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Old 11.21.2010, 06:41 AM   #1
Genteel Death
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I'm spending my weekend reading about different approaches to the mastering process of records, so I was wondering if anyone has ever had any experiences with it on the forum. If you have any stories or personal experiences, please share. I think that even lo-fi recordings can benefit from it (see Bob Ludwig's work for Guided by Voices, for instance).
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Old 11.21.2010, 07:36 AM   #2
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Yes, I do.
more or less good, hahaha.
but I save the mastering tools just for making it louder and EQ it finally, for brightness and/or ged rid of too much low frequency rumble, like rolling of the low end a tad.
the perception of a mastered recording to the raw mixdown is far superior even at this little "mastering" I do . got a lot to do with the perceived loudness I think. but a limiter also gels all the parts better together, at least in my ears. too much headroom lets everything sound too far away. and I am not talking bout squashing the track right under the ceiling. a few Dbs off the highest peaks is normally what I do, everything else steals the life and breaths of things. tried at my last tune and yes, its a bit louder as the previous one, but it lacks dynamics, impact and perceived air. will redo it.
so all in all my mastering is EQ and Limiting the final mix.
I agree to all those engineers who say that a good mix only needs this. (multiband) compression reverb etc. are just signs that you did something wrong while mixing. so go back to the mix if possible and do it better. if thats not possible they are of course lifesaver tools.

Every record benefits from it I think. if its just alone to bring all tunes on an album to the same perceived volume...this can save the listeners earsdrums and gives it a cohesive feel. everything else would sound awkward.
but overall I think less is more in mastering. mixing is free. mastering should just make a mix technically good.

the best reads I had about mastering & mixing were written by bob katz. he isnt attached to a specific genre and I think that makes it so good. he seem to tread every audio as it is: precious, na matter if its a lo-fi recording or some wankass U2 guitar part.
his tips and tricks are so well explained that its possible to imagine how a tune would benefit from it while reading, without the need of having it done before. (ok this sentence is totally fucked up by my german gramatic, sorry).
btw, I think I found his "bible" as a .pdf on the web back in the days, maybe I find it on my external HD and up it, if theres the need to do it.
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Old 11.21.2010, 09:17 AM   #3
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Yeah, I mastered PSYCHIC EXISTENTIALISM by scissor shock, doing many of the same techniques Al described. You've heard the album -- you think it sounds decent, right? I was actually really proud of it, because I think there was a very wide-open-spaced mix, you could hear all the little nuances; I mean, there were a hundred little microsounds going on a second, and I'm still hearing sounds I don't even remember recording. The most difficult part was mixing it all together without it sounding too jumbled, something I definitely had a problem with in past recordings. I tend to try to make the drums the loudest instrument, since it's the most important instrument (to me.. and most bands). Getting a good bass sound is very important to me, too, and I made sure and panned the guitars hard right and hard left; bass was center.. other instruments like xylophone were, maybe, left 50%... marimba, right 50%.. vocals were usually dead center, or slightly to the left.. keyboards slightly to the right.. miscellanous electronics and horns, I usually just mixed all over the place (maybe a horn would start hard left and play a solo and, by the end, be hard right).

I mainly used EQ in the mastering to get rid of rumble; I removed silences, which can be tricky when workingw with microsounds as I do since it removes elements of the mix. Or, it can. I gently tweaked the 30 band equalizer to get just the right sound I need -- usually a bit dark, but not murky.

Honestly, it was a very difficult album to master since the songs are so fast and so full of sound, but I am very proud of the job I did, I got it sounding just as I wanted, and the reception has been surprisingly good. I am a perfectionist, though, and I've been producing, mixing, and mastering my albums, and others albums, for 13 years now. It's just something you really have to keep messing around with. But experimenting is really fun.
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Old 11.21.2010, 09:48 AM   #4
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an overall problem is what most musicians think of a mastering engineer.
they think he is a supersonic wizard who will make sound everything perfect. which is completely wrong.
a good mastering work comes from a good mix. mastering can make a good mix sounding stunning and a bad mix just better, but not good.

most of the time mastering engineers try to compensate mixing mistakes.
Ive talked to some over the years and the overall canon is:
make a good mix and the mastering will be a breeze.
If you cant mix properly, learn it or let it be done by a mixing engineer.

