Mastering, in general 2017
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Old 11-05-2017, 06:47 PM   #1
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Mastering, in general 2017

My apologies if this topic has already been covered, which I am sure it has done so.

I am just pondering the thoughts on mastering in general, which is of course the final stages of any music track. To polish and refine your sound to perform best on all devises and to showcase to others.

However, how relevant is it to use a professional studio or hire an experienced engineer for electronic music in 2017? I read not so long ago that the need for such an expensive and demanding hardware setup is not always necessary these days as computers and software have come a long way which can basically do the same job as a professional studio. Not to mention the battle for "loudness" isn't as important as it used to be as listeners use many different platforms and devices.

Not to take away the skill of the mastering itself which of course, is a skill. Hearing frequencies and altering levels for mix downs correctly is critical to finalising your track.

listening to some of the tracks on here which some are even incomplete, sound complete and mastered well considering the absence of the old skool method.

After reading a fairly in-depth heated post on another forum, this topic arises to me which I would be interested in your thoughts.

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Old 11-05-2017, 10:05 PM   #2
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Unless you're producing a product to a specific physical media (CD, vinyl, etc) and/or releasing several tracks that all need to sit together as a whole I don't see mastering as necessary. Most of what people consider mastering these days is just more mixing and then turning the track up.

I think the big thing that comes from professional mastering and the reason it's seen as so crucial, even in electronic music, is that having a professional engineer who critically listens to huge amounts of music on incredibly precise equipment day after day results in them hearing things you don't. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they can make minor tweaks to levels and EQs and improve the track.

At the same time guys like Deadmau5 master their own stuff. They just mix it as well as humanly possible, throw a limiter on it until it's bold but not in the red and print it to digital. If you have decent equipment and a good ear it's not rocket surgery.

If you're producing vinyl you either need to do a crazy amount of research into how mastering for the medium works or you need to pay someone to do it. The limitations of physical media is something you can't just fudge around.
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Old 29-05-2017, 01:28 PM   #3
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

I think the gap is definitely closing as there's a lot of available and not wildly expensive software out there for mastering. I honestly don't ever think it can take the place of a mastering engineer with well trained and conditioned ears though. Everyone should at least attempt to do mastering of their own at some point, whether that's on a track you plan to release or not (preferably not a clients if you typically send it off) as that's how you get better at it and also give an appreciation to those people for their work. Personally I'm not the best at mastering, far from actually, but I definitely think there's a lot of great resources out there to help get you to where you want to be if you just practice practice practice.
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Old 29-05-2017, 03:21 PM   #4
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Before Knife Party released their last album (Abandon Ship), they posted a teaser of one of the tracks on Soundcloud. They shared the link on Twitter, with a text saying "an unmastered version, so be nice".

As somebody probably already figured out, the unmastered version was still louder and more solid than most mastered tunes of the same genre. Nobody would have guessed it's unmastered if KP would have not said it themselves.

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Old 29-05-2017, 04:38 PM   #5
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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Originally Posted by -Agu- View Post
Before Knife Party released their last album (Abandon Ship), they posted a teaser of one of the tracks on Soundcloud. They shared the link on Twitter, with a text saying "an unmastered version, so be nice".

As somebody probably already figured out, the unmastered version was still louder and more solid than most mastered tunes of the same genre. Nobody would have guessed it's unmastered if KP would have not said it themselves.
It really does just show the amount love and care that needs to go into it before mastering and what can come out of it.

I'd love to see what dirty things Rob does to his mixes to get them to where they are while being as clean and as loud as they are even as much as I do prefer more dynamic music.
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Old 29-05-2017, 11:38 PM   #6
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

If you're making music that is only ever going to be played on one system in one place: fuck mastering.

If you want other people to play your music in all kinds of places: get an engineer.

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Old 04-06-2017, 03:25 PM   #7
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by -Agu- View Post
Before Knife Party released their last album (Abandon Ship), they posted a teaser of one of the tracks on Soundcloud. They shared the link on Twitter, with a text saying "an unmastered version, so be nice".

As somebody probably already figured out, the unmastered version was still louder and more solid than most mastered tunes of the same genre. Nobody would have guessed it's unmastered if KP would have not said it themselves.
Interesting.
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Old 04-06-2017, 04:48 PM   #8
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

We can debate until hell freezes over if we should self-master....but in the end, it comes down to the fact we pay somebody else to master our work because we believe they know more than us about the process and will do a better job in the end, than we would ourselves.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to master your own work..or wanting to learn how, but you really need to be brutally honest with yourself and know where to draw the line..your work deserves nothing less.

