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Hey, it looks like I'm going to be taking over from someone the post-production of audio files before publishing them on the internet. I asked him what he used on the .wav files (sound is captured using Audacity) and he commented:


"I worked within Pro Tools 11, where I would use the Channel Strip plugin on the audio track. I think the preset I used was 'vocal leveler'. I'd then put a Maxim plugin (which is a limiter) the master channel. Again I think the preset was 'radio limiter' or something. I didn't try to make it as loud as possible (I may have played with the wet/dry signal in the plugins to tone it down), but I was trying to get the level to be in the ball park of any other published audio. I was aiming for having the master level bouncing nicely away between -15 and 0dB"


Just sort of feeling my way as I read various things on the net and wondered if anyone here had any comments?

* should I get Pro Tools for a Mac instead of a PC?

* I really know very little about published audio - where is best to start to learn about this? Reading on the Pro Tools site they suggest online courses - does anyone have recommendations?

* I asked whether just using audacity plugins was enough and was told that a high quality approach was required


I've mucked around with a sound desk before and have a little bit of an ear for EQ but this is the whole post production thing...


Helpful comments appreciated.

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Differences in workflow mean that some people prefer one application over others, but they all pretty much do the same thing. The main concern is compatibility with other people you work with.


Regarding PC or Mac versions, plugin or project compatibility might be an issue. Developer's websites usually list incompatibilities. Some plugins might only be available on one platform, which would make collaboration difficult.


Some Audacity plugins do their job perfectly well, but Audacity has a very limited set of capabilities.


If you are only working with stereo tracks and not multi track projects, maybe have a look at audio editors, such as Adobe Audition, or Steinberg Wavelab. Both are compatible with VST plugins.


Maxim is just one tool to make your audio louder. Commonly called maximisers, they are also known as digital peak limiters, or brickwall limiters. Plugins such as Maxim or Waves L2 make it really easy to boost the volume to match other commercial tracks. You can get results by moving just one fader. There are various pros and cons of using maximisers, but no need to worry about that yet.


As for how to publish audio, what is the material, and what is the final output for? If its a podcast, you can get by on cheaper plugins. If you need to match levels with other commercial music, you might need to work harder. A course is one option, but if you could get someone knowledgable to sit down with you for an afternoon or two, that would probably help you to decide what to do next. Also, perhaps just download a demo and play with it for a few hours.

Edited by komuso

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"it looks like I'm going to be taking over from someone the post-production of audio files before publishing them on the internet"


are you responsible for churning out the final master? what type of content?


if the answer to these questions is "yes" and "podcast", and your original audio is fairly clean and noise-free, then its probably possible to achieve acceptable quality even with the humble Audacity.


keep in mind that a limiter is really just a brutal kind of compressor. and you generally want to move from gentle forms of compression (if necessary) towards limiting at the end of signal chain.


plugins that 'maximise' let you to limit the incoming signal to some cut-off level (sometimes set so as to flatten off the tiniest of volume peaks) and then, if necessary and desired, amplify the signal so that any audio that reached the cut-off level is now just kissing the absolute maximum.


before that though, you want a vocal that is not too variable in volume, otherwise anything you severely flatten with a limiter will sound weird and shit and/or the softest parts will still be too soft after limiting/maximising etc.


if necessary, you can use a compressor with a slowish attack/release and a nice gentle curve so it will lower the level smoothly and progressively as it becomes louder.



one of the best ways to get a feel for this: record yourself whilst moving forward and back from the mic or talking softer and louder so that your level is very uneven (but in a natural way). then, experiment with a compressor until you can get the track to sound nice and even and natural without being able to hear the compressor doing anything obvious.

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If all you're doing is volume and EQing etc with a few plugs Pro Tools is way overkill. Audacity will handle it fine so will other software like Studio One etc

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