I also gave some tunes away back in the days to some test mastering, but I liked my versions better. but i have to say that werent some platinum studios with awesome analog outboard equipment. just trained guys with a computer based setup.
careful listening to everything and training your ears is what makes a good mastering engineer I think!

like I said before. mastering should come naturally, if not there is something wrong in the mix stage.

there are some creative mastering techniques which can come handy in the mixing stage also, like different kinds of compression for example parallel compression, but thats a different cup of tea.

the aforementioned book is:

Bob Katz - "Mastering Audio - The Art and the Sience"
this is the only book you really need to understand whats it all about. The guy just knows whats it all about without genre barriers, just how to treat sound right.


@asp:
I really like how you made "Psychic Existentialism" in a strange way it reminds me of J Dillas productions which are often labelled as his "paper thin" works instead of maxed out bass which i more common in the genre of beat driven music.
the album isnt harsh at all, and thats what makes it a good mastering in my ears. its well balanced, and if it hitted the spot as what you wanted it to sound like, which mastering engineer could have made it better?

the most important thing for someone who searches for a mastering engineer is to find somebody who understands the aim of the artist. there are a ton who are making things sound huge and LOUD for gods sake, because thats the actual industry standard, but they dont care about the soul of the recordings. I recently talked to an artists who made such a moody, dark and muffled (!!!) piece of sound tapestry which was in itself totally perfect but he was dumped because his drum sounds didnt match the industry standard, say hart hitting and pumping. which in that case would have destroyed the overall feel completely. his work lived from the fragile and nonconform use of sounds.

difficult topic, but nontheless interesting
sorry for the book-like post
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Old 11.21.2010, 10:17 AM   #5
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yes.
but it's never as good as the industry-standard.
it's also never as shit.
but not me, obviously.
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Old 11.21.2010, 11:13 AM   #6
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1- Is there some mastering program any yabo can get?

2- Super stupid question: are only two track mixes mastered?
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Old 11.21.2010, 11:16 AM   #7
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If you can afford to have a professional master it do that (so worth the money). If not do the best you can or have someone you trust do it.
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Old 11.21.2010, 11:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evollove
1- Is there some mastering program any yabo can get?

2- Super stupid question: are only two track mixes mastered?

they use the same programms as a lot of musicians already use these days.
any kind of audio editor, like peak, wavelab, pro tools etc.
they cost a shitload of money but...its the internet.

the only difference is that they got the perfect monitoring environment & equipment, so they may hear things you wont over your monitors, speaker and or shitty headphones.
plus often they got the expansive outboard gear which can add the special sauce sometimes, but overall you pay them for their ears and their knowledge / craftmanship. they know when and how to do some techniques which arent considered while mixing. like splitting up the signal in MS, that means you get two channels like left and right, but one is for mono and the other is stereo. now you can control both with your faders, like you would do it with normal channels. you can bring in as much ambience as you want and can easily overdo it, thats where the knowledge comes into play. the technique itself can be done with every sequencer like garagebandor something. same for parallel compression or sidechain compression etc.

normally 2 tracks are mastered, if you need to go back to the mixing stage, then for a reason which cant be solved other then at the root.
but if the mix is good you just dont need to go back. so the answer is kind of yes
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Old 11.21.2010, 01:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Genteel Death
I'm spending my weekend reading about different approaches to the mastering process of records, so I was wondering if anyone has ever had any experiences with it on the forum. If you have any stories or personal experiences, please share. I think that even lo-fi recordings can benefit from it (see Bob Ludwig's work for Guided by Voices, for instance).


Mastering your own project really can be like "doing your own dentistry work" to use the old cliche. I have a lot of experience mastering my own work out of necessity ($$$) with mixed results. The problem with doing your own mastering is it defeats the main purpose of the mastering step in the first place. When mastering yourself you are obviously in the same room in which you mixed with all the same audio deficiencies.

The best advice one could give in regards to mastering yourself is fix it in the mix and do as little as possible in the mastering stage. To achieve this mix to the best of your ability by A/B'ing with a good selling, professionally made album of your choice within your genre. Then confirm your mixes in as many different systems as possible (your car, your computer, your boom-box, your iPod, etc), tweaking the mix to be compatible in all of them. The final step, "mastering", in "home mastering" should involve only limiting to bring the overall audio volume to a reasonable modern level (very light EQ and compression can be used before the limiter in the chain but is usually not necessary).
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Old 11.21.2010, 01:48 PM   #10
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Ive been PMed because of the postings I made in this thread. I wont tell the users name but will use the pseudonym "USERXXX" instead, the conversation is just nuts.
Judge for yourself...
If somebody can explain to me what in the world I did wrong I promise Ill never do it again, no matter what.
and if you agree with me I beg you to never give away your precious money to this kind of "MASTERing Engineers".




