Hello! This is my first post on the Notion forum.
I'm using Notion to write piano music. When I'm finished and export to a sound file (.WAV or .MP3) the maximum volume of that sound file is very low. It is not good enough quality to post on soundcloud, although Notion offers to upload to soundcloud directly during the export.
For example, here's the sound file I uploaded last night to soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/mariza_costa-cab ... at-fingers
What gives? I'm shocked by this.
I'm hoping that it's me doing something wrong. If so, please tell me what to do.
Very nice piece. Is that Notion's native piano? Are you using dynamic markings for dynamic changes? If you could post the original Notion file or send it I'd be happy to take a look at it.
macOS Mojave 10.14
2 - 500 gb + 1 tb external SSD for sample libraries
Focusrite Forte audio interface
Nektar Panorama P1 control surface
Nektar Impact 49-key MIDI keyboard
Focal CMS40 near-field monitors
JBL LSR310S subwoofer
Notion 6 + Studio One 4 Pro
Thank you so much for offering to try to help. I see an "Upload attachment" option under this text box, and will try to use it for uploading my Notion file. (Yes, it's Notion's native piano. I used the NTempo staff and gave it tempo input using the computer keyboard.)
Thank you again for any help you might be able to give.
p.s. It turns out I had posted here before earlier this year. I'm sorry, I had forgotten about that and thought this was my first time here.
I downloaded your NOTION score and listened to it in NOTION 6 (current version) on the 2.8-GHz (8-core) Mac Pro (Early 2008) here in the sound isolation studio, and it sounds very nice . . .
I watched the volume levels in the NOTION 6 Mixer, and everything looks good . . .
I listened to it at maximum volume played through studio quality headphones (SONY MDR-7506, a personal favorite since they are nicely balanced and have a bit of subsonic deep bass response), and the volume level is what I consider to be optimal, since in the fortississimo ("fff") measures, the volume level is at the edge of what I consider to be "within bounds" for YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio . . .
Additionally, I exported the audio from NOTION 6 as "WAV, 32-bit"; and it matched what I hear when I listen to the composition in NOTION 6 . . .
This also matches what I hear when I listen to the composition played in SoundCloud . . .
VOLUME LEVELS, LOUDNESS, PRODUCING, AND MIXING
As you know, to make something twice as loud (where "loudness" is a perceptual phenomenon), the volume level needs to be increased 10 times, which is the reason that volume levels on the sliders in Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) applications and NOTION 6 use units called "decibels (dB)" . . .
Decibels are logarithmic, which is a convenient mathematical and geometric way to reduce the visual scale to a manageable representation, because otherwise if the volume level sliders had a linear scale, they would be taller than your computer monitor . . .
This is one of the reasons that recording, mixing, and producing vocalists is a bit problematic, since the volume range of trained singers is nearly mind-boggling, ranging from barely a whisper to so loud that when certain Eigenvalues are sung, it will shatter crystal glasses . . .
The electric guitar is equally troublesome, but for a different reason--specifically that it is ideal in every respect for recording, which maps to an electric guitar having the ability to overwhelm every other instrument, which in this context is a way to state that all other instruments and vocalists want to orbit around the electric guitar, which in turn maps to the need to control electric guitars ruthlessly . . .
Since there are clearly defined, established, and regulated rules for volume levels in broadcast radio and television, over the years engineers have devised a deep and rich set of devices colloquially called "compressor-limiters" specifically to ensure that radio and television station broadcasts are within Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other broadcast regulators' standards and rules . . .
If a radio or television station violates FCC broadcast rules in the US, the station can lose its license; so this is not a trivial thing . . .
There are standards for web broadcasting, but at present in the US they are largely voluntary, which maps to the onus of following the various standards being something various websites do, which certainly includes YouTube and SoundCloud; hence no matter what you upload, it is processed by YouTube and SoundCloud to ensure it's at least mostly "within bounds" . . .
This is an early version of one my songs, and it's output level is set to a little bit more than the recommended broadcast level as measured by the Waves Loudness Meter plug-in that shows you in real-time how the loudness levels are behaving based on various broadcast and web standards . . .
To keep it within standards, I had to change the maximum output level for the T-RackS Brickwall Limiter (IK Multimedia) from -3 dB to -6 dB; but in this version I raised it back to -3 dB, since I like more deep bass . . .
[NOTE: Everything is done with music notation in NOTION 6 on ReWire MIDI staves, and the virtual instruments are hosted in Studio One Professional 3.5 (PreSonus), which works wonderfully with NOTON 6. Now I am using Studio One Professional 4, which is the current version. In terms of loudness, the levels should be at least "ballpark" to the levels in the example Keith Urban song (below). It took me about five years to discover the rules, and the key was discovering the vast importance of producing and mixing when listening to the music played through a calibrated full-range studio monitor system, which is the only way you can trust what you hear when producing and mixing. I should have known this--and unconsciously I did--but a calibrated full-range studio monitor system is expensive, even when you do it the way I do it. Another reason was that at one time all studio monitor systems were full-range and easily calibrated; so I presumed that this continued to be the case in the 21st century--except that it's not. The primary reason it's not is that reproducing deep bass requires big and heavy loudspeakers--an unavoidable rule of acoustic physics discovered by Sir Isaac Newton in the classical sense in the 18th century--which cost a lot to ship; so companies stopped making full-range studio monitors and devised a set of marketing gobbledygook to trick customers. The reason I recommend PreSonus studio monitors and deep bass subwoofers is that they do not use tricky language in their product specifications, and other than the approximately $20,000 JBL Professional studio monitors, they are the only company that is not sneaky. When you understand these types of specifications, the combination of PreSonus Sceptre 8 studio monitors and Temblor T10 subwoofers are honest, and this makes them a good solution (see below) . . . ]
Project: ReWire ~ Studio One + NOTION (PreSonus NOTION Forum)
This is an image of the user interface of the Waves Loudness Meter plug-in when it's set to one of the European broadcast standards; but it shows only an instant in time, although the various counts are running and are cumulative for the entire song, where the general idea is that a few times going over the limit is acceptable, but it should be only a few times, not constantly . . .
