Discussion in 'Mastering' started by ALAMASARESTONEHAND@YAHOO., Mar 25, 2004.

  1. This is probably a stupid questionbut here goes.
    Is it normal to drop the mids or boost the highs and lows to compensate for the fletcher munson curve when mastering or mixing for that matter. I notice that my mixes seem to be somewhat boxy across these frequencies. As I bring the volume up it levels out. I know that you can eq things a million ways and Im not looking for a baseline curve or anything just a general answer
    Also what about adding reverb at the mastering stage is this a no no

    throw me a bone here
  2. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    I am totally not a mastering expert, but my uninformed opinion would be that during mastering, you should listen to your work 6 ways from Sunday (lots of different monitors, in the control room, out in the hall, your head in the toilet, etc) to really see if anything in the mix stands out as *wrong*. It's fine to have EQ that sounds like bad EQ, but if you can throw a curve on it that makes it sound like you haven't balanced the bass and the kick right, or the guitar and the vox right, you found a problem you need to fix.

    On the flip side, I suspect that any technique that reduces mastering to "wow, that one single run-through sounds perfect, let's not listen to it any other way" is actually not mastering. It's master***ing.

    Again, I'm not a pro at this. I'd be interested to hear what others think.
  3. TeeME

    TeeME Guest

    This has been debated to death for decades..but , one guys perspective..


    End users will turn up their bass and treble controls so that proper mastering and what comes out of the mastering system should sound, as good as possable, on the finest systems set "flat"

    Most high end audio systems have no tone controls theirfore, what you get it what you get.

    You must leave enough "room" for smaller/cheaper consumer systems with their users using "maxx bass" and various tone controls.

    As long as the music translates postively on a variety of systems from a cheap boom box to a 200K audiophile system, you are in the ball park. I tend to not worry about "flecture-munson" due to the fact the average listener is going to have the level around 90dB anyway. IF not, they can crank their bass and treble.

    I do not use chamber on the 2-bus mix as a gerneral rule.
  4. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    As a general rule, if the mixes only sound good loud, then your monitoring too loud. If you have full range speakers that are fairly sensitive and a generally flat room, you should be able to monitor at a "normal" listening level and this is where you should make your judgements. somewhere around 85-90 db spl. Again, this is dependent on your monitors and room. you don't want too much information on the fringes of freq because that won't translate to smaller systems, but you don't want to lop it off either for those that do have good systems. reference reference reference is the name of the game if your not sure. listen to everything and anything to get a sense of what it's doing at low and loud volumes. I generally listen to only one set of trusted monitors. Don't waste your money on 5 sets, invest it in one really good set and stick to it. I have 3 listening levels that i judge my masters, low med, high. The medium being my main level and then low and high to make sure nothing is strange or stands out.
    Don't try and guess what people might do, you'll drive yourself crazy. If you have a trusted set of monitors, learn them and rely on them. At louder volumes, your monitors will probably start to compress the sound and even things out, so will your ears.
  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    To answer your question in as few words as possible - NO!

    When you are mastering you want to listen to what you are presented, make appropriate choices as to compression and eq setting while listening to the music and then master the material. There are no "magic" eq frequencies or "magic" compression setups. It takes experience, a good room and good speakers and a lot of listening to do mastering.

    People seem to want to know what is the easiest route to master their material. There is no such thing. It just takes experience and this cannot be accomplished over night.

    I always tell people that the best test equipment you can't buy is your ears. Use them to listen to what others have done and compare it with what you are doing. Try and use the best possible speakers in a good sounding room for the comparisons and use that same setup for the mastering.

