Tips on what I should remove from my mixing chain before mastering...

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by redbort, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    So I just finished mixing my record and am gonna start shopping around to get it mastered.

    I've currently got this chain on the end of my mix
    Waves NLS > EQ for mids > EQ for highs > Waves NLS > Cytomic Glue Compressor >Audio Damage ADverb >
    MidSide EQ > Waves NLS > SSL Compressor > Waves L2 Ultramaximizer

    I'm not sure how much of that I can keep as part of the mix?
    Everything up to the reverb seems pretty essential to the overall mix IMHO.
    any tips? I can even make short bounces of sections without certain things if you need to compare/comment.. (not gonna bounce the whole thing that way though)

    you can have a download and listen 2012-09-10 EP Final Mix.mp3
    (instrumental rock)

    I think I need to get it mastered to get the mix at commercial levels, EQ fixes due to flaws in my mixing environment, and maybe some multi band compressing if needed.
    I don't need a mastering engineer to pace the tracks (cross fades between songs or appropriate length of silence) and I don't need the mastering engineer to effect the dynamics between the songs (that's already done to my taste in the mix)

    chew me out guys,
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    That's some extreme processing. Hopefully you didn't mix through all of that.
  3. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    settings are light (is that a thing?)
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Three instances of summing emulation, three EQ's, two compressors, a reverb, a limiter.

    I can't even imagine it. IMO? None of it should be on the 2-bus. Maybe one instance of the NLS. Everything else should be handled in the mix. I can certainly argue the odd instance of an EQ on a mix here or there - I'm not immune to putting a compressor on the bus (although that compressor is engaged and mixed into - rarely ever added later).

    I'd need to have the logic for all of that explained... Are these set and engaged before starting the mix? Added in the middle? Afterward? In any case, I really can't imagine all of that.

    Didn't DL the MP3 -- (80+MB...?) A minute or two would be much more helpful.
  5. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    all that stuff got added after the first iteration of the mix (about two weeks ago) but before a bunch of tweaks and comments on the mix were made.
    I was looking for mix feedback but everyone got held up on listening to unmastered tracks so I got more comments on those elements :shrug: ?

    the first set of eq got my mix to match typical eq curves of other music... i used two so I could use 10 bands parametric total.
    the mix was dry to start off with so placing it in a 'room' with the reverb gave a good feeling.
    the MSEQ is only a low cut on the side frequencies.
    and the two compressors are both very light, one for the mix, and the 2nd to glue in the reverb
    the three NLS instances just glued things and made the mix seem more present at every step
    Ultramaximizer to add 2dB of gain at the end... would have liked an extra 5dB, but it sounded too crunchy.

    is it common to ask a mastering engineer to add reverb?
    is it uncommon for there to be more then one stage of compression?

    sample with that chain PreMaster with chain.mp3
    sample without the chain PreMaster No chain.mp3
    2 mins each, 5MB.

    I'm starting to think that I don't need to do any of that before mastering, and just let the mastering engineer do all that.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

  7. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    simple advice is always the best advice. thanks.

    online streaming isn't going to be any better then 320kbps mp3. and I don't want to share online lossless versions of the music just yet.... ya know what I mean.

    I'm not looking for any of these services.
    it's only 3 tracks and the head/tails of songs are already mixed in to desire. pretty married to the track order as well.

    this is the stuff that I need from a mastering engineer.

    I'm shruggin because peoples comments were on mastering elements, and not on mixing elements... which is why i've got this huge ass chain on my master bus at end of my mix. hence the nature of this thread... how of much of that should I even consider sending to the mastering engineer? none of it, HA!
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    there is a mix forum here that you can get all the advice you want, but mixing and mastering are different animals, so i'd say just post the same song up on the mix forum, be patient, and listen to what people say. Data compression does ugly things, so copyright your stuff, and be full fidelity, so accurate feedback can be given.


