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Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal

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Debbie King
Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 20, 2014 at 8:55:26 pm

Hello Everyone:

I am having a little difficulty balancing the levels of the tracks; meaning, some volumes were recorded louder than others during the recording, and so I may level off well on the mix console where I believe the levels to be, but when I do this manually, and think that all is balanced well, I realize that I am only basing it on the previous audio and not the overall mix. I don't know if I am explaining this clearly. In other words the first and second clip are balanced, but by the time I get to the 15th clip it becomes increasingly louder and I am not aware of it until I listen to the entire project. It becomes louder because it was recorded louder. Has this happened to anyone? Is there a way to measure the sound better than what I've been doing?

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Roger Bansemer
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 20, 2014 at 9:26:53 pm
Last Edited By Roger Bansemer on Jun 20, 2014 at 9:27:36 pm

On the track of audio you want to be equalized to avoid parts being too loud and then too soft you can do the following.
Use the "track compressor" and set the threshold to -24.0, the amount to 2.0, and leave the rest alone. This will bring your low volume up and your high volume down.
Then on the "master FX" level you can open and use the "Wave Hammer Surround" and set that to -6bB and leave the rest alone. The wave hammer will keep any volume from going too high.
I'm sure others can give you more precise tips but that's a start and might work.

Roger Bansemer - PaintingAndTravel.com


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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 20, 2014 at 11:53:21 pm

Thank you Roger.

I will try it.

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 21, 2014 at 6:59:22 am

Before you add any compression, I would get your levels close using each clips volume and a combination of Normalize. You really need to watch the meter and try to get all your dialog within a certain range, say -12 to -6db - don't rely on your ears - watch the meter! You'll drive yourself crazy without the meters :)

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 21, 2014 at 9:19:40 pm

Hi Lance:

Thank you. Great advice. What is troubling is that even the meters are not balancing the sound. What I mean by that is there are certain scenes that were recorded louder than others. When I equal the meters of those scenes with the scenes that were recorded lower, I still get the increase in volume as the movie progresses, but this was when I used the Track Volume Envelope. I think my problem was that everything was on one track. Now that everything is on separate tracks I can measure using the mix console. I will do what you suggest.

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 22, 2014 at 12:47:34 am

Hi Lance:

It just occurred to me that you may be speaking about a specific meter. Are you speaking of a loudness meter or the channels on the mix console in Vegas? My previous response to you was regarding the mix console channels not the loudness meter.

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Kevin McCarthy
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 22, 2014 at 4:42:55 pm

Deb

One thing to remember, before you compress a sound file, be sure to do a noise reduction. When you compress an audio file it not only brings up the low volumes it also brings up the noise floor. Noise that may not be heard in the original file will be very evident after compressing the file.

I would then "normalize" all files to 90db. That way you will keep any file from going into distortion and will set all tracks to the same peak level



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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 22, 2014 at 10:20:04 pm

Thanks Kevin:

Great advice. I didn't know the db's to normalize. Thank you so much.

I was just about to leave a post about my experience with RX3 and RX3 Advanced. I'll go ahead and post it since this post is a few days old.

Thanks again.

Best,

Debbie


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Dave Haynie
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jul 4, 2014 at 8:34:19 pm

You can't balance things that aren't similar enough. A good example is shooting a musical performance -- you may have clips of music, clips of speakers, etc... they're going to be at drastically different volume levels.

You probably want to compress speech, but you definitely don't want to just randomly apply compression to music. The former is generally informational, the latter... is music. It's supposed to be dynamic.

Even if I'm just using a mic or two, I will ALWAYS split up different kinds of audio into different tracks. So in a typical musical performance, I'll have an voice track and at least left and right music tracks, even if I'm just using a single set of mics. I always want to be able to mix the voice to the center channel, if there's the option of a 5.1 audio output... and I'll think in those terms, anyway. That'll be a mono voice mix... and I'm talking about things like announcements in-between music sections.

It should be obvious that with other kinds of speech, like dramatic speech, theater, etc. you don't want much if any compress, and you're going to keep the stereo mix. You'd be dealing with speakers who are using their vocal modulation for an intended effect, not just those who might not be careful about their vocal levels when making announcements (or whatever). And of course, if a normalized speech track sounds clean, you may not want the compression -- it's just fairly typical that light to moderate compression is a good treatment for speech.

Normalization is also necessary, or at least very useful. I would typically do RMS normalization of voice at around -10dB and music at around -16dB, but it going to depend a bit on the content. Using RMS normalization (not built-in to Vegas, but available in Sound Forge) means you're not having your normalization thrown off by the odd noise or other unusual sound. So -10dB always sounds like -10dB.

You can get into trouble with compression either pre or post normalization, if you don't know what you're doing. Most of the plug-ins use compression curves that assume you've already normalized the content, and most automatically provide some make-up gain, so the output will have about the same levels as the input. If you're not well versed in applying compression, it'll be easier to normalize then compress. Knowing what I'm doing relative to these, I usually do it the other way around.

-Dave


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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 26, 2014 at 4:16:01 pm

Hi Kevin:

RX3 has a normalize feature. Should I wait to normalize in Sony, since that is where all of my other files are or do everything in RX3?

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Kevin McCarthy
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 26, 2014 at 6:30:17 pm

I would normalize after I had done my noise reduction, and compression at about 5 to 1. If your track still has some noise and the compression may bring up that noise level but if you can live with that it will level your a great deal. The normalizing should be the last processing you do.

It is much easier to normalize in you audio program as it will do the whole file at the same time. If you have a number of clips in vegas you would have to normalize each clip and the levels from clip to clip will give you a different over-all level after normalizing.

Cheers

Kevin



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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Oct 20, 2014 at 4:10:39 am

Hi Lance:

I know this thread is so long ago. Would you be able to tell me how to get the -6db on Wave Hammer Sound? There is no selection, only the levels for output, threshold and ratio. Which one should I level at -6db?

Many thanks.

Best,

Debbie


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Mike Kujbida
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:43:28 pm

Debbie, here are two screenshots of the way I think you want to set up Wave Hammer. On the recommendation of an audio engineer friend of mine, I always bypass the Compressor on that tab.







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Debbie King
Re: Mixing Sound and Keeping the Levels Equal
on Jun 26, 2014 at 4:13:52 pm

Hi Roger:

Thank you so much. Do I do this after leveling the dialogue to get it as close a possible, or do I do this as a pre-step?

Many thanks,

Debbie


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