need help with mastering

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by hotellobbyhero, Oct 7, 2003.

  1. I have recently recorded my band with my own equipment and before I want to state my problem I will give you a list of the main equipment I used.

    Protool 5.3.1 - digi design 001
    Behringer eurorack mixer
    AUDIX fusion mics - D6 kick
    MXL condenser for vocals
    shure 57 for guitars

    I have recorded the first song on protools, and it is a decent sound quality for our first demo. But there are a couple of things I find that I would like to change, but I'm not sure waht equipment to use for what.

    1)the kick has not enough warmth and high end kick. I need this to kick right through the mix.
    2)the overheads seem to bassed out, the cymbals are not cutting through enough.
    3)the toms sound not deep enough.
    4) the guitars have not enough low end and most of the time to much crunch.
    5)overall, the mix seems unbalanced. it is not bad but I want it to sound very proffesional.

    what proccessors or EQ's do I use? I don't want to use protools inboard proccessors, I'm so tired of it. how excactly would I use outboard proccesors with protools? any tips on a better mix?

    thank you very much.

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    All those things you listed seem like all the things that should be fixed in tracking and mixing. Mastering can do many things, but it can't fix a flawed mix. I think your current understanding and expectations of Mastering are not realistic. Don't even worry about Mastering until you are quite happy with the sound of the mix. Then the skills and tools of Mastering can take your mix to the next level. Mastering a flawed mix and expecting it to come out right is like trying salvage burnt toast by scrapping of the blacken spots. It still tastes like burnt toast...
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    As far as gear to use, you use what you have available. Use what ever plugs you have. You may need to use more one eq plug on an instrument. You may have to over dub or re-record some things to get it right. In order to use outboard with a DAW you need to have multiple outputs to process each track that you want to use outboard gear with. Then you need to be able to mix those together or have multiple inputs back into the DAW.

    If this is a live two track recording, you are very limited in what you can do. In that case, anything you do to fix one thing will also affect other things so you have to balance what you do so that you do the least amount of harm to the whole recording which is basicly what the main goal of Mastering is. You may find that you have to re-record dozens of times before you get even something close to what you may like for results. Over a period of time, could be weeks, months or years it will become easier and smoother or it may never come at all. Not everybody has the talent and skills to do this stuff well. You may have to settle for something much less than you desire or are capable to do.
  4. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Holy cow... if RO ever comes up with an official Book of Quotes, this deserves to have it's own page before the table of contents.
  5. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    yes Leon, audiogaaf is right. Have you ever heard of that infamous sentence: we fix in the mix!!
    Now we listen to.. We fix in the mastering!

    NO way.. try to have the best mix as possible and then, go to a nice pro mastering guy. Not that someday you can not tweak your own mixes, but first, try to understand better every step of the recording procedure, improving your Eq/comp techniques, etc
    We are here to help you, fell free to make questions. There are lots of experienced guys here, never be afraid of asking.

    It is not simple to give advices without having more data of what you are into and where you are established. Room acoustics, monitors, gear, etc.

    There are lot of nice Plugins developed for PT. I am also a PT TDM user. I would advise you to use Waves Q series, Ren Eq, some Bomb Factory plugs, etc.

  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Kind of proud of that myself considering I just whipped it up 5-seconds before I wrote it. Then when I re-read it I went, dang, that's a pretty good analogy.
  7. Alright.. well I don't have any money to buy preamps.. what I basicly did. was I recorded the drums first:
    7 mics: on my behringer mixing board
    channel 1: D6 kick
    channel 2: AUDIX F10 snare
    channel 3-5:AUDIX F10 and F12 Toms and floortom
    channel 6 and 7: AUDIX F15 overheads.

    The microphones were clamped onto the drums.. and were on a 45 degree angle. The kickdrum was in front of my 7 inch hole, 10" into the drum.

    On the behringer eurorack mixing board it has direct outputs. so I went with a (8 1/4" snake from all channels directly out to the digi001 console. this was I had all the microphones on seperate channels.

    The Guitars I recored with 2 mics.. one 3 feet away from the amp. and the other (sm 57) right on the head.. it is a good sound.

    but once everything came together.. everything seems so unbalanced.. way to much low end in the kick... way to much low in the guitar. not enough mid in the guitar.. cymbals are to bassy. it seems to unbalanced.. I'm wondering, eventhough the instruments sound decent, is there nothing I can do to make it balance out better? add some more mids the guitar..etc


  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    What are you listening on, what kind of room are you using for a C/R and have you installed traps, absorption and diffusion . In short have you installed room treatments?
  9. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    isn´t this thread in the wrong room?
    Was your drum kit properly tuned?
    Did you check phase?
  10. I'm using yamaha monitors.
    I'm not using any type of studio room. everything is just recording in a regular oversized bedroom. I'm just trying to accomplish a decent sounding demo for the band. andI have before. but I am trying to improve everytime. recording is also a practice for me when I plan to attend fullsail next year..

