The mastering process!

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The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:59 pm

Was pondering the mastering process.

I may not be good/great at doing it but like to just try to do it all myself.

I used to like to just put mastering devs in the inserts on the master output of the mixer.

But now have decided to do it as a separate process.

It’s common to say to have -3db to -6db headroom for mastering.

What would be wrong and why (if it’s wrong) to have a wave file peaking at 0db and just lower the gain of the first input to whatever mastering devices are used to give that headroom?

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:15 pm

I’m going to use vdat to record the mix in Chnl 1+2 (in the mixing project) and then play back the recorded mix (in a fresh new project) to master and record on chnl 3+4 and up (if doing different versions to compare).

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:12 pm

I should also ask, what do you do if you do mastering with scope?

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by borg » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:06 pm

This is a guide to home master techno, or whatever electronic dance music, by a professional mastering engineer. I like that forum! Lot's of production techniques being discussed there.

http://subsekt.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5108
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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:43 pm

Thanks for that. :) Some great advice.

That point about “you wouldn’t need a mastering engineer if you knew what was wrong”.

Partly why I liked to use mastering devs on the master out near the end of the mixing process. Sort of use it in the mixing process. There’s stuff the “mastering” plug ins do that you can’t do in the mix. Multiband compression helps gell all the sounds together more, ms eq can help define the overal shape of space the “whole” piece of music takes up that I’m not sure you could achieve just in the mix.

Anyhows. To be able to use more stuff in the mix and not have dsp limits reached by using mastering plug ins used. I’m now separating that processing and wonder the importance of recording the mix stage at -3db to -6db over mixing to -1db and just using the input gains of the mastering plug ins for “headroom”.

I like to have a chain of convolveq, masteriteq, optimaster, psyq, high and low cut filter, and then maybe a limiter. Something like that.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by garyb » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:50 pm

get the mix as right as possible before any kind of mastering devices are used.
mastering is about making the piece play correctly on any playback system. it's not about "fixing" things.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:15 pm

seeing if I’m on the right track of thinking, and get what you mean by working on all systems, Such as cutting out low end stereo?

But what of the extra gelling effect of Multiband compression on the whole mix that can be achieved. Or am I being a plonker? Psyq for thickening the whole mix bottom end content or high end shimmer enhancement etc with its way of adding extra audio content. Or sometimes is it not a good trick to lower the volume slightly just before a chorus, and this is better done on the whole mix?

It’s been painted best you can but adding a gloss on the whole thing can improve?.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by garyb » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:03 pm

no, not necessarily cutting out anything, unless it's to achieve a flat response, but that should have been nearly achieved in the mix already.

the rest of those things are about limiting the amplitude, the overall range.

psyq is a nice thing, if you use it correctly. i have one of my own methods that includes random phase distortion(hahaha!), not really. it's modulation that rings....

most playback devices have quite a bit less dynamic range than your monitors, so you have to account for that.

most playback devices have issues with certain bandwidths being hyped and certain bandwidths being missing, so if your material is too hot or too cold in a frequency range, then while it may sound awesome in your studio, it may sound awful everywhere else.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:43 pm

The cutting out stereo. I’ve just found that using masterit eq to pull down the stereo low end and boost slightly the mono low end seems to make the low end of the whole mix just that little more clear. Even though, of course, my subs and kicks etc are mono, but sometimes a few stereo things (like using a nice bass sound with some cool stereo effect with it causing a bit of stereo in the low end that I’ve decided to not cut out it’s low content as it sounded nice etc) it’s easier to add a touch of spread in the middle by slightly boosting the sides. Just a touch of psyq, if it actually enhances the whole sound. Low cut just to roll off the sub content slightly that’s generally useless on lots of speakers/systems. This balancing act of shaping the frequency spectrum to transfer well over as many systems as possible. For example, By nature of drum and bass music, it’s going to sound best on a huge full frequency sound system, but get that sub content “audible” on more limited speakers.

Ofcourse try to achieve everything in the mix. But almost always once the best I can do in the mix has been done, somesort of processing to the final stereo signal improves things. Not always, so it’s not like I do any of those things for the sake of it. Just if it enhances what’s already there.

Plus I think over time checking stuff on various speakers and set ups, one gets to know how stuff should sound on your studio monitors.(that thing of “getting to know your speakers”)

Being aware of mono systems so you don’t have cancellation issues from stereo stuff.

I find the shaping and engineering of audio fascinating.

Some people seem to swear by the -3db to -6db thing, some say it doesn’t matter at all, just make sure a mix never clips!

If it sounds good, improves something, then surely that’s all that matters rather than strict dos or don’ts.

Why is there even “mastering” plug ins if everything can be achieved in the mixing stage?

The only thing I know of with strange boosts or lowering of frequency areas is cutting to vinyl to counteract how vinyl boosts and lowers certain frequencies. But I’d never need to care about that as a mastering engineer for cutting to vinyl would do that “transferring mastering”.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by garyb » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:17 am

yes, there's that too.

generally, to "master" something, you really want to hear detail, so the room and the speakers are the main tools.

listen to a lot of things from a lot of different places. learn the lessons. there isn't one absolutely correct method, there are many. that doesn't mean that whatever, it's all bunkem, it's just that real mastering is done by guys who studied audio quite seriously, and can usually build their own gear, or at least repair it on a component level and improve it while doing that. really. they won't tell their secrets, exactly. you can only find hints. it's some occult knowledge and it makes hits(with a little pr). it's not really the same these days because everyone is used to mediocre audio, which is weird.

that doesn't mean that you can't do something as valuable and worth listening to as any hardcore mastering engineer might, i mean if it sounds great, it is great. the way you are enjoying manipulating audio is the exact path to the highest echelons of audio joy and the skillful manipulation of it. i was just pedantically saying that mastering is mostly technical, the art is in knowing what needs to be done to get the most enjoyable experience out of music that already sounds good. there's nothing wrong with putting things on the master bus when mixing, please do. it's just that mastering happens after you have your best sounding mix. it's polish, not the paint job. it's not even sandpaper. it's wax and elbow grease. it shouldn't be done until the music is perfect, or in my case, as good as it's gonna get.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:02 am

Yeah, speakers and environment.

