Mastering That Masterpiece

Posts 1 - 25 of 53
  1. 630386
    JoeFunktastic : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Okay this ain't really anything new. I am just tired of seeing the flame wars in the forums.

    So my question is. Mastering, do you still do it? Some people call adding just an EQ as Mastering. Really? Is it that simple? Add an EQ and that's it.

    I am always looking at ways to elevate and polish my sound. I am somewhat not impressed with software based mastering solutions.

    With my money slow at this time I am considering a hardware based mastering solution. Smart move or a waste of money. I just what like to know how you master.

  2. 347760
    PortraitOfABlackHole : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    to be honest, othe than EQ, and Dithering, and volume checks, i really dont see what else is possible. true it does a bit of a knak to get it right, but anything byond the above is part of mixing as far as im concerned.

  3. 347760
    PortraitOfABlackHole : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    get Spivcurl in on this, he seems to know his way around the mastering table.

  4. 782612
    40A : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    cool thread can't wait to hear what others think on this one. Sometimes you can get a track to sound great with just a few volume tweaks, sometimes it takes hours of some real mastering. :)

  5. 111346
    Planetjazzbass : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Here's my take...actually there's a lot to be said about just EQing, but obviously there's a lot more involved in building up your sound..I tend to take each element within a track and get it as close to the sound I'm striving for and setting their place within the project with subtly different reverbs and stereo image..if there's any roll off or highs needed I'll do it track by track instrument by instrument...when I think there's a good frequency distribution across the board without too much cross chatter I'll start to think about setting some mastering effects across the whole project...usually this is just a few EQ nudges or roll offs....all the stuff I use is software based for mastering,mainly Waves plugins..I use hardware on my instruments,mainly preamps.....I'd love to have state of the art outboard gear,but the really good stuff is super expensive and from what I've heard and experienced ..yes it's better but not quantifiably so......I do really want to get an Avalon 737 preamp for my instruments..but their $2700 or day I'll justify the outlay!

  6. 347760
    PortraitOfABlackHole : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    im stricktly softwere based, as i cant afford any good quality hardwere, i do most of my mastering during mixing, with slight adjustments afterwards.

    im not quite sober right now, so if this dosnt make any scense that would be why...

  7. 631823
    Mahloo13 : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Mastering depends on the mix and the tools used depend on the need of correction or enhancement to get a nice, polished, clear and punchy master while retaining all the emotional impact of the mix or in some cases enhancing it.

    It is very common to use mid/side processing (EQ/Compression or both) to enhance/correct mid and side information or to give the mix some needed width and sparkle around the sides.

    Multiband compression (or band limited compression) is also useful as it allows you to correct/define certain frequency ranges while keeping it under control in terms of dynamics.

    Limiting to bring it up to a certain level specification or just to keep it in check.

    Going outboard will require you to have some good AD/DA converters to get the best signal out from the box and then back in and will require you to have a good understanding of gain-staging, you will need to calibrate your converters to a certain level and all that depends on your converter/interface.

    Software based solutions can bring you really good results but as with anything you gotta spend some time with your tools to get to know them well. Plugging in outboard won't instantly solve your problem as you still need to operate it as you would with software(this is not a hardware vs software thing)

    A Manley Massive Passive Mastering EQ retails for around 6000$, add to that a converter around 3000$, a power conditioner, cables and you are sitting around the 10k$ area for just the EQ.

    If you plan on mastering just your own stuff and won't be releasing anything it's not really financially worth going outboard and it's definitely not justified (from my point of view anyways)

    Why not take it to a pro...there are tons of mastering engineers online and some have really good rates and do wonk really well.


  8. 627309
    dachopdocta : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Don't forget to take breaks after 10 minutes or so. Especially if your using headphones.

    The bottom paragraph is by Mastering Engineer Michael Cooper.

    Here’s a typical scenario: hours of mixing at high sound-pressure levels (SPLs) progressively compresses your ears’ high-frequency sensitivity, and they become starved for the highs they’re missing. To compensate, you boost the highs and upper mids to get back the detail and presence your tired ears can no longer hear clearly.

  9. 111346
    Planetjazzbass : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    That is soooo true dachopdoc!...I'm always going to try my best to master and improve my own material,but I'm smart enough to know that if I wanted to get the best result possible a professional is the only way to go.

  10. 372886
    Bilbozo : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    I guess it depends on what you are doing. When I do tracks for fun, demos, collabs or stuff like that, it's only economical to hone in on good EQ, break out the WaveLab, Ozone, T-Racks or what have you and do all the mixing and mastering yourself.

    If I have a project that is a paying gig like soundtracking, jinglebiting, it's best to have a pro do all the mastering. Your reputation in that field depends on mixing perfection to get the mots dynamics you can to please a paying client. Cost is minimal, and if you do enough work with a pro, they'll cut you a break on the price.

    Whenever we work on CD projects or do session work, mixing and mastering can take just as long as recording....up to 4 - 6 weeks ! Mainly becasue there are wait periods for the mastering folk who are constantly busy.

