Mastering session setup

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Halifaxsoundguy, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member

    I've been reading online and listening to audio examples of mastered song. Mastering to me has always been "just boost your volume and you'll be OK". But as I hear more examples, song seemed to be transformed from great to excellent. I've known to bounce to disk in pro-tools then make a new session and import that bounce to start mastering. Is this the industry standard or would a mastering house want my whole PT session to load up on their machines to master? This will be my first time to attempt proper mastering and even if I don't do too much I'd like to do it well. I guess I'm just looking for a starting point.
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, much of the - uh... "less seasoned" population of the industry has the exact same view for some odd reason. The word "mastering" has been watered down to "a limiter" as of late.
    See, that's a good thing. :cool: Although it's not the core of the process - but it's almost never a simple "boost in volume" - I think a little of the confusion is that the M.E.'s are always asking to NOT do anything to the mix for the sake of volume - But that's not to give the M.E. "credit" for the volume - It's so he has (A) the necessary headroom to work and (B) a (much) greater ability to actually "fix" whatever might need "fixing" -- It's insanely easier to attack a steady-state noise as opposed to a noise that's changing dynamically because the mix was rammed into a limiter during mixdown..
    Generally, stereo interleaved files. You can usually bring stems if you really want (check with the facility, but any reputable house can take them) although expect the session to take anywhere from "a little" to "considerably" longer due to increased setup times for each mix.
    I got confused in there... But good luck. 8)
  3. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member

  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Normalizing is... I haven't seen a reason to normalize a file - any file - for a dozen years. There's really no particular use for it. You certainly don't want to use up *all* of your headroom before you even get started**

    *Generally* (GENERALLY!!!) speaking, you're going to want to take care of any corrective issues first - But that begs the question - If these are your own mixes, why wouldn't you just remix and fix it there?

    Dynamics would (GENERALLY!!!) be taken care of only after corrective EQ and other corrective (pops, clicks, noise, thwumpies, sibilance, etc., etc.) are taken care of. Hiss for example - As difficult (or easy) as it might be to remove from the 2-mix, it's SO much easier when it's a steady-state. Compress or (God forbid) limit a mix so the hiss is riding up and down in level and density, and you might as well just leave it there.

    But again - if these are your mixes, there's no reason to attempt these types of repairs on the 2-mix anyway.

    "Volume" is (at least, it should be) an afterthought - You might have to go back and tweak this or that to "control the damage" to some extent (and sometimes, that can take a LOT of tweaking).

    ** (Normalizing note from above) That said - and this is probably the last reason I normalized anything - If you wind up with a bunch of files that sit well together that all peak at -4dBFS and you want to normalize them - as a group - to maybe -.5dBFS or so, there you go. But with "ITB" work, that's almost unheard of.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    My take on this is that if I'm not going to send something out to have it mastered I'll do a few things things like limiting and adding fade ins and outs that I would leave to the ME, but other than that, I'm just trying to get a good mix. So I don't think of it as - I'm mixing when I do this - I'm mastering when I do that.

    To me, the biggest thing about sending something out to be mastered is that the mix gets a new set of ears, a new set (or sets) of monitors, in a new room (all probably better than mine). If it isn't going to get those things, there is no reason to imitate the process of an ME by, say, putting an EQ on the Master fader if I didn't have one there before. If my ears and monitors tell me that the EQ needs to be adjusted, I'm going to adjust it in the mix whether the mix is going to an ME or not.
  6. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member


    I wish I read this post along time ago. Its such a great explanation of Mastering.

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