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Better workflow for mastering an album

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Johnny Blade, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    I would like to know what you all think about this: which, in your opinion, is the best workflow for mastering an album:

    1 - 2 tracks (as traditionally compares to a game of chess);
    2 - each song in its own track, so the project will have much more than 2 tracks (usually 10 or more tracks)

    I used to use 2 tracks, but this has made me lose good track-level functions on Samplitude, such as Revolver Track, which is why I think about breaking my routine and moving on to a multi-track workflow.

    And you? :)
     
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Johnny - I'm not sure I understand what you're asking..
    When you say "2tracks" are you referring to placing the songs in an alternating fashion between just two stereo tracks in a DAW timeline?
    I'm not a mastering engineer - but have done some basic mastering for local releases and clients who can't afford the extra expense...
    Anytime I've done that kind of work, if the client wants a "mastered" CD, I create as many tracks in the DAW (I use Samplitude Pro X) as there are songs. I import each song into the timeline and place them accordingly in the order to which they'll play in the CD. I'll then insert all ID index markers where they need to be.
    Having each song on its own track allows for last step individual processing/edits at the track level for each song individually without those changes effecting the other tracks.
    But again, this is not what I claim to be good at, and I'm still not sure I understand your question. ??
     
  3. Makzimia

    Makzimia The Minstrel Well-Known Member

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    I believe Johnny means 2 track as in stereo pair Donny. I believe the best practice is probably Donny’s suggestion. In the old days one of the parts of Mac programs actually allowed you to import each track in, it would then line then up allowing cross fades and rearrangement and final level processing etc. Stuff like wavelab and Soundforge possibly still do. And I’m definitely not much of anything, certainly not a master engineers little finger even :).

    Tony
     
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  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a Mastering engineer either but when I need to do it, here's how :

    I will first put Isotope Ozone and a limiter on the masterbuss followed by a LUFS meter. (Fabfilter Pro L and Izotpe insight)
    I will then load the different songs on different tracks and add a master EQ on each songs (because they might need independant tweekings).
    The challenge is to send the songs at the same level to the master buss so they will get the same LUFS reading in the end. So I adjust the levels looking at the input level of ozone and the LUFS result.

    In the past I was loading Ozone on each tracks but it's too much for my computer and I had to archive tracks to finish the master.

    Hope it inspires you a bit ;)
     
  5. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    Hey, guys, thanks for the answers!!!

    Sorry for my limited English, but about a workflow with 2 tracks I mean that:

    CD-Master-Waveburner.jpg

    And each song in its own track I mean that:

    pic03_hiphoptips.png

    These pictures I found in the internet, for exemples purposes only.

    Anyway, everybody here understood, in a way or another, my question.

    I used to use 2 tracks for mastering my CDs projects, but to master this way, I had to use the Object Editor and so I stopped using many deep settings at the Track Header level as well as the Track Editor level. Revolver Track is a feature not available in Object Editor, so I think that in Samplitude the best thing to do is how Donny really suggested!

    Notice that there is a Tamplate in Samplitude called '2 Tracks CD MSF', which suggests that this is a standard for mastering albums. However, and as I said above, to act this way, we would have to renounce many functions of the program and act only with Object Editor...

    Notice too, Studio One has the same '2 tracks' workflow for mastering CDs. I believe this workflow is teh standard for mastering purposes, but in my opinion it is not the most functional.

    Tim Dolbear does in the same way that Donny Thompson suggested. At 8:58 in the video below we can see that:



    In this way, it's possible to use the full power of Samplitude: Object, Track and Master levels. I definitely will change my workflow from '2 tracks' to 'multiple tracks' as above.

    EDIT: This Forum ROCKS!!!! Thanks for all answers!!!
     
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    I’m late on this, but I’ve done it both ways. “2track” in dedicated mastering program like bias Peak. It’s more convenient because it automatically moves the tracks and fades around with your drag and drops, if your reading ordering tracks. It’s also easier on the computer since it’s only two tracks.

    In a daw I do it the multitrack way, and find that to be much better for my tastes. It taxes the computer a lot more, and song gaps and stuff are a little more tedious because you have to move/highlight a bunch of tracks to do so. That said I like everything layed out in front of me and like tweaking each song and it’s inserts separately.

