Hack Mastering

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by jdier, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Home Page:
    I am a musician just getting started tracking and mixing in Sonar 2.2.

    Once I have songs ready I intend on doing one of two things based on my success:

    1. Take tracks to pro studio and get help mixing down and mastering (not first choice.)

    2. Mixing tracks down and taking to pro studio for mastering (this IS my first choice.)

    So here are my questions:

    1. Where can I learn enough about the mix down procedure to improve my chances of being successful in taking a final mix to the mastering house? (what is the thread, book, site that I need to study to make mixes that avoid any pitfalls that may cause me pain later on?)

    2. Is there a simple way for me to do short term 'hack' masters of my mix within Sonar?

    I would like to create these hack mastering mixes so I can better understand what people mean by loud, smash, limit, thin, full..... I know the words and have read the definitions, but I cannot pick them out when I hear them. I want to be able to talk intelligently to the mastering engineer about what I am hearing and what I would like to hear. I would also like the ability to make useful suggestions to him during the process.

    Any thoughts on this?
  2. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:

    I think the key answer to both of your main questions is to compare & tweek, compare & tweek. Compare to other music that you're very familiar with or that you will be competing against in the stores. Tweek using different ideas that might get your master to "market" levels & sound. Listen in a variety of monitoring situations. You might check out my websie (Shameless plug-see below for address) FAQs for basic ideas.

    A good mastering engineer will be able to translate your perhaps less than precise ideas to sound options. Bring familiar CDs or records to the mastering session to compare & give you a goal. Just tell the M.E. what you'd like to hear.
  3. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    I'm by no means a mastering engineer, or even a decent mixing engineer (heh ;) ) but I've found that sonograms are an invaluable tool - Sometimes all that stands between a whimper and some phat sound is a little EQ applied correctly. The tool I use right now is the Sonogram display of this DSP spectral analyzer: http://spectool.mastak.com/ It's been a really enlightening experience just to stare at the balances of existing mastered tracks and compare.

    I find it also very useful for doing a lot of guesswork as to my overall balance because I'm forced to mix with headphones and/or really tiny speakers.

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