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Old 04-06-2017, 05:12 PM   #9
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

I think you should use a mastering engineer at the start if you are releasing music but also train yourself to learn the craft. A lot of musicians nowadays are mastering themselves and with the information available online you can learn a great deal and become very competent with it in time and with practice.
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:49 PM   #10
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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A lot of musicians nowadays are mastering themselves and with the information available online you can learn a great deal and become very competent with it in time and with practice.
This reminds of another mastering-related incident. Doctor P once said on Reddit that he stopped using mastering engineers because they always made his mixdowns sound, by his words, "shit".

At the first I though like "that sounds laughable", but when you think about it for a moment, unlike for rock music etc, there are barely any mastering engineers who would have spent more time fiddling with that type of electronic music than the big names who are on the top of their league atm.

It's not like anyone who makes modern-sounding EDM etc. would say: "This guy has been mastering this type of music for this type of systems for 30 years, so I'm gonna trust his decision making", as it would be for some other styles of music.

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Old 06-06-2017, 09:35 AM   #11
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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Originally Posted by -Agu- View Post
This reminds of another mastering-related incident. Doctor P once said on Reddit that he stopped using mastering engineers because they always made his mixdowns sound, by his words, "shit".

At the first I though like "that sounds laughable", but when you think about it for a moment, unlike for rock music etc, there are barely any mastering engineers who would have spent more time fiddling with that type of electronic music than the big names who are on the top of their league atm.

It's not like anyone who makes modern-sounding EDM etc. would say: "This guy has been mastering this type of music for this type of systems for 30 years, so I'm gonna trust his decision making", as it would be for some other styles of music.
What a load of rubbish! If there are no mastering engineers competent enough to master electronic music, why are there so many records containing electronic music? thanks for the lulz

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Old 06-06-2017, 12:25 PM   #12
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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What a load of rubbish! If there are no mastering engineers competent enough to master electronic music, why are there so many records containing electronic music? thanks for the lulz
I said "barely" = a thin slice of all mastering engineers.

And competent enough to master electronic music in general? Sure, why not.

Oriented to compete with some top artists who make music that didn't even exist in it's current form like 8 years ago? Who have more experience with it on the whole and especially with how it translates to club/festival systems than anyone else?

I'm not exactly sure about that. Most people who imo have the best production quality and the biggest sound in the whole modern, aggressive electronic music scene, do indeed master by themselves.

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Old 06-06-2017, 03:09 PM   #13
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Man...word engineer sound so smart and rich.

Now, on these kind of sites ppl don't always make music for DJ's, so the real need for mastering Engineer is questionable.
When you guys talk about profesional mastering services, many of you really don't need it. On the other hand, ppl like me would need that favor because I would like my songs to be played by a dj, on a beach or in a club. Even a kid riding in a car listening to my songs would probably need profesional sound services because he would like to listen to it maximum volume. And without prof mastering, these songs sounds shit on max level.

Not every music needs profesional mastering. Guy making violins, piano making chillout music has no need for profesional mastering.

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Old 05-07-2017, 08:00 PM   #14
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoomBrain View Post
My apologies if this topic has already been covered, which I am sure it has done so.

I am just pondering the thoughts on mastering in general, which is of course the final stages of any music track. To polish and refine your sound to perform best on all devises and to showcase to others.

However, how relevant is it to use a professional studio or hire an experienced engineer for electronic music in 2017? I read not so long ago that the need for such an expensive and demanding hardware setup is not always necessary these days as computers and software have come a long way which can basically do the same job as a professional studio. Not to mention the battle for "loudness" isn't as important as it used to be as listeners use many different platforms and devices.

Not to take away the skill of the mastering itself which of course, is a skill. Hearing frequencies and altering levels for mix downs correctly is critical to finalising your track.

listening to some of the tracks on here which some are even incomplete, sound complete and mastered well considering the absence of the old skool method.

After reading a fairly in-depth heated post on another forum, this topic arises to me which I would be interested in your thoughts.
Using a Mastering Engineer (a proper one) will be the sonically better option. I often sent my mixes to another engineer but that was back when I was recording bands.