I’m sure I need or could do with some sound treatment in my room and add a subwoofer (for checking on occasions those low end frequencies).

I was lucky enough to have a studio room built, and asked the builder to make sure no walls and floor to ceiling was parallel to help with an even distribution of sound and hopefully minimise any frequencies being cut or increased in that environment. And a sofa at the back to hopefully act as a decent enough bass/sub absorber (forget the technical term at the moment). My room is most likely a bit too “live” sounding though.

Once a tune is thought to be complete I always check on my pc logic speakers (while having a Dj mix), a mobile phone, and soundbar for my tv to see if any glaring issues pop out, ideally it would be nice to afford extra sets of reference speakers for the studio, but if anything pops out sometimes it’s enough to sort it out on the final stereo mix.

I really should check stuff more often with headphones, but for some reason I just don’t like little speakers that close to my ears.

I think the biggest thing is being distant from the piece of music. It’s a lot easier to master or enhance other people’s work. I think mastering ones own work takes a long time due to needing to forget about the tune to “hear” as if you were a listener not a creator (as I suppose you automatically focus on and anticipate things when you know something inside out which funnily makes you blind or deaf to certain things in the music you created)

I’m always learning and experimenting (when I can get the time as my family get right in the way of that, :D)

I wanted to talk here on planetz about “mastering” as it’s scope and it’s wealth of tools that I use.

Dithering a 24bit piece of audio to 16bit. Is that needed if using vdat to record, as in your working on a 24bit file, can one just record that “mastered” audio in 16bit on vdat?

And yeah, for me, regardless of being any good or not I just enjoy playing with sound. I’ve not got into it yet but I’d like to start investigating ms compression, even Multiband ms compression with maybe equed side chaining.

But something that really bugs me at the moment is the science or necessity of this -3db -6db headroom of a bounced to vdat or whatever wave file of a mixdown before applying processing to the overall mix. I personally can’t understand the difference or negative effect of processing a bounced mixdown that peaks at 0db to -1db and just pulling down the input fader or initial gain of the played back “recorded mixdown” to allow headroom for processing (in my head I’m actually thinking that’s the better way to do it). I’d never really cared about this as used to just put stuff on the master buss in the full “mixing” project, now I’m separating this to get more done in the mix before hitting a brick wall of some dsp overload.

I really can woffle on here sometimes but I don’t exactly have knowledgable people close or around me in real life to discuss these things, and especially people who own a scope system. So do forgive my ranting. :D

And with regards to people being used to avarage sounding stuff, in drum and bass world, for me, I’m often shocked at the absolute garbage tacky sounding stuff that gets made and sees the light of day. Especially the jump up side of drum and bass, I’m amazed at the tonka toy sounding, grating, almost ear damaging noise that can get popular, it’s almost as if it’s some sort of joke!

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by garyb » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:30 am

the 3 or 6 db down thing is about being careful. no system is perfect. at this time, as long as nothing crosses 0 it should be ok, but...3 db is plenty, unless you get instructions from the duplicator otherwise. they're gonna do whatever they want anyway. when bouncing, it's about what happens when a bunch of tracks are added together. you don't want to overdrive by accident.

yes, checking your work everywhere is a good place to start, but if you had a better environment, you would already know it's ok, even before you check. that's a later stage, though.

culture is something that is cultivated. popular is useful for something, always. no need to be jealous. :lol:

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:16 am

:)

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by borg » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:38 am

multiband processors, especially compressors are a snake pit! If you just slap it on the 2buss and fiddle about a bit, so don't really know the processes and can't identify what you are really doing, you'll probably do more damage than good.
Now, I definitely am not an expert either, I just repeat what some guys with years of experience, and who I trust, say. Phasing comes to mind (crossover filters...)

On the same forum, you might want to look for another guide by the same dude about mixing into a compressor on the mixbuss.
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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:14 am

Thanks Borg will check.

I suppose the only way to hear if I have any clue what I’m doing is to listen to our music.

https://soundcloud.com/mutation/neurons ... ub-tactics

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:09 pm

Well, shock horror! People talking about putting things on the master buss and doing their own mastering.

http://forums.scopeusers.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=31322

Maybe I should check that music forum more often. :D

Any chance someone wants to move this thread to that thread?

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by garyb » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:19 pm

if it really needs to happen.

it's ok here, though. i think.
that one is for music.

i go eq to masterverb to psyq to secret modulation. :wink:

there have been a number of discussions about mastering. i think a few have been distilled into Scoperise...

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:28 pm

Keep it here if it’s ok. Just had a moment of thinking I’m a douche and should of asked my questions over there.

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by Liquid EDGE » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:40 pm

Can’t believe I forgot scoperise. Having a look now. Nice one gary

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Re: The mastering process!

Post by fidox » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:34 am

what should be soft compression in optimaster, or something like "safe" ?
some mention 4:1, but i think that's quite a lot, if using that much on low-mid-high.
or 1:3 too little ?

i'm hearing from some artist, they don't use compressors at all, and it sounds nice,
some say compression is a must on other side, compress or not compress, that is a question :D

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