Waves Loudness Meter
Curiously, many compressor-limiters have melodic characteristics and are used in recording studios to enhance the performances of musicians and singers, where these songs are three classic examples of this for singers in the late-1950s and early-1960s . . .
[NOTE: The particular combination of devices for this particular vocal producing style consists of a condenser microphone, compressor-limiter, and reverberation unit, although in some instances an RCA "ribbon" microphone is used instead of a condenser microphone. The key bit of information is that skilled singers learn how to "work" the microphone to control the way the compressor-limiter and reverberation units function after they are set by the recording engineer, which the singers do by controlling the volumes at which they sing and the distances they are from the microphone at various times when singing, which they vary depending on the dynamics of the song. the pitches and durations of notes, and so forth . . . ]
[NOTE: Elvis Presley was extraordinarily skilled in "working" the microphone, as you can hear in this recording, where he sings softly at times but then loudly at other times. If you listen carefully with studio quality headphones at louder listening levels, you can hear Elvis hiccuping (0:45) every once in a while and doing "melodic breathing" (1:41) in the latter part of the song, which provides a clue to the vast dynamic range that is being controlled by the compressor-limiter but in a graceful way, which is the key to setting a compressor-limiter correctly when recording a skilled singer . . . ]
Consider lyrical soprano Celine Dion for a moment . . .
She knows when she is going to sing a very loud vocal phrase, and she will move the microphone away to avoid overloading the microphone . . .
[NOTE: Clueless people made fun of Michael Jaskson because he always spoke in a whisper, but the reason he spoke softly is that he was a skilled singer and did not want to strain his voice. When you watch a skilled singer holding a condenser microphone near their mouth, they are singing so softly that it's barely a whisper, which is extraordinarily difficult to do. Celine Dion does the "microphone proximity control" technique when singing loud phrases by moving her head to the side of the microphone. In this YouTube video, she probably is not using a condenser microphone, but the concept and strategy are the same . . . ]
To put this into perspective regarding "within bounds" volume and loudness levels for YouTube music videos and SoundCloud audio recordings, Keith Urban's signature hit song is the example I use at present, where this is the "Producing Map" I use to explain what happens in the mix, based on colors that make sense to me . . .
On a Mac with an external digital audio and MIDI interface like the MOTU 828m3 Hybrid handling the audio and listening with the aforementioned SONY MDR-7506 headphones, you should be able to listen Keith Urban's signature hit song "Blue Ain't Your Color" at maximum volume without damaging your hearing . . .
The other song I use as a reference is Michael Jackson's signature hit, "Billie Jean", which among other things is excellent for determining the exact stereo center of a calibrated full-range studio monitor system . . .
[NOTE: If you want to have a bit of FUN improving your music listening skills, listen to "Billie Jean" and count the number of times Michael Jackson hiccups, and observe that each hiccup is calculated, planned, and done at very specific times . . . ]
The rule here in the sound isolation studio regarding dynamics is that if you cannot hear it clearly and distinctly, then (a) it's probably unproductive noise and (b) it's not necessary--a perspective which tends to annoy everyone who is an aficionado of wildly varying dynamics, but so what . . .
If an instrument or vocalist cannot be heard clearly and distinctly, then either (a) put a compressor-limiter on it or (b) mute it!
When I listen to your song, I hear everything clearly and distinctly, which according to my rules is good . . .
Since everything I examined here in the sound isolation studio (NOTION 6 score, exported "WAV, 32-bits" audio file, and the SoundCloud version of the song you posted) sounds good, I think what you are experiencing is a possible combination of three things . . .
(1) Check your computer audio settings to ensure they are correct along the entire audio chain, which includes everywhere a listening volume level can be set or adjusted . . .
(2) Get a better set of headphones and studio monitors; and if you are listening to playback through studio monitors, ensure that the levels are set correctly for the studio monitor amplifiers and so forth. Regarding studio monitors, the ideal is to have a calibrated full-range (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz) studio monitor system with a flat equal loudness curve at 85 dB SPL measured with a dBA weighting and at 90 dB SPL measured with a dBC weighting, which requires a pair studio monitors (one for the Left side and one for the Right side) and two deep bass subwoofers (also Left and Right), as well as some basic but sufficient calibration equipment . . .
Here in the sound isolation studio, I use a pair of Kustom KPX115P powered speakers (15" woofer and a HF projector horn per side) and a pair of Kustom PA112S subwoofers (12" subwoofers with dual ports), which combined map basically to the sound system for a small nightclub . . .
The sound isolation studio is approximately 6 feet wide by 7 feet tall and 12 feet long, which is about the size of a small walk-in closet, so I run the Kustom loudspeakers and subwoofers at very low volume levels and wear OSHA-approved hearing protection with adjusting and calibrating them, which I can do safely because I did sound reinforcement for a while decades ago and understand the rules . . .