  11. yeah my kit was tuned properly, I've been drumming for 5 years and well. for my understanding it was tuning very well..


  12. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    This doesn't belong here. These are not mastering questions. Good questions but not mastering questions.
  13. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Hi Leon!
    I imagine you are having problems with Eq and compression. it is good to know that you are a nice drummer. 50% of the problems are already eliminated. Your drum kit seems to be pretty good also, and tuning is fine.
    There are no fixed rules, but for example, which frequency range are you boosting/cuttingon kick drum, bass guitar, toms, hats?

    If you make some cuts on specific instruments and pan properly, your mix will start sounding more balanced/pro and instruments will jump out of the "cloud".

    If you boost the very same frequencies on bass drum and bass guitar, you´ll probably lose clarity.

    Also, if room acoustics is problematic, you may end up with a too dry or too wet mix.

    Some numbers to help:

    Toms: 120, 240 , 5300Hz
    Kick: 40, 60, 80
    snare: 250, 1k, 3k, 4700, 5300, 10k
    hi-hat: nothing useful under 400hz, 5k, 10k, 12k, 16k
    rock guitars: 240, 800, 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k
    bass guitar: 80, 125, 800, 1k, 2k, 4k
    voice: 120, 240, 500, 800, 1k, 3k, 5.3k, 8k, 10k

    hope it helped ya
    Ya may contact PM also
  14. Thanks a lot for the help. I plan to purchase an equalizer, run it from my digi design (out) into the EQ, then back in to the digi 001. that way I can play around with the balances.

    However, I am not entirely sure what a decent EQ is.
    anyone? I also plan purchasing a good preamp and a compressor. for future recordings.


  15. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Michael, maybe you can move this thread to Kurt´s/Dave´s/RecMan´s room or if we go plugs, to David´s/Alécio´s room.

    You can use Waves PAZ to check frequency content.
    BTW... did you receive any plugs with your digi 001?
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I went to the Audix site and checked the specs on the mics you used and it seems you used all the correct mics for the right applications. So you’re alright in that department.

    It seems from your description of how you placed the mics that you were doing the correct things in that area (2 down).

    I think the problem lies in two areas, which may be related. First and most important is your listening environment. You are in a large bedroom you say. What are the dimensions? I can already tell you without knowing the size of the room, that you need to put up some treatments. Absorption (to tame early reflections) and bass trapping (to tame peaks and nulls in the bass response) and last some diffusion (in many cases). It is impossible to make the correct decisions when tracking or mixing if you are in a room that lies to you about what you are hearing. Treatments are a must. Check with Wes, Ethan and Rod over at the Acoustics forum regarding what you need to do.

    Another part of this equation (listening environment) is what speakers are you using? You said Yamahas but what model? Yamaha makes a bunch of different types of speakers / monitors. It’s hard to figure out what is going on without knowing this.

    I have to say from the description you gave that what it really sounds like to me is you have fallen into the trap that many fledgling recordists fall into. That is the misconception that if you make each element in a mix sound its best on its own (soloed with everything else muted) that when you combine them all together, it should sound good. This approach is flawed because it does not take into account an audio phenomena called “masking”. This is when one instrument that has its fundamental tones in the same octaves as another, covers or “masks” the other.

    You can also get a build up of too much bass, mids or treble combining elements. This is where the art comes in. You need to sculpt the sound of different instruments, sometimes one will even sound kind of cruddy on its own but will sound “right” when blended into the mix. Try mixing the different sections of the song like this. Start with the drums. Bring the kick and the snare to near the same levels, perhaps, -7 on the channel meters. Bring in the overheads until you get a correct balance of these 4 elements. Then mix in the toms. In most situations, on both the kick and the toms you may wish to cut some at 200 Hz, to make room for the bass and boost a bit at 5kHz with a narrow “Q” to add some snap and to help them “cut through”. However the AUDIX D6 is already "voiced" like this. I have a D6 here that I am reviewing for AUDIX and I don't have to eq it all to get a good tone that cuts through a mix without masking the bass and other low frequency elements.

    Next add in the bass. Give it a narrow “Q” boost at 200 to 220 Hz., to add some “growl” and make it punch through on small speakers. If some notes are loud and some are buried, add a little 2 to 1 or 4 to 1 compression, with a fast attack and a medium release to even out the loud and soft passages.