    Hope this helps.
  6. beht

    beht Active Member

    Personally, I don't know why anyone would want to master their own music. A lot of us who want to have done all the parts, recorded it all and mixed it all. I do that. And when my mix is done, I bring it to an experienced mastering studio/pro who has 1. a different perspective than I do on the music, 2. Know how on what to do, how to do it, 3. Equipment that costs sometimes 10's of thousands of dollars that I cannot afford because I've spent so much money on my equipment already. That being said, I also don't go for any of these mastering places that offer you mastering for $50/hr. I research the place, ask them questions and then I don't mind paying $250/hr for mastering if the result is good - and it will be a better result than if I do it myself. After all the time, effort and energy I spend on my making my music sound good, why do one of the most important stages myself, when I really don't know how?
  7. I went that rout and spent 1100 dollars having a reputable mastering house do 5 songs for me and it sounded like someone ran it through T Rax. I dont feel any need to pay somebody else to simply turn up what was a pretty good mix otherwise. I want to learn to do it myself. Why not spend the money to buy the equipmet needed and do it for youself. The guys out there mastering started somewhere and a lot of them figured it out for themselves.
  8. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    No one said you can't do it. But like anything else, you have to really want to do it and do it all the time to be good. All the guys out there started somewhere but very few did it on their own. Most learned from others.
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    We have been over and over this before.

    If you want to do your own mastering DO IT! PERIOD. It is your money - spend it any way you see fit.

    It is not only having the equipment - anyone with a good credit card or home equity balance can go out and purchase the equipment. Even the most exotic mastering equipment is for sale to anyone with enough money.

    It is the experience and having the proper room acoustics and listening setup plus having hundreds and thousands of mastering jobs under your belt in order to know what to do with the material that is presented to you.

    If you did not get a good mastering at the place you mentioned and they did not do what you wanted and still charged you then you got HAD! Most mastering engineers I know are professional so if they did not do what you wanted or if they did something wrong they are more than willing to correct the problem to your satisfaction.

    Did you ask them to correct the problems? Were you there for the mastering? Did they acknowledge the problem(s)? What were their reasons for not redoing the material to your satisfaction?

    Don't assume just because you had a problem with one place that all mastering engineers don't know what they are doing and that you can DO IT BETTER!

    I am not saying this about your material but lots of times people bring stuff to me that is not ready to be mastered. It has problems in the mix, the stuff is pre distorted or so badly compressed that I can only do so much with it. I still do my best and the client needs always comes first but sometimes my hands are tied before we even start the mastering.

    Anyone can call themselves a mastering engineer. There are no certificates issued by the government nor college degrees in mastering. All you need are some business cards and a website and you are, for all intents and purposes, a "mastering engineer". Some people call themselves recording, mixing, mastering, duplication, packaging engineers and charge $10.00 per hour and are more than willing to slam all your material and charge you for their learning curve. Some people call themselves mastering engineers, charge big bucks, and still don't know what they are doing. Both these types of people give the whole mastering profession a bad name.

    I am always suspicious of mastering sites that have a listing of all the best mastering equipment in the world but never list the names of one single client. I am also suspicious of people that call themselves mastering engineers and in their listing of equipment I don't see any mastering equipment just things like Mackie consoles, ADAT tape recorders and NS-10 speakers.

    A good mastering facility spends thousands of dollars on their speakers, their room and the acoustics of that room. They also spend thousands of dollars more on equipping that room with the best equipment around. They have done hundreds of sessions and can count among their clients the best of the best. If this is the type of facility that did your mastering and did not do a good job on it then I would be very surprised. If you went to someone with minimal equipment, a minimal monitoring setup, minimal experience and charged you big bucks for your sessions I would be less surprised.

    Mastering is a profession. It is done by professionals. If you were not pleased then you should tell the mastering engineer about your displeasure and get them to redo the material until it is done to your satisfaction. If you brought them inferior material (and I am not saying you did) and they attempted to make it sound good and you were unhappy with the results then they should have told you upfront what the problems were.

    I am very honest and upfront with all my mastering clients. If there are problems with their material I let them know what it is that I can and cannot do with their incoming material. If it is so bad that I cannot do anything with it I don't charge them and suggest they take it back and remix or rerecord parts of it. Sometimes they can sometimes they can't due to money problems or missing materials that they "rented" from the recording studio.

    I usually have the client here in the mastering room and we can listen together to the material. If it is something that someone sends me then I call them and discuss the problems and may even send them a CD with the problems highlighted and I inform them what I have found wrong when listening to their material.