[NOTE: There is a gnarly low-frequency hotspot in the sound isolation studio, so I use six rolls of fiberglass insulation and five cubes of compressed cellulose insulation to absorb it, which works nicely and is not very expensive; but considering the size of the sound isolation studio it doesn't leave a lot of open space . . . ]
[NOTE: I care how it sounds, not how it looks; but if the way it looks is important in your interior design scheme, you can hide the fiberglass rolls and cubes of compressed cellulose behind cloth screens or cover them with some kind of loosely woven fabric, although since deep bass sound waves travel through everything easily, the type of covering fabric is not so critical, which should be obvious when you look at the photo and observe that the fiberglass rolls are in their plastic wrappers, as is the case with the cubes of compressed cellulose (which are not shown in the photo). This is an effective and reasonably inexpensive way to handle listening rooms that have "boomy" deep bass behaviors. In particular, when you listen to "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson), the drums should have clear and distinct "punch", which is what it's called colloquially--crisp, deep, and distinct but not lingering. The bass guitar or bass synthesizer should be similar but with a nice deep bass growl, with snare drum rimshots, kick drum, and bass instruments being at top-center when you listen with studio quality headphones. The key is that Michael Jackson's primary singing also is at top-center riding on the bass instrument and demarcated by the kick drum and snare drum rimshots, which in terms of producing and mixing is simply amazing, which in no small part is due to the producer (Quincy Jones) and audio engineer (Bruce Swedien) being synthetes, which maps to their seeing and hearing sounds (chromesthesia), where sounds map to colors in a clear and vivid way in the perceptual apparatus of the mind. The "Producing Map" for "Billie Jean" is similar to the "Producing Map" for "Blue Ain't Your Color" (Keith Urban) . . . ]
For folks who might not understand the various safety rules, I recommend a pair of PreSonus Sceptre 8 studio monitors and a pair of PreSonus Temblor T10 subwoofers, noting that it needs to be a pair of subwoofers to avoid arbitrary deep bass "artificial intelligence" mixing done automagically . . .
I use a Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 Equalizer, Analyzer, Feedback Destroyer and Mastering Processor, along with its companion calibrating microphone; and I use a NADY DSM-1 Digital SPL Meter to set and verify sound pressure levels in the sound isolation studio . . .
Regardless of the types and brands of studio monitors and subwoofers you decide to use, you need the Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 and NADY DSM-1 Digital SPL Meter or equivalents . . .
If you have an iPhone, then there are apps that transform the iPhone into a digital SPL meter . . .
Calibrating the studio monitor system is done by playing pink noise at 85 dB SPL, which the calibrating microphone "hears" and sends to the Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496, which makes the necessary adjustments; but it's best to ensure the listening room or studio is acoustically neutral so that any increases or decreases for certain frequency ranges are kept to no more than -3 dB or +3 dB, which avoids distortion introduced by the Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 . . .
In this respect, there are two inviolate rules for producing, mixing, and mastering . . .
(2.1) The only way you can trust your ears is when you have a calibrated full-range studio monitor system (as described above) and you are listening to the music played through the calibrated full-range studio monitor system . . .
(2.2) Headphone mixing does not work for primary mixing, since each ear hears something entirely separate and independent. However you can check and fine-tune a studio monitor mix to tailor it for headphone listeners, including ear buds and so forth . . .
(3) If everything is good for the first two possibilities ( and ), then you need to adjust the dynamic marks in the NOTION 6 score to match what you want to hear with respect to volume levels and loudness . . .
Lots of FUN!
P. S. I usually do elaborate posts, but over the past month or so my wired Apple Professional Keyboard has been behaving badly, which mapped to needing to use the onscreen Mac OS X Keyboard Viewer and mouse for numbers and certain characters (parentheses and tilde, for example), which has been quite annoying, since I touch-type . . .
I ordered a new replacement that I found on eBay, and it arrived two days ago; so now that I can touch-type without having to switch to the mouse frequently; so I am being more verbose than usual, which is fabulous . . .
Last edited by Surf.Whammy on Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:33 am, edited 6 times in total.
marizacabral wroteSurf Whammys,
Sounds like a good strategy, so post to this topic and I will reply . . .
It will be helpful to know whether you are doing digital music production on the Mac or on a Windows machine, since there are differences with respect to things to check in the audio chain . . .
I can't be so much help on Windows, since I do everything on the Mac, starting about 18 years ago when I switched from Windows to the Mac; but there are folks who know a lot about Windows, so if it's something specific to Windows, other folks can provide a bit of help . . .
For reference, I did Windows application software engineering starting with Windows 1.1, so I know a good bit about Windows; but it's been a while since I did anything on a Windows machine . . .
Curiously, starting circa the year 2000, Microsoft wandered into ".NET Land", which is one of the reasons I switched to the Mac--along with being fascinated by the iPod, which in 2000 required an Apple computer . . .
Lots of FUN!
Dear Surf Whammys,
Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
After reading that you checked my post on soundcloud and it sounded loud enough to you, I realized that the explanation for my complaint is simply that I have a different idea of what would be desirable loudness. I thought most people would be like myself, and have found this loudness level to be insufficient, and therefore I had concluded (wrongly) that the Notion developers were alone in thinking this volume level was acceptable. Either that, or I was doing something wrong technically. I was hoping that was the case, as it would mean it could be fixed.
So I was wrong. This loudness is, apparently, what many people (and Notion) consider to be very loud, and I am alone in finding it frustratingly low.
Could be my ears... maybe listening to loud music all my life has worn them off...
However, let me tell you, that many (or most?) piano pieces posted on soundcloud are quite a lot louder than mine. I guess people are either using a different notation software (not Notion) or/and are running the MIDI through a DAW or something else.
Surf Whammys, you are very knowledgeable in related topics, and I hope that other forum users will benefit from what you've written, however, unfortunately, a lot of it was over my head. But that's okay. I love verbose people when they know what they're taking about, even if I don't get what they're saying. They're usually great folks and I'm glad to know you're out there for my future questions...
I've always wanted a walk-in closet to arrange my clothes in, and still don't have one, so... if I had a 12 ft x 6 ft space available in my home, I would not build a recording studio but an actual walk-in closet. I would spend less time finding my yellow silk blouse when I need, hence would have more time for composing. Right? To each their own, as you can see.
Many thanks for your friendly response, and wishes of a wonderful Holiday season and start of the New Year!
marizacabral wroteAfter reading that you checked my post on soundcloud and it sounded loud enough to you, I realized that the explanation for my complaint is simply that I have a different idea of what would be desirable loudness.
