Loudness & Metering, Mixing & Mastering

Why Are My Songs So Quiet in FL Studio? +7 REAL Solutions

Written By : Andrew Siemon

Your FL Studio projects could be quiet for a few reasons. However, the problem is usually annoyingly simple. Most likely, your volume is accidentally turned down or your mixer or plugin settings are the culprit. Here are a few other reasons.

Your songs are too quiet in FL Studio because
1) You haven’t used a limiter and metering tool
2) You haven’t used a gain plugin
3) Your master volume is too low
4) Volume settings in your plugins are too low
5) The audio interface output level is low
6) Your dynamic range is too large

7 Reasons Why Your FL Studio Projects Are Too Quiet [& How to Fix Them]

While it’s important your tracks are “loud” enough before uploading them to streaming services like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Amazon, etc, these platforms do have limits.

If the volume of the song is not in that range, their system will raise or drop the volume, and this process could destroy the quality of your song. You can fix this with a limiter and a volume metering tool.

1) You Haven’t Used A Limiter or Volume Metering Tool

The Fruity Limiter in FL Studio
What the Fruity Limiter looks like in FL Studio. The nice thing about its limiter is that you can see what you’re doing to the audio (waveform), unlike in GarageBand which is more rudimentary.

You’ve mixed your project and now you’re trying to get your volume up. The age-old question: How do I get a loud master? Use the Fruity Limiter when you’re mastering your project and turn the gain up until you’ve got your song up to at least -14dB.

In reality, most songs are probably at -8dB, but the commonly recommended standard is -14dB because Spotify and other platforms have chosen this number as their baseline (more on that in my reference track guide). How do you know how loud your project is? FL Studio probably has a loudness meter, but I use the one from YouLean.

YouLean Metering Tool - Why Are My Songs Too Quiet in FL Studio
Get the YouLean Loudness Meter tool in there and you can find out exactly how loud the track is. I typically aim for -14dB but it’s okay to go even louder. Just try and keep your True Peak between -0.5 and -1.0

There are a lot of things to look at on a Loudness meter, but I would say the two most important things are the True Peak and the Integrated LUFS which I’ve pointed out in the image above. The True Peak represents the loudest moments in your project, so you don’t want to see it go above 0dB – ever.

Most people will recommend you set it to -1dB which is usually what I aim for, however, if I really need to, I’ll have it set to around -0.5dB if I’m trying to squeeze out just a bit more volume.

The lower you set the output volume level, the more squashed the sound is going to be, because it’s literally lowering the volume ceiling. It’s creating a brick ceiling that the audio signal can’t pass, creating a clipped audio signal and the crackly distorted sound we’re all trying to avoid.

2) You Haven’t Used A Gain Plugin

Fruity Balance and Gain Plugin  - Why Are My Songs Too Quiet in FL Studio
Put the Fruity Balance Gain plugin in the 1st Insert of the Master Track if you need a volume boost while you’re working on your project.

There are a number of ways to increase the volume of your project, particularly when you’re working on it, but one way is to load a gain plugin like the Fruity Balance on the Master Track. The GarageBand version of this is to use the Gain plugin that’s found in the Utility section.

If you find yourself struggling to get enough volume on your project while you’re working on it, this is a solution that you can use.

Yes, you can crank the volume on your device, but the problem with this is that if you go to open YouTube or something similar, you’re in for a surprise when you hit play. It’ll be even worse when the Advertisements come on. You might even hurt your ears or damage your speakers.

With that said, I wouldn’t advise using the Fruity Balance Gain plugin instead of a Limiter when you’re mastering your project. The Fruit Balance method is just to increase the volume of your project when you’re working on it.

You could probably use it if one of your instruments was recorded too quietly as well. Many plugins have an output gain on them too that you could try.

3) Your Master Volume Is Too Low

Image for low master volume
Increase the master volume with either the Master Volume Knob on top or the Master Volume Fader in the Mixer.

The total loudness of your song is regulated by the master volume. It is the last volume control before output. Your mix will sound too quiet if the master volume is set too low. There are two steps you can take to solve the low master volume issue in FL Studio:

A) Changing the Master Volume Fader

The easiest fix is to raise FL Studio’s master volume fader. To accomplish this, choose the mixer’s master channel and drag the volume fader upward. As you move the fader, you should be able to hear the volume change.

