Price of Mastering Worth it? Pt. 2: Empirical Evidence.

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by headchem, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Unmastered: http://www.headchemists.com/cowboy_orch_mix.aif

    If you all need the bass stem let me know, and I'll put it up here.

    Is this song high-quality enough to deserve a master? All the vocals and guitars were recorded on a $20 mic in my bedroom... I'll have access to a studio in about 1 week, where I can re-record using mics in the $5000-$10,000 range. So, if this will make a significant difference in the contest, please don't master anything!, and I'll post a properly recorded version in a week...

    This mix sounds very strange to me (read: poorly mixed), because I mix with the master effects turned on, and then I adjust levels... I know that's normally not reccomended, but let's just include it as part of my technique that we are putting to the test.

    I use a lot of mastering techniques in my mixing due to the creative device-routing possibilities in Reason. I put stereo enhancers on instruments I want wider in the mix, high frequency harmonic enhancers on my vocals and any other "lead" instrument, and something I call extreme multiband side-chain compression, which I designed in Reason.

    You'll hear that last one especially on the bass drum and the orchestral bass. Both those instruments occupied a similar frequency range, so (I think, at least) to get more punch and less mud from the low end, I dynamically cut only those frequencies in the bass line when the bass drum is being played. To explain further: if the MAIN bass frequencies of the bass drum are about 200 Hz (I know the important freqs are in the high end for the bd, but these would be the muddy ones), then everytime the bass drum hits, the 200 Hz band in the orchestral bass will bounce down while leaving all its other frequencies in tact. Did I invent this technique or has something similar been around for ages? Or is it pointless because it has realtively the same effect as a regular singleband side-chain compressor?

    I also use this same technique with my vocals and other lead instruments over the entire mix. So if I sing something, the frequencies associated with whatever I'm singing are slightly reduced in the rest of the mix. To me, this makes my vocals sound like they sit on top of the mix a bit, and it removes any spikes in frequencies. It's all dynamic and automated. In many songs, however, I choose not to use this because I want more of that "all in it together" sound.
     
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    anyone else struggling with that file? i downloaded it twice, got 2 different file sizes and neither will open in anything.. :?
     
  3. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Ah yeah, wait just 10 minutes, I'm having problems with too so I'm trying to upload it a second time... It's about 34 Mb as a 48 16 bit.
     
  4. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Ok, it's all working for me now... I tested it in my browser, and it downloaded and played for me.

    I'd love to get some feedback on my extreme multiband side-chain compression idea. Can you hear it? What do you think?
     
  5. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I haven't listened to it yet (I'll download again now) but you aren't the first to invent a dynamic EQ I'm afraid ;) I use a home grown Synthedit plug to do the same thing, but I wasn't the first either!
     
  6. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Be nice if you could post it as a strait mix as well.

    Also..I have 30 mins coming up..if you want to email me to grab the track (mastering) and post it..30 mins from now.

    Notice how your top end goes away during the louder passages as well.

    Let me know where to put it.
     
  7. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    You got mail headchem
     
  8. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Hey, I got the file and I'll post it online as soon as I get home (not at my copmuter right now). I haven't heard it yet, but I'm definitely excited! I've already got my mastered version done, just because I mix with the master enabled... I hope I won't be too embarassed to post it after I hear audiowrkstation's version, but in the name of science it will be done!
     
  9. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Oh, what do you mean by straight mix? Is that without all the dynamic frequency stuff going on?

    Also, I'm just curious if you use the Vitalizer, or another such magical device?
     
  10. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Nope...good old fashoned analog mastering.

    A strait mix is your best mix without anything on the 2-bus. (no compression, etc)

    Back to work for me!

    Don't use mine as your guide. That would be "cheating"
     
  11. headchem

    headchem Guest

    The thought certainly crossed my mind, but I promise my settings won't be tweaked. I'm still trying to understand this 2-bus - I'm not sure that I use it (I really don't know what it is). Everything coming out of my mixer isn't being touched. Of course several of the instruments within the mix have compressors / effects on them, but you don't what those removed, do you?
     
  12. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Anything after the mixer that affect the sound. Channel compressors don't apply to this.

    A 2-bus is your master faders. Whatever you have looped through them or assigned to them directly before them or after them.
     
  13. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Gotcha. Well all those effects are part of my mastering device which I disabled, so that unmastered version you have is completely free of any effects after the mixer.

    I'm listening to your version at my home right now, and uploading mp3 versions of identical sample-rates of course for everyone to hear...
     
  14. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Oh, do you think it is fair if I turn down my volume without touching any other settings, just so we can match the files at the same volume? Mine is quite a bit louder as it is...
     
  15. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    I clearly went to level 6 on the BBC meters (actually above it) so if you are louder than that, you will have a rough time with the airplay compressor at the FM stations.

    Level 6.3 to be exact.

    I thought this was a nice full sounding song..not a death metal one. They should have different levels you know...

    I had to restore some dynamics. You lost the top end (treble) on your mix during loud passages. The song clearly has several sections of dynamics. Since when does mastering encompass "get every song as loud as possible"?

    you should enjoy an increase in volume as you add more instruments and what is there at soft levels should stay intact at all times.


    Got company..be back when I get back..
     
  16. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Cool, I'll try to get them the same.

    2 weeks ago I thought one of the most important parts of mastering was getting a song to compete in loudness with other comercial material, but that opinion is being deconstructed as I've read through these forums. I guess I'll leave that duscussion for another thread. I agree that death-metal is not what I was going for with this song! :D
     
  17. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    No offense headchem but you're not supposed to be asking mixing questions/advice from the mastering engineer being tested during the process. You're supposed to just do it as best you can on your own and then compare. My two cents.
     
  18. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Well, I really didn't know what he was requesting. I thought maybe he needed a different kind of file, or something needed to be changed in order to get the best master possible... I'm not changing any of my settings except for volume - but only because it would be unfair if one were louder than the other. I want this whole thing to be as fair as possible, too.
     
  19. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    If you hear my file at all before you post yours, you skew the results of the test. It should have been posted prior to my release to you..but I doubt you will be able to match dynamics and levels with my file unless you use my file. I had 129 different volume edits.
     
  20. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Well, I have heard your file, but all I was turn down my gain knob until it sounded about the same level as yours. I haven't automated my volume or anything, it was just a total volume reduced for the whole song thing. Is that ok? I still have my previous master, so would it be more fair to post that one? I was just thinking similar perceived volumes could help us judge them better.
     

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