Inconsistent volume/punchiness of kick and snare

Im working on mixing and mastering a new track and I test it out on as many speakers as i can. One set of speakers I played it on made it abundantly clear that i mixed something wrong. The kick and snare sound fine but occasionally when there is more of a break in the action of the drop the kick and/or snare sounds too loud.

Should i try tweaking my sidechain compression so it ducks more or just lower the volume of the kick and snare to even out the levels before it is compressed by the limiter (“loudness maximizer”).

all other suggestions also welcome.

How much gain reduction are you pulling in mastering, through compression and limiting, combined?

Right now I have the sidechain compression on individual tracks. It looks like abletons compress doesnt tell you the value of the gain reduction, but I have the threshold set at 4-6 db for most and around 9 for one track. the ratios are set to either infinite or 4:1. The limiter (in ozone) for the whole track has gain reduction from -1 to -3 db. Also worth noting that I only compressed sounds with lots of bass to midrange.

After looking this over I was thinking… would it be better to compress the buses rather than individual tracks? for example I have 4 buses set up. one for drums, one for bass/midrange sounds, one for leads and one for effects sounds like white noise/risers/impact hits.

Sorry if I sound like a noob. I am just starting to concentrate more on my mixes now than I ever have before. I appreciate any advice anyone can lend.

Is that -4db to -6db?

What is your kick peaking at on its own channel? What is the snare peaking at?

yes it is. I have the kick and snare in a drum rack (just the two) which is what i use to sidechain the other tracks. both together peak at -6.22db. the kick alone peaks at -11.65db and the snare at -12.03 db.

You have kick and snare occurring at the same time?

This seems like a really really high threshold. Like it is above what the master should be peaking at. Your master should be peaking PEAKING at -6db before mastering.

The kick and snare do not hit at the same time although very close together at some points.

And yea you are right, before the limiter its peaking at around -8db.

If that is the case, I can’t really understand your gain staging, so can’t say.

Yea like i said I am no expert in mixing and mastering. I may just start a new mix from scratch. I know the process isnt the same for every mix or producer for that matter but do you have any advice on what i should research before starting my new mix?

I’d say just research gain staging. You say you have your buss compressor threshold set at -4db, but your track is peaking at -8db. Does not compute. Maybe unless you’re turning those busses, down? Either way, it sounds all jacked up from what little I know about what you’re doing.

Initially what it sounded like to me was that you were pulling too much gain reduction with a master limiter on your drums, with a sub/bass element there, and when that element is gone, the drums actually got their punch back so were sounding weird/too loud to you. But if you’re only pulling 1 to 3 db’s of gain reduction with your mastering limiter, this is probably not the case.

I really don’t know what is going on with your mix. Sorry. :flushed:

no I have buses set up but that was just primarily for monitoring purposes and to turn down a group of tracks instead of having to pick them out one by one. I did wind up keeping the original dynamics of the buses and just turned them all down to 3-db. which just now i realize that might be a little confusing too haha. The only plugin I am running on the buses is a glue compression on the drums which as I’m writing this i just realized i had turned off… so yea my tracks all sorts of screwed up :corntard:

but neways im just gunna do some more research and start over from scratch. thanks for the advice

I wouldn’t be making big moves with your buss like that, just me. But I work UP to -6db or whatever my track is going to be peaking at. I recommend turning your monitors up louder. Your busses shouldn’t be getting out of hand like that. That is not good practice when gain staging.

Moving busses IS helpful for balance, and I might ultimately have a music buss, and a drum buss, just to get that balance right going into mastering, but you can be sure, I’m not taking one buss down 3 db, and another up 3db.

I’d start the mix again, turn up your monitors a bit, and get your kick and snare right, then go from there bringing volumes up. Busses should be peaking below your track peak, definitely.

Re doing a mix can be really helpful, and it won’t take you as long. The first time you had to figure everything out. The second time, it’ll take a 10th or less of the time. You already know what everything is. Just rebalanced those levels. I’d thinking about using compressors to change the attack shape of a sound/buss or using a comp to make things heavier/weightier, but not necessarily to manage peaks.

Haven’t read the whole thread, but are you sure your compressors/limiters are attacking/releasing properly?
Are the peak differences observable in the mixer? May also just be how you’re pairing them up with other elements.
Like the sub could be making them sound like they’re ducking if everything is too loud in the mix.

I found this old thread helpful for mastering/gain structure…specifically the posts by macc

Does this only occur with your master chain on?
if yes turn off everything and bring things back in gradually and then you will see where the issue is taking place.

I’d take all that off your master and re set your levels starting with ur kick and sub then slowly pulling everything up. Try not to go too high on the master buss like nwj said. It will make everything a hell if a lot easier and make clipping the master history

After taking a couple days to redo the mix, it sounds a lot better, except for the issue I posted about. I really dont hear it too much unless I am listening to it on the tv, and i doubt people will be playing my music on their tvs. The amount of effort i’ve put into fixing this just isn’t worth the small improvement IMO. This track in general was a huge learning experience. Thanks everyone who contributed!

Yeah, read that moneyshot thread. The point is you should leave the master fader alone and turn the tracks down for a superior sound.

Anything less than 0, really.

If you are side chaining a channel and then the source for the side chain turns off or is not playing the gain reduction will be gone. Especially evident if you are using any make up gain at all on the compressor itself. It will jump in volume.