How do I....... The question thats been asked A Million

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Damohonda, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. Damohonda

    Damohonda Guest


    How do I get my mixes to sound like commercial mixes?

    Is it a fine tuning of Graphic Equalisers, Levelling & Compressing?

    Is it a Re-Mix of the Final Stereo Mix?

    Are there certain techniques?

    Are there any Effects processors someone can recommend......?

  2. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    First of all, mastering is such an art that no set of rules can be given to accomplish a certain goal.

    Mixing engineers that are talanted and experienced actually do not mix the tune to a final quality. They leave room for the mastering engineer to take it to another level. It is like a relay race. The mixing engineers signs off to the mastering engineer. It is a 2 step process. Many of the mistakes that happen with self mastering...are that the mixing engineer trys to mix it to sound like their favorite recording, compression and all and the mastering engineer has little to work with.

    First of all, the mix has to be masterable. Mixing engineers realize this and stay away from the 2-bus compression. They provide a good lively mix that has proper balance, plenty of headroom and freedom of artifacts in the vocal mix that mastering engineers cannot have control over (unless the ME requests a split mix/2+2 which is a 2 track vocals and 2 track instrumentals) and in turn cannot do much with.

    So...Step one is to finish your mixdown to masterable terms. Peaks around -6, no compression on the main bus, good organic quality, nothing being covered up.

    Once the mastering engineer gets this the ME does edits, rearranges tracks to suit the order, crops or adds to the heads and tails, provides proper fades, uses equalization for translation purposes, compression for the same and makes the recording as emotional as it can be. ME's job is to take the mix out of the professional realm and convert it to the consumer realm and provide a master that is ready for pressing with proper cue notes for the glass engineer or Pressing team. ME's also assist in the organization of your artwork and make sure everything (barcodes as well) is provided for the assembly team to manufacture your product and ship it.

    Self mastering is also not an easy task because considering all I said above, the true KEY of mastering is a New set of fresh, unbiased ears that have been trained to know how to make the project broadcast quality and ready for pressing.

    ME's error check the digital streme and make it easy for glass transfer.

    I hope this has shed some light on what we do.

    Remember, Mastering is NOT expensive. Top engineers here can do your project for a lot less than one of the many pieces of equipment we use. Personally, I charge for mastering an entire album, less than the cost of one of my loudspeaker cables.

    PS, since each song I do of an album is treated like a blank sheet of paper first, then all of the songs are adjusted to coincide, their are no rules that I can possibly give you as far as how to master. I have to hear the song, then songs, then order of the album before I can really do my thing. It is art.

    We also have many systems we use to evaluate our finished product and may even revisit portions of it again.
    It is a mystery every time I start a new project, I have no clue what I will do until I am inside it.

    As vauge as this seems, after over 22 years of doing this, it has never sounded better. Seems each week I find a way to advance what I do.
  3. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    You will become a better mix engineer the same way you become a better guitar player or painter. It takes a lot of time fine tuning your skills. There is no magic box. Just mix everything you can get your hands on. Assist an engineer who is doing what you would like to be doing.

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