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Old 29-12-2016, 01:32 PM   #441
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Re: Mastering

Having just finished mastering on an album of work--I can say that it takes a lot of preparation long before it ever lands on the engineer's desk.

I eventually had nearly all tracks professionally re-mastered, but the process of learning to do it myself got the tracks to a better place than they might otherwise have been. I also learned what tracks should and shouldn't sound like--a bit of an expensive lesson after initially sending them out for mastering (remember what Steve Jobs said: "Nobody is an expert".)

But I'll say this: I used the Landr service as a starting place, rendering out mastered tracks that I would then painstakingly analyze, duplicate, then tweak to suit my needs. I learned more doing that than anything else.

FWIW I was using Ozone 5; I got it about 80% of the way there. It took an "expert" engineer to get that extra 20%.

Hope this helps.

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Old 15-02-2017, 03:54 PM   #442
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Re: Mastering

IMO mastering is more about detaching one's self from the mix and listening at the big picture. There is no standard steps to follow and in my career as a mastering engineer I say that no projects have the exact same settings, gear/plugins involved. A few things that are constant over the years I have been mastering and they are my monitoring system/chain and room.

If you are mixing and mastering I would strongly suggest you get in the habit of stepping back from the mix, when it comes to mastering time, and focusing on the final sonic big picture/goal. Easier said than done but this is why most commercial tracks have separate mixing and mastering engineers...to get perspective from an experience dedicated engineer in their craft.

Don't take my word that having separate mix & mastering engs is better just because I'm a dedicated mastering engineer...now a days there is so much information and great ITB tools for one to master their project themselves within budget and obtain great results.

But what is the hardest lesson to learn is the being critical of ones own work at the time of self-mastering, the experienced ear and 3rd party perceptive who has worked on and heard so much music in a professional tuned room to know how to optimize your mixes.
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Old 24-02-2017, 09:49 PM   #443
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by nodanorm View Post
I just watch youtube videos. I like the one by Yoad Nevo - mastering with waves. But I'm not at the point to pay for mastering yet. My music career seems to progress further if I spend that money on online marketing efforts. Cause the average listener can still hear the potential of a good song, even if it doesn't have the best production on it.

Haha, this is an argument i'm having with my buddy now, which comes first? marketing a "good enough" track, or professionally mixing and mastering that track, and hope to gain organic following? Ideas?
Is there a point in paying someone to do you a mastering if you're not actually singed that track? Hm, I guess each to his own, but I would expect record label to master my track, as they did in the past.

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Old 24-02-2017, 09:50 PM   #444
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by mmarra View Post
IMO mastering is more about detaching one's self from the mix and listening at the big picture. There is no standard steps to follow and in my career as a mastering engineer I say that no projects have the exact same settings, gear/plugins involved. A few things that are constant over the years I have been mastering and they are my monitoring system/chain and room.

If you are mixing and mastering I would strongly suggest you get in the habit of stepping back from the mix, when it comes to mastering time, and focusing on the final sonic big picture/goal. Easier said than done but this is why most commercial tracks have separate mixing and mastering engineers...to get perspective from an experience dedicated engineer in their craft.

Don't take my word that having separate mix & mastering engs is better just because I'm a dedicated mastering engineer...now a days there is so much information and great ITB tools for one to master their project themselves within budget and obtain great results.

But what is the hardest lesson to learn is the being critical of ones own work at the time of self-mastering, the experienced ear and 3rd party perceptive who has worked on and heard so much music in a professional tuned room to know how to optimize your mixes.
How does one detach from a mix.