Loudness is a perception, which makes it subjective; Volume level is a measurable physical quantity, and it is objective . . .
Explained another way, it's like symptoms and signs in medicine . . .
Symptoms are experienced by a patient, hence are subjective; a doctor cannot experience a patient's symptoms, no matter how much empathy the doctor might have. If you have a headache, you experience it; but it's your headache, and I cannot experience it . . .
In contrast, a sign is observable, so a doctor can observe it directly . . .
One of the classic examples is that a patient says she is feeling nauseous, and this is a symptom . . .
Then the patient vomits, and vomiting is a sign . . .
They are similar in some respects, but one is subjective (only experienced by the person and cannot be observed directly by anyone else); and the other is observable but not experienced by the observers . . .
Both symptoms and signs are important, and symptoms provide helpful guidance, of course . . .
You can tell me that you have a headache, and if I have no reason to doubt your veracity, then I probably can presume safely that you have a headache, but for the most part I can't prove or disprove it . . .
To the point--observing that in this context words and their definitions are very important--"loud" is a very personal perception, and what one person considers to be "loud" might not be what another person considers to be "loud" . . .
This is different from volume level, but more specifically sound pressure level (SPL), which is like temperature or humidity . . .
You can say that you think a room is a bit warm, and I can say the same room is a bit cold; and we both are correct based on our perceptions of temperature . . .
In contrast, regardless of whether you think the room is warm or cold, the temperature of the room can be measured with a calibrated thermometer, and if the thermometer indicates that the temperature of the room is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, then that is a fact which is not dependent on what you, I, or anyone else thinks or perceives . . .
Similarly, you can say that a room is very humid, and I can say the room feels dry to me, which is fine and neither of us is right, wrong, or whatever . . .
In contrast there are measuring devices that when calibrated properly measure the humidity or relative humidity of a room; and the resulting measurement is a real, tangible fact, but perhaps most importantly the measurement can be done by someone else and the result will be the same if the measuring equipment the other person is using is properly calibrated . . .
I like to listen to Metallica played through the SONY MDR-7506 headphones at maximum volume level, but as best as I can determine few people I know enjoy this particular listening activity . . .
I have a friend who has extraordinarily sensitive hearing and considers the lowest possible volume level on an Apple computer to be "loud" . . .
He does graphic design and occasionally does album cover artwork for clients, so I send him mixes of my songs every once in a while; but since I know the way he prefers to listen, I try to duplicate the experience here in the sound isolation studio, which I can do if I work at it . . .
I have protected my hearing carefully, but I also did sound reinforcement, played lead guitar, and played electric bass guitar, so there are times when I am in spaces where the real sound pressure level is high--yet, I can be in the kitchen perhaps 60 feet from a bedroom and hear the sound of a spoon falling onto a carpeted floor, if that particular sound is important and might indicate that someone has fallen asleep in a chair while holding a cup of hot cocoa . . .
I have a Stihl gasoline-powered chain saw, and if I forget to bring the protective hearing gear but need to run the chain saw for a few minutes, I run the chain saw . . .
It doesn't bother me, and I think it's a matter of the amount of time I subject myself to high volume level sounds . . .
The first record I bought was "Great Balls of Fire" (Jerry Lee Lewis), and it was a 78 RPM record which was popular at the time . . .
I liked the slapback echo, even though at the time I had no idea what "slapback echo" was . . .
I might be deluded, but I think my hearing is better than the hearing of people one fifth of my age, at least in terms of what I can identify readily . . .
"Loud" is your personal perception, and it's important to you, but in an absolute sense, it's subjective, not objective . . .
marizacabral wrote I thought most people would be like myself, and have found this loudness level to be insufficient, and therefore I had concluded (wrongly) that the Notion developers were alone in thinking this volume level was acceptable. Either that, or I was doing something wrong technically. I was hoping that was the case, as it would mean it could be fixed.
The best way to put this into perspective is to understand that loudness is different from volume level . . .
Loudness is not volume level; these are two very different things, and as I have explained, (a) loudness is a perception, hence is subjective, but (b) volume level is a real and tangible thing that can be measured by devices that operate based on the rules of physics (which in this instance more properly is called "acoustic physics") . . .
Computers; sound reinforcement systems for concert venues, movie theaters, nightclubs, stadiums, and so forth; and home listening devices are real, physical things that reproduce sounds according to the rules of acoustic physics; and as such they are focused on measurable forces in the classical usage of "forces" . . .
Amplifiers amplify; loudspeakers move forward and backward to push air; and so forth . . .
There are rules for all this stuff, and regarding sound there are specific rules defined in the US by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the amount of time workers can be exposed to sounds at various sound pressure levels for certain durations of time . . .
The general rule, which is the rule used in most recording studios, is 85 dB SPL measured with a dBA weighting or 90 dB SPL measured with a dBC weighting can be continuous for up to 8 hours at a time with no perceptible hearing loss or hearing damage . . .
Like temperature, 85 dB SPL here in the sound isolation studio is exactly the same as 85 dB SPL in a concert hall . . .
72 degrees Fahrenheit inside the sound isolation studio is the same as 72 degrees Fahrenheit in a concert hall--provided the humidity is the same and there is no breeze or whatever, if you want to be super precise . . .
The differences in (a) loudness and (b) volume level are important, and perhaps the most important difference is that excessive volume levels results in distortion, which transforms a sound into noise, where "noise" also has a precise definition in this context . . .
Yet, there are guitar effect pedals that by design intentionally distort the signal produced by the guitar, which in this context means that there are different types of distortion . . .
Using Metallica as an example, all their electric guitars are distorted, and this is a key aspect of their signature sound; but on the recording and playback side of the equation, you want the recorded audio not to be distorted, because if the recorded audio itself is distorted, then instead of hearing the musicians and singers as they intend to be heard, the listener hears what essentially is a "bad recording" of the song . . .