    Next bring in the guitars. You may wish to use a high pass filter on these at 80 Hz. to clean the mud out and to keep them from “masking” the kick and bass. With guitars and keyboards, it is important at the tracking stage to make sure that two or three players are not all playing the same position of the chord in the same octaves. Split them up. Have one play higher and one play lower (first and second positions on the neck). You may also have them play different voicing or inversions of the same chord. This will help definition of the two guitars in a mix, yielding a bigger sound that is much easier to mix.

    Last mix in the vocals. You may wish to cut some lows on background parts to keep them from masking or overwhelming the lead vocals. That should give you a bit to chew on.

    I really don’t think at this stage that an outboard eq to use at the tracking stage is the appropriate fix for the issues you mentioned. Good eq’s are very costly and cheap ones do more damage than good. Simple is better. Try to get things sounding “right” by making adjustments in the mic positions, tuning of the drums and tweaking of the guitar and bass amps. If you get it right going in, it is much simpler to mix in the end. You have a pretty decent set of tools for a home studio and you should be able to get good results with what you have.

    I think as you progress and get some bucks put aside, that really good mic pres will make the most difference the largest boost in quality instead of trying to eq “crap” into gold. Garbage in, garbage out. The pres in the PT LE stuff are more or less of the same ilk as the Focusrite Platinum series mic pres (I believe) and IMO are kinda suckie. You should be able to do ok with them at this point but there is room for a great improvement in this part of your recording front end.

    [ October 09, 2003, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The Audix mics used on the drums are the lower end mics made by them.These can be found in 'drum paks' and purchased at gittarget and other fine audio establishments.While they are 'okay' as a live set of mics I dont believe you are going to get a really good recorded sound with them.The D6 being the exception.By your description of the sound it sounds simply like a placement problem as this mic consistently delivers a 'complete' kick sound under most circumstances.It also sounds by your description that your overheads were not well placed.Another particular problem I have with your setup is the bbbbb...bberi...$*^t I cant say it!Okay its the Behringer mixer.Hopefully you did not use any EQ going into your DAW.The EQ section of these boards leaves a lot to be desired and can often sound good when you're setting a tone, only to wind up with a mess after everything gets together and starts summing off of each instrument.I would record all your instruments FLAT and eq them later in your protools.Simply stay away from any of the mixers functions other than as a router,a monitor, and a pad for the mics.
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I think they would be fine for this application. Until some better pres are put into play, a good mics potential won’t be realized. Cart before the horse, IMO ....

    SPAM?? But I don't like SPAM!!! :D

    arr arr hee hee hee hee snarf! chortle!
    It's funny how no one around here seems to like saying the "Beh" word. I've seen F*&k, SH*T, among others but everyone expresses reticence when it comes to the word that describes the affordable, knock off products that come from this European company that manufactures its products in the Orient. hee hee hee hee :D
  19. Thank you so much... on all the help you guys have given me. I have started the EQ on the kick today, and by all the information that has given to me it sounds a lot better to me. Absolutely not perfect, but I completely blaim that on the mic placement I used for that. I think I should have not used a pillow in my bassdrum and place the D6 closer to the head. Disregarding this caused way to much low end in the kick. But as of right now it sounds much better.

    I'm going to start on the snare and toms tonight. I'm not planning to change much on the snare. The toms however were overpowerd when recording and have a nasty overtone to them. I'm still getting more experience in recording. Has anyone ever recorded drums by putting the mic at the resonant side of the tom? good or bad? never tried it

    I'm currently using yamaha MSP5 monitors. they sound good...(with stuff I didnt record)

    The room we recorded in has way to much furniture, and the amp was pointed at a wooden door. I should have known better

    Davedog: I recorded everything through the behringer with no EQ boost or anything like it. FLAT like you said.

    I'm just gonna play around with recording drums for a while and see what needs to be done to get the best sound.

    I would also like to note: I'm using the inboard processor in protools. the 1 band EQ that came with it. I hate this so much because it is 1 frequency at a time. Isn't there a better Eq or compressor for protools. what is the difference between the 4 band and 1 band?


  20. white swan

    white swan Guest

    Whooee! My head is spinning from all those numbers. What exactly are we supposed to do with them again? Cut? Boost?

    How did you pick them anyway? Why are they more likely to be important than some of the numbers in between? Why wouldn't cutting a rock rhythm guitar somewhere between 400-600 hz. to create more space for the vocals be a good idea? Why is 5k and 10k good for hihat but not 8k? What about getting more click on your kick? More meat on the snare? Seems like you might need some other numbers for that.

    I'm not trying to be a wise-ass, but how or why did these numbers become more important than others?

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