In dealing with music production, concepts like loudness and volume mean more than what the average person thinks.
This website covers a lot of topics surrounding mixing and mastering and their relationship to loudness. But one thing I haven’t covered is beats/instrumentals and loudness.
I wrote this post to therefore discuss how loud is too loud for beats so that you at least implement this in your own beat making.
Beat making may seem like just putting musical elements together but it’s also about generating a reasonable amount of loudness for the final beat.
With that said, how loud is too loud for beats?
With regard to mixing, anything above 0 dB would be considered too loud for beats. It’s best to have the beat at around -6 to -8 dB in order to leave headroom for mastering, anything that would go above that would make mastering tricky.
With that said, answering this question the right way requires the right context and I’m going to get into that.
Loudness of the beat in Mastering
One of the most important stages of preparation for mastering a beat is ensuring that a beat has enough dynamic headroom.
Headroom is important because this is what will help you optimize the potential for maximum loudness.
This is most important when selling beats, as you will be leaving the mastering process to your clients.
It really doesn’t matter which DAW you are using, headroom levels should always be around -6db.
This will allow plenty of unused dynamic space for vocals to be added in order for the track to be completely mastered.
By leaving -6dB headroom, your customers will have it easy when it’s time to master. Headroom will provide space for vocals as well as space for mastering processes.
Mastering involves the use of a Limiter which is designed to push your overall mix to its highest volume without exceeding the 0dB loudness threshold. Therefore headroom is important in a beat.
Loudness of the beat for upload (as is)
On, the other hand it’s a good idea to fully master your beats to the brim without taking into account headroom in specific situations.
If you’re mastering your beats for uploads on platforms Like Spotify or Apple Music, it’s best to go for the loudness specifications that they provide.
This will help your beats match the loudness standard that’s on the platform. This way, people won’t notice a volume difference when they play your beats after playing other music on the platform.
It’s also a good practice to master your beats to full loudness when uploading them to beat selling platforms Like beatstars or airbit.
The reason for this is, you’ll want your music to sound loud and full in order for your ideal customer to get a glimpse of the instrumental at full loudness.
If they end up buying the beat from you however, you will need to send them the unmastered beat.
The unmastered beat will allow them to not face any challenges during the mastering process.
It’s therefore important to be able aware of this.
How loud should a mix be?
If you’re faced with a situation where you have to send a mix off to mastering.
You need to do the appropriate for the overall loudness of your mix.
If you want to send your mix off to get mastered, you should basically aim for around -6dB Peak, and anywhere from -23 dBFS RMS or LUFS to -18 dBFS RMS or LUFS average.
But its usually a little more complex than that.
One the things that you have to avoid is using a limiter on your master just to have an even dynamic range.
It may feel like the easy thing to do but I advise you to leave any limiting for the mastering stage because thats the time when you’ll need to start worrying about things like loudness, final dynamics and clipping.
If you send your mix too loud for mastering, the mastering engineer will have no option but to reduce the loudness of your mix…which is no good.
Since we are uploading most music is on streaming services like Spotify. There’s going to be a loss in dynamics since these services apply normalisation to uploaded tracks.
Therefore -18 to -23dB is a good place to have your mix before you send it off to mastering.
I’ve discussed a number of things in this post so let’s get to the final thought…
How loud is too loud for beats?
Too loud for beats in the context of getting mixed and mastered with vocals would be around -0.2dB and this will usually result from the use of a Limiter whose work is to push your mix closer to the maximum volume which is 0dB.
Ideally you want your beat at around -6 to -8 dB In order to account for headroom.