The electric guitars are heavily distorted, and the electric bass certainly has some distortion-induced growl; but the recording is not distorted . . .
This can be a difficult concept to grasp when one first ventures into digital music production, and even when you know the applicable rules of physics, it's entirely too easy to become distracted by subjective feeling and belief, which on the recording side is what you want to avoid totally . . .
If James Hetfield--Metallica rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist--has created an especially crunchy rhythm guitar sound and you are the recording engineer, then you want to record it as precisely as possible without introducing any distortion, because if you allow anything to alter James Hetfield's unique rhythm guitar sound, then you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing, which is recording the audio as accurately and purely as possible . . .
Yet, as with everything, there are a few extra rules . . .
For example, consider that you hired me to make your SoundCloud song appear to be louder . . .
There are producing and audio engineering techniques that can accomplish this goal to a certain level, where one such technique is call the "Haas Effect" or "Precedence Effect" . . .
Haas Effect (Wikipedia)
The Haas Effect is a very specific perceptual phenomenon, and what happens is that if two identical sounds arrive at the ears and are sent to the auditory perception center of the brain, then the auditory perception apparatus performs one of its filtering or judging activities and instead of creating the perception of two identical sounds arriving very rapidly, it combines the two sounds and causes them to be heard as a single sound that is louder than either of the actual two sounds . . .
If you watch television or listen to radio, then you have noticed that for some unknown reason the loudness of advertisements is greater than the loudness of the entertainment content; and the Haas Effect is one of the tricks audio engineers use to create the perception of increased loudness . . .
Remember that broadcast radio and television operate under strictly enforced rules regarding volume levels and that to keep their broadcasting licenses in good standing, radio stations and televisions stations use sophisticated electronic equipment to ensure that the signals they broadcast meed all the FCC broadcasting licensee requirements and can be documented to do so, if there are any disputes . . .
There are other techniques, most of which I consider to be tricks, and these include using averages, so that playing some of the entertainment content at lower volume levels can offset increasing the volume levels for a few instants during key sections of advertising . . .
marizacabral wroteThis loudness is, apparently, what many people (and Notion) consider to be very loud, and I am alone in finding it frustratingly low.
It's not a matter of you being alone or whatever . . .
And it's not a matter of me being some kind of dominating ruler of the known universe . . .
If I want the music to be louder when I am listening to it, then I increase the volume level using the volume level slider in Mac OS X, and then it's louder; but the key bit of information is that I should be able to move the volume level slider to maximum and not damage my hearing, headphones, or studio monitors . . .
It's what generally is a reasonable expectation, where an example is the temperature setting on a hot water heater . . .
Most hot water heaters can be set to scalding hot temperatures, which while not advised is done when there is a long run of hot water pipe in a colder climate and if the water temperature in the hot water heater is not set higher, then when the water emerges from a faucet or shower head, it will be cold, since it had to travel through perhaps 100 feet of pipe running underneath a house in winter, hence is cooled considerably just by having to travel through the long section of cold pipe . . .
Yet, if it were not a special case, and you arbitrarily set the temperature of the hot water heater to a dangerously scalding temperature and this resulted in a child or elderly person being badly burned, you would have committed a felony and would or should be locked in prison for a long time . . .
Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do it. . .
This is a good example, and the way to map it correctly is that the volume level is like the temperature of the hot water heater. It needs to be set to a safe level, and this is a reasonable expectation of listeners . . .
If it's set correctly, then if the listener runs only the hot water faucet, the water will be hot but not so hot that is scalds or injures . . .
It's not a perfect example, because for listening levels you can get a larger amplifier or a more powerful studio monitor system, and then this is like adding an auxiliary water heater, but even then there are limits
Loudness is perceived, hence is subjective and only can be perceived by the person who is perceiving it . . .
Volume level is a real, tangible, and measurable thing; and it is measured by what essentially are machines that do not have dreams, beliefs, and opinions when properly calibrated . . .
A digital sound pressure level meter measures the sound pressure using a specific weighting, which usually is either a dBA weighting or a dBC weighting and is set by the person operating the digital sound pressure level meter . . .
It's like a thermometer, and when the thermometer reads 72 degrees Fahrenheit, this is the temperature when the various measuring procedures are followed . . .
The digital sound pressure level meter or thermometer doesn't say, "Well, I think it feels a bit warm or that it's loud", because those are opinions, not objective scientific facts . . .
Remember that in my first post I said that I watched the NOTION 6 Mixer and everything looked good, which in the terminology I use here in the sound isolation studio means that I watched the volume level sliders to see how the levels behaved throughout the song; and when I see the levels fluctuating consistently around 0 dB, then generally I say, "It looks good", which means that I don't see anything that might be problematic with respect to introducing noise and distortion arbitrarily . . .
Arbitrarily introducing noise and distortion generally is bad, not good . . .
I noticed that you are using the native NOTION Reverb, and generally I don't recommend this, but it won't have a significant affect on perceived loudness one way or the other . . .
Instead, if you want to add reverberation, there are better reverberation effects plug-ins available from third-party companies like IK Multimedia, Waves, Wave Arts, Native Instruments, FabFilter Software Instruments, Vienna Symphonic Library, and a few others . . .
Generally, I use either (a) one of the T-RackS 5 Classik Studio Reverb (CSR) reverberation units (IK Multimedia) or (b) Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments, but Native Instruments has a nice reverberation unit called "Replika" that I use occasionally, and when I am using AmpliTube (IK Mulltimedia) there are a few additional reverberation units available, in particular a Fender Spring Reverb, which is part of the classic Instrumental Surf Music genre . . .
Explained another way, it's impossible to win or to lose a conversation or argument about loudness, even if I am having the conversation or argument with myself; and it took me a while to understand this--and even longer to discover how to avoid it . . .
