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Hi guys, I m looking to get the best sounding mixes I can do in house, recently Ive been getting a lot of radio plays with my hip hop groups music that i mix myself,on Sirius and Hot 97, and I'm in the works of putting out music for sale digitally . Basically I do all my own mixing and mastering, I have Izotpe Ozone 4 for mastering which i use, but i feel like it changes the sound of my mixes, I usually pick a pre set and put it on the master fader and mix into it, which i know i should do a mix, then master. also if I do mix the a separate mastering mix, should I put anything on the master fader for the main mix?
I also have T Racks that somebody recently gave to me, haven't got into it yet though. I guess my main question is, what mastering plugins should I be using, Whats the best or better or most used? Also should i mix into a mastering plugin or master separate?
If anyone has any input I would highly appreciate it.

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sachit Wed, 10/12/2011 - 04:09

From what I know(which is not much to speak of), I think you should be mastering separately, after mixdown. Mastering is a totally separate process and you'd rather not hurriedly commit on the master bus. Also, try not to use a preset because presets were not made to match mixes made by you or me. Get into the plug and tweak it to suit the song. Though presets are always good starting points. Mastering, I think, is less of having the best plugins and more of having good ears. And the challenge for us home guys who master their own mixes is that we tend to get attached to our own mixes. So I would be very careful about that.

All this spoken as a true newbie and home amateur. I'm sure more experienced people would have better to share.

Happy mastering!

pauseone Wed, 10/12/2011 - 18:25

Sachit, thanks for the reply. Yes, I guess i should master separate, and you are right about the presets. I guess thats why i pick one and mix into it. But say i bypass it, my mix will sound like crap without it. lol. Not sure though if i do just a mix, should i throw anything on the master such as a limiter or something?

sachit Thu, 10/13/2011 - 04:24

Maybe you are using the Izotope plugin as a MIXING plugin. If your mix sounds crap without it, then I think you are trying to improve your mix using it. Maybe you should try to make your mix sound good without the mastering plugin, then add it at the mastering stage to add that polish.

I've heard that you should always have a brickwall limiter on the master bus. And I realized why when I initialized a synth which produced sounds at +6dBFS and fried my ears. The master bus AFAIK is the mastering engineer's arena unless you've got a crazy automated effect for a few seconds or something like that.

I'd suggest you take a look at this:
(Dead Link Removed)

Extremely helpful.

And if I'm wrong anywhere, please feel free to point it out :)

RemyRAD Thu, 10/13/2011 - 13:46

Good recording engineers create a good mix to begin with. If you feel that your basic stereo mix doesn't cut the mustard, mix again until you have the basic feel you are looking for. Once you have a superduper sounding mix, you're done. That's when you start the mastering process. I've only mixed through a brick wall limiter when requested to do so. The only brick walls I really like are around my living area. Occasionally, I've been asked to mix with a bus limiter on the stereo mix bus. And that was only because the chief engineer of the rock 'n roll station felt that there "Zephyr" real-time MP3 coder had a lack of headroom on its inputs. That was done for a counting crows concert in 1997 from the Meriwhether Post Pavilion in Maryland. But sometimes you do want that bus limiter to create that pumping effect on everything depending upon the musical genre. And you don't usually get pumping from any kind of look ahead limiter as it is generally an unfortunate artifact that can be utilized as an affect when required. Sometimes you want it just on the drums which would require a separate stereo mix with a bus limiter on the inserts of that mix bus then into the stereo mix bus with everything else without that. It's all technique that needs to be achieved through experience. Stereo mix bus limiting will already be done quite severely at the radio station. Because of that, the more you do the less dynamic your mix will sound on air. The station already makes it loud so it's your job to create the mix quality. Sometimes, I'll create a mix and then feed that mix through one of my hardware limiters that is basically an Orban OPTi-Mod FM processor the 418 A to get a feel for what the FM broadcast would sound like. And because of this limiter, occasionally, I'll create a " radio sounding" mix so that their playback on their car CD players sound more like it's coming off of the FM. Some folks have said then, the mixes sound squashed. What? And you never noticed that on FM? That's why I call it an FM emulated mix that's the way it's going to sound on the radio. But then, that's why multiband spectral processing FM processors became the more acceptable, less audibly effective way of control and loudness maximization. Multiband spectral processing kind of automatically homogenizes an otherwise uneven mix negating the need of a technically proper mix to correct for what a lack of mixing technique creates. Otherwise it's just for spectral loudness maximization to make your radio station sound louder than another radio station. With the advent of digital satellite radio, these loudness wars have thankfully started to subside. But still not on OTA legacy FM.

