By making a few smart choices when it comes to tweaking the dynamics, any producer or sound technician can pull more impact out of their mix. Here, we offer 5 invaluable volume-boosting tips, and no – none of them involve turning the volume up.

5 Ways to Make Your Mix Sound Louder

Less is More

The majority of hit tracks you’ll hear these days have been very carefully produced to pop out of your speaker. Often, these tracks have one very specific thing in common: sparse arrangement. If your track is built on nothing but a kick, some vocals, and few synthesizer bleeps, each element is given plenty of room to shine, and will even sound big when played through a tiny speaker, like the one built into your phone. At the production end of things, these kinds of tracks are also much easier to compress and limit during the mastering process.

There’s No Loud Without Quiet

If a track is at full throttle from beginning to end, it’s likely to lose listeners by the 30 second mark. In short, the best pop songs always make smart use of dynamics. The best way to explain this is to compare a majestic, rolling, mountainous landscape with a flat, featureless landscape. One is packed with dynamic lifts and falls, while the other is distinctly ‘one note’. A good song will always feature a few sections where the foot is taken off the gas, slowing things down to make space for a big, epic explosion. Using the volume automation, or by playing with the stereo image in your DAW software, these ‘explosions’ can be given extra emphasis. If you’re not convinced, just have a listen to the effect on the chorus when you squeeze the volume of the verses down a little.

5 Ways to Make Your Mix Sound Louder


At the time of writing, the loudest album that mastering engineer Bob Katz ever worked on was not a metal album, or a hip hop album, but a pan flute album. Generally speaking, there’s more energy in lower frequencies than in higher frequencies, and as a result, lower frequencies take up a large share of the dynamic range. Since a pan flute produces very little low-end, Katz was able to ramp the track all the way up until it almost hit the 0 LUFS mark (more on this later) without even touching a compressor or limiter. With this in mind, it’s possible to create an immense amount of room by filtering out excess lows using a high-pass filter. However, there are pitfalls to this method, since if you push it too far and filter out too much low-end, you run the risk of leaving the mix sounding lifeless.


If you mute all of the drums and percussion, you can push the volume of your mix way up without any clipping. Great tip, right? Or not. If you’re particularly attached to the beat, then compression is going to be an essential tool. Using compression, any peaks can be kept under control by playing with the attack time. You can also make strikes sound longer by using a short release-time. This makes drums sound louder, because the human ear registers longer sounds as louder than shorter sounds. However, you’ll need to make sure that all of that extra sustain in the rhythm section isn’t getting in the way of everything else. If there’s a really loud peak in the track you’re working on, it can actually make the track sound really quiet overall. Using a limiter, the peak can be tamed, but usually this has a more subtle effect than actually reducing the volume of the peak using an audio editor.

5 Ways to Make Your Mix Sound Louder

All you need is LUFS

For years now, all the big streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music use loudness normalisation. This process uses a set guideline to ensure that every track plays back at a similar volume. If a track is louder than the guideline, the playback volume is pushed down below the limit. To measure the volume, most streaming services use the new LUFS unit. LUFS stands for Loudness Units Full Scale. The LUFS limit is 0, so the measured loudness is always a negative number. LUFS meters offer a much better image of how loud our experience is than standard peak or RMS meters, and as such, most DAWs come with LUFS meters these days. If you plan to release songs on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube, there’s no point in making them any louder than -12 LUFS since the platform will just make them quieter anyway. So, only make your mix louder if you really think it sounds better.

Of course, this isn’t the most extensive guide to making productions seem louder, so if you have some go-to techniques for waking up your listeners, please let us know!

See Also…

» DAW Software
» Compressor/Limiter/Leveler Plugins
» Equalizer Plugins
» Gate/Expander/Ducker Plugins
» Mastering Plugins
» All Studio & Recording Gear

» Mix Flawless Vocals in 5 Steps
» DIY Mastering: 5 Tips for Better Results
» Compression: What is it & What is it For?

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