Discussion in 'Mastering' started by vagelis, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. vagelis

    vagelis Guest

    I mix with Pro Tools Mix Plus harware at the Moment and Logic software.
    Any suggestion for a goot set up for compression before I master?

    1) Shall I try to make sepatate groups (drums, guitars etc) and compress them? Or to compress the whole thing? May be both?

    2) Shall I record the file as loud as I can? In which level to I have to go?

    Thanks - Vagelis
  2. Doug Milton

    Doug Milton Active Member

    I have used the Waves plug ins while mixing in performer and was really pleased. If you're looking to do individual compression (kick, snare, bass gtr, vocals) I think you will be happy with the results.

    If you are looking to have a stereo compressor for mastering, I can highly recommend the Weiss DS-1 or DS-1 MKII. I use one every day and am continually amazed at how versatile it is. You can loop out AES/EBU and record back to pro tools.
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I would try to get the mix right without worring about stereo bus compression to much. If things aren't sitting in the mix right, fix it in the mix, not in the mastering. I would leave it as open and dynamic as you can. Don't max out the level, leave a little headroom. And if you are going to use a stereo compressor, use a good one and don't over due it.
  4. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    I would rather work from the mix before the bus compression. Unless your a well experienced mix engineer you may do more harm than good. For engineers who want to use the bus compression I suggest doing a seperate pass and send both versions for mastering. This way if it's helpfull great if not we don't have to remix.
  5. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Mike, Joe, Doug, My sentiment exactly.

    First of all, matter of getting the best sound is utilized simply by another set of ears. THis other set of ears should be outside your studio in a separate facility. Hence the mastering engineer. We simply have our systems set up to be microscopic in nature to reveil things that most studios cannot. Simply by have a separate pair of ears, familiar with their equipment and having so many different perspectives in experience, leaves it to be an excellent alternative to self mastering.

    I am NOT trying to twist your arm and say, you cannot do it, let us do it and get your bucks.

    It takes some practice...but best let someone else either in on the session (another judge) or separate the realm.

    If you really want to master your own works, set up a separate system in a separate room and look at the tools it takes to do the job (or learn the job)

    First thing, consumer speakers are so varied that simply finding a set of speakers to master on can take quite a while.

    Mastering is this:

    Taking a professional work and converting it to a multi consumer format.

    This said, it has to translate on every kind of system imagineable. Very diverse conditions.

    Now, back to your original vibe.


    Definition of Mixing.

    "To take all of the various sounds and paint a picture of them that will translate the vibe of the musicians to the speakers in which all instrumentation and vocals are presented in a way to make the tune the most emotional it can be and to translate the message"

    When mixing, you are doing this in the professional format. Mixes are not supposed to sound good on a consumer system. Their will be too much dynamics, too much "range" and too much clinical/ raw sounds.

    A raw mix is to be made in a way that it can be passed off to the next stage that is the mastering engineer. This said, mastering engineers look for basically for this... Frequency balance, dynamic integrety, clarity, definition, freedom from overload, freedom from dynamic distortion (compression of the 2-bus) and overall musicality. (and a few more unmentionables...meaning "masterable mix")

    Basically, it is two separate and quite different processes. Different types of speakers, different types of rooms even. Mastering suites are set up for just that, mastering.

    Going back to what I said earlier, the other non partial set of experienced ears is the key.

    It is a system that works or their would be NO mastering engineers.

    Consumer equipment was not designed to work with raw mixes or mixes with 2-bus compression. The next stage to excellence is absent.

    Mastering is not that expensive either!

    PS, I got a bunch of people basically realizing this, in my forum, Audio Projects. Go over there and read some responses. It is an eye opener.

    All the mastering engineers (mods) I can vouch for. They all do excellent work and come highly recommended. You are basically looking at the best in the business here. Their are other mastering engineers that are not mods that are top flight as well.

    Any mastering engineer worth their salt will give you a snip of a tune for pro bono to show you that it really makes a difference. By this, send a mastering engineer a 1 min tune and if they have time to fit it in, they can run it quick and get it back to you and you can compare. This is the way it works usually...but I cannot vouch for Doug Sax or Ludwig doing this for you. They are probably booked for years...since they are locked in by name and credits.

