Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound
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Old 02-21-2017, 07:44 PM   #1
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Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

Hey guys,

It's been a while since posting and I regret not being as active as I'd like on these forums as of late. I'm in the final stages of finishing an album that I'm working on and was wondering what tips and tricks some of you guys might have to get a cohesive album tone.

I feel like a lot of my tracks feel somewhat sterile and was thinking on doing some crazy stuff like running some tracks through a tube amp to give them some color, or maybe even putting all of the tracks in one project and adding some color to them all simultaneously, or adding some texture elements to blend transitions between songs. I'm sure some of those ideas are misguided but I'm just looking for anything that might add a bit of color and cohesiveness to the album as a whole.



Thanks!

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Old 02-21-2017, 08:41 PM   #2
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

Sterile? In what way exactly?

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Old 02-21-2017, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Sterile? In what way exactly?
It's kind of hard to describe, but I feel like a lot of them just lack warmth. My main concern is that processing them separately when :mastering" will not make them sound like a cohesive album, like they were just all thrown together, and I'm trying to figure out if there is something I can do to make them all feel like the came from the same space. Kind of like getting a box of chocolates from a chocolatier. They all have a different filling, but it still has that same great chocolate shell on all of them. Super ridiculous way to describe it, but I'm not very good at putting these things into words...

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Old 02-21-2017, 10:04 PM   #4
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

Man, I think that's actually a perfect way to describe it.

I wish I had a simple answer, but I'm afraid there's not one. I guess you need to decide how you want to make it cohesive. Tonally? Gain/volume? Orchestration/instrumentation? Tempo? Genre?

Unless you're releasing a bunch of random tracks from vastly different times, I think most people naturally check one or two of those boxes just by nature of having made the music themselves. After that you should probably pick one or two more aspects to help gel the album. Volume is an obvious choice. Not making the listener mess with the knob when the track's change is an easy way to bring it together (or more accurately, not doing it is a way to really break up the album in a bad way).

I think you could probably release an album of alternating grindcore and pop music, but if you did them all with tuba and xylophone it'd still be cohesive. You can use sounds and instrumentation to give tracks a similar 'feel', even if everything else is different. EQ can work in a similar but more subtle fashion, where everything sits in the mix in a certain way that carries from track to track.

That's just a couple of ideas. Mostly I'd say get the volume right and then pick a couple of overarching things to unify that won't get in the way of the individual tracks themselves.
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Old 02-21-2017, 10:13 PM   #5
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

No, I get what you mean alright..just wasn't too sure to what extent you think it's effecting your tracks.

Anyway, yeah..the simplest thing to try is to bounce all your tracks down to audio and then import them all back into a new instance / session of your DAW. You c an then either slap EQ and compression on the master bus and tweak those..or set up an aux channel and run them all through that and out the other side to the master..with the EQ and compression slapped on the aux.

Either way, you're looking at trying to mask or color the overall sound of all tracks, using the same settings. While this will more than likely work, you need to remember that it might mess with the sound of some tracks and cause issues, depending on how you've mixed each track...given that they already sound flat/dull/different.

Check out Roth-AIR from Daniel Rothmann..it's free and you can get it [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. Take your time and play around with it..and it will be worth your while, trust me.

Obviously this is a case of "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted" and in future you really need to spend more time on sound design side of things, in order to pin down an over-all sound, before you move onto the compositional side of producing. I know you get this already, but some noobs reading this might need reminding of the fact.

Anyway, give that plug a try and see let me know how you get on. Trust me, it might be the quickest route out of this issue for you..but then again, you might not like what it does..in which case come back and we can take it from there.

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Old 02-21-2017, 10:50 PM   #6
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Originally Posted by A.M View Post
No, I get what you mean alright..just wasn't too sure to what extent you think it's effecting your tracks.

Anyway, yeah..the simplest thing to try is to bounce all your tracks down to audio and then import them all back into a new instance / session of your DAW. You c an then either slap EQ and compression on the master bus and tweak those..or set up an aux channel and run them all through that and out the other side to the master..with the EQ and compression slapped on the aux.

Either way, you're looking at trying to mask or color the overall sound of all tracks, using the same settings. While this will more than likely work, you need to remember that it might mess with the sound of some tracks and cause issues, depending on how you've mixed each track...given that they already sound flat/dull/different.

Check out Roth-AIR from Daniel Rothmann..it's free and you can get it [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. Take your time and play around with it..and it will be worth your while, trust me.

Obviously this is a case of "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted" and in future you really need to spend more time on sound design side of things, in order to pin down an over-all sound, before you move onto the compositional side of producing. I know you get this already, but some noobs reading this might need reminding of the fact.

Anyway, give that plug a try and see let me know how you get on. Trust me, it might be the quickest route out of this issue for you..but then again, you might not like what it does..in which case come back and we can take it from there.
Wow, this thing is great! Thanks for the advice. I did have a general idea of what I was looking for as I wrote things, but Iwill use this plugin and the advice on the EQ/Compression that you gave, again, really appreciate the tips!

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Old 02-21-2017, 11:02 PM   #7
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Originally Posted by Garruden View Post
Wow, this thing is great! Thanks for the advice. I did have a general idea of what I was looking for as I wrote things, but Iwill use this plugin and the advice on the EQ/Compression that you gave, again, really appreciate the tips!