    If you got the money to get your own gear great. ut there are lots of other affordable solutions so you can do it at home. Ihave been learning a lot about packages from other members of this group which I purchased recently and have been blown away at the results.

  11. 715796
    Reficul1889 : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    I'm a complete engineering novice and the mysteries of mastering have been one of the strangest conundrums I've had to wrap my brain around, I suppose I aim for making a mix palatable for a wide variety of systems, so if it sounds good from headphones to computer speakers to car stereo to stage I know I'm at least getting close, but it's often a lot like feeling around in the dark, especially after a few hours. In Audition after I EQ sometimes I'll add a "Mastering" FFT filter, sometimes this works well, sometimes it doesn't. Compression, now what's the deal with that?

  12. 498019
    Tumbleweed : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Great forum...can`t resist throwing in my 2 bits...I`ve been recording since tape days & mastering in the box for about 12 yrs...Big point noted by PJB...Work on the mix for as long as it takes....when you think its perfect (if you`re not using reference monitors you will not know) put it away...listen again later...Use EQ, compression, FX, etc on the individual tracks that need them (not on the whole mix)....Render it down to a new stereo track, leaving a little headroom on the master bus (a little compression...about 3dBs works)...I avoid limiting most of the time until I master...I consider mastering a separate process and use mastering software for the purpose...I know many do not and whatever works for them is fine....I just hate to see those mixes with the flat edges on the wav picture that tells me someone went for volume and forgot about dynamics...I have used WaveLab & TRackS...using the latter exclusively for several years now.....If the mix is well done, the mastering is a piece of cake....If the mix has issues it doesn`t yet need mastering...but thats is when I would go back to WaveLab if I had no remix options as it allows the use of other vsts for correction....TRacKs 3 has several presets that wont lead you too far astray but after that it just comes down to using your own judgement/experience.......A few other notes:..Only dither if you are recording aboven 16bit 44.1...and only use dithering in your mastering software...otherwise your software will automatically dither when you render the file and it is unlikely to be the highest quality option.....Some care is needed in the use of MS prosessing when mastering...sound placement in your carefully planned mix will be effected and those sounds that you want in the centre...bass...snare...will also be effected...but 1 or 2 dBs often works good......Interested in hearing what others are doing.....keep it rolling guys & gals....will catch up with you later...........Ed

  13. 498019
    Tumbleweed : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    P.S. on that last post....don`t forget about having proper metering....I find it really helps to have all the pictures for EQ, phase correlation, peak-rms & perceived volumes etc on the same least they confirm what you think you are hearing (especiatty when you have a few miles on you & your ears are a bit beat up)

  14. 366784
    yeshintae : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Malu's post +1...

    a LOT of good information right there...

  15. 366784
    yeshintae : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Mid/Side Processing FTW!!!

    Peace from LA

  16. 642922
    MightyBender : Tue 4th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    The question, "do you still do it?" should never ever be asked! :)YOU SHOULD BE MASTERING EVERYTHING YOU CREATE! It's PART of the production process, not a separate thing.

    Mastering is quite possibly the most important part of production aside from the creation of vibe.

    Everyone has a different idea of what mastering is, it seems.
    True mastering is a process that has many steps.

    I can only give you what I MYSELF do.

    The first step to mastering takes place DURING the production process. The first thing I do is put EQ and compression on the entire composition, running every separate track through the main.
    The next step is to compress and EQ every track separately (along with the MAIN mastering suite, making sure that your solitary compression/EQ's on each track layer do not override the main. The separation of tracks (layers) is very very important, so that they stand alone, don't merge, yet still blend together nicely. I continue to adjust compression and EQ throughout the writing process, using my EARS more so than anything else. PROFESSIONAL, HIGH-QUALITY HEADPHONES ARE VERY IMPORTANT HERE. I use Beyer Dynamic 770's.

    My next step (assuming we're now talking about the finished track) is to take your exported composition and run it through something like Soundforge (which is what I use mostly) to clean it up and make a final compression. Personally, I think the most important aspect of mastering is using your natural talents to LISTEN to your tracks. I use my ears more than relying on the software and hardware to tell me what to do.

    I suppose that's about it. You wanna hear a great example of mastering, listen to "Within" Feat. Sima Xyn, on my profile. :)
    Or, you can just listen to it for fun anyway! lol. I hope this helps.

  17. 810264
    anonymousmicmusic : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    great thread, still learning the whole mastering process also. i always just went by the mix but it wasn't till i looked into mastering that i realized how much better the songs sound with some mastering. i'm learning mastering with software and by ear. i didn't realize how congested some songs where until i started learning and now they're coming along a lot clearer. the technique i'm now starting to use is to get a strong mix and render into a stereo wav then "master" the wave using eq, compress and limiter. i saw this technique on youtube and it seems to be working on some songs. not sure if this is a correct way to master but so far so good. after reading about dithering in this thread i'm gonna check into that process. cool thread great reading what others are doing!