    Fellows, is this still a practice or are you folks pretty booked?

    Depends on the engineer IMHO.
  6. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    I agree with Michael, Doug, Joe & Bill!

    I will be happy to do a sample for evaluation, any time, for all Recording.Org members. I will make the time.

    Remember: trust your ears as to results It's quite amaizing as to what we can do.

  7. themidiroom

    themidiroom Active Member

    Hey guys I have a question for the mastering experts. Would you say the majority of "unmasterable" mixes you receive is the result of inexperienced recording engineers?
    I haven't been considered a professional for very long (not at all by some people's standards), but I approach music as both an art and a science. There's a certain magic if you will when a mix works. I appreciate your feedback

  8. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    I would say that the majority of "challenging" mixes are the result of bad room acoustics & bad monitoring situations. If a room is set up correctly, then what you hear while recording / mixing should be the TRUTH.

    Also, 1 step past that, producers / artists / engineers are NOT LISTENING on a variety of other systems outside of the recording & mix room. This would pinpoint any existing problems before the mixes even get to my mastering room.

    Before any mix is brought to mastering it should be played in comparison to a known "good recording" in at least 3 other venues. They can be a good car stereo, a club, your friend's house with a good home stereo, another studio. Anyplace you can compare to a well known recording. No mix should be considered ready till this is done.

    Most mixes can be improved in mastering. It's just a question of how much has to be done to elevate it to real world commercial standards. The ideal mix is one where it can be transferred flat.

    Trial & error in mixing & recording are OK. Just keep at it till you are really satisfied with what you've got. Don't settle for mediocrity.Get it right & then the mastering engineer can really do his or her stuff!!
  9. themidiroom

    themidiroom Active Member

    Hey Don, thanks for your input. I believe a finished song is very much a process and there is always some trial and error.
    Speaking of the commercial standard in the industry, what are your thoughts about some of the recorded material that although very loud are sonically awful?
    Who's really to blame? Is it the mastering engineers, the mix engineers for supplying the source, or the industry itself?

  10. Doug Milton

    Doug Milton Active Member

    The Midi Room wrote: Would you say the majority of "unmasterable" mixes you receive is the result of inexperienced recording engineers?

    No, you'd be surprised. I recently mastered a 4 song demo for a band shopping to labels. It was produced by a guy with major label credits. It sounded like ass. It was way over compressed and the bass was out of control. It was done at an expensive studio on pro tools.

    Hype is just that. If you do good work it speaks for you. I continue to tell people to do the "Best Buy" test. Walk into Best Buy or Circuit City with your mixes on disc. In about 10 minutes you can hear what it will sound like on several different car systems, bookshelf systems and good home theatre systems. It will give you a fair sampling of what your audience will be listening to your mixes on. Also, mixing with a reference disc is a great idea. If your mix, in your room, on your monitors sounds relative to a major label product, it will translate well.

    Like the other mods, I too am willing to do test masters free for RO members. Music is so subjective. Like great chefs we all season to taste. It really comes down to your preference.
  11. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    I think it's the industry. Some "genius" discovered that by using digital compression the level could be pushed past what would be digital zero (the theoretical limit for level). Then of course someone had to be louder than that. A level war started & we are still dealing with it. There is no need for it & sometimes programs are just too "stressed out" to sound smooth and natural. It has become an effect.

    But we as mastering engineers CANNOT say no. Clients will complain & not return. Labels will complain. There is always someone who will make it louder.
  12. themidiroom

    themidiroom Active Member

    Disclaimer: I don't like general statements, but I'm going to make one anyway.

    It seems like recording and mixing has become less art and more quick and cheap routine. I get this impression these mastering guys(as well as many others here) have managed to preserve the attention to detail. Maybe others in the business could learn a great deal from you.
    I don't plan to become a mastering engineer, but I can certainly apply some of the audio insight and theories in these forums.


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