I have a apollo twin solo , when I boost up the volume on main stream songs on YouTube I barely hear any clipping or digital distortion.. I'm in the middle of mastering my track , I have like 30 tracks of vocals and 15 of the beat, all of them are 11db -23db , without the limiter on all tracks it goes up to 8db on the master bus .. so I put a limited on each track and now it has 2.2 db of headroom , the drum aux has 0.3 , the vox bus has 11db and the synths 13db the track has a lot of dynamics but with heavy drums and a vocal stack playing at one part , What's the best way to master this track without digital distortion or clipping ? should I lower each track more? I already lowered everything 15 db for headroom and it got be to 6-8db without the limiters on everything So my QUESTION is: what's any mastering advice you have to get my dymnamic mix sounding like Adele or Katy perry ?


The first piece of advice I'd give is to brush up on your understanding of limiting, compression (aka dynamics) vs mixing as you appear to be using things in the wrong way. Adjusting dynamics is relatively simple in principle, but gets more complicated when you are dealing with trying to actually implement it and find proper thresholds and ratios to normalize things the way you want it. It took me several years to really get to the point where I was happy with my ability to adjust dynamics quickly and accurately.

The idea is that you want to have the proper relationship between tracks when everything is soft and still have the correct relationship between them when they get loud. One track may get really really soft and really really loud, while another might play at a fairly consistent level and only change a little. Your want your threshold to be set such that low levels are normalized (if someone plays a consistent amount louder and softer than their nominal level, the threshold would be right around the low point, if they don't get particularly soft, but sometimes get really loud, it would be closer to their normal level instead, because the quiet part doesn't need to be compressed) level of signal is consistent, then you dial in the ratio such that it pulls the peaks down to the amount of dynamic range you want.

What this will actually do is that for every x amount louder the signal gets above the threshold, it will only get y amount louder. This reduces the loudest parts to be closer to the rest of the level and thus "compresses" the dynamic range (difference between softest and loudest parts). x and y come from the ratio, so a 3:1 compression means that for every 3dB louder the track gets above the threshold, it will only actually get 1dB louder after the compression.

You don't set track limits and compression to fit the overall mix, you set them to fit the dynamics of other tracks and/or the feel you are going for. Once you have the dynamics of each of the tracks under control for how dynamic (the difference between soft and loud parts) you want them to be, you can mix the overall mix without having to worry about track dynamics causing you issues because the compression and limiting on each track has already normalized them to where you want them.

Finally, after the mix, you can do a dynamics pass on the overall mix to deal with the overall dynamics. This will let you further compress the dynamic range if you want to have a lesser difference between the loudest and softest portion of the song while still having a level of dynamics preserved between the individual tracks.

I'm not particularly familiar with the mix styles of Adele or Katy Perry's albums, but in general, fairly substantial compression is often applied to the final overall mix (read up on "loudness wars" for more info). It's often something that is lamented, but having very flat dynamics for overall level is why you don't notice much in the way of peaks when listening to mainstream songs.

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