  18. 186161
    Spivkurl : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    I love mastering, and I think it can really bring the best out of your songs! I too use the Waves plug ins to do my mastering. I start with the LinEQ Lowband, then on to the LinEQ broadband, then the LinMB Multiband compression, then the L3 UltraMaximizer. I find this always gives me good results. I have created presets which get me close to the desired results, which I then adjust for the specific track. The ultramaximizer is a great limiter, which allows you to set the desired headroom that you want to leave on the finished track. This is nice because leaving no headroom can be disastrous when making an MP3. DISTORT!

    I hope this helps some people!

  19. 630386
    JoeFunktastic : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    I use Reason 5's Mastering Suite. It has many of tools many of you all speak of. The Steps some of you mention, Wow! Okay most of the steps differ from user/producer but I tell you what, I am going to bookmark this one.

    What I like about this is, is some very smart and experienced people openly shared their experiences. Thanks to you all I might have to take some time offline to run through all of this.

    Mastering, yes I do perform it on all my tracks but not to level of detail mentioned by many of you here. Okay excuse me while I bookmark this...

    ...***{{{{{clicking on the to bookmarks}}}}}***...

    ...Okay, done! Thanks!

  20. 642922
    MightyBender : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Yep, this thread rocks! I already posted once (a few posts ago) so I'll just say one thing. I wanna make clear my belief in having VERY GOOD HEADPHONES. Monitors are great and everything, but for REAL mastering you MUST use headphones, and use ones that are capable of hitting many freqs! Once again, I use Beyer Dynamic 770's. They are 3 years old now. Best money I ever spent.

    Anyway, it's really cool reading what others do to master their tracks, and I hope my earlier post helped too! :) Word.

  21. 498019
    Tumbleweed : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago disrespect my friend, and if you are getting the results you want, more power to you...But..I have had the opportunity to sit in with a well respected mastering engineer/educator...and while I have seen headphones used to do some very fine edits...the rest of the time they are not only removed..they are unplugged so that there are no sounds that are not being produced by the reference monitors....A big part of commercial mastering is the production of music that translates well on the various systems that people are likely to use to listen to the results....There are some excellent publications on the topic...and reputable places like Berklee and Pacific Coast Institute now offer on-line courses....Hope you don`t take this as any kind of put-down but the process you describe would crack up my old teacher (who was adamant about preserving and embellishing the dynamics of instruments and vocals) for MrF`s original question....that outboard stuff is just for us mere mortals to drool over (the outboard gear I still occasionally use is mickey mouse in comparison)...there are some great in-the-box mastering suites and thats what I would go for and most of them will no much more that most of us are likely to be capable of...good luck to you...not that you need it...You already do some great music....Ed

  22. 562523
    digitalSKYY : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Yeah i can't imagine only Mastering/Mixing with headphones. I have a good pair of AKG's i can basically hear everything with but i only wear them when i have too. Nothing compared to my KRK rokit's.

  23. 715796
    Reficul1889 : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    So, what advice can anyone give to a struggling artist with a jerry-rigged studio and 30 year old Japanese headphones, whose DAW is the old Audition 1.7? Any tricks learned when you were starting out with few resources?

  24. 642922
    MightyBender : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    Yo Ed. I feel no disrespect coming from you, so no worries.
    Like I said in my earlier post, everyone has a different way of mastering their music. By no means do I know everything about it either, and I'm always learning and discovering new ways to do things.

    For me, a good pair of headphones is very important and I've found, personally, that it's the best way for me to use my ears when mastering something.
    I also use monitors when EQ-ing and stuff, so maybe I misrepresented myself a little bit. I was just trying to impart the importance of headphones, not take away from the importance of hearing one's music through multiple mediums.

    Thanks for the input. :)

  25. 498019
    Tumbleweed : Wed 5th Sep 2012 : 7 years ago

    the right words are sometimes a bit hard to come by MightyBender..i read my post after & said Oh s**t...I could have been more constructive..I am certainly no expert..just had the good fortune to befriend a mastering engineer who started in the days when he first had to learn how to solder & fix stuff..replace tubes & read up on transistors etc...lots of stories...I have managed to get in a few courses & now know that all that stuff like editing, instrument placement, fx & volume automation requires good phones (been using ATH M50s for several years)..I just need to let the monitors decide on the final results for eq, panning, volumes etc..before I finalize the mix and I just use monitors exclusively when I`m dealing with mastering a mix I already have worked on....Still..If I needed to get everything perfect I would never have anything to upload and being a bit lazy I have kind of adapted to the kind of music I can do passably well rather than push past my pretty limited playing ability....All the best to you & thanks much for sharing the chat...I guess I get into this kind of forum in a fairly big way, so will stay tuned to see what else comes up..But its all about the music first...and thats gotta be fun or we wouldn`t be spending our lives doing it...Ed

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