The key is that machines do not have opinions, beliefs, attitudes, or any of that stuff . . .
When I am uncertain about something that is perceived, I put a meter on it and let the meter show me the scientific reality or factual data, which I then can use to determine whether I need to adjust my perception, and if so then how I need to adjust my perception . . .
In some respects, this is a bit subtle; but it's very important . . .
Years ago I did mixes and they sounded very good; but I stopped doing that and focused on software engineering, during which time apparently unknown to me the various technologies changed; and when I started doing music again as a primary activity, my mixes sounded terrible, which was quite distressing . . .
It took about five years of experimenting to identify the various problems, one of which was that I was trying to mix while listening with the aforementioned studio quality headphones rather than with a calibrated full-range studio monitor system; but eventually I solved the problems . . .
Yet, it's still tempting to be more intuitive than scientific when I am producing, mixing, and mastering; so I have to remind myself to follow the rules . . .
If I think intuitively that the electric bass needs to be louder, then instead of just moving the respective volume slider upward, I remind myself that there are techniques that will make the electric bass appear to be louder without introducing noise and distortion . . .
It takes a few more minutes to do the audio engineering, but the result is that the electric bass sounds louder without blasting everything else . . .
One strategy is to use a selective equalizer to create a generally unique space for the electric bass; and another strategy is to use "ducking", where to avoid clashing with the kick drum, the electric bass is ducked when the kick drum is hit, but since I also put a noise gate on the kick drum, it disappears nearly instantly after the kick drum note is played, which creates the illusion that the electric bass is consistent, when actually it disappears for the few instants the kick drum is moved to the forefront. There are several ways to do this, and they work; but they take more time than just moving the electric bass volume slider upward to increase the volume level . . .
It's subtle in the sense that I want to make the electric bass louder and am tempted to do it the wrong way; so instead I have learned to recognize when something is important and needs to be done in a way that might take longer but produces better results from the high-level perspective of ensuring that all the instruments and singing are heard . . .
If you listen to the song and decide that it's not sufficiently loud, then you are absolutely correct regarding your perception . . .
What I can do is put a meter on it and tell you whether it is "within bounds" for audio material that will not damage your computer audio system, loudspeakers, and headphones, provided you don't increase the volume levels too much . . .
This reminds me of something that in retrospect is hilarious but at the time was expensive . . .
I was doing sound reinforcement for a musical group, and they were playing outdoors at a venue . . .
I had the sound levels set to a safe level, but they kept telling me to make it "louder", so in a temporary lapse of judgment, I increased the amplifier volume each time they asked me to make it "louder"; and after a while one of the 15" woofers exploded in flames . . .
It was totally stupid, and replacing the woofer was expensive, but it was hilarious; and the musical group gained the reputation that "they are so hot, their sound system explodes into flames" . . .
Totally stupid, and I should have known better, but it makes a good story, and it earns one a bit of respect in the headbanger community . . .
marizacabral wroteCould be my ears... maybe listening to loud music all my life has worn them off...
How are you listening?
Audiophile quality car audio system?
If you have an iPhone, there are apps that transform the iPhone into a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter, and there also are similar apps for Android smartphones . . .
This is the "SPL Meter" app for the iPhone, and it costs 99 cents if you don't want to see advertisements. which I think is reasonable. I have not tried it, because (a) I have a NADY DSM-1 SPL Meter and (b) I don't have an iPhone, but so what . . .
If you are listening to music played through studio monitors or in a car, then you can use the SPL meter to determine the sound pressure level. If it is 85 db SPL measured with a dBA weighting or 90 dB SPL measured with a dBC weighting, then this generally is the maximum safe listening level that won't damage your hearing . . .
If the music doesn't sound "loud" at 85 dB SPL or 90 dB SPL, then you probably have hearing loss and might need to have your hearing checked . . .
85 dB SPL and 90 dB SPL (depending on the measuring weights) are loud . . .
It's not so loud that it will damage your hearing if you don't listen more than about 8 hours at a time, but it's loud . . .
People who are not in Metal musical groups and have never been to a KISS concert will not be happy if you have the music playing at 85 dB SPL or 90 dB SPL . . .
On the other hand, this probably is not so loud as a nightclub or any type of popular music concert if you are near the stage, since popular music concerts tend to push the envelope too far, although for an hour or so, it's not so bad . . .
Mostly they do it to hide the fact that the singers can't sing, and the "hiding" is done by "pumping" the deep bass . . .
This song is "pumped", and it was done before I had what I call "The Epiphany" . . .
[NOTE: The instruments are done with music notation and VSTi virtual instruments in NOTION. It was inspired by "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) . . . ]
marizacabral wroteHowever, let me tell you, that many (or most?) piano pieces posted on soundcloud are quite a lot louder than mine. I guess people are either using a different notation software (not Notion) or/and are running the MIDI through a DAW or something else.
Now that I am wearing my audio engineer and acoustic physics hats, this is somewhat disturbing, but it's what happens . . .
People don't take the time to understand recording, and then they produce recordings that are posted to SoundCloud and other places and are just enough "within bounds" that they get through the upload and publish steps and become what literally and physically are audio weapons that attack the hearing, headphones, and studio monitor systems of unsuspecting listeners . . .
Understand that I am not mad or annoyed at you, but instead am trying to explain that (a) loudness is perceived, hence is subjective, while (b) volume level is a real and tangible thing that can be measured and controlled objectively . . .
It makes no difference to me from this perspective if there are several million or billion piano pieces on SoundCloud that have "pumped" volume levels . . .
Actually, I "pump" recordings occasionally; but not so much now that I have realized (a) that there are good ways to "pump" audio and (b) there are bad ways to "pump" audio . . .
When you do everything yourself (compose, play, sing, record, produce, mix, and master), then you need to be able to wear different hats, because these are different activities . . .
