is it a good idea to master my own mixes?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by intomuzik, May 17, 2006.

  1. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    hello guys!

    this might sound stupid to you guys but i have to ask :)

    Is it a good idea for me to try to master my own mixes?

    Well, i'm planning to record a few songs for my demo CD. I am going to record that demo CD by myself and right now i don't have anymore $$$ to pay for a ME so, i'm thinking of mastering those mixes by myself. I don't have a lot of knowledge about Audio Mastering but i'm learning and i wanna give it a try.

    Since i'm going to hear my own voice, so can i really master my own songs?

    Please teach me more.

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    In a word "NO"!

    Do yourself a favor and do a search for self mastering on this forum. It has been covered so many times here it should probably be a sticky.
  3. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    In essence, attempting to master your own mixes (the processing portion, anyway) is little more than second-guessing what you've done already.

    But if you need to produce a production master (which really is the basis of mastering in general) you can buy a copy of CD Architect and have at it. Just make sure you're happy with the mixes.
  4. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    thanks for the advices and ideas.

    well, hello again!

    :) i knew it. cuz i actually tried to master 2 of my songs by myself in the past and it didn't make any sense listening to my own voice :oops:

    I guess i'll have to try everything you guys are teaching me.

    Again, many thanks to you guys.

  5. headchem

    headchem Guest

    I master my own mixes, and I'm proud of it! Sure, it's not as good as a pro ME, but when I say master, I try to only do subtle tweaks. For example, I raise the volume with a soft clipper. Not to get as loud as pro stuff, but to get at least a little more volume out of a mix where the soft clip isn't noticable, and dynamics aren't compromised. I also tend to add a tiny bit of master reverb for a little wider stereo. Maybe a tiny bit of high frequency harmonic enhancement to give a little sparkle.

    I only do these things because they're rather difficult to do within a mix. At least for my unprofessional ears, the mastering stage is the best place to do them. You shouldn't do anything with master EQ. If you have to EQ something, you should fix whatever it is in the mix, and leave your master EQ flat. MEs use EQ as a way of remixing problems they hear in the mix.

    Avoid compression. If you do use a bit of master compression, play it safe and use high thresholds, low ratios and slow attack and release times (40+ ms attack, 300+ release). If your music has lots of bass peaks, you might need faster release so volume gets back to unity before the next bass peak. At least that's what I read somewhere.

    So, if you're short on cash and absoutely have to do it yourself, always play it safe with very subtle tweaks, and you'll regret it less down the road. It's 100% possible for a pure mix to sound very professional without mastering, so don't think mastering will magically make things sound better. If you're looking for volume, you'll have better quality music if you leave it quiet with more dynamics and tell your listeners to use their volume knob. But I'm just a mastering hobbiest - what do I know?
  6. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    wow..thanks for the very useful info of yours, headchem!

    headchem, many thanks to you for your awesome info.

    well, it seems like you're a talented mastering hobbiest :), i've learned a lot from your info. I am going to try it this weekend.

    About my music style, i'm a pop vocalist. I record everything into the computer as dry signals. The reason i think i need the mastering process it's because i want my vocals to sound as good as possible. I don't have a lot of good hardware equipments so, i basically rely on softwares for recording and editing.

    If you have time, teach me more. I'm willing to learn :)

    Once again, many thanks go to you, headchem.

  7. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Everything I know I learned from Google, and from people in these forums (who often told me to google things...) So, I think the best way to get a little more info is to google some of the key terms like "master compression," "stereo field," "frequency balance in music," or maybe even "pop vocal mastering" to see if there are any sites dedicated to your exact subject. There are tons of great sites that can explain these topics for beginners. Once you have a basic idea of what's going on, then you'll have some more specific questions, which is what you'll use these forums for.

    Of course, you'll have to practice a ton, too, but for now take the phrases that interest you most in these forums, and google them. Happy researching!
  8. Cosme

    Cosme Guest

    Auto Mastering

    I do my own mastering, and I used to suck at it, but then I realized that whenever I used anything that wasn't a Waves plugin, the master started tu suck. This is because less is actually more when it comes to auto mastering. I use slight multiband compression with Waves C4, Mastering EQ, Steinberg's Loudness Maximizer and a PAZ meter to measure RMS levels, that's my mastering chain and works beautifully for me i totally recomend it
  9. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    cool! you guys are really helpful.

    i can't thank you guys enough :)

    cool! i'm learning a lot of stuff now.

    have u guys ever tried mastering your mixes using AKAI QUADCOMP?
    What about some PSP plugins?
  10. headchem

    headchem Guest

    I think you're right on with the "less is more" approach, assuming you have a solid mix.

    As always, remember I'm no pro, but I've read enough on these forums to know that the pros would advise against using multi-band compression. I've always read that multi-band compression is usually used to correct severe problems in the mix. If you have a solid mix, single-band compression is generally recommended only to tame some occasional peaks (or even most bass drum, and snare hits) in order to get a few more decibles of final volume. Multi-band compression tends to take the dynamic life out of your various frequencies.

    At least, that's what I think a pro would say... To the pros: If I'm off here, help this topic not turn into amateurs advising amateurs! :)
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    There's nothing wrong at all with using a multiband compressor, if you know what you're doing, and WHEN to use it.

