I've been thinking... Is it possible to master a track with good results in the actual mixdown?
So far I've been mixing the track, leaving about -4 to -6 db headroom on the stereo output, bouncing it then working with it as a audio file when mastering...
But, couldn't the mastering be done in the actual mixdown ? I mean if you are going to master it yourself anyway? And when not having the audio file as regular mastering, it's much easier to go back to any specific sound in your mix to change it's levels or anything...
Do you understand what I mean? Is this a good way to master?
Nothing wrong here. The biggest problem is that knowing you can quickly tweak a hat, synth, etc can put you back in mixing mode not mastering mode. Technically though, if anything you'll have better resolution. Also this makes it much harder to master in reference to the surrounding tracks, or deal with timings as you're not importing multiple mixes into one session.
I think it depends on what level of release your going for, the pros will argue that no it's best to leave mastering to a seperate mastering engineer. First it will be a clean set of ears, and second mastering tools and work flow is generally different than mixing.
Also as mentioned usually you keep them seperate in case you go back and have a case of the changies and do anything that effects dynamics.
plenty of indy guys do their own mix downs and mastering, but a fresh pair of ears do bring something to a song. personally I would treat them as seperate actions but I also don't master my own stuff.
Maybe I am missing something but I do not see an issue with this but keep in mind if you decide to tweak the mix at all to first bypass all mastering effects so you are back to the original mix, otherwise you will start mixing to the master and that IMO is not a good route to take
I reckon it's best to finish the mix and wait a week or so without listening to it to freshen your ears up. Then do the master as a separate exercise.
Of course to get a feel for what the mix might be like with the loudness ramped up, maybe slap a limiter on the master buss whilst mixing to see if any sounds jump out or get squashed back too much.
Often I master using a few stems rather than just a single stereo file - Kick, Sub Bass and Rest works for me. You can apply different amounts of compression to different parts and make subtle level adjustments then at that stage.
personally, I just slap an EQ to sweeten it up, maybe some saturation and definitely a limiter on the master and punch it out to MP3. But I'm not a pro. It does make sense if you are releasing it on a label and it needs to sound similar to their other stuff, or if you are doing an album/LP and need everything to be at the same levels, then do it seperately and/or with someone else.
"Alot of people these days seem to listen to music through their eyes." - DoctaMario
Agree fully. mp3 as a format should actually be banned. It was invented to save space when storage was expensive. If you want to really listen to music, use 24 bit WAV or AIFF. Of course the damn CD format is 16 bit so will grudgingly accept that. </rant>