One isn’t enough
Most of the studio of music mixing services engineers know that dynamic processing is less perceptible if you apply it in several steps. In that case, every next processor will apply a bit more compression to the sound processed during the previous step. Same goes for the volume maximization. For example, if you need to increase the song volume by 3 dB, don’t use a single limiter with 3 dB gain reduction. Instead, apply two successive limiters, each of which adds only 1,5dB. Such mastering makes the track sound subjectively louder, clearer and a lot punchier.
Who is to blame?
For decades, there was a misconception that loud songs are the result of the track finalization alone. No and no! If a progressive house song, which was given to the music mastering service, is literally falling apart during maximization to the volume level of commercial tracks, then the problem is definitely in the mix, so you should fix it in the first place. Sometimes, the problem can even be in the arrangement itself (this topic was covered in detail in the series of articles devoted to the EDM music processing).
This is true both for equalization of particular sounds and for equalization of the full track. Before you load a song with brightness by lifting the top end, you should probably apply a low cut filter in sub lows first. By cutting the unwanted sub component, engineer will also prevent the distortions of the track when the volume is increased by a limiter.
After all changes are made, it’s time to use dithering as a finishing touch. A small amount of inter-sample noise, which is introduced by the dither, will help to perform a more precise conversion of the track into the CD standard (16-bit WAV).
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