Why Logic Pro X Exports Soft Sounding Music?

Question

Having some problems with Logic X. Music sounds loud and great when I’m mixing in Logic, but after the mixdown. The music sounds very soft in iTunes or in any other players. Why is this happening?

Answer

This is a common problem when you’re new in music production. Don’t worry though, every seasoned pro make this mistake as well.

You noticed that your music sounds quieter compared to commercial tracks on iTunes. And you then realize you can’t crank your system volume loud enough to hear your track in its full glory. Other commercial tracks you downloaded seems to sound louder than your track. And louder songs usually sounder better. Don’t worry though, this has nothing to do with your export settings in Logic X. It is actually a very important music production process called Mastering. In a nutshell, mastering is a post production process to ensure your music mixdown is loud enough, gets that extra sheen of ‘commercial-ness’ and sounds good on different platforms (clubs, halls, computers, headphones, phone, etc.) 

Watch this video above to see how I made a music piece louder with some quick maximizing. 

The Type Of Processing You’ll Do In Mastering

Equalization | Logic Pro Tutorial

In mastering, equalization is considered one of the most important processing you’ll have to do. The best way to get quickly into EQing your tracks is to reference from other  tracks. The more tracks you reference, the better you will be able to EQ your track. A good advice from many producers is to listen to a reference track as much as possible, before even pulling up your EQ plugins on your mastering track. Izotope Ozone is an amazing mastering plugin that works in different DAWs as a plugin. With iZotope Ozone 6, you’ll get to copy a reference EQ from the reference track and then apply that EQ spectrum to your music. Although this won’t give you immediate accurate results, it does help a lot in learning and training sense.

Electronic Music Production Courses from Pluginboutique.com

While you might do heavy EQ-ing during the mixing stage, it is quite different when it comes to the mastering stage. In mastering, you’ll never push your EQ up or down more than 2dB or 3dB. If you’re pushing it that much, it probably means your mix isn’t solid enough and you’re better off to go back to the mixing stage. Many expert producers do this as well, so don’t worry. You’re not the only one.

Compression

Next up, compression is the next important process that is crucial in every mastering project. Many new producers get the misconception that compression is supposed to make the mix louder. It it the opposite instead. Compression is used to close the dynamic range gap, meaning the more compression you use, the less dynamic your mix is going to be. You can expect loads of compression done on music genres such as electronic dance music and pop, as those type of genres usually needs the music mix to be loud and pumping hard all the time.

When it comes to compressing the mix during the mastering stage, there are two types of compression tools you can look at. The single band compressor which is used to compress the whole mix and the multiband compressor, which is essentially four or more compressors which compresses selected EQ range, giving you more control over the overall mix sound. For example, you could choose to only compress and tame the bass spectrum of your mix and leave the top EQ range uncompressed. This can be achieved with a multiband compressor.

Loudness Maximizing

When mastering music, it is not enough to just look at the audio peaks. You have to watch the average loudness of your track too, if you want them sounding loud on different platforms commercially. See the image below for the difference between the audio peak and average loudness. Average loudness basically is the perceived loudness that your listeners will hear. A very common mistake is to have your peaks hitting the threshold, but your average loudness volume very low.

Input Loudness

Input Loudness vs Average Loudness

A great way to learn how loud commercial music are actually mixed at, slap on an RMS level meter like the one above, to analyze their levels. You’ll see in some cases, the average loudness of some electronic music can go as loud as -3dB. Pop music usually falls somewhere between -9dB to -6dB. In a nutshell, loudness maximizing is near similar to an adaptive limiter plugin where you use it to maximize the average loudness of your mix.

Can Mastering Be Done Yourself?

Absolutely. If someone tells you that you can’t do mastering by yourself, they’re wrong. With the increase of digital softwares available to indie producers these days, it really takes just loads of practice and experience to be able to master your own music. It also makes sense to get your music mastered by someone else, because you’re basically getting new fresh ears working on your music. That being said, it is possible to master your own music by yourself.

 

 

Drop Your Comments Here

Comments

  • S.d. Satterlee

    Hi-my name is Reuben Chng, and I am a huge nerd.

