Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Evenstar, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. Evenstar

    Evenstar Guest

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new around here but been mixing and mastering for a couple of years.

    Well here I am put the final touches to three new tracks getting them ready to send to Taxi for review. Before I do I would like to get them professionally mastered and I was thinking about getting some advice in preparing the tracks to send for mastering.

    As I'm doing this I'm thinking wouldn't it be great to have Bob Katz available in my studio to ask his advice about preparing my mixes. Here's the three questions I would want to ask him.

    1. How do I go about making my songs more coherent?

    2. Is there one specific piece of gear I should be using to get my tracks sounding 'radio ready'?

    3. I'm on a tight budget so does it make sense to do a little pre-mastering first to save money on the mastering process and if so what should I do?

    So, just for fun, what would your questions for Bob be?
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I can answer those for you already.

    1) It depends on the song.

    2) Your ears.

    3) Leave the mastering to the mastering engineer. All you are doing by "pre-mastering" is creating work for the M.E. He'll have to figure out how to undo what you've done. Create a good mix and leave it at that.
  3. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    well, i'm not bob katz, or a mastering engineer, but here are some thoughts:

    if you mean, that the different songs sound more coherent from one to the other, then this is something that depends on your material.
    if you have basically the same setup (same drum sounds, same bass sound, same guitars...) for each song then they will probably already sound cohesive to each other to a certain degree. if they are all completely different in the instruments/sounds/arrangement you've used they probably won't.
    in any case, i wouldn't do anything, because that is what the mastering engineer usually does.
    try to mix each song so that it is perfect by itself. the mastering engineer will then bring the different songs together and make a cohesive album of them.

    no. don't make them radio ready, if you want them to be mastered anyway.
    don't over-compress your mix and leave at least 6dB of headroom for the mastering engineer.

    don't do anything. chances are you are going to make it worse and the mastering engineer will need more time to fix it.

    if you want to try and do your own mastering, there is some great advice in this forum, since the topic has been discussed many times before. but if you want your songs to be mastered by a real mastering engineer, you shouldn't use excessive (or any) compressing, eq'ing or limiting on the master bus. leave that to the pro's.
  4. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    oh, hueseph was faster...
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Exactly what Hueseph said is what we all say.

    I'm going to ask Bob if he will take a moment and come here. Wouldn't that be an honor.

    In the mean time, I thought this was a very interesting clip. Dealing with One Note Bass


    Check out Mastering Audio Book
    This book is for everyone who wants to increase their mastery of digital and analog audio: musicians, producers, A&R, mastering, recording and mixing engineers. It is suitable for all levels of students and professionals. To master audio you must become a master of audio. Producers and Mix Engineers: Find out the best ways to prepare your files and mixes for further mastering.
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Man. I just learned more from that video than I ever have trying to squeeze it out of my tiny brain for hours on end.:shock: I don't know why I never think like that. It's just so darn simple. :oops:
  7. bobkatz

    bobkatz Active Member

    Bob Katz Mastering

    You guys are all too kind! I just got a letter from Chris (audiokid) about this topic. Well, it appears that Evenstar posted the identical question on Gearslutz and guess what, I already replied over there!

    Here's what I said:

    Hi Evenstar! There are a lot of good mastering engineers hanging around here, so let's expand or change this thread to: Questions for mastering engineers!

    That's a VERY good question. The skills of mixing are developed over time. Every time I evaluate a client's mixes I try to make song-specific suggestions to help them, which over time hopefully will improve your skills. Ask your mastering engineer to give you comments on your mixes in the making. Little by little they will improve with the specific suggestions. Otherwise I think your question is too general.

    To summarize: Start developing a relationship with a good, experienced mastering engineer, one who hears different recordings every day in his studio and so has a good perspective to compare your raw mixes against others.

    Yes: Start by having great monitors and a great room, and the experience of having listened to many high-quality recordings on those monitors. If you can't hear the issue, then you can't even start.

    Generally, do nothing. Make great mixes and then have them mastered en toto. To get the most effective master, let the mastering engineer hear the earliest generation mix which is (hopefully) open-sounding and has not gone through any post-processing.

    Mastering is a holistic process that should be done all at once, and cannot be done effectively in pieces. You can't be "half-mastered" just as you can't be "half pregnant." For example, equalization and compression have to be auditioned together or they can compete. A mastering chain might have an equalizer in front of and after a compressor, and they all interact. Similarly, it's highly likely that any "pre process" you apply will be inappropriate or applied in the wrong degree when considered as part of the entire mastering chain.

    For example, if you think that the snare drum in the mix is too "snappy", you might think that you could "save some time" and money by doing some post-mix compression of your mix and then sending it to mastering. But you're forgetting that might affect the ultimate level and clarity that can be achieved on the mastering side, because many elements in the mastering chain can soften that snare along the way. You would be better off making your mix sound as right as possible in the mix stage (and have less effect on the other instruments in the mix while you're concentrating on the snare) than to add any post-processes which could paint the mastering engineer into a corner or limit the potential level or quality of the master. Especially since the mastering engineer has to look at all the songs as a whole and how they go together. There's likely to be one song whose transients are stronger than the others and which governs the ultimate "loudness" of the album.

    These answers are just the tip of the iceberg, hoping other mastering engineers will chime in. I remember a thread on Gearslutz which discussed why it's a bad idea to apply a peak limiter to a mix, certainly not to mix for "loudness", just for sound quality. It's best to leave the loudness questions to the mastering stage.
  8. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    welcome to the forum Bob.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Thanks a bunch Bob, and welcome to Its a pleasure to listen to your takes on all things recording and mastering.
  10. bobkatz

    bobkatz Active Member

    Thanks, Mike. It's good to see you here. I'll drop in from time to time.
  11. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Peak limiting is my go-to vst: you just set it and forget it. Then again, mild clipping and distortion doesn't bother me so much.
  12. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Hi, Bob!

    It is great to have you here!
    I can´t count how many serious and professional advices I have got from yours all these years, besides reading your mastering bible. :)

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