Master question

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Cosme, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. Cosme

    Cosme Guest

    Hi, I'm having a bit of a problem making my masters a bit louder. I know, I hate doing that, but some of my clients are asking me to master their material a bit louder than I'm used to, the thing that I didn't realize is that I don't know how to. Every time I try to compress or limit more my mix it distorts or sound overcompressed, so I'm clueless in this matter, can you help me out?
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    At the risk of sounding discouraging (which I'm really not trying to do) you're trying to figure out what can take years - decades for some - most using combinations of very specialized gear - in a forum post.

    I understand that you're somewhat "new" to this - so I'll give you the best advice I can -

    A) Get the best mix you can. Mixes that are done well, with proper headroom and dynamics, are easily the ones that can handle the "sheer volume" factor in the mastering phase.

    B) Make sure the basics are covered - I can't belive lately how many people I see that post things like "I can't get my mixes loud - I don't understand why as I track the instruments as hot as possible without clipping."

    If you don't understand why that (1) is a horrible, HORRIBLE idea, (2) sounds like a$$ and (3) usually has a very *negative* impact on the "potential" volume of a mix, stop what you're doing right now and get some books on the basics.

    I'm not saying that's the case - But it comes up so much lately that it just blows my mind.

    While an experienced mastering engineer may have the tools and the "tricks" (as some call them) to get the most potential volume out of a mix, the fact is that the mix needs to be able to handle that volume. If you're simply applying dynamics to your mixes and they're falling apart or distorting, it's probably not a mastering issue. Again, an experienced engineer with the right tools would probably be able to squeeze more volume out of it, but the chances of it being "LOUD" are very, very slim. The VAST majority of the mixes that come through here will *never* see that kind of volume. Only the mixes by the most experienced engineers that come in usually have a prayer.

    Other than that - There's no particular technique - The MIX dictates what it needs. What works perfectly on one mix may likely have little or nothing to do with what works on the following mix.

    On top of that - Can't we get over this whole "loud" crap yet? :-?
  3. dterry

    dterry Active Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    To get a song loud, you really have to plan for it during mixing, if not during production too. Many popular musical styles can be produced to be overcompressed to insane RMS levels in the end, but that doesn't mean they should. For sure, it does take a lot of work to understand how to do it, and how to tell clients why they shouldn't ask for it.

    To get as loud as many CDs are now requires not only sacrificing dynamics, but some frequencies, esp. in bass and kick, in order to compress that hard. Many current CDs really don't even do a decent job at that, and sound obviously compressed, poorly balanced, and even distorted.

    MM is right, it's a bad idea we are all subjected to by clients that pay our bills and are influenced by labels, mixers and "mastering engineers" that are either under the same imaginary pressure, or just don't care.

    I like some mixes somewhat compressed just for the punchiness (it can add to the aggressiveness or power behind dance, pop, etc), but there is a limit well below the current trend to where even that sounds good.
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