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Old 24-02-2017, 10:11 PM   #445
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by Mario D View Post
Is there a point in paying someone to do you a mastering if you're not actually singed that track? Hm, I guess each to his own, but I would expect record label to master my track, as they did in the past.
Sometimes it helps to have even a poor-man's-mastering (yes, even Landr) on a track just to get the label to notice. I can imagine that a non-equalized, non-compressed track wouldn't have the same initial impact as one that was. Once you've got their attention, they'll get it properly mastered for you. My experience, anyway.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:11 PM   #446
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by Mario D View Post
How does one detach from a mix.
It's easier said than done for someone who is doing the full production (recording to mixing to mastering). When you are that in deep in the production it's hard to step back from the track with a critical ear.

One good way to detach mixing from mastering is to take a break for a day or two on the mixes you just finished. Then load up a session with the stereo track bounces and master them as a mastering eng would.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:30 PM   #447
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by mmarra View Post
One good way to detach mixing from mastering is to take a break for a day or two on the mixes you just finished. Then load up a session with the stereo track bounces and master them as a mastering eng would.
I absolutely second this. I also do this during the composition phase; you tend to quickly pick up on problems when you come back to it with fresh ears (programmers do this with code).
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Old 27-02-2017, 01:41 AM   #448
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Re: Mastering

That's how I go about it too.

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Old 16-06-2017, 04:11 PM   #449
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Re: Mastering

Hey, everyone. Hope all is well. I was going to post a separate thread on mastering, but then I saw this sticky thread. I've looked all through it, mostly, and have come to several conclusions and questions. Please tell me if I'm on the right track. Here are my conclusions/questions:

1. A professional grade master is nearly impossible to do on your own unless you are a sound engineer, have access to high end equipment, and also know what you're doing. The best thing to do is to have your tracks, if you're serious enough, mastered by professionals. Is that right? And if so, who are those professionals? What mastering services are the best (not LANDR, apparently they're not well liked here and probably for good reason)?

2. It is sometimes good to do a pre-master before sending your tracks off to get professionally mastered. Is that right too? Or should you just do a good mix and then have it mastered?

3. If you don't have the money to get it professionally mastered or the hardware, a program like iZotope's Ozone 7 is decent for mastering. Are there any other good mastering programs? What's the best way to master on your own? Is there a guide to mastering like the one we have on here for mixing?

4. When mastering on your own, is it always necessary to have a flat spectrum of frequencies when using an EQ or compressor? And which is better for mastering, an EQ or a compressor? Or both? Are there any other tools one should use? I know a limiter is probably one.

Anyway, sorry for the newbie questions and I thank all those in advance who can help me navigate my way to mastering success.

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Old 16-06-2017, 05:41 PM   #450
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Re: Mastering

It's a bit of a wide subject. You'll get people claiming everything from it being mandatory to it being snake oil. Like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

All mastering is is very, very, very specific mixing. Mixing for cohesion across tracks. Mixing for medium. Mixing for final presentation. Most of the time it's about making compromises in the final mix to accommodate a wide variety of listening settings (crappy headphones, audiophile systems, car stereo, cinema, vinyl, etc). From experience, professionals know what trade offs are worth making.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ambtconnoisseur View Post
1. A professional grade master is nearly impossible to do on your own unless you are a sound engineer, have access to high end equipment, and also know what you're doing. The best thing to do is to have your tracks, if you're serious enough, mastered by professionals. Is that right? And if so, who are those professionals? What mastering services are the best (not LANDR, apparently they're not well liked here and probably for good reason)?
As mastering is just a form of mixing, your results are going to be about the same as doing the mixing at home. Some people's shit is going to be really bad, most people can do a fairly decent but ultimately mediocre job, and a few people are so good they should probably be doing it professionally. It's entirely possible to master things yourself, after all it's your music and only you know how it should sound. Sending it out means you get the speed and decisions of a practiced professional with the know-how, equipment and experience to do it quickly. Do note that doesn't guarantee you'll actually like the result. It does guarantee they'll do it in a fraction of the time you can.