USERXXX
no offense, but you seem like you are talking out of your ass when it comes to audio. Parallel compression is an outdated technique, a relic from the analog past. And when would a mastering engineer ever use MS? Rarely if ever.

shabbray2.0
Sorry
mister know it all,
I think he uses it when there is need to do it.
the technique exists so why not to do it when there is a mono/stereo/phasing problem?!
Read the Book from Bob Katz and he clearly explains when and how to use it. and it does indeed makes sense.

Also I never said that they use it all the time, just that its a technique which is more likely used at the mastering and not the mixing stage. to clear those borders.

really dont know where your problem is.
its a topic that interests me and I am going to talk out of my ass as much as I wish.
if you think I am wrong, post it, its a forum, its for discussions not only for saying shit about others.
I am happy if I can learn more and if someone can point on something said wrong, so I can clarify it or in the best case I can learn from him/her

USERXXX
sorry, I just don't think you know what you are talking about.


Shabbray2.0
Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal pharmacy
Parallel compression will be a good start to getting the right sound. I would do it on drums, bass and vocals. Also i would set a ducker to slightly duck the bass when the kick hits (depending on how much you are using kick, if there is alot of kick drum then don't do this).

So parallel compression: On drums, you want to make two mix busses to send the drums too. On one of the mix busses place a compressor on at 6:1 ration or a little harder and set your threshold quite early like -40db or so. you really want to squash the fuck out of this first buss so the lightest of hits or taps will be heard and the loudest really squeezed. On the second buss just add a fairly light compression to catch any ugly transients, maybe 3 or 4:1 ratio and threshold around -3db or so. Send to both of the busses from the drum channels prefade as well. Then we want to mix the clean and the two compressed bussed till it sounds like you want. This if you do it properly will give the drums great punch and the lightest of dynamic playing will be heard. You can then do this on the bass and vocals too, even guitars if you want. I usually only do the drums and vocals when i'm doing this for live mixes but recording I do a fair bit of it.


Make sure auot plugin compensation is on otherwise you will get phasing etc and the signal will be slighty delayed.


As far as recorders, is it to be portable?

Quote End

I dont know in which audio world you are living, but parallel compression may be invented by motown and widely used on their vocals, but today its used on drums more then everything. same technique, different playfield.

so much bout talking out of MY ass.


USERXXX:
really? because people mainly use plug-ins in computers to mix these days. what you are talking about can be achieved by inserting a single plug in. No need for dual or parallel channels.

You are talking out of your ass sir. I have a degree in audio engineering.



Shabbray2.0
I think thermal pharmacy is some kind of audio engineer too. but he doesnt ignore doing things manually instead of an a plug in. this way somebody can already learn what hes doing instead of downloading another shitty plugin to make things even worse.
everything can be done with a plug in. go write yourself a plug in which stops you from being such an arrogant prick. no wait thats impossible, I think.

your degree up my talking ass.
I almost got a degree too, but i am not walking around telling everybody that hes more stupid then I am because he got none.


USERXXX:
Parallel Compression was a fad in NYC studios of the 80's. You are talking about it on a SY forum as if you have experience when it is clear you do not. Who is the prick?

Shabbray2.0
I have the experience in doing it by myself multiple times.
like I said its EASY. its doable in Garageband!
or do you think its just possible if you got a degree?
How the fuck are you thinking ive never did it?
you are living on a cloud, really.

USERXXX:
I'll let the signed band I was working with from my last project know. You can go back to giving idiotic advice.

Shabbray2.0:
hahaha thats the most arrogant thing you ever said. go wanking bout your degree and your signed band, hahaha.
you are the prototype of the holy mastering prick who likes to behave like its one of the last magic artforms...which its not.

Shabbray2.0:
to be honest. I really dont know what I said is wrong?
you cant say that a technique like PC is obsolete, thats just wrong. thousands of artists using it. at least the french electronic scene does it, like Mr oizo, Justice, Daft Punk etc. This and Sidechaining are two echniques what makes their sound so distinct.

And MS Mastering does exist, nothing wrong with that.
I never said thats its the first thing an engineer does, I just said that its a thing where you have to know what you are doing, otherwise it can ruin everything. dont matter if you do it manually or via a plug in.

I never said mastering engineer s are useless, they are that usefull because they exactly know what they are doing, if I scratched your degree ego this way...it wasnt my intend.
I dont wanted to upset someone or come over like a know it all.
but I dont know whats bothering you with what I said, except that you just got the feeling I dont know what I am talking about...
if thats all you have to say I dont know what to reply.

