How I master (step by step), please read and give advice

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Ben Godin, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    I have been into mastering for a good while so i decided to go and buy the waves masters package and the Trueverb and IDR plugin, also my WAVELAB comes with the UV22 and a resampling machine.

    So this is what i do...

    I was in charge of a prog. rock album that was in many ways like the smashing pumpkins, this is what i did...

    the song came on a cd so it was in 16/44.1, i loaded it into wavelab, and in the master channel, i loaded the resampler, convert to 48 khz, and after that in the dithering channel i loaded the uv22 and set it to normal 24 bit dither (so i dithered up from 44 to 48 and from 16bit to 24 bit), next i rendered a new file, so this file was a 24 bit 48khz new version , i listened ... sounded about the same, good, next i applied a noise reduction program, and worked with the noise reduction untill just enought noise was removed to the point where the song retained all of its life and energy, and some of the headhphone bleed and mixerboard noise was removed. Next effect is the eq. i use the waves broadband eq and cut 1 db at 300 and boost 1 db at 6000 and 1 db at 10000. Next effect is the multiband compressor, i apply a fairly powerful threshold ( multi electro masterting, i stop lowering when the DynamicLine is in the middle of the freq. blue band and stays fairly put, usually this happens at at least -30 threshold to anywhere near -70 threshold in the uper most band). Then i apply a reveb, in this case waves truverb, i am careful not to leave trails and cut out any early reflections, in this project i used the vocal plate preset and tweaked the settings until right. Finally i use the waves L2 and apply a fairly strong threshold untill the compressed file comes close to the -.2 but i am careful not to overcompress, i leave the process to as 24 bit not 16. Next i resample using the resamler function and change the 48 khz to 44.1 . I do not use the L2 dither function so i turn it off. I then go to the dither stage, i either use the Waves IDR or the Apogee UV22, whichever sound better, i can often hear a difference in the two and chose accordingly. The final file came out faily well if you want to hear it this is the link...

    LINK: http://

    Now here are my questions:

    1. please comment about mistakes or things that i do that seem incorrect such as chain placement or other things

    2. Any constructive criticism would be great (about the song itself or how i achieved this sound)

    3. Do you recomend any hardware gear which would furthur my chain, such as replacement eqs. After buying the masters package i have about 400 dollars left so anything useful will be considered.

    Thank you for reading , i created this because many people wanted a simple tutorial, i know i have no right to make one because my methods may be wrong, but if any of the ME or anyone else wants to do something of this type, this is the kind of golden information that i and other rising ME would love to be able to read, may this post spark others to do similar posts.
  2. gelbardn

    gelbardn Guest

    AFAIK, you aren't gaining anything by upsampling from 16/44.1 to 24/48 for processing, and then downsampling again. You're probably introducing
    more noise, if anything. You can't add anything that's not already there.

    I would suggest keeping your processing station at the sample rate that the original material came in.
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Ok, mistake 1) do not resample from 44.1 to 48k unless you need to and only then, use a excellect SRC. Wavelab is not. Your just introducing distortion and such without any benifit. Next) you don't have to rewrite the file to 24 bit. Almost all DAW mixers are 24bit. even if you have a 16 bit file and you move the fader .1db, it will become a 24bit file. if you do any processing with plugins and such, it will become a 24 bit file. You do need to dither down to 16 at the very end of your chain. Other than that, use your ears in any decision you make. A/b the before and after to make sure your not doing any damage. don't let the volume fool you.
  4. gelbardn

    gelbardn Guest

    Also, from 3:37 and out, with the last little picked guitar chord, it sounds like the guitarist is standing in front of a computer monitor (that buzz in the background).
    It doesn't SEEM present through the rest of the recording, however.
  5. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    thanks for the reply, i seem to have trouble understanding resampling, see i can't do much with a 16bit, 44.1 file, and yet with the 24 bit file 48 khz, it seems to me that the sound comes out better...

    Also for the last comment, that last riff there was just a screw up in the recording stage, and too much noise from the amp was picked up, i couldn't do much about it without having drastic effects on the rest of the song, believe me, it was MUCH worse when i got the song, and it was throughout the whole song
  6. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    also if someone would care to review my song , this would help in knowing what i could do better next time...
  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    your most likely hearing the benifit of operating in 24 bit rather than 48k. most daws operate in 24 bit or higher even though the soundfile is 16bit. if you take a 16 bit file and bounce it as a 24bit file without doing anything to it, it's still a 16bit file. the last 8 bits are empty. The internal mixer of the daw should be operating at 24bit or greater. this is bit depth and is seperate from sample rate conversion. here is a test you can do to see how well SRC is doing. take a 44.1k file, SRC it to 48k, SRC it back to 44.1k and compare it to the original 44.1k file. It's going to sound worse. now if you take a 16 bit file, bounce it as a 24bit file, then bounce it back to a 16 bit file. It's going to sound exactly the same IF your daw is bit transparent. So SRC is a desctuctive process that should only be done if it needs to be, Like if you have a 48k file and need it to be 44.1k.
  8. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Using the waves masters bundle, I think the place where you can make up the most ground with this tune is in the multiband compressor. The cymbals are dominating the high end. Maybe compress the highest part a little more - which will cut the high end when the cymbals are struck but leave the rest pass through. As with all compression, pay CLOSE attention to the ALL the paramaters, (amount, threshold, attack, and release times on the waves MB). Make sure you don't hear the compressor go on and off (unless you want to :? ). I also want to hear more low and lo mids...which you can add by eq or manipulate the multiband compressor.

