the mysterious arts of MASTERING.

nik Dec 5, 2002

  1. nik

    nik Member

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    ok doods,

    tomek gave us a link to a mastering house that he uses for his tracks and made me wonder........

    i have never had a track mastered professionally, although i do have a crack at it myself i find it difficult with my monitors and room acoustics to get the track sounding 1st class.

    has anyone else here had their tracks mastered professionally? how much difference does this really make? how much does it cost?

    i've heard different opinions on this matter,...some say it makes a hell of a difference and really does make the track sound much fatter and professional. others say that u shouldn't really need to do much mastering at all.

    currently im using the waves bundle for mastering. has anyone tried and succeeded with other software applications.

    anyone got any tips?
     
  2. Tomek

    Tomek Junior Members

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    yo nik,

    like your posts here very much:Smile3: don't want to hog the topic but i can tell you how we got into it

    the first experience i had with mastering was when we released our first ever 12" on transient. i actually went to london and went down to see how the lacquer was prepared with russell. it was at the townhouse studios. i had no idea about mastering before that, but i must say i learnt a lot from that experience. seeing the guy there actually playing with only 3 knobs really for the levels: low, mid and high. with vinyl it's quite important cause you can't relly cut too low cause the govves get too deep etc. it was then that i realised that it can make a difference.

    for quite a long time we used to master our tracks with a guy who used a tc electronics finalizer. we mastered our first two albums that way. it was mainly to even out the levels overall and maximize the track to give the most punch.

    until we discovered the man we call phat boy from the studio i gave the link too in the other topic.

    it was a bit like switching from a toyota to a mercedes. he really knows his stuff and the equipment he has and uses is really at a world standard. he always asks if the tunes will be released on vinyl or cd etc. it isn't always necessary to use top of the range stuff but it does make a difference. a bit like comparing an ssl desl to a mackie.

    a couple of times my mate and studio buddy grzegorz has tried to analyse the tunes after mastering and get the same effect using waves etc but he says it just can't be done.

    i hope this makes sense to everyone.

    i can give you one tip though to start with. when you record the final mix of your tune make the kick a bit louder by 2-4db and then play around with the multi band compression on the low end and see the effects you can get. if you compress it the kick becomes a quiter but it should get 'welded' almost with the bass.

    another thing is that we are quite lucky living in poland cause the mastering costs us about 20 USD per track which is super cheap.
     
  3. Lord Orgasmos

    Lord Orgasmos Member

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    maximising is the key to psytrance (and most club music) if ur not getting the track mastered professionally- when i have the balance and mastering of any inidividual tracks correct (another battle altogether) i slap a compressor set to some not too extreme but pretty punchy settings over the whole mix, and then put a copy of the bbe plugin before it in the chain and take ther volume of the mix down then play with the settings of that- if you get it right, then that is the key to adding raw power and energy to a track (although there needs to be plenty of sounds in a track for this to work best as most maximisers, particularily the bbe, and not designed for delicate sounds).

    whilst there are many rules of thumb, the unfortunate reality is taht every track that is produced requires different engineering so its just something you have to learn (uness of course you do get someone else to do it for you) and learn the hard way
     
  4. photonic ballast

    photonic ballast Junior Members

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    Im thinking about compressing each track, so you dont need to maximize the master, or maybe only a bit.
    The most important is the mix, once the mix is good, the master will be easier.
    Compress a master track is not good, multiband compressor maybe...

    Try to do the master in Cubase or Live, (any sequencer you use), if you move to Soundforge...maybe problems will appear.

    Always have a spectron for each track. And could be good to see the wave in time.
    Render each track.

    1 KHz is where our ear enter in resonance. So pay special attention for attenuate that frequency. 90 Hz is also problematic and this is were different audio equipments plays the sound. The near-field speakers usually reproduce more high frecuencys than the others, not all of them...

    :irofl:
     
  5. Electroencephalogram

    Electroencephalogram Mr Smiles Esquire

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    ??? - :confused: err - I not sure if you poking fun or being serious...
    So I'm not touching that one...
     
  6. photonic ballast

    photonic ballast Junior Members

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    Well, I think that. I would like to read your opinion, sure is interesting :iyes:
     
  7. nik

    nik Member

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    hehe this post was dragged from the depths! since this thread first came about im in the situation now where im not really mastering as such - but more limiting and compressing the mix straight out of SX, enough for it to be loud enough to play out against other released material.
    for this im using the Waves LinMB. As far as any eq goes...my mixes are always as such that I'll need to boost the top end gently with a high shelf. Any other anomalies i tend to deal with at the mix stage. I can usually tell this by playing it through other systems, hifi's etc.
    Any serious mastering should be left to someone else.
     
  8. photonic ballast

    photonic ballast Junior Members

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    wuau! 13th December 2002, 04:37 PM, that´s the hell!
    Ive not seen any other post of mastering in the forums. Is this the only one?

    Well, about Waves Bundle, is the a really good choice. I use Izotope Ozone (Directx), and yesterday somebody told me that is in VST format. Good news. I like it, it has a stereo imaging and an armonic exciter...compressor, maximizer, blabla. I like a lot the eq. you can press alt-click and you put a temp Notch-filter in the freq you want to hear that range of freq.
    I usually take the master from a friend´s house, cause he has good speakers. But later I put it in other hifi´s and always I have to touch bass freq or something. Is good to start the master with good speakers, and later remaster with bad speakers and headphones. Thats what I do.