Mastering engineers spend a lot of money on their room and speakers being flat. Great mastering engineers make a living off their ears, and having a flat room means their ears get the big picture quickly and accurately. If they know from experience that most car stereos add this frequency and lose that frequency, they might make slight adjustments for that. Things like that are really hard to do when you're listening in an untreated room on colored speakers - it throws the entire process out of whack because you're hearing reflections and cancellations and whatnot that aren't actually there. FWIW, I'd rather master on a decent pair of headphones over a completely untreated room.

Quote:
2. It is sometimes good to do a pre-master before sending your tracks off to get professionally mastered. Is that right too? Or should you just do a good mix and then have it mastered?
I'd shoot for a good mix. Adding a bunch of limiters and compression on the master bus is just going to confuse the issue and the mastering engineer will likely take them off. You definitely should get as perfect a mix as possible before sending it off.

Quote:
3. If you don't have the money to get it professionally mastered or the hardware, a program like iZotope's Ozone 7 is decent for mastering. Are there any other good mastering programs? What's the best way to master on your own? Is there a guide to mastering like the one we have on here for mixing?
Izotope stuff is about as good as it gets for automated mastering. A lot of it will depend on how well the presets match up with what you're doing. If you're making world-destroying grindcore, incredibly delicate concertos, or finnicky Roden-esk minimalist you're probably not going to be happy with the results. If you're making club tunes or pop-rock stuff it'll be pretty good. Sort of surprisingly, the [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
is a nce beginner's reference.

Quote:
4. When mastering on your own, is it always necessary to have a flat spectrum of frequencies when using an EQ or compressor? And which is better for mastering, an EQ or a compressor? Or both? Are there any other tools one should use? I know a limiter is probably one.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'flat spectrum of frequencies'. Look at it this way - a single song in digital format is mastered when it's mixed as well as it can be mixed and turned up as loud as it can be without any problems. Done and done. There's no magic, no special sauce. Digital doesn't need special attention to bass like vinyl, a single track doesn't need to be re-EQed in relation to other tracks, etc, etc. It just gets mixed, turned up and printed.

If you know your song will get played in clubs, you might make special concessions during the mixing and/or mastering process to accommodate the big ass bass. If you're putting out an album, you probably don't want one track riding at -3 and the others at -6. You don't generally want people having to turn your album up and down as the tracks change. Likewise, you probably don't want one song to be incredibly midrange-y and the rest not. Those are generally mastering decisions because mastering is about looking at the product as a whole. Just like regular mixing, you use whatever tools you need to get the results you want. EQs and compression are as valuable in mastering as they are in mixing.

That said, there's also standards to keep in mind. If you're producing a certain type of music there's probably a catalog of accepted practices. Pop-rock doesn't get mastered as quietly as classical. Dance music has a lot of bass, and on and on. It's possible to make a perfectly catchy and banging club track without a lot of bass, but a mastering engineer is going to say 'hey, we want the butts shaking, I'm going to dial in some low end to make those speakers bounce'. While most people keep stuff like that in mind while writing and mixing, the mastering process allows for a final check to make sure your song(s) will hold up to the standards of the genre.

Last but not least, mastering engineers listen to a lot of music for a living. Getting the outside opinion of a trained professional that understands the nuances of genres and have a lot of listening experience can be a good thing. Extra ears never hurt. Whether you find that helpful or necessary is up to you.

Last edited by Artificer; 16-06-2017 at 05:49 PM..
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Old 18-06-2017, 04:32 PM   #451
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Re: Mastering

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
It's a bit of a wide subject. You'll get people claiming everything from it being mandatory to it being snake oil. Like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

All mastering is is very, very, very specific mixing. Mixing for cohesion across tracks. Mixing for medium. Mixing for final presentation. Most of the time it's about making compromises in the final mix to accommodate a wide variety of listening settings (crappy headphones, audiophile systems, car stereo, cinema, vinyl, etc). From experience, professionals know what trade offs are worth making.



