EQ and mastering question

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by mattm98, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. mattm98

    mattm98 Guest

    ok ive just finished mixing a song into the final master mix. my question is what all do you normally do to a master mix?
    im using cool edit pro. normally what i do is do a final light noise reduction to eliminate any hiss, then i hard limit, then normalize it. i think my stuff sounds ok...its nice, clean,and loud and all, but im still wondering about some things...

    1.what kind of EQing should you do to a final mix?
    2.should i use any type of stereo enhancement?

    the one i just finished i tried some different stuff with the hyperprosm more-stereo plugin. i actully think it sounds better and wider.
    i would post the mp3 to get some opinions, but i dont know if im allowed to do that in here...its a cover song.
    but i also have BBE sonic maximizer. i also tried using that on the final mix....it seemed to change it alot and when i took it off it sounds so bland. but took it off and left it.

    so how does everyone else do it?
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    To much information to even start to post.

    I would do a search on the web and in this forum for some basic answers to your questions.

    You have a lot of the top mastering engineeers right here on this forum and if you have specific questions everyone is willing to help out but what you are asking is "tell me how to master my material"( or in other words in 100 words or less tell me everything you know) which is a can of worms no one wants to get started on. It would be like asking a surgeon "how do you do a heart valve replacement" "oh yes make sure I can understand it because I want to do one next week"

    My best advice is to hire a professional mastering engineer to do your mastering the first time, attend the session and learn how and why a mastering is done. Then if you have specific question or don't understand something ask away.

    The three things you need are 1) a really good room with really good acoustics and a good monitoring system 2) a lot of experience 3) really good equipment.

  3. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Distinguished Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    I'll go a step further than Tom -

    When you ask a surgeon to do a heart valve replacement, at least that's a fairly specific request.

    Asking "what do you do when you master a song" is like asking "how long is a line?"

    A few "rules of thumb" that many go by that come to mind from reading your post -

    (1) Don't normalize. Ever. There's no valid use for it except in very rare cases.
    (2) Never use noise reduction unless there's actual noise to reduce.
    (3) Hard limiting in most cases is a safety net - Not a crutch.
    (4) You don't want to know what most of us think of the BBE...
    (5) Stereo image correction is a specialty unto itself. Take care of your stereo imaging during the mix.
    (6) Never master your own mixes. :shock:
  4. mattm98

    mattm98 Guest

    ok i see. so what do you mean by "Hard limiting in most cases is a safety net "?
    when i make a final mixdown the wave is normally about half the size of the graph. then when i hard limit it elevates it above the threshold. should the wave of the final mix be bigger in the first place?
    is BBE bad? :D
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Distinguished Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    I suppose I should add a disclaimer: If you're getting the results you want, whatever you're doing is right.

    That being said - *Most* M.E.'s (at least the ones I know) will very rarely add volume using a hard limiter (L-Series, etc.). It get's set to the top level (unfortunately, around -0.3dB) just to catch errant peaks in the program. Digging in to them normally does much more harm than good.

    If your mixes are somewhat low in level (I shoot for PEAKS at -6dBfs myself), congratulations. Don't let anyone tell you you're wrong.

    Have "concern" about the levels, but don't "worry" about them. Having headroom for the mastering phase is wonderful - and it's becomming more and more rare lately. The concern for sheer volume is getting out of hand. On top of that, most recordings that are done with *less* regard to the final volume have a *higher* potential for a louder final volume anyway.

    The BBE tends to be a "quick-fix" crutch... If it's needed, there's probably something lacking in the mix. The nasty part is just what you were mentioning - You put it on, it sounds "better" then you take it off and everything sounds "dull." Your ears acclimate to the distortion quickly, and it takes some time for the effect to diminish. The only time I really use one (I've got one lying around somewhere) is for cassette transfers and once in a while in a guitar rig - gently.

    I'd suggest some research and reading - Bob Katz's "Mastering Audio" is a good read - Not really about mastering technique in general - More about the "care and feeding" of audio. Should be required reading by everyone in the industry (including A&R).
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    You don't want to master by looking at waves drawn on a screen you want to
    master by listening to what you are doing.

    The BBE has RUINED more mixes and self mastering than it has ever helped.

    I just got in some music that was done on Pro Tools from a potential client.
    I have to assume that it started out pretty good but the person who did the
    mixdown used every plugin on his Pro Tools rig for every song and the result
    sounded like crap. He also "pre mastered" the mixes by running it through
    some outboard effects and a limiter compressor strapped across the 2 mix
    bus. The most grievous thing he did was to run the whole mess though a BBE
    to give it some "life" after he had done all he could to ruin the music.
    Then he brought it all to me and asked me to make it sound "commercial". I
    listened to three or four of the 14 songs he wanted mastered and suggested
    that he go back, remix the songs, and leave all the outboard effects OFF and
    to especially leave off the BBE and the compressor strapped across his two

    I have not heard back from him but I assume he will listen to what I had to
    say and hopefully bring back some well done mixes. Only time will tell.

    Sometimes people are looking for "quick" fixes for their mixes because they
    lack something. They turn to something like the BBEs, other outboard effects processors or
    multiple plugins to try and do something to the music to make it sound
    better and or different. The only way I know to do really good job on recording and mastering
    is to start with the best possible material, properly played and sung,
    recorded well and mixed down well. And then to have it properly mastered by some one who knows what he/she is doing.

    If it lacks something then it is better to redo the original recording or mixdown instead of
    trying to "fix it in the mix" or "fix it in the mastering" which seem to be
    what more and more people are doing.

    Mastering is the art and science of taking something that is already very
    well done and making it sound REALLY GOOD. It should not be a crutch or a
    way of taking sub standard material and trying to save it. I do more and
    more sonic surgery than I have ever done in the past because more and more
    people are not doing a good job in the recording and mixdown phases of their
    project and are relying too heavily on fixing basic problems later in the

    A new verb has recently joined the American vocabulary. "we will pro tools
    that later" meaning we will fix the out of tune notes and the lack of a
    proper rhythm track by moving things around in Pro Tools so it can be
    salvaged. Why not do the recording properly in the first place? It seems
    like a no brainer but I am seeing more and more things that are left to
    later processes to "fix it" Glenn Meadows said on the mastering web board a
    while back that the new phrase going around the mastering facilities in
    Nashville was "we will fix it in the shrink wrap" Enough said.

  7. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Distinguished Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Sounds like Tom had one of those days like I had yesterday... :lol:

    :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: out of 5
  8. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    Montreal, Qc, CANADA
    Home Page:
    Just like me 2 weeks ago. Same thing. The person came back with a "remix" but sounded exactely the same as the one I have heard before ??? :? Looks like for a lot of people now, they are pre-mastering with bad gear and/or bad ears and judgment without noticing that they already ruined the mixe. :?

    First they should not try to do this. Just mix it properly, the way it should be...MIX IT!!! and THAT's IT! How can I make this sounds good if it is squashed to death and not even a single tiny sign of dynamics. It is no more musical. Where are the Producers ? If they accept that as the final mix then they are not Producers, they think they are. :x

    Sorry but I feel better now. Going to get myself an expresso. 8)

  9. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Best advise of all-------------You dont sound so angry :cool:
  10. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    Jun 5, 2004
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    Home Page:
    I know exactly what you two mean. I master mostly mixes from "underground" groups and i have yet to hear a mix that was properly done. I seem to do nothing but sonic work and it's starting to make me drift away from the creative aspect of this art.
    It's hard because you simply don't pick out your clients, the clients come to you.
  11. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Guest

    Oh, that's hard...eh...?
    Have you tried pulling up the prices then?

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