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mastering discussion 2013


auxien
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okay folks. so i searched as far as 9 months back for a good mastering thread, found nothing. what techniques does everyone use for their own mastering? any suggestions for us with what has/hasn't worked for you?

 

i'm personally using Ableton Live 8 Suite, and can do the basics in Audacity. in the past i've just tried to finish up my tracks, and once i get a tracklist together, i'll try to normalize/compress/etc using the same filters and settings. this seems to help, but it's not anything near professional i'm sure. i'm nearing completion of some releases and am starting to think ahead about mastering....

 

i've read a few articles over the years on the subject, but nothing i can remember that is particularly helpful. so, besides the obvious suggestion of 'pay someone else to do it,' what are your thoughts on the matter?

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so IMO your basic chain should be something like EQ>comp>EQ>limiter

 

I also like a touch of room reverb (heavily EQ'd of course so as not to muddle things up)

and I usually put reverbs before compressors because I love the sound

 

But generally you should be trying to tighten things up and add clarity and get the mix a bit louder, so like:

 

1) HPFing the entire track at 20-50hz to cut out the unnecessary flub (and earn some headroom when it comes time to think about loudness) and generally I (manually) add a resonant peak wherever the HPF cutoff is,

 

2) cut out the low-mid mud that seems to plague homemade music...generally around 350-450hz...just a modest (~1-3db) cut with a wide-ish "Q" does the trick...I find that's like 80% of the clarity battle,

 

3) presence and air...I'll usually do a few modest bumps at maybe 2khz/5khz/7khz/10khz to get some clarity...keep in mind that in mastering you get more natural results if you spread out the task to a bunch of little 'moves' instead of just doing one big 'move' (this goes for both EQ and compression IMO)...so IMO it's better to boost 1db at 2khz, 1db at 5khz and 1db at 10khz than to just boost in 3-4db at 7khz to try to get your clarity and presence...............and then I'll usually add a shelf (as opposed to peak) boost at 18-40khz for "air" (and yes 20khz+ is inaudible but boosting at like 30khz will often give your a shelf shape in the audible range that you couldn't get otherwise)

 

4) compression...i've found it's best to think of compression as a "staccato/attack/punch<--->legato/breathing/tail" spectrum...(so for instance if you're gonna compress a snare drum then it's good to know beforehand what part of it you want to bring up, the smack or the tail)....so if you want to make a track punchier then you set the 'attack' so it lets the initial transients ("the punchyness") through and then you set the 'release' somewhat fast so it clamps down on the tail...of course in mastering this should be a somewhat conservative thing, and generally I'd say if you want to do some more extreme compression you should run two or three compressors in series and have them all do 1/3rd of the work instead of delegating all of the work to a single compressor (which can give the compression a 'stressed' quality)

 

5) limiter(s)...IMO make it as loud as you can without compromising the sound quality...and if you want to really push things, once again try two limiters in series (I learned this approach from

)

 

 

anyway best of luck in your mastering travels

 

lemme know if I can help with any specific questions

 

 

cheers

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i generally bounce out the final mixdown from my DAW pretty low then work on it in t-racks, to boost the volume, add eq and compression etc and then export..seems to work ok

Edited by BCM
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Guest Adam

if you need eq during mastering then you did mixing wrong. you should only need a bit of multiband comp and a limiter on a well mixed track. use multiband with your eyes and limiter with your ears. ezpz job done.

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if you need eq during mastering then you did mixing wrong. you should only need a bit of multiband comp and a limiter on a well mixed track. use multiband with your eyes and limiter with your ears. ezpz job done.

 

 

err some would say if you need multiband compression you did mixing wrong lol

 

 

EQ is a very well-established part of mastering

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Well look, obviously in a perfect world there would be no need for mastering at all. The person mixing would have perfect ears and perfect technique and perfect gear in a perfect room. But that just doesn't happen ever and it never will.

 

In fact, in that same perfect world there'd be no need for mixing because everything would be recorded (or sound-designed) exactly as it's meant to be.

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A really good set of ears and knowing what to listen for is the main tool..

 

 

 

 

That's why people get paid to do it.

 

100% true

 

yeah, you can get some really nice sets of ears on amazon for pretty cheap.

 

100% not true I just checked I think you're lying

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Basically, all I'm saying is the software is really not such a big discussion point if you haven't had any real training in knowing what makes a piece better.

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Guest Wall Bird

Bob Katz wrote a fantastic book entitled Mastering Audio which is an excellent breakdown of the process. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is seriously committed to working in the digital audio medium, whether you have ambitions to master audio or not.

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looks like a great book. I should do some reading on the topic, as I'm a bit at the limits of figuring it out without a more theoretical understanding. Limpy's got some great tips though. Every mix I've used the low cut trick on has gotten comments like "wow the sound is so clear!". :)

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I know jack shit about mastering, should I really care about dithering, rms & perceived loudness of my tracks? The go by ear thing seems to work fine enough.

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I know jack shit about mastering, should I really care about dithering, rms & perceived loudness of my tracks? The go by ear thing seems to work fine enough.

 

IMO they're only important insofar as they affect the listener's experience.

 

(And they do, a little bit)

Edited by LimpyLoo
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Mastering is often about achieving consistency between tracks, rather than what is needed for an individual track i.e when mastering an album. This is where the 'loudness' thing comes in, but also, you may have a perfectly mixed track that still warrants EQ/compression.

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