As mastering is just a form of mixing, your results are going to be about the same as doing the mixing at home. Some people's shit is going to be really bad, most people can do a fairly decent but ultimately mediocre job, and a few people are so good they should probably be doing it professionally. It's entirely possible to master things yourself, after all it's your music and only you know how it should sound. Sending it out means you get the speed and decisions of a practiced professional with the know-how, equipment and experience to do it quickly. Do note that doesn't guarantee you'll actually like the result. It does guarantee they'll do it in a fraction of the time you can.

Mastering engineers spend a lot of money on their room and speakers being flat. Great mastering engineers make a living off their ears, and having a flat room means their ears get the big picture quickly and accurately. If they know from experience that most car stereos add this frequency and lose that frequency, they might make slight adjustments for that. Things like that are really hard to do when you're listening in an untreated room on colored speakers - it throws the entire process out of whack because you're hearing reflections and cancellations and whatnot that aren't actually there. FWIW, I'd rather master on a decent pair of headphones over a completely untreated room.



I'd shoot for a good mix. Adding a bunch of limiters and compression on the master bus is just going to confuse the issue and the mastering engineer will likely take them off. You definitely should get as perfect a mix as possible before sending it off.



Izotope stuff is about as good as it gets for automated mastering. A lot of it will depend on how well the presets match up with what you're doing. If you're making world-destroying grindcore, incredibly delicate concertos, or finnicky Roden-esk minimalist you're probably not going to be happy with the results. If you're making club tunes or pop-rock stuff it'll be pretty good. Sort of surprisingly, the is a nce beginner's reference.



I'm not sure what you mean by 'flat spectrum of frequencies'. Look at it this way - a single song in digital format is mastered when it's mixed as well as it can be mixed and turned up as loud as it can be without any problems. Done and done. There's no magic, no special sauce. Digital doesn't need special attention to bass like vinyl, a single track doesn't need to be re-EQed in relation to other tracks, etc, etc. It just gets mixed, turned up and printed.

If you know your song will get played in clubs, you might make special concessions during the mixing and/or mastering process to accommodate the big ass bass. If you're putting out an album, you probably don't want one track riding at -3 and the others at -6. You don't generally want people having to turn your album up and down as the tracks change. Likewise, you probably don't want one song to be incredibly midrange-y and the rest not. Those are generally mastering decisions because mastering is about looking at the product as a whole. Just like regular mixing, you use whatever tools you need to get the results you want. EQs and compression are as valuable in mastering as they are in mixing.

That said, there's also standards to keep in mind. If you're producing a certain type of music there's probably a catalog of accepted practices. Pop-rock doesn't get mastered as quietly as classical. Dance music has a lot of bass, and on and on. It's possible to make a perfectly catchy and banging club track without a lot of bass, but a mastering engineer is going to say 'hey, we want the butts shaking, I'm going to dial in some low end to make those speakers bounce'. While most people keep stuff like that in mind while writing and mixing, the mastering process allows for a final check to make sure your song(s) will hold up to the standards of the genre.

Last but not least, mastering engineers listen to a lot of music for a living. Getting the outside opinion of a trained professional that understands the nuances of genres and have a lot of listening experience can be a good thing. Extra ears never hurt. Whether you find that helpful or necessary is up to you.
Wow, man. This was an extremely helpful reply! Essentially answered everything I wanted to know. And that iZotope mastering guide is incredibly informative. Basically like taking a 101 class on mastering. I really appreciate the time and thought put into your response. Thanks!
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Old 26-01-2018, 10:46 PM   #452
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Re: Mastering

I've tried both--though I should be clear that my case is just one among millions...

1. I had a track "professionally mastered" and was utterly underwhelmed. Truth is, though, I should have chosen better (wrong engineer for the type of music I was releasing). That being said, if the engineer doesn't know that style, don't offer to do the mastering.

2. I ended up doing it myself for the demos: mastered a couple on Landr, then used those as reference tracks to do my own mastering.

