8 Replies Latest reply: Nov 20, 2012 8:19 AM by Miles Fender
Ministrel Level 1 (5 points)

I read somewhere that using normalizing function in WB during the mastering process is bad or even uneccesary.Please give me your thoughts on that.


When I master a song there are portions in the song,f(or example during an instrumental section of a song with vocals) where the overall volume dips down.In WB I see a feature where we could nromalize a selected section of a song.Will it be appropriate to normalize those sections?


If i like the mix of a certain song & all I need is to pump up the volume for a CD production,what are the plug-ins that I would need to use to get just the volume up for commercial production? Is this the job of the Limiter alone or do I need to use more plugins in play?

I understand the vastness of the subject of Mastering.But your tips on this would sure help.



Logic Studio, Mac OS X (10.6.7)
  • octopi Level 4 (1,135 points)

    No, it wouldn't be appropriate to normalise just a section of a song. I would think it would make the song sound awful.


    If you get your levels right when you are tracking and mixing, the final stereo song should have headroom so you can bring the volume up. You don't need to normalise to bring the volume up and as with  a lot of things in audio production, different songs will need different things. Some may need compression or limiting others may not. Goes the same for eq, middle and side or any other processing. Without hearing the source material it is impossible to advise. I don't think I have ever normalised a song in 25 years. Maybe once or twice.

  • Miles Fender Level 3 (780 points)

    Normalizing should not be part of the mastering process. During mastering you will use a limiter to being the level up to 0dbFS (or rather, just slightly under).


    Making changes to specific sections of the song would be better done during the mixing process. You can raise the level using automation in WaveBurner, but that will affect the overall dynamic and it might be hard to do it transparently.


    Getting the volume up is as much about the mix as the mastering process. But to answer your question, mastering generally involves EQ, compression (often multiband) and limiting. If a song is mixed well, there should be very little to do during mastering except apply limiting.

  • Ministrel Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks for that helpful advice.I seem to have a pretty good mix already even before mastering.I would mostly need a way to bring up the overall volume.From what I read,I guess the Limiter would help.Has any tried using the gain plug in for raising the overall volume of a song for production? I came across a video on youtube where the person was suggesting to make the waveform of the final song almost look even without much dips,for commercial production! I doubt if that is the right way to go.


    BTW most pros out there dont advice much on using the normalize feauture ,like you do in the above comments.In that case what is the normalize function actualy for & what does it do?

  • Miles Fender Level 3 (780 points)

    You can use the gain plugin to increase the overall level, but you need to make sure that you have a limiter as the last plugin in the chain to make sure that the level doesn't clip (i.e. doesn't go above 0dbFS).


    Normalizing simply means finding the loudest peak in the song and increasing the gain of the entire song such that this peak is hitting 0dbFS. The reason most audio professionals don't like this is that it elminates all of the headroom; something like a EQ change to a normalized file might then cause it to clip. You would therefore have to turn down the gain, which defeats the purpose of normalizing in the first place.


    If you have a limiter, there is no need for normalizing. If you didn't have a limiter, then arguably normalizing might serve some purpose - it is basically just an automatic gain knob that turns up the volume as far as it will go without clipping.

  • Ministrel Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks for the response that helps so much.

    I have 1 more question which may seem pretty dumb.But I'm going to ask it anyway!While I use plugins etc ,how do I make sure that the final mastered tracks is 0db or ''slightly under'. Do I need to set the output volume to 0db or is there any other indicator?

    Sorry if this question is too silly!

  • Miles Fender Level 3 (780 points)

    Not a dumb question at all.


    The final output level is set in your limiter, which must be the last plugin in the chain. It's usually called the "ceiling" - for example, if you look at the Adaptive Limiter in Logic, which is a decent plugin to use, it's the Out Ceiling parameter in the middle at the bottom.


    0dB is the maximum possible value, but most mastering engineers will set this a little under (say -0.1dB) to cater for possible inter-sample peaks and the fact that some systems will read a value of 0dB as clipped.

  • Ministrel Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks once againg for that,much awaited,response.I use 3rd party plugins like IK & Ozone Limiters & then I may not use a limiter sometimes.So is there anyway I could find the output volume in DB by just looking at the track level meters on Logic in the output channel? That is if I set it to 0db wil the bounced track be 0db?

  • Miles Fender Level 3 (780 points)

    Not entirely sure what your point is about the 3rd party plugins - if you are using Ozone then that includes a limiter... you don't have to use a separate limiter after Ozone. Ozone has a chain of plugins in itself; you just need to make sure that the limiter is last in the chain (as it is by default).


    If you weren't using any kind of limiter at all and wanted to just look at the level meters, then the only way to avoid clipping would be to make sure that the loudest peaks don't take you over 0dbFS. Or (ironically, given where this conversation started) you could just normalize it - remember, that's how you would make it as "loud" as possible if you didn't have a limiter.


    The clipping indicator on the meter will turn red if you do go over 0dbFS at any point, and also WaveBurner will tell you that the file is clipped when you try to bounce it.


    At this point, if you're really interested in the mastering process, you might want to pick up a book or two. Actually, there is a very good free mastering guide that goes with Ozone - should be available on Izotope's site or with Ozone itself. The most authoratative book on the subject (IMHO) is Bob Katz's Mastering Audio.