B) Adjusting the Master Volume Knob on the Toolbar

This knob controls the overall volume from FL Studio. It is just similar to a volume knob on your external speakers. It doesn’t have any effect on the level of your master i.e., the dB level, but it changes how loud FL Studio outputs audio (just imagine increasing or reducing your phone’s speaker volume. It doesn’t have anything to do with mixing).

Even though it is not involved in mixing or mastering, it still controls the volume of sound coming from FL Studio. It even affects the songs you export.

When you save a project, it also saves the position of this volume knob and reopens your project with this level. Fixing this is very simple. Just reset the volume knob or raise it to where you want it to be.

4) Too Much Limiting/Compression During Mixing and Mastering

Image for limiting and compression
Limiting and Compression

Limiting and Compression are used to manage the dynamic range of a mix. The dynamic range is just the distance between the loudest and most quiet parts of a song. Limiting establishes a maximum level for the output signal in order to keep it from crossing a pre-determined threshold.

On the other hand, “Compression” lowers the “dynamic range” by raising the volume of the quietest sounds while lowering the volume of the loudest points. I’ve explained this in detail before in my guide to compression.

These are effective tools for managing the dynamic range of a song, but employing them excessively will hurt the mix’s overall volume. Both methods operate by “reducing” the highest points in the mix to reduce the dynamic range. Too much of this reduction is going to make your songs sound quiet.

The solution to this is to increase the gain of your mix after the limiting/compression. Plugins that perform limiting/compression usually have a gain knob that is used to compensate for the volume reduction. Use the gain knob/slider to raise the volume again to the desired level.

5) The Dynamic Range is Too Large

Image for dynamic range
This helpful chart depicts the dynamic range. It’s basically the difference between the quietest and loudest parts of the project.

According to this resource, your songs being too quiet happens because the peak levels (the loudest parts of the song) are getting close to 0dB (the loudest volume that DAWs process without distortion in the audio), but the average volume of the song is still too low.

Although the average volume is too low, the sound cannot be turned up any further without clipping because the peak levels are at 0dB (the loudest possible).

The way to resolve this is to apply compression/limiting, but you should be careful not to add too much of this as this could further reduce the overall volume of the song. Then, make sure to increase the gain to bring up the average volume of the mix.

6) Your Plugin Volume is Too Quiet

Image for
The internal volume of the plugin (synth)

It is important to carefully note that plugins(instruments/synths/samples) have volume controls that will affect the loudness of your song even before you begin mixing.

If you discover that raising the mixer’s volume fader is not having much of an effect, check the settings of any plugins being used to guarantee that the volume is not set too low.

7) Your Volume Is Too Low On Your Audio Interface

The volume/gain of the audio interface
This is the volume knob on the SSL 12 (on Amazon/Thomann). If you’re using it as the output device, you could also turn up the volume on the output, whether you’ve connected speakers or you’re using a pair of headphones.

The output level can be adjusted by the hardware volume control that comes with most audio interfaces. If you are using an audio interface, you should take into consideration that a low interface volume is one reason why tracks in FL Studio sound too quiet.

Even when the individual tracks are mixed at a high enough level, the total volume of your mix will be low if the volume on your audio interface is set too low. Simply check and ensure your volume is raised to the desired level.

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Important Things to Note About FL Projects That Are Too Quiet

1) Be Careful Not to Increase the Volume Too Much

After this tutorial, you should have the tools available to you to get your projects as loud as you want them to go. With that in mind, ensure you don’t take it too far and make things too loud. This won’t work out when you upload projects to Spotify and other streaming platforms if that’s what you intend to do.

2) Perceived Volume vs. Absolute Volume

Another thing to consider is the difference between perceived volume and absolute volume. Perceived volume is how loud something appears to be, whereas absolute volume is how loud it actually is. These aren’t the same.

Two projects could be -14dB Integrated LUFS but one could sound much better and louder than the other just because it has been mixed well or mixed to create that effect. The reason for this is that certain frequencies seem louder than others.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator of ProducerSociety.com, a website dedicated to all things music, including music production, music theory, recording, and how to use the most popular DAWs. Starting out as a metal guitarist, Andrew has since moved into other areas of music production including hip-hop and fusion

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