3. The label eventually remastered all but one track. I learned a lot from that process and since then I've been doing it myself...not that I wouldn't hire an engineer anyway...sometimes they know best.

But the mixing has to be good, or your master is going to suffer. Someone told me that setting a mix to mono is a good way to check for phase issues before bouncing.
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:27 PM   #453
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Re: Mastering

I think Ozone is a good VST because it has all the basic things to a master. But it has a lot of limitations:
You can't put many EQs or many compressions. I like my masters more using many types of different (oneband and multiband for the lower frequences) compressions in series. So I would say that Ozone is good for biginners that don't know where to start on the mastering, so they can study all the presets and what they like and what not. But for more in-deep peeps is not the best. (I actually use it for the imager and the limiter in different parts of the chain).

Than I really reccomend to analysemany commercial tracks or other tracks mastered by professionals ,not only by listening to them, but also trying to filter or listening only to the sides and the mono. It's really helpful
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Old 25-04-2018, 07:29 PM   #454
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Re: Mastering

Mastering is a strange beast.

It's a pretty dark art that can be hard to find information on for someone trying to learn it on their own.

I've had my tracks professionally mixed/mastered before and they ended up sounding lifeless. Things hit hard, and were clear enough but it just didn't have..."it".

I've been trying to teach myself how to "master", specifically for an album release. I do NOT claim that these are great/the right practices, but this is what has been working for me:

1) The final sound is dependent HEAVILY on the mix: A great mastering job wont make a crap mix sound good. Make sure your mix is where you want it to be before going to master. EQ'ing against some pink noise in the mixing phase is also a great way to get a good starting point on your gain staging. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD turn off your volume automation until you've set where you want the loudest point to be for a track in overall gain staging.

2) Leave enough headroom: Don't squash the ever living bejesus out of your mixes. I typically leave around 6-8dB of headroom before sending to a master project.

3) Keep it simple: My master chain is usually 1 eq, 1 compressor and a limiter/maximizer. I usually make EQ adjustments of +/- 3dB MAX on the eq, and compress gently with around -1 gain reduction and a very slow attack/release
EDIT: I should clarify: I put the EQ and compressors individually on each track, and have the limiter/maximizer on the stereo bus by itself.

4) When working on an album/ep, put all the mixes into one project, and put your master chain on the mix bus. Keep the settings the same and bring faders up/down to achieve a consistent volume level over the tracks by a/b'ing so your listeners won't have to keep reaching for the volume knob (you can individualize masters once you've gotten them in the same ballpark). You set up your "mastering" chain on a bus that you send your tracks to, and have a reference track going directly to the stereo out for comparing to.


As I stated, this may not be the "right" way to do it, but I have been happy with the results.

Last edited by Garruden; 26-04-2018 at 04:52 AM..

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Old 26-08-2018, 01:32 AM   #455
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Re: Mastering

Well I'm no expert but I'm getting there.

I went from being afraid of compression/thinking it's overrated to compressing the shit out of everything. I upward compress drums, sometimes downward compress synths (if I want more bass I filter and then upward compress) and use strong EQ to keep things reasonably clear. it takes a lot of just plain listening to make sure that things are individually made to sound their best. for example,  a kick will sound much less Dancy and more acoustic if you just scoop out some lower mids (after cutting below 25hz) and boost around the top end. don't do that and you'll be in Deadmau5 territory with a synth kick. I haven't ventured into vst's for mixing etc. I just use my stock plugins.

the last time I made a track  I did the above and topped it off with a maximus and used the "maximum loudness" preset, made it less loud and it sounded better than anything I've ever done.

if you compress raw sounds and don't pay attention to frequency Ranges, you'll get a very clashy high end showering over a low end. also I try to trim sample ADSR so I only get the taste of the sound's maximum impact.

in short mastering or mixing or whatever is just being mindful. if you have a good mix of a track it helps to keep on developing it, then delete all your presets and use it as a template.

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