After all these years of perfecting home studio recording, many artists still face the same fundamental problem: namely, how to get material to sound like commercially available material. “I have an older Lacie 2X CDR and I’ve noticed that no matter how much I maximize the levels of my mixes, they are always low compared to a commercially made CD – in any CD player. What gives?” I have three possible theories:§Maximizing and compressing is a great way to increase the average overall level of material, and the process usually does make music sound louder, but you have to remember that in digital we tend to be working from the top down in terms of levels. Make sure you are really putting the maximum level to the disc in the first place. In other words the output of your maximizer should be set so that it truly is bringing the levels right up to 0 dBFS. It could be that you are compressing the life out of your music, but just not getting the level turned up enough along the way. Normalizing is generally a part of maximizing, but not always.§Your material may not lend itself to sounding loud. If your CD is pennywhistle music and you are comparing it to a CD of rock music it isn’t likely to ever “sound” as loud even though it may actually be louder. Be conscious of the subjective effect of the music you are listening to.§The CD burner or your software may simply not be operating correctly. If you’ve followed inSync for a while you’ve no doubt learned that all CD burners, CDR media, and the software and firmware driving them do not perform the same under all circumstances. You may have a minor incompatibility in your system causing the CD burn to go awry, resulting in low levels.