USERXXX:
Talking about a rarely used professional mastering technique when trying to help a beginner master their own shit at home = don't know what the hell you are talking about

Shabbray2.0:
maybe you dont know who genteel death is, but hes is far from a beginner. and I am sure he knows what I mean

USERXXX:
Nice aversion from yourself. Who else do you want to talk about?
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:00 PM   #11
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Wow... I seem to have troubled shabbray2.0
He isn't giving very good advice in this thread, talking about M/S and Parallel Compression when giving advice about mastering at home???? Not a good sign of audio knowledge.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:10 PM   #12
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Not sure why you are want to learn how to master. It is a tech job that can be done by pro mastering people. If I were you I would concentrate on your songwriting or playing of your instrument.

DIY is good but learning how to master is really only a job that you can say you did it.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hevusa
Wow... I seem to have troubled shabbray2.0
He isn't giving very good advice in this thread, talking about M/S and Parallel Compression when giving advice about mastering at home???? Not a good sign of audio knowledge.



hahaha
catfights are not my type of thing.
but you are welcome, man.

but would you please tell us "untaught" folks why the hell not?

everybody got excess to a free audio editor, and its doable in exact this.
so why not trying it out by yourself and learn something new?
I did it, and since then I know what it is and what you can do with it.
I never said its common practice, but it can fix some serious issues in a 2track which arent fixable otherwise.
I am NOT saying to do it, but it opens some possibilities which shouldnt be ignored.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hevusa
The best advice one could give in regards to mastering yourself is fix it in the mix and do as little as possible in the mastering stage. To achieve this mix to the best of your ability by A/B'ing with a good selling, professionally made album of your choice within your genre. Then confirm your mixes in as many different systems as possible (your car, your computer, your boom-box, your iPod, etc), tweaking the mix to be compatible in all of them. The final stage in "home mastering" should involve only limiting to bring the overall audio volume to a reasonable modern level (very light EQ and compression can be used before the limiter in the chain but is usually not necessary).



I agree with you that its good to give away your tunes at some point for the aforementioned change in environments, ears etc.
but Ive said that all before you were complaining about my "dumb" advises, which you are partly repeating short afterwards.

so put your degree (degree degree degree) to a use and tell us why not? give proof to what you are saying.
and be sure if its a good point I will actually say "Yes, you are right!"
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:29 PM   #14
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shabbray2.0
hahaha
catfights are not my type of thing.
but you are welcome, man.

but would you please tell us "untaught" folks why the hell not?

everybody got excess to a free audio editor, and its doable in exact this.
so why not trying it out by yourself and learn something new?
I did it, and since then I know what it is and what you can do with it.
I never said its common practice, but it can fix some serious issues in a 2track which arent fixable otherwise.
I am NOT saying to do it, but it opens some possibilities which shouldnt be ignored.





I agree with you that its good to give away your tunes at some point for the aforementioned change in environments, ears etc.
but Ive said that all before you were complaining about my "dumb" advises, which you are partly repeating short afterwards.

so put your degree (degree degree degree) to a use and tell us why not? give proof to what you are saying.
and be sure if its a good point I will actually say "Yes, you are right!"


The point is: keep mastering at home as simple as possible. Why confuse beginners with junk that is rarely used during mastering like parallel compression and M/S shit??? Mind boggling. I gave step by step instructions on how to make a good mix then how to take it and make a good final product without any unnecessary bullshit. Something you failed to do which makes me think you lack the knowledge and experience to give good advice about the subject.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by knox
wow hevusa needs some serious kicking.

What a sexist thing to say!
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RanaldoNecro
Not sure why you are want to learn how to master. It is a tech job that can be done by pro mastering people. If I were you I would concentrate on your songwriting or playing of your instrument.

DIY is good but learning how to master is really only a job that you can say you did it.

Sometimes situations dictate you doing your own mastering work unfortunately.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:40 PM   #18
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What a sexist thing to say!

Really? Is that really what you consider a good comeback? C'mon, knox deserves better than that. At least call her a dog-fucker or something.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:44 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by hevusa
The point is: keep mastering at home as simple as possible. Why confuse beginners with junk that is rarely used during mastering like parallel compression and M/S shit??? Mind boggling.


Quote:
Originally Posted by shabbray2.0
there are some creative mastering techniques which can come handy in the mixing stage also, like different kinds of compression for example parallel compression, but thats a different cup of tea.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hevusa
I gave step by step instructions on how to take a project from the mix stage to final product without any unnecessary bullshit. Something you failed to do.


what you said is right yes, I know that because I said it before.
see my above quote for the reason why I strived away from the original topic.

if thats the reason for you, then its not a good sign of understanding the english language.
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Old 11.21.2010, 03:53 PM   #20
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