    Unfortunately, it's so often misused (esp in final mastering) that it's gotten a bad name. In the right hands, and at the right point in the process, it'll do ya fine. Just don't think it's going to fix a bad mix.

    Very often, a multiband limiter is more what's needed, and depending on the project, a fast attack/quick release is called for, at least when taming spikes and peaks. If it's robbing you of punch and clarity, then something's wrong.
  12. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    Beat me to it there, Thomas!

    It's true, even if your budget means you gotta work with someone who ain't exactly a pro, like just another engineer with some experience...go to their place with yr mix and watch what they do, ask for less or more and learn what u can. I understand yr doing a demo but it will haunt u forever (demos always do) and another experienced set of ears is probably more important than any piece of gear/plug-in out there.

    If you simply must DIY, I'd avoid multiband plugs and keep it light. Most stuff induces listening fatigue after a while at anything over -10dB RMS for sustained periods, like, too loud. I dont see any reason not to experiment with compressing the mix a little, it's very much part of the process. Initially, try a ratio of 1/1.5 (ie very little) and a threshold somewhere in the minus teens, as headchem says keep att. & rel. slow. You only want a few dB's of gain reduction at first, then it's up to your ears.

    It's a can o' worms tho, ordinary humans like us need ME's!
    Good luck,
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The one thing that you cannot get by doing it yourself is another pair of trained ears. If you go to a "real" mastering engineer, some one like Brad Blackwood, Bob Katz or Glenn Meadows you are not only getting a pro but you are getting someone with a lot of experience doing mastering and they know what can and cannot be done with your material and have the experience to do it quickly and, need I say it, professionally. If you go to the "local Joe's recording mixing and mastering CD duplication emporium" then you may not get any better results than you could do yourself. Just because someone hangs our a sign saying "mastering done here" does not mean that person knows what they are doing or can help you achieve what you are looking for.

    Just MTCW
  14. intomuzik

    intomuzik Guest

    a lot of good ideas adn advices!!!!!!

    ahhh....i feel like i'm a caveman lost in NYC :)

    so many good ideas and advices. I think my learning of self-mastering has a little progress.

    I took headchem's advices seriously and it works! after spending more than 10 hours to record and master 4 songs, i compared mine to those sung by pro singers, i actually sound great :). My demo songs were received by an entertainment production. Yay, i did it!

    Again, thank you all of you for the valuable info.
  15. DiskFaktory

    DiskFaktory Guest

    Audio Mastering

    Are you sure you even need to master your audio?

    (Thanks for not pimping or advertising. MODERATOR)

  16. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    I have heard mastering make an improvement in so many programs, even those that the artist thought were digitally perfect, that I really believe it will make a difference in all projects. Really!
  17. philsaudio

    philsaudio Active Member

    Accepting the reasons to use a pro when the project demands, there ARE reasons that in the proper acoustic environment with good monitoring YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN A PRO.

    If you were to mixdown and send it to the pro ME he starts with your mix and proceds from there.

    If you can put the right mastering chain together in your studio, understand your gain structure and push your mix toward what you want as a final product , doing it yourself is not as hit and miss as some would like you to believe.

    YOU can still adjust the mix going into the mastering chain. The mastering engineer has no such option unless they call you and try to get you to adjust your mix with cryptic instructions (which IMHO is an excercise in futility) compared to adjusting the mix you are actively listening to.

    To much cymbals YOU can turn them down or EQ the tracks they are coming from --- or even EQ the tracks differently during certian parts of the song where they are sounding harsh. The ME can only try to EQ the entire mix. Get it? If they try to roll off the cymbals then everything else gets rolled off.

    I tend to come back and do the mastering when the mix is not so fresh in my head.

    Within the next month I will have the oportunity to master an album that was done in my buddies studio and then we will take the same album to Rodny Mills and attend his mastering session.

    I can not wait.

  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Phil -
    I think what you're referring to is doing a good mix in the first place.

    If you mix the album right, the mastering engineer won't have to call you to adjust things.

    I never call a client and say "could you turn down the cymbals?" I can do that in my rig.

    The only time I ever really call to get a remix is:
    The mix is over compressed and they want it even louder
    They forgot to mute a channel and I hear something in the mix that doesn't belong (talking, errant drums or guitar noodling, etc.)

    If you mix and master on the same monitoring chain, you will have problems...
  19. philsaudio

    philsaudio Active Member

    This statement must assume that every monitoring chain is out of wack.

    Perhaps some of us studio guys have a little better monitoring chain and rooms than more than a few of these guys calling themselves mastering engineers have?

    Otherwise please explain how some ME's have said that some mixes they master need nothing, just their ears to verify such a fact. If all mixes mastered on the same monitoring chain had problems this would be impossible.
  20. philsaudio

    philsaudio Active Member

    This statement must assume that every monitoring chain is out of wack.

    Perhaps some of us studio guys have a little better monitoring chain and rooms than more than a few of these guys calling themselves mastering engineers have?

    Otherwise please explain how some ME's have said that some mixes they master need nothing, just their ears to verify such a fact. If all mixes mastered on the same monitoring chain had problems this would be impossible.

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