    If you can learn the madness of mastering, that means how to take a good mix :Wink3: is very good.
    When I finish a master, i think: "fuck! if I now want to make a live...??" I cant go back. The miiiix the miiiix
     
  9. realisation

    realisation Junior Members

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    AAMS with Firium and iZotope Ozone are the business.

    Forget trying to EQ your mix to make it sound flat by hand, its near impossible, i've tried! god i've tried.

    AAMS analyses your favorite 'sound' from a wav file and compares it with your tune, then gives you the preset file for firium (50 bands stereo eq) and reccomends multiband compression and maximizer settings. It does a much better job than i could ever do, when i compare the eq i go 'oh yeah, those hats and bass do stick out a little.'

    I've realised that 'flat sounding' is what we're looking for when mastering, not having anything stick out. took me a long time to figure that out, i'm only creating a mix for my monitors or my ears, not an average of what everyone else's setup is. bad example, but putting on a coldplay album it sounds really dull and boring.. but thats what you want the mix to sound like :Smile3: please correct me if i'm wrong!

    Ozone is pretty amazing, i dont bother with the EQ because of my method above but all of the other functions are used, you just select the dance mastering preset and tweak until it sounds right.

    i've been buggering about with the waves plugins for the last few years, wish i found these earlier.
     
  10. Fromem_Ory

    Fromem_Ory Shantidisestablishment

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    i've had my track mastered... and it made quite a lot of difference, possibly because my production wasnt totally up at the time. i think that regardless of production, mastering is totally essential because to be released on a CD the track needs to be at exactly the right level to be in proper CD quality. before an album or compilation is made, all the tracks need to be at a standard volume and of the same equaliser dynamics really. mastering made my track noticeably better.... but it should never be seen as an excuse not to take your production all the way...
     
  11. Fromem_Ory

    Fromem_Ory Shantidisestablishment

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    yes and no. flat-sounding sounds good to a degree, but dynamics and things which stick out are also important...
     
  12. realisation

    realisation Junior Members

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    so boosting some levels to make the mid-range higher than the norm is ok?

    i think when you have a flat mix, then master it makes the world of difference.

    if your sounds dont stick out when they should thats a problem that needs fixing in the mix, not the mastering?

    this is only my opinion!
     
  13. Fromem_Ory

    Fromem_Ory Shantidisestablishment

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    no, you dont want things to stick out in the EQ, i think i misunderstood :irazz:
    i was getting confused with over-compression, which leads to a lack of dynamics, and having too flat a sound which makes mixes dull... but if you look at a frequency analyzer and its all flat, then its generally all good, in my experience.
    i've always seen mastering as getting a mix to a certain standard, ready for release. getting it as loud as possible (without loss of dynamic) and also some EQing to make sure everythings sounding good...
     
  14. cameron-NSE/Mood Deluxe

    cameron-NSE/Mood Deluxe Moody Member

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    my track that appears on Soul Vibrations was mastered by someone else and to be honest I was quite let down. that track has some pretty open reverb splashes on certain snare hits, and to my ears he seemd to overlimit the track, squashing the hits...I m aware that I am probly the only person who is ablr to hear it, but I muched preferd my self master...and for this reason i am self mastering all my stuff...unless Kevin wants to have a go!!

    I use waves software and then finalise using the hardware Waves L2..
     
  15. Faction

    Faction Proto-col

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    In my view it's not a good idea to have some sounds "stick out" of the mix too much in certain frequencies; imagine a track like this being played on a system that itself emphasises that area of the spectrum. If this is the case with a given mix then it is usually almost impossible to correct that particular sound in mastering without negatively affecting other sounds which include the same frequency range. Multi-band dynamics can help but (in my limited experience) the degree of squash necessary to compensate has its own drawbacks! A smooth, even frequency response across the range is a good indication (although not a guarantee!) of a track that will sound at least as good as any other tune on a given system and by far the best place to obtain this is in the mix, before mastering. That's not to say that 'flat' is the way to go; although the current psy sound tends in that direction you can get a warmer, less-fatiguing sound with a spectrum that has a gentle slope to the left.

    I've been doing quite a bit of psy mastering lately, both for myself and for others, and I reckon I've got a good handle on what this particular genre needs, and the tools with which to obtain it. I'm currently looking for a bit of work in this area so if anyone's interested, please drop me a line. :Smile3:
     
  16. realisation

    realisation Junior Members

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    I have noticed that the high and low-end curves vary, as does the compression/maximisation levels on released music. compare astral projection's another world to say a psysex track. completely different mastering.

    what do you use for mastering, colin?
     
  17. cameron-NSE/Mood Deluxe

    cameron-NSE/Mood Deluxe Moody Member

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    i know what your saying Col....although, those hits wern't troublesome to me when I mastered it myself...it was puurrfeck...anyway when my NSE cd finally gets released (which I mastered) you can compare the two masters of the same track..
    IMO if you have the knowledge and expertese, why let someone else tamper with a mix you ve spent hours getting just right. Im lucky to have a great sounding room, quality monitor and sub system and accoustic treatment.
     
  18. realisation

    realisation Junior Members

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    another world is 6 years already? how time flies.. i got that album just before i met my girlfriend.. still with her.. fond memories of playing it out of my headphones to her in my dodgy bedsit in stoke newington.

    anyway, it sounds great to me. I reckon if you can sus the mastering yourself then do it, but if you want to do it quickly get someone else to do it, dont rush it!
     
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