I’m fairly new to the recording process and Cubase. I recorded 4 songs recently in Cubase and noticed after when playing them in my car the volume levels on all four songs are dramatically different. Just wondering what is a good practice for leveling volumes on songs.
I can’t answer your question but its complex. You need to study head room, gain staging and the standards such as K metering. You can get away without know these things, but results will be mixed
I have tried everything and it is driving me nuts. There is such a difference between the songs.
What exactly have you tried?
This is such a seemingly simple, yet amazingly complex, task to accomplish.
You say you are fairly new to the recording process. Once you get comfortable with that you can start exploring the mixing process. Once you are comfortable with that you can start exploring the mastering process.
I guess what I am trying to say is … it could take years to figure these things out. There is no one button solution.
Usually this is done in Mastering by specialized people (on a professional level).
For home usage: use the built-in loudness meter to level your songs.
You could also take the mixdowns of your songs, import them in an empty project and apply loudness normalization to each. You find that function in the Audio menu, Processes, Normalization. I usually add a limiter behind this to avoid peaking.
I would second that, Audio > Process > Normalization is the easiest way to get all your mixes to be at the same level. The thing is, you need to know what your target is. For instance, Spotify standards are -14dB LUFS. I would select “Loudness Normalization” as the option (this detects the overall average level of loudness, not just the peaks) and -14dB as the target (back in the CD days, this could be as high as -9 LUFS) and all your tracks should sound much closer.
If you want to keep your loudness levels consistent during the mixing stage, then you’d want to run an analyzer (like Cubase’s excellent SuperVision, Voxengo Span, or YouLean Loudness Meter) to see what level your mix is at. Again, if your target is -14dB LUFS, and you see one mix is -23dB, and another mix is -19dB, you can go “14 - 23”, and “14 - 19” and the difference is how much gain you need to apply on your main output to get near that level. This is often done with a limiter/maximizer like Waves L2, Fabfilter Pro-L, etc, to lower dynamic range and avoid clipping your output.
I would also encourage you to read up on loudness and how to reach these standards. But that’s the easiest thing: find your target; find out how far your mix is off from that; use normalization or a limiter to make up the gain—done!
I understand your frustration. Level’s is a very deep subject, you won’t conquer it in an afternoon setting. Often,m even professionals will hand over their mix to a pro to get it mastered. I suggest you get to know Cubase better first, then come back to this.
If you want to make your instruments and tracks level (to begin with), then you can use Cubase’s pre-gain. Making tracks equal is not always the right thing to do, the sound of a pin dropping on one track and the sound of thundering elephants on another, should not be leveled - instruments of different types, different articulations all have different levels. In the end, it is the ear that judges and you may know already that it has a bias toward the frequencies near speech.
If you get the Control Room working (even in a home studio) there is an excellent meter in that. There are two fundamental measurements of sound, dB (decibels) and LU Loudness units, both have a role.
Ok, maybe I’ll try this first and see how that goes. Thanks