When I'm working on my own stuff I always master really lightly, on 2 occasions I've not mastered at all. If the mix is "sound" and my analyser has a level curve, then I will only use a 1.7.1 compression ratio with a mid point threshold at -30db (if the whole mix is sitting in the green on my meters)

Once it sounds "glued", I'll boost the volume with a ceiling of just -0.1db.

The master varies on each track but on a minimal scale. Get your mix right first and hopefully you won't have to rely on a heavy master.

Since I've been writing electronica, I've found it harder to mix. I'm dealing with frequencies I've never had to deal with before. I'm still so new and learning but, for now, I won't change the way I master my own stuff. In the past I have destroyed mixes by over doing it.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:21 PM   #15
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Dont do it... unless you know what you are doing.

that is all...

and being that said, if you still want to master, LEARN HOW TO DO IT dont just do it and say its mastered. there is a way to do it, and many ways NOT to. just ask ANY mastering student or engineer... What I did to start was find this studio right down the street and ask if I may volunteer my time, in exchange for shadowing a few sessions, that way Im in person and can learn and hear the changes being made and ask why...

then go home and spend a few grand and a few months, treating your new mastering room... and go for it. but do not, please do not, master at home on your krk in a 8x10 room .... it just wont work out well. Im no mastering pro... infact im no pro at all... but I have done a bit of research on many related topics. there is a reason people pay for mastering... to be done in the analog world. that website that does your mastering for you, is no better than you doing it at home... by turning it up and adding some compression.

formulas cannot respond to acoustic artifacts caused by physical room dimensions or lack of treatment, or incorrect speaker monitor placement. that is what the engineer is for. so pick up a book, and grab some roxul and 703... research how stuff is made and make your own traps, and reflections panels, dont forget the diffusors in the rear of the room, cloud, and please by all means, use the math that is used that has proven to work. your room should start with dim no less than 20' in either length or width... or you will need serious treatment, such as hemholtz and diaphragmatic absorbers.

my room is TERRIBLY small... but I have small monitors, and the room i built is scaled down from a larger studio within the correct dimensions for engineering... that would be anything larger than 12x13 with an 9 foot ceiling.

Seriously, there are some adjustment you can make and it can be done right, but you gotta know what you are getting into before attempting or else it will be all a struggle for you to get things sounding on track. no pun intended.

one last thing: please check out dennis folley at acoustic fields, his youtube is LOADED with information that is CRUCIAL to any do it at home producer or mastering engineer... study this and do this to your ability and budget, and you will be just fine. If i can do it, YOU CAN DO IT too... there is nothing special in my studio, other than the fact I spent months planning it and making it the way it is, due to the information I came across.

good luck.

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Old 05-07-2017, 10:30 PM   #16
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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Not every music needs profesional mastering. Guy making violins, piano making chillout music has no need for profesional mastering.

Really? You presume / presuppose the guy making violins, piano chill-out music is an expert at mixing to begin with..implying music like that is simpler or doesn't need to be mastered..that's how it reads anyway.

The fact is such a guy might well be able to put a good track together, but what if he wants to release it on CD? Does he understand or even know what the standards are that have to be met in order for his music to go out one CD..or played on Radio..or used on a movie..or on T.V?

Each has their own requirements and the average producer is usually aware these requirements exist, but they tend to high somebody else to deal with that end of things..either that, or they are going to have to spend some time learning it all themselves.

Mastering isn't just needed for music that's going to be played by a DJ..there's a little bit more to it than that.

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Old 05-07-2017, 10:37 PM   #17
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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Really? You presume / presuppose the guy making violins, piano chill-out music is an expert at mixing to begin with..implying music like that is simpler or doesn't need to be mastered..that's how it reads anyway.
I am talking about our amatuer level of production, am I not. I cant see a need of me making a piano, string track and having a need for profesional master, it usually sounds great, those natural sounds without to much drums, layers of artificial sounds, no need of loudness.
On the other hand, some of our amatuer house, trance tunes should be illegal to volume up because you could have brain damage of how bad everything sounds. It's much more complex. Not to mention house, trance, dubstep, dnb must be mastered, no matter how well it's done, if it doesnt sound right its bad.
So yea, piano, string piece really has no need of mastering on our level, you're not gonna put it in the club or you're gonna play it in your car on max volume with your windows down, are you?
I mean, if you wanna do something profesional with it, like send it to some TV house or play it somewhere in a theater or so, then yea, should be done by profesional, but I'm not talking about that here.

