Volume Problem. Project isn't loud enough. Cubase Studio 4

Hi Cubase Community.

After long searches in google etc… I still couldn’t find anything which would help me.

I’m using Cubase Studio 4 (4.5.2 Build 274) on a Macbook Pro late 2011.

I know a lot of people have problems with the Volume, be it in cubase itself or after the mix down etc…
So here to my problem.
So when I build a track I usually put a limiter on the master channel to keep things from clipping. If this is already a wrong step then please tell me.(years ago I never did this, I just let it clip and would normalize the audio after the mix down…) But otherwise if I don’t my track usually starts clipping and I always have my Master on 0.0. So when producing I usually have my mac volume louder for cubase than for example iTunes. This already lets me think that my track won’t be as loud as a normal mp3 song. (of course i know that those are mastered)

Then I use Izotopes Ozone 5 (Mixing/Mastering Suite) on the Master. With the Maximizer, Dynamics and final EQing in there I can usually get a bit of the volume up.
After I do the Mixdown the .wav is still pretty quiet compared to normal audio files. So I normalize it in Audacity to 0.0DB (which I thought it already was?) and that brings it up quite a bit again… But then again still not enough!!

So I don’t know if my way of doing things is completely wrong? Or if there is just something I can tweak to fix this in the settings? I have a loot of projects so I hope it’s not too complicated to find a solution.

I’ve been using Cubase for a while but I’m far from a prof. sound engineer, i taught myself pretty much everything…

You’re not doing anything wrong per se, the problem is that todays music is compressed so heavily to reach maximum loudness. It takes quite a bit of practice to get your music to sound as loud as that. The question is if you really want that. Trained listeners really appreciate some dynamic range in music, but unfortunately the masses don’t really hear the difference and prefer it as loud as possible.

I’m using CBS 5 but also have CBS 4. I don’t seem to have that problem. I can get just as loud as production mixes. With Cubase, mixing right to unity (0.0) isn’t always loud enough. There is a hash mark right above 0.0db that Cubase usually lets you peak at without distortion. Generally, I run mixes between the two. It also depends on how Cubase is interpreting your final mix as far as what frequency range is peaking your mix. Usually, the big bass oriented instruments or vocals and lead instruments are the head drivers. Because of this, I compress those individual channels to keep them from punching the output channel too hard. Rather than use a limiter on the final output channel, I use a compressor. I think it creates a smoother transition to the peak level rather than just putting a ceiling there to have peaks just slapping it aka a limiter. I also think that a final mix compressor creates more headroom which not only allows more volume but separates the instruments more clearly. I usually don’t apply the final output compressor until I’m ready to mix so I can get a bearing on what I actually have before tapering. I only use a 2.1 ratio on the final but if needed, I can squash it more. There is also a make up volume on the compressor so that allows you to up the mix from there.