Need Advice/DIY (Waves) or Hire Pro House

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Keith, Oct 23, 2001.

  1. Keith

    Keith Guest

    Hi all,

    I'll try to make this as breif as possible, but as you all know-nothing is ever simple in this bus.

    Here's the setup-I'm working on a children's CD (ages 5-12) which will be about an hour total play time. There is spoken dialogue, and songs, comedy and education. I have spent a ton-o-time on this project, and I truly feel like it has potential on a large market scale.

    My delima is-after mix after mix (in some cases), to finally get a (song) mix I can live with, then I go to master the song through waves PLUGINS, the master ends up sounding nothing at all like the mix. Most cases the mix sounds better than the master. So I'm asking myself, though I've been in this bus a long time, I definately don't know all the tricks (especially mastering). Should I bite the bullet, and hire the nastering out to a professional firm (I only live 2 hrs from Nashville), since the intention I have for this CD, is to get it published & hopfully mass distributed. Though I know a CD of this length will cost me an arm & leg a a pro house. Or can someone offer suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong?

    My 48K/24bit stereo mix is imported into a 2 trk DP mastering session. My mastering chain on the stereo channel is like this- 1. Waves Renaisance Compressor (Set to master opto soft), 2. C1 comp sidechain (de-esser) to cut down on a little siblence, 3. Ren EQ to makeup the de-essing frequencies loss, and L+1 (setup as 16bit dithering down from 24bit), then I'll sample rate convert from 48K to 44.1K (@ best setting in DP soundbites window).

    The final outcome is the bass gets muddy, the guitars which were at a decent level (in the mix), get hotter, and the vocal which was out front in the mix get's buried. I'm thinking my problem is lying in the L+1 area-here I'm hitting the treshold pretty hard (11.1), I set the out ceiling to -0.5, and attentuation dips down intom the red pretty hard.

    NOTE! this chain doesn't sound half bad while I'm listening to it in playback. The weird thing of all this is, the sound difference doesn't actually occur until after I have bounced this to disk through the chain i mentioned above, then converted from 48K to 44.1. In other words the bounced file sounds completely different than the exact same master session during playback. Did this make sense?

    Any suggestions or help would be gratefully appreciated.

    Keith Henry
    NY TO LA Studio
  2. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Bloomington, IL
    I think your "problem" is well before the L1. It's most likely what you are doing with compression. Compression can have a large effect on balance, especially if you're doing a lot of gain reduction. The L1 if not abused can do a lot for level without screwing with the mix. I will sometimes use two L1s in series, because it can distort if you squash things too much.

    Also, the Renaissance line (which I like a lot) is very colored. Maybe the C1 and Q series EQ would be better for this project.
  3. Keith

    Keith Guest

  4. Keith

    Keith Guest

    I guess I should have mentioned my compressor setup-using the Renaissance Comp/Master Opto Soft- I'm setting the Treshold @ -15.1, I'm leaving the ratio @ the default 1.5, and the gain makeup @ about +1.5.

    The thing I'm not understanding is: why during actual playback, everything sounds kickin' but when I bounce to disk, the file sounds nothing like the actual master playback (before being bounced)?

    Thanks for the idea of running two L1's inline. You're correct on the distorting thing with only one w/ heavy treshold. I'll definately give this a try.

    So are you a pro mastering house. I'm thinking I should just go ahead and start searching prices to hire the mastering out, for this project. Email me you're pricing info or webpage.

  5. Hi Keith,

    My advice is to have it professionally mastered. We are not just talking about different equipment for mastering but different monitoring environments and most importantly, experienced mastering engineers.

    There are a couple of things I've noticed about what you have already done: Firstly you recorded at 48K sample frequency when your destination (CD) is 44.1K. Recording at 48K and sample rate converting to 44.1K nearly always involves a greater loss of quality than if you record at 44.1K to start with. The only time I would record at 48K for a CD is if I were sending it to be mastered in the analog domain. Secondly you have far too much compression. Not just with the Ren comp but with the L1 which you are hitting far too hard. Keep the threshold on the L1 below 4 when mastering! The L2 sounds way better than the L1, not nearly so harsh and can be hit a little harder than the L1 but even so a threshold of 11.1 would still be way too much.

  6. Keith

    Keith Guest

    Thanks Greg,

    Yeah every new moment I'm leaning more & more to hiring out to a pro mastering house. Especially concerning the tuned rooms, and monitoring situations.

    Thanks Again
  7. brad

    brad Guest

  8. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    As a home studio owner I twist every possible client limb to try and get every single project recorded here sent out to be mastered. It doesn't make sense to spend a few thousand dollars on a project, and then begrudge a few hundred more on mastering - when it can be all the difference in putting it over the top. While the big names may command $500+/hr, there are plenty of excellent places, at least in this area, in the $100/hr vicinity - and you can be in and out for well under $1000. And what do you get that no amount of plug-in tweaking can give you? First: you get to hear your work in an acoustically tuned environment played on optimal combinations of amps and speakers. Second: you have access to equipment that is specifically designed to fine tune flaws in your mixes. Third (and most important): you get the ears and opinions of the mastering engineer, who can immediately recognize what tweaks it will take to make your finished product sound as high quality as possible, and will translate effectively to a wide range of listening environments. Let's see a plug-in do that! It's not a matter of them making chicken salad out of chicken sh*t, but I've certainly been the beneficiary time and time again of them creating a near gourmet level creation out of my fast-food submissions. Call me a true believer!

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