    Looks like I won’t have to change my method when in master in SAM!
     
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  7. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    The 'multitrack way' offers far more possibilities than in '2 tracks way', and only after many time working on the "standard" 2 mastering tracks, I realized that... o_O

    But the '2 tracks way' has, for sure, an easier and faster worflow. :confused:
     
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  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is what I thought you meant.
    I'm not saying I've never done the 2 stereo tracks back and forth flow; back when I was working with DAW's and PC's that weren't nearly as powerful and feature-rich as they are now...
    But I work strictly in the multitrack mode now, creating as many tracks as there are songs... at least that's been the way I've done it for about 5 years now.
    I find that having tracks for each song allows me to do final tweaking at the track level without it effecting any other song/tracks.
    Again, I'm not a mastering engineer, but this is what I do if a client pays me to do a quick and dirty "mastering" and CD assembly job.
    Don't know if my answer helps or not... but this is the way I work ( in Samplitude).
    FWIW :)
    -d.
     
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  9. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    Yes, your answer is very valuable, you can be sure of that! And thanks a lot for your enlightening feedback! (y)
     
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Hey Johnny, are you the same Johnny Blade that sells T-Shirts with the logo of Le Studio Morin Heights on facebook and other places ?
    Just thought I'd ask ;)
     
  11. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    lol... No, mate... sorry... :sick:
     
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    no no, that's a good thing.. ;)
     
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    A thought ... or two.. LOL
    One of the reasons that I still use a bonafide mastering engineer is because usually, by the time I've finished recording and mixing an album, I'm not as objective by that phase of the project as I feel I need to be, to make good decisions. There are other reasons as well; I like having someone who's ears I trust (fresh ears) but also because I want to take advantage of what makes them pro's .,. Great monitoring, in well balanced environments, along with access to tools I don't have - sonic analysis, top of the line gain reduction, certain OB gear, or even particular ITB tools that I don't have. There's also the knowledge that they have regarding certain LUFS levels for certain media output ....( iTunes, YouTube, or any of the other popular streaming sites, along with certain broadcast standards that certainareas have); and honestly I'd rather have someone else handle all that stuff for me. But the most important reason is the first thing I mentioned, which is having talented fresh ears, the ability to hear little things that I might not be able to hear because I've grown "too close" to a project after all is said and done. I think it's hard enough even to stay objective during mixing tracks I've heard hundreds of times during the initial recording and mixing phases, so I consider myself the last person who should be mastering a project.
    IMHO of course. ;)
     
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  14. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Well said, Donny. Exactly my reasons too.

    How can you ever hear the final mix of a track as a newcomer when you have sweated days over the intricate details of the song's innards?
     
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  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Plus, if there was anything else you thought you could do the song/album, you would just do it! I’ve never had the opportunity to send my stuff to a real mastering engineer, but I have had my mentor mix some songs, and master, or even just listen to them. It helps immensely to have objective ears, that are educated as well. The ‘ol “sounds good” from friends and family is encouraging, but not necessarily helpful technically.

    My “mastering” which is how most projects I do get finished, usually consists of a compressor and limiter/maximizer. Maybe an eq, but usually not. I’m pretty much just looking to match volumes by then, and anything incoherent tone wise between songs. It’s almost always volume matching. I usually wreck the mix I try anything fancy.

    I usually use a bus compressor and maximizer on the master bus about halfway thru the mix anyway, so there’s usually not much left to do. I do take it off usually, particularly the maximizer, and do it in the separate “mastering” or “finalizing” stage.

    That said, I wonder if how true mastering engineers work- 2 track flow, or multitrack flow? I know a fair amount of them use sequoia.
     
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  16. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    The standard flow for mastering is the 2-tracks flow. Maybe because it is a fast workflow. See Studio One and the presets within 'Templates' folder in Samplitude.

    The multitrack flow does not look beautiful, but all firepower of the DAW is at hand. I've already convinced myself.
     
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  17. Johnny Blade

    Johnny Blade Active Member

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    Also, the new versions of iZotope Ozone (v8) and T-RackS (v5) come with 2-track flow for mastering CD.
     
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