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I was wondering if there were any quick approaches from taking a soundtrack that has a wide dynamic range (film) and compressing it for something like the internet, where most things seem to be squashed?

Using a limiter or any excessive amount of compression obviously kills the large peaks and kills some of the more intense moments. Maybe it's best to just leave the mix as is?

If I come off ignorant, I completely am. I don't have much experience with film and I was hoping to find a quick solution without having to do a complete remix.

Thoughts?

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4 Answers 4

If it were me, here's how I'd approach it:

run the mix through a set of very small speakers.

while listening to those small speakers run a couple of layers of light compression on the master bus, listening to what the combination of the small speakers and the comps are doing to your bigger transients and louder moments. The objective is just to tighten the dynamic range in steps.

then put a compressor on the master bus that has a "mix" value - something like Waves H Comp, this allows you to effectively run a dual compression chain - one with no compression and one that is compressed. On this one squash the hell out of the compressed side and mix it in to taste. While mixing in the crushed stuff, you should be listening to the quieter parts of the mix, essentially bringing the floor of the mix up into a place that works well on the smaller speakers.

Now print the mix, put it on your phone and listen to it both through the speaker and on earbuds.

adjust and re-output.

Its easy to go nuts with compression in this situation, but if you tailor the compression in layers and monitor the right way you'll get a good feel for how much compression to add without destroying the mix.

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I'd say what you want to do is adjust your mix slightly with some compression. You don't want your quiet moments to be lost on sub-par computer speakers, or due to the fact that everything on computers tends to be very loud; but you don't want to ruin your mix by squashing it either.

Sometimes, i'll make a separate stem for the DVD mix, which basically applies some soft compression and a few dB of makeup gain, to gently boost the average level, while maintaining some dynamic range.

So if you have the time, definitely look into gentle compression, but monitor it as you go.

Actually, it'd be interesting to check out average levels of various internet content. Maybe one day, when i have free time...

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I suspect average internet content loudness will be in line with previous publications about the Loudness war, like this one: media.npr.org/assets/music/news/2009/12/poster2.pdf –  EMV May 28 '11 at 12:12

My rule of thumb for the DVD/web mix is to bump the stems up 6dB each, brickwall with Maxim or L2007 at around -3dB and give it a slight bit of maximization for more 'pop'. Babysit everything from there.

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Try using limiting and then compression. I sometimes like to limit with a very high threshold (say -2dB) and a fast attack to deal with aggressive peaks. Then I might choose a slow attack, a low threshold (say -40dB) and a low ratio (say 1.5:1) to compress almost everything. Finally I'll get the average level from a comparison track and try and make the average level similar using gain without peaking above -2dB .

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