need of assistance in mastering a track

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by kylem1020, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    I've been trying to master this song for one of my clients and everything I do doesn't seem to work the way I wanted it. I used a multi-pressor, compressor, limiter, EQ, low-cuts, stereo spread, everything. The way it sounds now is not the way I wanted it. I want it louder without clipping (if possible) and more crisp sounding, like actual songs I hear on CDs, and want it radio approved. The link here is a preview of the master version, so if anyone can give any advice, it would be much appreciated. Thanks.
    Download In_Love_Test_Master.mp3 - zSHARE
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    [Touch of Reality Mode]

    (A) Haven't DL'd it (the audio system is busy at the moment). But I can safely say that no one can really make any valid recommendations without hearing the mix first -- Especially after the rather long list of processing.

    (B) If the mix doesn't sound 95% "there" in the first place, it's probably not going to happen. Mastering is a "tailoring" process -- Not a "rebuilding" process. When you buy a suit, you find one that fits pretty well in the first place. Then the tailor comes and makes some precise measurements to make it fit perfectly.

    Dump the maul-the-band compressor (used SO rarely in mastering that it still blows my mind that everyone markets them as "mastering processors"), dump the stereo spreader -- "Space" and "depth" in a mix come from SPACE and DEPTH at the TRACKING phase -- It can be enhanced somewhat - It can be manipulated somewhat - but it has to be there. You can pan stuff all over the place -- If everything was recorded a foot from the source, the image will be a foot deep and flat. You can add all sorts of reverb to it also - But the signal isn't the same as what the mic will hear utilizing (again) space and depth.

    Without trying to sound discouraging -- The (VAST) majority of the "home brew" (for lack of a better term) that comes in here simply doesn't have the potential to sound like the stuff on the shelves. Comparing these recordings to recordings made by teams of industry professionals with aggregate decades of experience working in wonderfully equipped and acoustically reasonable spaces, with every core sound painstakingly cared for at every possible phase in the process --

    That said, I haven't heard it - It might be one of those rare exceptions. THAT said, if it is, simply listen to the mix and do what it's asking you to do. THAT said, if it's asking for maul-the-band compression and stereo spread manipulation, send it back to the mix guy and have him fix the problems there where it'll actually be somewhat effective.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    spot on.

    To add, last time I used a multi-band comp was 14 years ago. Dislike them for almost everything. Also, I never download music to listen. If you post it on dropbox, I will gladly.
  4. CalvinB

    CalvinB Active Member

    Well I cannot tell you what to do about mastering the track. But if you want professional advice, just go to a company called KBJ Records, based out of Memphis TN. Email them and say you want a mix diagnosis, They will allow you to send them the original track and will diagnose what they think is wrong with the original mix in the first place and will give you advice about how to fix it. If you can't do it they will charge $16.50 to do it for you. I use them all the time

    email them at
  5. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    Thanks guys! It helps a lot, but I didn't realize no one uses multi-band compressors anymore, my professors at my school where I learned this told me that it was a key element. Thanks.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    What college or school?

    I know a few guys using high end ones like the Maselec MLA-3:

    I'm not big on plug-in comps but Sequoia 12 has a beauty. They can really screw things up if you don't know what you are doing but I think there are no rules in this game. If I owned one of these, I'm sure I would find a use for it!

  7. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    Douglas College at New Westminster, just graduated. They're really good, all the teachers are professional engineers around Vancouver. But I'm guessing I need Third party equipment to get the sound I need?
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good to know, thanks.

    What multibands did they talk about and why? When you mention third party, I'm assuming you are using pro tools and the stock plug-ins? Many people get wonderful results using stock plug-ins so before you think you need to invest in expensive gear, just start mixing and share your results with us. We're always learning and always thrilled to help and hear whats going on with our community here!

    Good to have another BC member here!
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    It's not "anymore" -- It's "never really did" (with the exception, of course, that if something was screwed up so badly that only maul-the-band compression could "fix" it, or certainly the occasional wonderful-sounding analog units that sound and react nothing at all like their digital counterparts).

    Maul-the-band compression is certainly taught a lot by "professors" (most of which are following a certain curriculum, many of which don't actually have "boots on the ground") and no doubt, plugin marketers have long tried to get everyone to believe that MBC's are a mastering engineer's "secret weapon" (so secret, that we hardly ever touch them).

    Don't get me wrong here -- If a mix is actually asking for MBC, I'm more than happy to bust out the MBC. Even in the good ol' days (when I used to run entire mixes through analog crossovers into compressors if needed). It's just such a "niche" tool that the majority of the time, if a mix "needs" it, I'm on the phone to the mix engineer to see if he can fix the problem first.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    John, its been so long since I used one but since this thread I've been wondering if they would be suitable for certain single tracks, like a bass? Mixes with really extreme bass?
  11. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I'm a fan of using one wherever necessary -- It just seems that whenever it's necessary, things are pretty screwed up.

    If I had to guess where I used to use them most, it'd be on vocalists. Ones with bad technique (usually where "higher" inherently meant "louder" too).
  12. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    I only use the stock plug-ins for Logic Pro 9. But yes, I've heard that stock plug-ins can be great as well, I just don't know how to make it work well enough yet. Maybe I lack knowledge? I don't know. But I just posted the preview on my Dropbox Test Master.mp3

    I don't know if that's the right way of sharing it.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Your link has errors because you have spaces in it, but I was able to listen to it by replacing the % with a space. The girl has a very good voice. Before I comment, what are your hoping to improve?

    In_Love Test Master.mp3
  14. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    I want to improve the overall sound. I just want it louder and more crisp, like what we hear on radio. Everytime I do a trial and error, it ends up being so loud, that it overpowers my monitors that I swear that they're going to break. I know it'll be hard to do cause I have a home studio, but that's the best I got. Maybe one day I'll own a big studio, but right now this is all I can afford.
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    did you mix this song too?
  16. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its never easy mastering the same song you mix. I've always struggled with that. You are well on your way.

    I'm hearing an overall smear in your mix, meaning, it would sound better if you found the pockets of all your tracks more. There are freq overlaping which are competing with each other. I'm a big believer of HPF . Rolling off low end cleans a mix up a lot. The vox could have a bit more 2.5k or in there somewhere to add more excitement. The mix is a bit dull so I would spend more time in the mix before you master it. Some subtle changes can make a big difference.
    I'm not hearing bass guitar or synth bass? I'm hearing a lot of kick.

    Try a few changes and chime back. Hope this helps.

    Maybe John has some pointers for you too.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Don't worry about volume right now. Don't overdrive your master bus. Back off on some compression as this could be contributing to that slightly safe sound it has too. I want to hear more dynamics and edge. Right now it sounds too much the same.
  19. kylem1020

    kylem1020 Active Member

    So I should put a low cut into the voxin the original mix? Aren't low cuts not supppse to be higher than 60 and lower than 30?
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    for female I would most likely roll off the low to around 280 hz. I never have much below that. Sweep the lows off until you hear it effecting her voice and then back off a bit and you should be close. If you do this, you will allow room for music (Bass) to fit in there and her voice to become clearer and more in front.

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