    Lots of times people think that just by mastering something it will automatically make it sound good and that all the problems that are in the mix and in the performance will be swept under the carpet and it will sound GREAT. Many time I can do minor miracles with incoming material that is not of prime quality many times I cannot and I tell the client from the outset that I cannot. Many time people look towards mastering as the savior of their project. They may have spent thousands of dollars on recording, tracking and mixing their project only to find that it still sounds like dodo. One of their friends or band mates suggests mastering can solve all the problems. When it cannot they blame the mastering engineer (the old adage of "the last one to touch a project is the one that gets all the blame or reaps all the rewards" is soooooo true in mastering). Mastering is like computers GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT except that in mastering it is many times GOLD PLATED GARBAGE.

    Don't besmirch the whole profession of mastering just because you had a problem with one individual.

  10. Luke Walchuk

    Luke Walchuk Guest

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an asshole or anything, but I couldn't find a listing of clients on your site. Did I just overlook it?
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Good point that is why the site is being updated.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Lots of clients to list none of them super stars but they should all be there when we are done with our site update.

    Just for the record... from the last couple of years...

    Cleveland Opera
    Appollo's Fire - The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra
    Bob Gatewood
    Blue Lunch
    Oberlin Choristers
    NOYO Orchestra
    Sky the New Age Artist (honest that is his name)
    NPR-The Art of Great Singing
    Guy Mendilow
    Singers Club of Cleveland and about 200 more....
  12. Luke Walchuk

    Luke Walchuk Guest

    haha! I'd buy sky the new age artist's album just for the title..
  13. Im not trying to generalize the mastering profession at all. Your correct that I should have followed up on the bad product I recieved.
    That being said I did not pose the question looking for someone else to master the material. I dont get a lot of clients who want to spend a ton of money on their recordings. Some are little church things or small bands making demos or indi albums. By the time they spend their one or two thousand dollars their pretty much broke. It is a small town with small town needs. I still want to give them the best product I can for their money. Im just lookin for some advice on eq compression limiting just obvious things to look into when a mix is finished and needing just a little work to get it over the hump, for sale at church or to get it on the local radio station. To some this may be a worthless persuit, but its not about the money for me Its a service to a small music community that cant afford to pay for a professional mastering job.
    I have nothing but respect for the guys out there doing great masters and there are a lot of them but they are not allways the path for independent musicians in small towns.
  14. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) If it is your own music, you know everything about it, down to the fades because you are partial to it, and any changes. A ME hears it a different way, that guitar lick that had such a nice bite to it may be set back in the master a little. Those nice long fades may end up shorter because the tails are now at a louder average where you didn't hear it before (examples only). The spectrum may have shifted somewhat to better reproduce on a wide assortment of systems. M-S may have been used to widen the mix setting the center back more. It seems for 1.1k and 5 tunes; a lot of work was done. Were you there, and were the steps taken explained to you?

    Not to defend anyone, would it be possible to hear short clips of the mastered vs. unmastered versions of a tune?

    You say reputable, then on the other end give the impressions it is a crap shoot out there, even with well known establishments.

    For me, I must hear what you mean. Don't even say which is which on the clips. It is plain to see you are unhappy, if anything it would support your case in possibly getting it resolved.

    If I were a ME, I would only want you to be HAPPY!

    Best regards,
  15. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    You can ask any question you want here. The more specific the question, the more specific the answer. If your doing your own mastering, then build a relationship with someone either professionally or personally that has the knowledge and skill and equipment to review your masters. This is what I did when I first started. I had a good relationship with a mastering house where I could give him $75 or so and he would take a listen to my master and email me some notes. 8 years ago I didn't have the kind of monitoring system that was setup for full range critical listening so I was limited in what I could hear. If it was an important project, I would even give it to him to burn and test. Sometimes he would do the compression and eq and I would assemble it. It all depended on what was needed, what I could do, what he could do better, and what the budget was. So there are many possibilities you can persue and still keep your clients from going broke. if your client feels that you are looking out for your needs over theirs, they might not come back. But If they feel that you are looking out for them and getting them something that they couldn't otherwise get or afford, then they will stick to you like glue. I have a handful of clients that have been with me for 16 years because of that alone. I'm still friends with the ME even though I do twice as much work as he does now :lol:
  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    This is not at all what you said in your original post. You were trashing Professional MEs saying you could do it better. If you would have said what you just said in the beginning I think more mastering engineers would have been happy to help. Why is it that people need to vent when all they really want is some simple information? You could have said that "in the past I had some problems with mastering and therefore need to learn more about it" or " I run a small studio in a small town and want to learn the craft of mastering so I can do it for my clients that can't afford to send their material out for mastering - any tips"

