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Need Advice/DIY (Waves) or Hire Pro House

Member for

3 years 5 months
Hi all,

I'll try to make this as breif as possible, but as you all know-nothing is ever simple in this bus.

Here's the setup-I'm working on a children's CD (ages 5-12) which will be about an hour total play time. There is spoken dialogue, and songs, comedy and education. I have spent a ton-o-time on this project, and I truly feel like it has potential on a large market scale.

My delima is-after mix after mix (in some cases), to finally get a (song) mix I can live with, then I go to master the song through WavesPLUGINS, the master ends up sounding nothing at all like the mix. Most cases the mix sounds better than the master. So I'm asking myself, though I've been in this bus a long time, I definitely don't know all the tricks (especially mastering). Should I bite the bullet, and hire the nastering out to a professional firm (I only live 2 hrs from Nashville), since the intention I have for this CD, is to get it published & hopfully mass distributed. Though I know a CD of this length will cost me an arm & leg a a pro house. Or can someone offer suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong?

My 48K/24bit stereo mix is imported into a 2 trk DP mastering session. My mastering chain on the stereo channel is like this- 1. Waves Renaisance Compressor (Set to master opto soft), 2. C1 comp sidechain (de-esser) to cut down on a little siblence, 3. Ren EQ to makeup the de-essing frequencies loss, and L+1 (setup as 16bit dithering down from 24bit), then I'll sample rate convert from 48K to 44.1K (@ best setting in DP soundbites window).

The final outcome is the bass gets muddy, the guitars which were at a decent level (in the mix), get hotter, and the vocal which was out front in the mix get's buried. I'm thinking my problem is lying in the L+1 area-here I'm hitting the treshold pretty hard (11.1), I set the out ceiling to -0.5, and attentuation dips down intom the red pretty hard.

NOTE! this chain doesn't sound half bad while I'm listening to it in playback. The weird thing of all this is, the sound difference doesn't actually occur until after I have bounced this to disk through the chain i mentioned above, then converted from 48K to 44.1. In other words the bounced file sounds completely different than the exact same master session during playback. Did this make sense?

Any suggestions or help would be gratefully appreciated.

Keith Henry
NY TO LA Studio