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Author Topic: We can't use compressors or limiters on modules, but...?  (Read 799 times)

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ModTomIT

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Sort of a weird question, but when I make a module I find that it's...quiet as a mouse. So, turn up the sample volume, you'd say, right? Well, no, because then there's parts of the song that peak too high and the peaks get cut off. So, use a limiter you'd say...well, yeah, but I don't want to use VST plugins :(

Anyone have any tricks they want to share to deal with this? Being able to use compression would be really nice, but nope...can't do that. I got a few songs that are pretty good I think but they're just too quiet. When they come on I have to turn the volume way up to get a decent thunk in my ears.
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Saga Musix

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Re: We can't use compressors or limiters on modules, but...?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2016, 14:12:20 »

Do what a compressor does, the manual way: Adjust the global volume.
But first off, get your mix right. Give each instrument a good volume so that it sits nicely in a mix. Attenuate higher notes played by the same instrument, as they will come out louder just by nature. Yes, this may require that you manually enter volume commands next to half of your notes, but it's so worth it. Also play around with channel volume and instrument/sample volume to balance things.

After that, you can export your tune to a wave file (or simply into a sample slot in OpenMPT) to check where are the loud and the quiet parts. Decrease the global volume in the loud parts, and slowly fade it up and down when transitioning between parts of different volume.
You can see this technique being used e.g. here: http://modarchive.org/index.php?request=view_by_moduleid&query=177409

If you just want to limit your module to make it loud and sacrifice its natural dynamic range, there is no alternative to a compressor, but you shouldn't do that anyway (welcome to the loudness war). Manually adjusting the global volume is completely okay though.
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ModTomIT

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Re: We can't use compressors or limiters on modules, but...?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2016, 20:20:07 »

Do what a compressor does, the manual way: Adjust the global volume.
But first off, get your mix right. Give each instrument a good volume so that it sits nicely in a mix. Attenuate higher notes played by the same instrument, as they will come out louder just by nature. Yes, this may require that you manually enter volume commands next to half of your notes, but it's so worth it. Also play around with channel volume and instrument/sample volume to balance things.

After that, you can export your tune to a wave file (or simply into a sample slot in OpenMPT) to check where are the loud and the quiet parts. Decrease the global volume in the loud parts, and slowly fade it up and down when transitioning between parts of different volume.
You can see this technique being used e.g. here: http://modarchive.org/index.php?request=view_by_moduleid&query=177409

If you just want to limit your module to make it loud and sacrifice its natural dynamic range, there is no alternative to a compressor, but you shouldn't do that anyway (welcome to the loudness war). Manually adjusting the global volume is completely okay though.

Thank you for your detailed and helpful reply. I had never thought of exporting to wave just to find where to adjust the volume, instead of playing the song through and looking at the dB meters. I suppose then you could increase the overall global volume and adjust the volume of the individual notes down so it doesn't peak too high where necessary? Your approach to adjust the global volume down in the loud parts is interesting; it must require a subtle hand not to kill the fullness of the sound, hmm...

Good song by the way.
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Saga Musix

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Re: We can't use compressors or limiters on modules, but...?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2016, 18:31:00 »

Well, the volume of individual notes is less about the peaks in the waveform but rather about the total mix, i.e. this is something I'd do by ear rather than looking at the waveform. Once those sound ok to you, I'd look at the waveform and adjust the global volume accordingly. It has to be used with care as you say yourself, so I mostly use this trick during transitions between different-sounding parts in the track. Otherwise it would probably sound too weird.

Quote
Good song by the way.
Thanks. :)
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