    There are a couple of things you should do. Go to http://www.digido.com and read the material there. Also pick up Bob Katz's book on mastering and do a web search on audio mastering and try and look at the various sites and what they have to say about mastering. If you have specific questions ASK HERE and they will be answered by some real MEs that are more than happy to help out a newbie.

    In the future please don't trash the mastering profession with broad misleading statements and then turn around and ask for help.
  17. A thousand pardons if I came off as rude. I should not have been so general.
  18. When mastering is it unwise to notch frequencies ie. The vocals seem to have a rather edgy. Is it better to use a broad curve or is it fine just to notch out the the offending frequency.
  19. golli

    golli Active Member

    I want to say, first that I'm no mastering expert. But you seem to want the "rule of thumb" in mastering, as I did. I've done exstencive research on the net about these things. What I found out is, like all those professional engineers say there is no rule of thumb (First I allways thought they were saying this to protect their industry). However there is one rule of thumb that is usable to some degree "if there are problems, cut them with as narrow band as possible". And in general try not to boost anything at all, but if you feel the urge use a wider band, that feels much softer.
    But this is to general to be usable for everything.

    But another thing I've also found out is that problems often emerge when moving files in the digital domain; jitter, C1/C2 errors. I've read allmost everything Bob Katz has written on:
    His articles go into details on filehandling and all that.
    Another guy:http://johnvestman.com/site_map.htm
    Even suggests, to get the best mastering, you have to lurk the DAW to his place so to get the best clock source he has to offer(as oposed to burn the master on CD and give to him),.
    Not much EQ/Compression advices on those sites.
    All this binary/digital business was'nt invented, with audio in mind so it has created problems that Golden Ears can detect.
    They both preach a good listening environment and a Sub is more esential than the latest plugin. All this is the same advice these guys here are giving us.
    Also look up Frank Filipetti. He won a Grammy on a James Taylor project (can't remember the name of it now), recorded digitally, in a barn, with nothing but a Yamaha O2r console, good mics, good vibe but the key to it he says was that he used the best clock available, then.

    If you record with the simplest and best signal chain, the mastering session would only involve compiling, fade out desisions and general level matching.

    I only reply because you're in a similar situation as I am. Small town and all that, there just is'nt a market for high budget projects, but people want to record anyway, knowing that it wont make it near the top 100 charts, some have good ears and some dont. The majority of those people want to hear their instruments like they hear them live or in the room(no coloration) but some are quite happy just to hear them selves at all :roll: .

    I have stopped loosing sleap, over what gear or plugin I have to have. Less desision making. If I were given the budget I would definettly go to a good mastering house. But this small town business, most all of the time does not allow that. So I try to record the best I can and compile it myself. I'm not about to give another "Bedroom Whanker" the mixdown files. :twisted:

    I may be totally wrong on this but it is where I stand now.
  20. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Experience and great monitors really rule the day here. Most times I can listen to a mix and tell what monitors they mixed on. Most popular monitors have a very distinct curve to them. knowing this is the key to treating their mixes. I have no problem notching something if that's going to make it sound better. when i get a project in and it's been mixed by one guy, I know that there is a key to unlock his mixes. All i have to do is find it. i listen to all the songs and identify his pattern. and if the same guys mixed all the songs in the same room, then he has a pattern. Once i find the key, it will apply to most of his mixes in varying degrees. Not set it and forget it, but in varying degrees. once i find this key, I can tell what songs were mixed first and which ones last. This comes from sitting behind a console for 13 years and knowing how things evolve over long sessions behind certain monitors. knowing the characteristics of certain monitors will tell you how to fix certain problems in a mix.

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