Mastering a hip hop/pop/urban record

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by solomongrundy, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. Hello everybody,

    How is everything going? I truly would like to sit on the shoulders of giants. So here is the deal. My group and I have some mixes that we would like to master for our cd. We want to do this in house. Generally we do not do a lot of sampling so we ultimately end up doing alot of work in the mix. I would like to know what are typically your processes for mastering an urban record. Not saying everything is the same, but more to the point what steps do you use and what are some of the pitfalls to watch out for. What level should eveything be at when I burn the CD? Should my final wave look more like a block or should it have peaks and valleys? I would really appreciate as much information as you can give me. I will try to absorb it all, if that is possible.

    Thank you,
    Solomon Grundy
  2. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Not a lot of bottom in hip-hop these days- it's weird.

    When you mix, high pass the crap out of everything that doesn't need to have bottom, so the stuff that does have it is clear.

    When you master, use several different stages of limiting and/or compression to get your level, don't just get it all in one place. As far as EQ goes, there is no rule other than 'don't do what you don't need to do' and 'make it sound right.'

    Do NOTHING AT ALL just because something looks a certain way.

    I still stand by the idea that if you're mastering in house, it's because the material doesn't mean that much to you, and you can use it as a learning experience.

  3. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
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    The questions you have about level and what the sound file should look like are clear signs you should seek out an experienced engineer.
    If you have to do it yourself then get a couple cd's you like and listen to them on the monitor system you plan on using. Compare that to your mixes and have a go at it.

    First think broad strokes like overall bass and overall mid's and hi end.

    Mastering your own material is always tricky even for the most experienced of engineers. The best mix engineers in the world will send there mixes to a pro mastering engineer for several different reasons.

    1. Objective ears. It's good to have a fresh set of ears on it. Someone who is listening to the songs as a whole and not just his or her bass part that they were never quite happy with.
    2. Proper mastering environment. Full range monitors that you are very familiar with.
    3. Proper mastering experience. Being a good mix engineer does not make you a good mastering engineer.
    4. The right gear to get the best results.

    These just scratch the surface.

    Good luck
  4. I agree with what both of you are saying all good points. Ultimately I am trying to insure my understanding of the process, as well as get a feel for what is done and ideally should or more to the point could I be doing this in-house. More importantly I am focused on what is the process and what to look for in mastering. If I know that I know what to expect when the product returns to to me. I hope I am making sense. In doing the task myself it gives me a better idea of what is going on and an appreciation for what is being done. Again thanks for all of your input.
  5. tsha57

    tsha57 Guest

    The approach I try to take is to fix as much in the mixing stage before you attempt to master it. Learn to trust your ears. And always remember "less is more". You do not want to over do anything because you can quickly ruin a good mix with too much mastering.

  6. Thanks Terry
  7. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    I tried to master my own cd once....I'll NEVER do it again...EVER!!!
  8. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    Its very difficult indeed.

    I do it because my friends and I are on a shoestring budget.

    One of the tricks I use, is to not listen to the song or songs for at least a week, and then come back, and do the work.

    Try to add gleam and gloss naturally, don't use exciters, I like Waves C4 for this task. Even out the frequency response and levels from track to track, you don't want your customer to have to turn this track up and that one down.

    Mixing is where you use effects more drastically, mastering should be gentle, or at least subtle. If you find you need drastic changes in the mastering stage, go back and fix the mix.

    Use good tools, like Waves Masters Bundle.

    Also I tend to compress more at the mixing stage, and let the C4 do some gentle compression at the mastering stage, and then stick a L1 on it to get the level and to dither down to 16 bits. The C4 also doubles as my mastering EQ.
  9. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    it all depends on what do you want to do with your cd. if you just want to listen to it with couple of friends from time to time then mastering it yourself is fine. however, if you want to DO SOMETHING with it (i.e. send to recording companies, taxi etc.) do not even think about mastering it itself. i can guarantee it won't sound pro especially when you say you're on a tight budget. that tells me you do not have proper room or tools to do it even if you are the most talented ME on earth.

    just my 2 cents...


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