cubase output too quiet

Hello all,
I’m a bit of a tech novice so bare with me if I seem stupid:)

When recording and mixing on Cubase I make sure the levels of the tracks (and masrter track in the mixer) are all set pretty much as high as they can go with out distortion, yet when I export the project and play it as a wav file (or in itunes) it’s quite a bit quieter than any other (purchased) tracks. To put it another way, I’m recording as loud as I can, yet the result is still much quieter than anything else in my itunes library. Any ideas / soloutions gratefully recieved!

Welcome to the art of Mastering. Personally, I would highly recommend Bob Katz’s Mastering Audio:

The most common way to make tracks louder is to compress them. You can certainly overdue this and crush the dynamics of your music, so be a little careful. But generally speaking, I would suggest adding a basic Compressor with the ratio set fairly light (2 or 3 to 1), but set the threshold fairly early (-10 to -25 db). Then add a Limiter (Brickwall Limiter would be my choice from Cubase). You can use the Makeup gain from the Compressor to drive the signal into the Limiter. This will raise the “Loudness” of the material.

Again, a little bit can go a long way, and it also depends heavily on the style of music you are producing. Classical listeners generally expect almost no compression for loudness, so the quiet moments are especially tiny. Pop listeners expect a fairly even sound, Metal/Dance/HipHop often have the most compressed/intense loudness (just generalizing here, certainly there are plenty of exceptions).

I hope this information is helpful.