When you are wearing your "Mastering" hat--which is the hat you wear when preparing a produced and mixed recording for publishing--there is an unique set of rules, which first and foremost include a bit of policing in the sense that you want to follow generally accepted practices for producing quality audio masters that accurately represent the music (a) without introducing arbitrary noise and distortion and (b) without exceeding output signal levels so that the songs when played do not destroy radios, televisions, computer audio systems loudspeakers, headphones, and damage or injure the hearing of listeners . . .
Your SoundCloud piano piece is fine, and it's "within bounds" with respect to generally accepted volume levels . . .
If this were eBay, then I would give you a "good eBayer" rating in this regard . . .
If you want it to be louder when you listen to it, then either (a) turn up the listening volume for your listening system, iTunes, or whatever you are using or (b) if it already is as loud as your listening system makes it, then consider getting a more powerful listening system (larger loudspeakers and more powerful amplifiers) . . .
Look at the volume bars that SoundCloud shows, and understand that if they are all at maximum height, it's probably too loud or is "pumped" using a compressor-limiter in such a way that it destroys all the dynamics, where pianissimo is just as loud as fortississimo, which is what "pumping" tends to do . . .
I hope this helps, and understand that from a technical perspective you are following the generally accepted rules, which is the best strategy . . .
Lots of FUN!
marizacabral wroteP.S. As to adjusting the dynamic markings on the score, to make it all Forte (f) or Fortissimo (ff or fff), therefore louder...
If you are using the native NOTION 6 piano, then it's probably the same sound samples but adjusted in volume level based on the dynamic marks, although perhaps not . . .
There are sampled sound libraries for piano that have a different set of samples for each playing style and dynamic, as well as several samples for each note so that you can specify "round robin" sample rotating to make it all the more realistic, where for example if Middle C is repeated eight times, then in "round robin" if there are eight different samples for Middle C, each note will be played using a different sample; and there also are sampled sound libraries for piano that are chromatically sampled, where each note is sampled in the various playing styles and dynamics; but these tend to be expensive . . .
Otherwise, most sampled sound libraries are not chromatically sampled, which means that every other note is sampled and the in-between notes are computed, which is not so realistic as chromatically sampled sound libraries where every note is real rather than perhaps half of the notes being computed . . .
Lots of FUN!
To answer your question, I mostly listen to music through headphones. I have an inexpensive set, but which I consider to be good quality.
I understand the worry that people's ears could be damaged if the maximum sound volume of a recording is too high, and I understand the analogy with the setting the hot water temperature too high and the risk of getting burned.
However, I do want a sound recording to have enough sound volume that I can "fill the room with sound" if I want to. Music is a far more fulfilling experience for me when it is played at high volume. It is not enough for me to hear it well, I want to hear it at high volume.
I realize now that I may not be in the majority.
Take care, and may I suggest that all's been said on this topic, and we should go think of something else now.
Mariza, I just had a chance to take a look into your file, and I hope you don't mind me making a few suggestions.
I too have calibrated my studio similar to Surf's and I agree that the volume of your piece seems to be quite natural to me.
Beyond that, I'd make the following suggestions:
1. The pan on your master output fader was set to straight up. I'd recommend setting this to full width pan for best effect, as it will then play back the full stereo width of the piano sample. What you're sensing as a lack of "volume" might actually be a lack of this natural stereo spread in the recording.
2. Notion is a pretty good notation tool, but it's a very good performance tool! In other words, it plays well! But there are some basic rules that you have to follow to maximize this ability. One such rule in this category is regarding dynamic markings. Although the placement of the dynamic markings in your score may be fine for sight reading by a pianist, they will not playback correctly. It's essential with Notion that you place all markings in the same place vertically on the staff. By that I mean that they can go in four different locations (above the upper staff, below the lower staff, under the upper staff, above the lower staff), but for proper playback of dynamics you have to place them all in the same location. Pick one of the above and be consistent. Otherwise, dynamic playback will be hit or miss.
I've revised the file to change the above. I think it's a really nice piece, and the dynamics come through well at the volume that it's played back at.
If you still have a concern about volume you might try a program like Audacity (free version available) to process the final .wav file to normalize it. This is a process where the highest volume peak in an audio file is adjusted to an identified level (in your case you could pick 0 vu) and the rest of the file is adjusted relative to that (in other words, it raises the volume of the entire file the same amount).
Hope you don't mind these suggestions and my modifications!
macOS Mojave 10.14
2 - 500 gb + 1 tb external SSD for sample libraries
Focusrite Forte audio interface
Nektar Panorama P1 control surface
Nektar Impact 49-key MIDI keyboard
Focal CMS40 near-field monitors
JBL LSR310S subwoofer
Notion 6 + Studio One 4 Pro
marizacabral wroteSurf Whammy,
All headphones are not the same . . .
Your headphones could be the problem . . .
As an example, I saw what appeared to be a good but inexpensive pair of headphones on sale at Musician's Friend and ordered a pair to send to my graphic artist friend, but since I wanted to verify the headphones were good, I had them sent to me first . . .
They were a brand I usually associate with quality, but after listening to music with the headphones, I determined they that were lousy headphones, so did not send them to my friend . . .
There are several reasons I recommend and use the SONY MDR-7506 headphones, and while they are a bit expensive, they are no so much more expensive than a good pair of Apple ear buds . . .
The inexpensive headphones had a "tinny" sound and no deep bass, at all . . .
On a related note, you never mentioned the type of computer you are using--Mac or Windows--and this is useful information that can help everyone in efforts to determine what's happening and, if possible, how to correct it . . .
As noted, I do everything on the Mac, and one of the nice aspects of the Mac with respect to digital music production is that it's easy to make comparisons to what someone else experiences when they are using a Mac and you are using a Mac . . .