    Good luck. :cool:
  9. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    hey thanks turtletone and mixandmaster,

    turtletone- i performed the test and you were right, now here is a question for you, how come MEs say that the first step is to convert to 24/96 when they get the file off of its orig 16/44.1 ?

    mixandmaster- you are very much correct, the cymbals were very uncompressed, and i am re-doing the song and fixing that, i guess that with only a year's expirience i still have much to learn, i am working with the mid-low (300-1000) where the quitars are dominant, i have raised them some.

    Can someone recomend what to add into my mastering chain, as long as its under 400, well, make that 800 (bday money comes to a use sometime) , ill gladly go out and buy it. Or a number of things that add up to 800. Super thanks to you guys. :D :cool:
  10. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    The reason why ME's convert to higher sampling rates is because 1) they have excellent outboard SRC's that are virtually transparent 2) because the filters in mastering gear when operating at higher sampling rates are smoother in the audible range. But this is really only a benifit at 96k, not at 48k because the filters have distortions at 48k that are still within the audible range.
  11. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    ah thank you michael, so i should leave the file as a 16/44.1 when i master, and then dither down to 16 bit when im done? ... one more question....

    can i achieve the same professional sound that you ME acheive with just this setup? For ex. if a ME came to my studio and used just the tools i uses , could they make the same pro. sound as in their own studios?

    Also if anyone will comment on what other gear would help out my studio, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  12. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Well probably not. The key to any ME's setup is the monitoring system and how well you know it. Second is experience, you can't replace or buy years of working on records. 3rd you can't replace great dedicated mastering gear with plugins. All of these things contribute to "Pro" results. If your just asking about gear, no plugin can compare to high end outboard eq's and compressors. I would love it if they could, it would cost me a lot less if I could use plugins. but unfortunately the don't compare. None of this matters if you can't hear what you are doing. so I would put all of my money into your monitors.
  13. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    hey michael, thank you very much for helping me out. I'll have to admit that my monitors have a exaggerated midsection which probably messes up some of my masters. I was wondering about the option of combining bot hardware and software for the extra 800 i have. For instance routing it through plugins then out throught hardware then back throught plugins then into a dither then final. If there is something that is better than my plugins that would be good for 800, such as a simple A/D converter and an EQ that togather equal that price, please mention it. :cool:
  14. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    I would put all the money into monitors. Seriously. Find the best monitors you can for the money you have. It is money WELL spent.

    You'll be able to achieve much more consistent results through crap plugins and great monitors that great outboard through crap monitors. And the gear that Michael is talking about for mastering costs significantly more than $800.
  15. splurge

    splurge Guest

    Hi Bennyg,

    I think Michael and Mixandmaster are probably right about your monitors, but just for your information. I use the Focuusrite Platinum Mixmaster on recordings that aren't going to be mastered properly(I'm not a mastering engineer). This is an outboard analog processer consisting of expander,compresser,eq,width control and limiter.I've gotten some really good results with this I can't praise it enough. I compared it a/b with Izotope Ozone one time and the Focusrite danced all over it for sound quality.

    Good Luck

  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I would suggest taking your project to a mastering studio and have them do one track and then compare it to what you are doing. Mastering is both art and science and you need to be able to hear very well what you are doing. This means good monitor speakers driven by good amplifiers in a well designed acoustically neutral room.

    To get to that level you need to spend some money. Monitor speakers in the $4500 to up range, monitor amplifiers in the $3500 and up range, and a well designed and constructed studio (hard to put a cost on it since different parts of the country have different costs for construction and depending on who does the acoustical design it could be big $$$) out board equipment in the $3500 and up range per piece.... Then add in 100 or more projects and 10 or more years of experience and you could start to master your own material.

    Why not do your own recording and mixdowns and leave the mastering to someone who has the room, the monitoring environment and the equipment to do the job well? You would be further ahead and you would have a well mastered project to send out for replication.

    Just my thoughts...
  17. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    Hey thanks splurge, i was actually looking at that exact focusrite model before you mentioned it, im comparing one or two more things, and also i am looking for a good cheap a/d d/a converter (hard to find one of these), Thomas you are absolutely right, and it is obvious that a mastering studio will do much better than i could ever possibly do, but see if i send the work to a pro mastering studio, that would set me back a good 1000+ dollars, which i don't have, and if i did, i would be more than glad to get my work pro mastered. For example, if a band pays me 2G for a recording gig, i have invested TONS of money into recording equipment and studio setup and rental of the building that i work in, i have to pay rent and have to live myself. Say that i pay 1000 a month rent, that leaves me 1000 left over... ,,, well you get the point, when ill start charging more for recordings, then i will offset pro mastering into the budget. Thanks for posting. :cool:
  18. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member me and we'll talk a little more. :wink:

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