Shoot, shoot, in the hoop
Mx. Remy Ann David

Guitarfreak Thu, 10/13/2011 - 16:36

You are not the only one who is dissatisfied with the Ozone software. I tried the demo trial period along with two other software packs and the only one that caught my ear by the end of the trial period was something called the PSP VintageWarmer 2. I feel like it actually adds something to the sound of the mix and doesn't change or subtract from it. People certainly can say that it is more of a saturation/compressor plugin than a true mastering software pack, but it sounds good, and sound is the business we are in, not names. You could saturate and juice the mix using the VintageWarmer and then send it into a brickwall limiter just to get to professional volume. Any way works. Having said that...

pauseone, post: 377138 wrote: Sachit, thanks for the reply. Yes, I guess i should master separate, and you are right about the presets. I guess thats why i pick one and mix into it. But say i bypass it, my mix will sound like crap without it. lol. Not sure though if i do just a mix, should i throw anything on the master such as a limiter or something?

This is no good. Of course when you bypass the coloration box what is under it doesn't sound good, it's because you've tailored your mix to sound good through it. Try creating a mix without anything on the master bus. Then once you have everything sounding the way that you want it, bounce the project with give or take 6dB of headroom and re-import it into a different project. From there use whatever is needed to turn the mix into a professional sounding track of appropriate volume and musical effectiveness. Believe me this way of doing things will take you much farther in the long run, if that is where you want to go.

RemyRAD Thu, 10/13/2011 - 21:11

Thanks Space. I'm not really ahead of everybody as I am financially behind everybody at just a couple of days shy of 56 years of age. It's probably because I've wasted over 40 years in this business? I mean I really think it's possible to learn audio by osmosis? With all of the old moldy equipment I've used through the years I've turned into a fun-gi when it comes to audio. And bad acoustical spaces just make for mush rooms, which have kind of grown on me through the years but I know that's kind of a silly side bin lauded here. I've dabbled some in standup comedy and would love one day to be as good as one of my heroes, Norm Crosby. (For those of you who don't know, this isn't anybody that was related to Bing who was fundamental in getting the first Ampex 200's for his radio show). Unfortunately, I think I'll have to play my controller monitors as loudly as I can until I can become as good as Norm Crosby? (Most of his comedy was wacky use of convoluted English due to his severe hearing loss, so I'm practicing)

What? I cramp hear you. Bear ass me again.
Mx. Bell Tone David

Laurend Fri, 10/14/2011 - 06:51

Ozone, T-Racks, or Super-magical-sound-booster, nothing must be inserted on your master during mix/bounce/render. You just have to focus on your mix. Once done, your ready for the mastering step. Ozone and T-Racks are powerfull tools that can ruin your sound if misused which is usually the case because you use the same monitoring system as during the mix.

RemyRAD Tue, 10/18/2011 - 14:08

If your mixes are good and lush, very little mastering needs to be implemented. So for those that are quite accomplished in their production techniques, I have no qualms about also mastering for my clients. No, I don't utilize just the same monitors I mixed with but with a modest variety of others. And these are not superpooperduper speakers but a modest variety of what most folks will be listening to. And a lot of this depends upon budgets, contracts, etc.. And it's not something I would do immediately after mixing session. You need to let it grow on you and spend a short time away from it. Of course, you can go crazy about the minutia you may have missed. But I like things that are organic in nature, real music and not some kind of crazy gobbledygook plug-in party recordings. So it really did tons upon the musical genre and your clientele whether you should master the final product or not. Unfortunately, too many folks think that Mastering means ultimate loudness & ultimate punch when it should really just be nuance corrections and enhancements. Plenty of folks have the tendency to over Pro tool everything already leaving not much for a mastering engineer to deal with. So ultimate loudness in your mixing technique is not necessarily the be-all end-all to a superior sounding product. It's more like an audible traffic jam to me. Some people love a wall of sound but I like organic intimacy best. A mix anyone can listen to and be able to discern individual instrumentation by listening into the mix. It's not just a blotch of sound in front of your face. That is cool for certain musical genres but not all. And again sometimes the rule is LESS IS MORE & KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID and not everything accomplished ITB. Mastering does not necessarily denote plug-ins but a hybrid combination of all of our current technologies if you have the equipment to do so. This also does not necessarily presume that only the best high-end equipment should be utilized. But it does presume the need for proper knowledge & a solid technique. If by chance, you have a reasonable sizable financial contract, you can send it out to a notable Mastering Engineer and absolving yourself of the final step. And hey why not, if you can afford it. But we are talking about different financial and technological times which we are now living in, in the independent label & distribution era.

Substantially practical
Mx. Remy Ann David