For example, since Michael Myers does digital music production on the Mac, I can listen to a song on my Mac and have a generally accurate sense of what he hears when he listens to the same song on his Mac, more so if we are using the same caliber of headphones or studio monitor system, regardless of whether an external digital audio and MIDI interface is being used . . .
A pair of SONY MDR-7506 headphones costs about $100 (US), and this is the low-range of high-quality headphone prices . . .
The price has been $100 (US) for about two decades, and it's a reasonable price for studio quality headphones, as well a clue that these are a popular pair of headphones for high-quality listening . . .
The equipment you use to listen to music makes a significant difference in many ways, and this is one aspect of digital music production that suffers from attempts to be frugal rather than to focus on high quality, noting that high quality does not automatically map to high cost . . .
Consider a calibrated full-range studio monitor system . . .
You can get the JBL Pro "M2 Master Reference Monitors" and required amplifiers for about $20,000 (US) . . .
JBL Pro "M2 Master Reference Monitors"
Or, you can get the PreSonus studio monitor system (pair of Sceptre 8 studio monitors and pair of Temblor T10 subwoofers) for approximately $2,000 (US) . . .
Or, you can use the strategy I use here in the sound isolation studio and get Kustom PA loudspeakers and subwoofers for approximately $1,000 (US) . . .
You also need cables--typically microphone cables--and an external digital audio and MIDI interface, external calibrating equalizer, and companion calibrating microphone, along with an SPL meter, which adds another $1,000 (US) . . .
This puts the range somewhere between $2,000 (US) and $22,000 (US), but the result is a calibrated, full-range (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz) studio monitor system with a flat equal loudness curve across the full frequency range of normal human hearing (20-Hz to 20,000-Hz), except that most people older than perhaps elementary school age don't hear much over perhaps 15,000-Hz . . .
QUESTION: What does this do?
ANSWER: It makes it possible for you to trust what you hear, and it's the only way to do this . . .
Each of these studio monitor systems is capable of producing trusted playback at 85 dB SPL in a typically sized recording studio control room or listening room . . .
There are other ways to achieve this goal, but mostly they are variations of the strategy I use, where for example instead of using Kustom loudspeakers and subwoofers, you might use similar brands but the same types of units, where the key difference is that the Kustom units are the least expensive . . .
If you prefer Behringer PA loudspeakers and subwoofers, then this is fine, but it costs a bit more . . .
For reference, the reason I use PA loudspeakers and subwoofers is that all loudspeakers and subwoofers basically are the same with respect to acoustic physics . . .
The primary differences is that the companies that design, manufacture, and sell PA loudspeakers and subwoofers know that people who do sound reinforcement care about the quality and specifications, not who might use the products . . .
On the other side of the equation, there are studio monitor companies that only do studio monitors; and they know their customers are greatly influenced by stars of entertainment, so that getting Celine Dion, Bono, Willie Nelson, or Justin Bieber to endorse their products maps to being able to set a significantly higher retail price for what essentially is a PA loudspeaker or PA subwoofer in a fancy box . . .
Since the PreSonus folks design, manufacture, and sell PA systems, as well as traditional studio monitor systems, their specifications are honest, trustworthy, and reliable, which here in the sound isolation is very important and is one of the reasons I am comfortable recommending PreSonus Sceptre studio monitor systems when they are paired with Temblor subwoofers . . .
Consider the term "near field", which is a very popular marketing term in the studio monitor arena . . .
What it means in English is "you need to be close to it to hear anything" . . .
Start with a good pair of headphones, and then begin saving for a calibrated full-range studio monitor system . . .
Music is sound, and being able to hear sound accurately is a key aspect of enjoying and making music . . .
Lots of FUN!
Many thanks for looking into the file and editing it with respect to placement of dynamic markings. I hadn't been sufficiently aware of the importance of where the markings are placed, and will study this by trial and error now. Sometimes, of course, we want the left and right hands to have different intensities, so they will need different markings too!
With respect to the "pan on [my] master output fader", which you mentioned, I will try to figure out what that is, and how to reset it. I'm afraid I don't know most of the features offered by Notion (or even the terminology).
Thank you again for pointing me in these directions of study.
Thank you for suggesting that the choice of headphones, speakers, and even cables may make a key difference, and for your concrete suggestions. I will look into them.
p.s. You wrote "Music is sound, and being able to hear sound accurately is a key aspect of enjoying and making music . . ." I agree with the second part of your sentence, but I don't really agree that "music is sound". If there is a music philosophy topic we could continue the discussion there. It's too off-topic to conduct it here. I think music is a human mental function which uses sound to be literally heard by ourselves and others. But sound itself, which is merely a physical phenomenon, cannot be said to be the essence of music. (Why I only enjoy the "mental function" at high volume... this I don't know...)
marizacabral wroteSometimes, of course, we want the left and right hands to have different intensities, so they will need different markings too!
You can use different marking for the upper and lower staves on a grand staff just make sure they're consistent, and they have to be doubled. That is if you start to use one marking for each stave, then you have to do that for the entire piece. When I say markings, I also include hairpins in that category.
You'll find the Master Output in the mixer of Notion. The pan control looks like a quarter piece of pie... To spread the stereo field, grab the dots at the top center and drag to left and right. The pie piece should turn blue.
macOS Mojave 10.14
2 - 500 gb + 1 tb external SSD for sample libraries
Focusrite Forte audio interface
Nektar Panorama P1 control surface
Nektar Impact 49-key MIDI keyboard
Focal CMS40 near-field monitors
JBL LSR310S subwoofer
Notion 6 + Studio One 4 Pro
marizacabral wroteSurf Whamy,
This is an intriguing observation about music and sound; so, based on you suggestion, I created a topic for folks to have a conversation about it . . .
MUSIC: Is it a human mental function, sound, or both? (PreSonus NOTION Forum)
Lots of FUN!
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