sub across the whole track. Not even that – you can start adding different pieces to this insert to make it fresher, but still keep it stable.

For example, there are some nice one-shot basses that you would like to apply, but you are not sure if it will fit in the mix – our technique is to make this shot more loud to make sure that when it starts playing, the long full bass that is playing will start muting (because of this loud short bass.)

When doing so, make sure it has a same key as the main bass. Anyway, if your bass-shot doesn’t have the same key like the main bass and that may cause the distortions or some frequency conflict,  but you really want to add it to this insert, you can do that but what you have to do is to start sidechaining your main bass – so it will not only remove the conflict of the frequencies but it will also sound more interesting and more different from others.

And the last thing – you don’t need to worry about the stereo correlation of the bass when you will make the side high-pass properly. Just make sure that you start with a sweet sub that will hold your mix as a tune is playing.

Conclusion

It’s all about the right balance and good relationships between your instruments. You just need to know how your sound is behaving after the changes you’ve applied. Use spectrum analyzers, stereo analyzers in the end to see your results. Maybe one day you will find some secret technique that you will master and will use for a long time, without worrying if it’s correct or not.