    In a nutshell, you didn’t answer the question. He wasn’t asking what you know, Nerd. He was asking how to make his tracks louder. Thanks for the super informative essay on mastering that you pulled from some other website without any actual data on how to make his tracks louder. If you’re reading this, Check it out. This is probably not an actual professional way of doing this, but this is what I’ve found works, and if you don’t like it, don’t use it.
    Go to track, open an output track. Once thats up, screw around with some eq if you want, or compression, whatever makes you happy, then, go to the little “show/hide automation” box in the micro task bar above your tracks. It looks like a spread out “S” or “5” with dots at the angles. Tap that. All of your tracks will now look crazy, but don’t fret. Go to your output track which should be the very last track in your stack. Haha. Stack. It should have a box in it that you can click that will open up a couple options. Click Volume. There is a ghost line that travels across the length of your tracks. Click on that. A dot appears. Raise the dot to about 2.7 DB or even higher if you want to experiment. I usually go about 2.7 – 3.2 db higher, but Im using other programs, whatever. Play with it. Before I send my track to iTunes, I always loop the entire song, shorten the length to whatever I want, and then drop the volume line at the end from what I raised it to, to zero fucks, using the same method I just told you about. Send your mix to iTunes. Behold. Louder tracks.

    Enjoy.

    Thanks again Reuben Chng for being a tool bag.

    • Reuben Chng

      Not sure what I did to upset you and for the record, I wasn’t explaining what I know.

      Through that question it’s understandable that no mastering was done, thus his/her music sounded soft in players, mastering was needed. Your solution was simply to raise the automation volume. That is a go if your track was way below the 0dB mark.

      Yes I reference many other sites and pull them together to make it easy for people. Nobody dies an original anyway. I agree I didn’t have materials to show how to do it, but if you like me to show it in detail, shoot me a project file and I would be happy to show how to make your track louder.

      I agree with you for the ‘nerd’ part though. I mean, producers sit infront of the computer all day. We’re nerds, I’m a nerd. We’re not supposed to be cool people. I’ll leave the coolness to the artists.

    • Captain Obvious

      S.D. Satterlee. The level of stupid in your post is astonishing.

      So basically you’re saying to automate a volume change to some random number you just pulled out of your ass rather than just click the *normalize* function on your final output/bounce? LOL

      Do you even know what the fuck you’re talking about?

      Thanks S.D. Satterlee for being completely useless.

    • VK

      @sdsatterlee:disqus

      Automating the volume of an entire track to + 2.7 db is exactly the same thing as increasing the volume slider on the track in the mixer to +2.7 db. Automation is for when you want some parameters to change during the song e.g. decreasing volume on harsh consonants in vocal tracks, fade out a song, creating filter effects with an EQ etc.
      It’s meaningless to apply the same automation value, like you explained, over an entire track. Because, as I said, it’s the same thing as doing it in the mixer but a lot more complicated and makes it a hassle if you want to change it later.

  • DontYaTalkSIlly

    I think you misunderstood the question being asked? They said the track sounds softer not quieter… this sounds like the high end is not translating from the mix properly…
    Logic plays back at 64 bits.. this can trick your ears if you are sensitive to certain frequencies. I have the same issue sometimes when I spend a long time on a track and get used to the sound… you hear the definition of your mix.. manage to get lots of bass in there and then you bounce and realise its losing its bite and sounds sorta like there is a blanket over the speakers/headphones.
    There is a few fix’s cause this can be caused by a few things.. but heres some that I’ve come across.

    1: bounce all your tracks separately (I send everything to a bus before the stereo out, then put an empty midi region on the track and bounce offline as 32 bit) then load the audio files into a new project.
    If its the actual rendering process thats giving errors this will likely fix the issue.. When you do a realtime bounce and have lots of plugins in a track the cpu can make errors especially with reverbs.

    2: make sure you don’t have a big buildup of sub bass and low mid reverb frequencies( try using a send bus for reverbs and putting a high pass at 600 hz before the reverb).. It might sound fine as it is in logic with the huge amount of headroom but once bounced you have a limited amount of space… you need to make compromise. Get some high pass filters on some tracks.. anything thats not bass can be cut at around 200 hz and will make the bass you want stand out more, you might not even notice a difference but its going to give you more headroom.

    3: Your ears might just be tired… happens all the time to me… just make multiple bounces if you insist on keeping on mixing.. you may come back and find that you had it just right before you started playing with the mix to make it bigger 🙂

    4: I’ts unlikely but you could be feeling the lack of higher highs after bouncing… like above 20khz.. we don’t hear this end of the spectrum but it certainly affects the sound of the lower frequencies.. If this is the case then following the first fix should help, but also place a low pass filter set at 20 khz with a low q on your output channel before any limiting or compression. Higher frequencies will modulate lower frequencies.. when you take them out the modulation also disappears but if you bounce with a high samplerate and then cut the higher end.. the modulation is bounced and you just cut the higher frequencies that you aren’t hearing anyway.

    Hope this helps someone.

    • Reuben Ch’ng

      Thanks for your input. Love it whenever someone shares their thoughts too. This benefits all of us in a big way!