You're welcome..like I said, let us know if this works for you in the end.

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Old 02-22-2017, 01:40 AM   #8
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

I tend to put all my songs for any given ep or album into one project file. There are advantages to that as well as disadvantages. Obviously it gets bigger are you write more music, which can bloat the hell out of the session. If your computer is struggling to handle one song, it's not going to handle 5-10 songs, especially if you're adding little bells and whistles (literally and figuratively) along the way. Electronic music tends to be very eclectic in that, for example, drums can be different for each song. Differing snares, completely, from song to song. That can add up in terms of RAM and CPU cycles if not managed carefully.

One solution is to use project templates and have the same starting point. Mind, it usually doesn't end up staying the same, it's just that it gives you a set of ballpark settings to use and hopefully you're not going to end up with vastly differing volumes.

Also, what AM said.
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Old 02-23-2017, 09:41 PM   #9
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Originally Posted by Numerical View Post
One solution is to use project templates and have the same starting point. Mind, it usually doesn't end up staying the same, it's just that it gives you a set of ballpark settings to use and hopefully you're not going to end up with vastly differing volumes.

this!


and then put all of the premaster stereo files into one session for mastering and try to use the same "flavor" of tools to saturate, eq and compress the masters to taste.

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Old 02-24-2017, 08:10 PM   #10
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Originally Posted by Numerical View Post
I tend to put all my songs for any given ep or album into one project file. There are advantages to that as well as disadvantages. Obviously it gets bigger are you write more music, which can bloat the hell out of the session. If your computer is struggling to handle one song, it's not going to handle 5-10 songs, especially if you're adding little bells and whistles (literally and figuratively) along the way. Electronic music tends to be very eclectic in that, for example, drums can be different for each song. Differing snares, completely, from song to song. That can add up in terms of RAM and CPU cycles if not managed carefully.

One solution is to use project templates and have the same starting point. Mind, it usually doesn't end up staying the same, it's just that it gives you a set of ballpark settings to use and hopefully you're not going to end up with vastly differing volumes.

Also, what AM said.
I do use template, especially when it comes to percussion. What I was thinking was putting a wav file of each mix into a project session. It wouldn't allow for individual element tweaking but I'm hoping that it will keep cpu load down. Is there any downsides to doing that?

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Old 02-24-2017, 09:34 PM   #11
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

None at all.

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Old 02-24-2017, 10:07 PM   #12
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

..as long as your have a relatively good mix. If, on the other hand, there's stuff going on in there, then obviously it's going to be hard to sort clashes out once you've bounced everything down into one audio file.

That said, you can still try and address issues a bit using EQ, to reduce the likes of sibilance or hiss, as well as applying a bit of saturation to help mask any issues there//but don't over-do it.

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Old 02-26-2017, 11:59 PM   #13
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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..as long as your have a relatively good mix. If, on the other hand, there's stuff going on in there, then obviously it's going to be hard to sort clashes out once you've bounced everything down into one audio file.

That said, you can still try and address issues a bit using EQ, to reduce the likes of sibilance or hiss, as well as applying a bit of saturation to help mask any issues there//but don't over-do it.
I fully agree with A.M's comment on the mix. Most of the cohesion of the album should be completed in the mixing stage. Mastering is not the sliver bullet that's going to make the tracks sound cohesive/constant from track to track if they are very different in tone. I mastering will certainly help in the area but not solve all of the problem.

If it's analog warmth you are looking for and don't have analog gear mastering can help that. I have many clients that work ITB and want me to help get some analog love when mastering. But if you are mastering your mixes yourself you can use some great plugins like UAD tape machines (I like the ATR), Slate or Acustica Audio to get more analog mojo in your mixes.
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Old 03-01-2017, 09:27 PM   #14
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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I fully agree with A.M's comment on the mix. Most of the cohesion of the album should be completed in the mixing stage. Mastering is not the sliver bullet that's going to make the tracks sound cohesive/constant from track to track if they are very different in tone. I mastering will certainly help in the area but not solve all of the problem.

If it's analog warmth you are looking for and don't have analog gear mastering can help that. I have many clients that work ITB and want me to help get some analog love when mastering. But if you are mastering your mixes yourself you can use some great plugins like UAD tape machines (I like the ATR), Slate or Acustica Audio to get more analog mojo in your mixes.
Yeah, that's more along the line of what I'm looking for. I feel like the tracks fit thematically and sonically together, but I'm just kind of looking to just add a cohesive "glaze" over the top if you will.

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Old 03-01-2017, 09:47 PM   #15
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Re: Mixing/ Mastering for a cohesive album sound

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Yeah, that's more along the line of what I'm looking for. I feel like the tracks fit thematically and sonically together, but I'm just kind of looking to just add a cohesive "glaze" over the top if you will.
Not to be a salesman....but that is what an experienced mastering engineering can provide you. You maybe to close to the mix to do self mastering.

If you intend on mastering yourself maybe ask a fellow artist what they think of the mix and what maybe missing from a final sound perspective. That may give you a sense of what to do in mastering the track yourself.

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