Join Colin Fisher for an in-depth discussion in this video What is headroom?, part of Advanced EDM Mixing Principles.
- So when we talk about headroom, Headroom is the amount of space in your audio between the loudest point and in terms of technical words we say max peak in decibels or (dB), or in terms of averages which is the loudest average section. So say I take three seconds out of the song and I measure that, that would be an average over that three seconds. And that we measure in max peak, dB RMS, which is a fancy way of saying overall this is how loud it is. Whereas with a peak it's like the start of a snare or the first little accent of a synth would be more representative of what a peak is.
And a ceiling/limit is always referred to as 0dB in digital, and we refer to that usually as 0dB full scale, or 0dBFS for short, and that is decibels relative to full scale. And you may or may not know this, but when we're working in digital environment it's so important to ensure you never go over 0. So generally the more headroom you have in your project, the more room you have to add loudness. Contrarily if you have less headroom you have more limits, or you are limiting how much louder you can actually push the mix.
And this is very important concept in mixing. The best mixes generally sound big. They sound loud, they're punchy, inspite of the fact that they have penty of headroom. And that ties back into what we discussed earlier about how overall loudness, apparent loudness is perceived.
- Using dynamics to create power
- Balancing a mix
- Avoiding ear fatigue
- Improving consistency with gain
- Working with compression, limiting, and clipping
- Using subgroups
- Understanding stereo and frequency placement
- Tricks for achieving stereo width