    ps. to the disdain of alot of people concerned, people are more likely to rip off an mp3 than a .wav. They're not called .wav players right? worry not. if anything they'll be turned off by the extra 30 secs it takes to stream a wav, or the additional hd space it takes.
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    (A) The mix is completely bereft of high end -- (B) The 'chain' mix isn't much better - even after ten(?!??!?) bands of parametric EQ. I'm assuming as monitoring/listening issue of rather impressive proportions. Except for just a tiny bit of 'presence' (it's hard to even call it 'presence') in the overheads, I wouldn't even know I had tweeters. And if you're visually trying to "match the spectrum" then this is a prime example on why that fails somewhere near 100% of the time. Good sounding mixes (actually, most normal broadband sounds in general) "just so happen" to have a 1/f curve. Trying to "force" a mix to have a 1/f curve --- well, it usually just doesn't work out.

    Listening further in, it's probably the reverb where that 'presence' is coming from.
    I think (and I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way) you have an extremely serious calibration issue with your monitoring chain, a severely mistreated space, or both.

    Nothing - N-O-T-H-I-N-G - will ever approach the importance of your monitoring chain and the space those speakers are in. Every single sonic decision you will make is based on how well those monitors translate that signal to your brain (via your ears). I think you need to go back to "step one" and figure out what's going on there before you dot another 'i' Bob Cratchit.

    In nearly 20 years of doing this, I don't think I've ever been asked. Although I have done it a few times for odd reasons.
    During the mastering phase? Not necessarily -- On a mix bus? I would submit a resounding "Absolutely."
    There is no doubt that you should be 100% happy with the mix before the mastering engineer gets his hands on it. But your mix doesn't need any of that -- It needs a complete re-start.

    Again, I'm really not trying to sound hopeless and discouraging - But there's some pretty serious work that needs to be done here -- And it's long before the mix bus. It could be long before the mix (but without knowing how extensive and what processing was going into the individual tracks, I couldn't even hazard a guess). There's no doubt though, that there's a severe translation issue in there somewhere...
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    2012-09-10 EP Final Mix.mp3

    Sounds like all the mids are sucked out and some really bad plug-in compression is used too much, to me. Its really edgy too. Converters sound like rash but I'm so spoiled.
    But, the intro was kind of exciting, especially when the kick came in. I can feel what you are doing, its just not translating out too well with your mix. Hope you take all this well and chime in with a new mix.

    I downloaded this but won't again. Use dropbox so we don't have to take chances on downloading please.
  11. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    thought it was too good to be true (being done mixing)
    back to the mixing stage then. and try to get the top end and presence in the mix without boosting the highs after the fact.

    I'm not sure it's completely my monitoring system that's to blame but more of a stylized tone that I had aimed for...

    i'd rather hear it then get a false pat on the back.

    so thanks.
  12. mindprint

    mindprint Active Member

    Do you ever listen to music in the headphones? if yes try adjusting balances in them, since its sounds like your monitors are confusing you a bit. If you have a direction for mastering engineer like a reference file or an artist that your song would like to be in the genre of that would be great. Give mastering engineer unprocessed mix and your mix with plug-insto check out
  13. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    I ended up going back and tweaking the mix a bit with the advice of this thread.
    then brought it in to get mastered with NOTHING on the final chain. I also brought in my "mini mastering" (as he called it) as a reference point.
    I have to say I was blown away by the quality of the outcome.
    I didn't get a full explanation of everything he did (I guess they don't want to share all their secrets)
    but i know he did some expanding, used 3 different eqs (one for very narrow band corrections, one that used very wide bands to balance the mix, and a third for magic), 3 compressors (maybe one of these was set as the expander) and then at the end he trimmed 0.5db with the limiting, hardly any he said.
    One thing I saw that he was using was a loudness meter weighted to our listening contour lines. I'm used to just checking the RMS vs Peak, but even if he got the same RMS as me, his master clearly sounds MUCH louder, an emphasis on the mids?

    here's what it sounds like now: Bandcamp - Near Grey

    got it mastered at LeLab Mastering with Marc-Olivier Bouchard, it was probably the nicest sounding room I've ever been in.

    Next time I track and mix I'm going to know a few mistakes to avoid.

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