Getting rendered mix to match reference track


I'm finishing my first song in reaper. I rendered down my tracks at -6db. When I reopen in reaper and attempt to use a limiter to increase the volume, I cannot get my song as loud as the reference track I am using, or as loud as any other commercial song. I have applied a compressor on my original mix before rendering but beyond that, I have no idea why I cannot increase the volume to match a commercially released song. Any ideas would be extremely helpful.


It's frustrating but in my experience it's almost impossible to get anything to commercial levels. Due to the "loudness wars" going on in the mastering world, everything that comes out nowadays is limiter'ed and compressed to within an inch of its life which is hard to replicate at home.

I'm not sure what limiter you're using - I use a free one called the W1 Limiter by George Yohng. With a compressor on (like you already have) and then the W1 you should be able to limit the track up to whatever volume (for example, since you are bouncing at -6dB, you could set the limiter threshold to -6 and ceiling to just under 0). Then it's just a question of how crushed you can make it before you start to dislike how it's making your music sound. Really, really, hard limiting like pro music uses, if not executed by a pro, can really murder a song's sound. (Sometimes even if done by a pro; there are Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers albums that are legendary for how badly they clipped during mastering.)

Hope any of that helps. My version of home mastering is just using that W1 and a compressor to get things a bit louder. A better solution would be hiring an actual mastering engineer - the only non-crazy-expensive ones I have found are on You could also try LANDR which is a computerized mastering thing.


Dang Twangler
Just had a long thread on this...should still be on the first few pages of this section.

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