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Old 05-07-2017, 10:44 PM   #18
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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Originally Posted by A.M View Post
Really? You presume / presuppose the guy making violins, piano chill-out music is an expert at mixing to begin with..implying music like that is simpler or doesn't need to be mastered..that's how it reads anyway.

The fact is such a guy might well be able to put a good track together, but what if he wants to release it on CD? Does he understand or even know what the standards are that have to be met in order for his music to go out one CD..or played on Radio..or used on a movie..or on T.V?

Each has their own requirements and the average producer is usually aware these requirements exist, but they tend to high somebody else to deal with that end of things..either that, or they are going to have to spend some time learning it all themselves.

Mastering isn't just needed for music that's going to be played by a DJ..there's a little bit more to it than that.
I agree strongly... there is a reason these rooms are engineered, and each room is different on its own accord. its a process of do what is needed and leave alone what is already acceptable... but to do this you NEED AN ACCURATE room and system.

I see talent ALL the time, GREAT talent, shit, better than me.... but they refuse to listen when we say, treat your room, move your monitors off the wall, dedicate a room at least 10x11x9 for music generation or mastering, etc... so the product they produce, always sounds flat, or dead, improperly balanced or eq'd too much in the bass... etc.

How can one measure accurately without accurate measuring tools? as a fabricator, welder, machinist... mechanic. we all have a 1-2-3-4-5-6 order of doing things... and they rely on the previous layer... if that previous layer is incorrect, the rest of my adjustments may too be incorrect.

HEARING my adjustments to the finest point is what I am seeking here. Im seeking a room thats natural dimensions alone, help to cancel standing waves, room echo, delay, phasing... and oh my, the 100 hz and below... for a room less than 20'x21' you WILL have problems around 40-80 hz ... thing is to understand why and what you can do about it... BEFORE you spend the ideas on mastering...

as I just made this up... (spark of creativity maybe)

before you beat it, treat it!
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:48 PM   #19
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

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I am talking about our amatuer level of production, am I not.
maybe but you do take it serious enough. I think you can do it at home... and i think ANYONE with an ear can do it... but there are few things you should do before you start... as mentioned before. you dont need to be a pro or a wealthy guy...

you just need to be passionate about your art and music and NEED to have it sound as good as you can. try this ...

make one song, or take one song you love, and pay for it to be mastered,. and while it is being mastered, master that same song at home on your own, and then compare the two on your system at home, the car, headphones. and this will hopefully show you why some vesting is needed, either it be knowledge, materials, hardware, etc... or if atm you lack all of the above, just send it off to be mastered...

I personally want my shit sent thru a 10k$ compressor, and an 8k$ eq... yes please... ill pay 50$ for that... till I can replicate that at home.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:58 PM   #20
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Re: Mastering, in general 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario D View Post
I am talking about our amatuer level of production, am I not. I cant see a need of me making a piano, string track and having a need for profesional master, it usually sounds great, those natural sounds without to much drums, layers of artificial sounds, no need of loudness.
On the other hand, some of our amatuer house, trance tunes should be illegal to volume up because you could have brain damage of how bad everything sounds. It's much more complex. Not to mention house, trance, dubstep, dnb must be mastered, no matter how well it's done, if it doesnt sound right its bad.
So yea, piano, string piece really has no need of mastering on our level, you're not gonna put it in the club or you're gonna play it in your car on max volume with your windows down, are you?
I mean, if you wanna do something profesional with it, like send it to some TV house or play it somewhere in a theater or so, then yea, should be done by profesional, but I'm not talking about that here.

The OP asked about Mastering, in general..not it's relevance at the armature level. That aside, isn't the whole point to produce to the highest standards that you can..to master your craft as a producer and release the best sounding music you can..regardless of genre?

If someone thinks like that..that they are only armature and they work doesn't need to be polished to the best standard that it can be, then they will always remain at the armature level. Every famous artist out there was once armature, too..think about that for a moment.

It's not about genres..it's about quality of sound and how you present your music to the world. Sorry, I'm not bashing you or what you believe personally..we all have our own take on everything..but I honestly do think you need to reflect a little on what your saying here. One of the main reasons this forum exists is to help "armatures" up their game..and again, that help isn't genre-specific..it's a helping hand offered to anyone who wants it.

Like I said..mastering isn't confined or only required by certain genres..it's required when certain musical industry standards aren't met in the finished work. That said, I do think in this age people can do a relatively good job of it on their own.

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