Mastering Beginner

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by stimutaxx, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. stimutaxx

    stimutaxx Guest

    Hi guys. This is my first post here. I want to give you a quick background of why i'm here. I've been working on my home recordings for about 6 months now. I record my own band and we are in the process of complting our lineup. Once that is finished we would like to record our own album independantly and pursue tourning. Since we are all just average people on low salaries we're hoping to be able to do this album on as low of a budget as possible. I feel like my home recordings have pursued significantly and i would feel confident releasing them. However I would like to master them. It is something we are considering having someone else do, but considering we still have some time before our line up is complete i would like to see what i could learn about doing the mastering myself. I obviously understand what i will probably be capable of doing will still be pretty basic and not high quality but i still would like to give it a shot. To see if its something id'd be satisfied releasing.

    That said i have a few questions to get me started. I have very limited time to be on the net because i do not have internet access myself. so some of these questions have probably been awnsered several times. I know thats something frowned upon in forums, but i am hoping that you guys could at least point me in the right direction as to where to look. Even if its just a comprehensive faq as to where to get these basic awnsers. I will pursue the research on my own as well but im thinking this will help me manage my limited time to learn about the things i need to.

    1. i have applied both multiband compression and a limiter plug in to my stereo bus. if i were to send this out to a mastering engineer would it be best for me to remove these from my mix?

    2. i have a limiter on my stereo bus yet i still find myself with a level that seems to be significantly less then many recordings i hear today. I have read a little on the subject here thus far but are there any suggested settings i could use to maximize the volume of my mix. obviously there is the output volume but if i push that even a little my mixes get very grainy.

    3. i want to preface this by stating i am not trolling or trying to promote my band. i apologize for having to link you to our page but it is the only example of my recordings i have. but if any of you could take the time and listen to a mix or 2 and let me know if there are any things i would want to fix before presenting it for mastering. i will work on fixing them on my own i would just like to know if there are any frequencies in my mix that stand out as too much or not enough. also if there are things that stand out that would get in the way of a mastering engineers ability to optimize the mix.

    The link to the music is
    The recordings have different stages of my mixing development depending on the song. i would say yogurt and plumper models are the best representation of what im currently capable of. All recordings were done in a basement enviroment so if you could please that in my mind while considering what i would be able to get out of mastering.

    Thank You so much for your time. Sorry about the long message I have much more to ask but i will save it for a deiffernt time.

  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Absolutely, positively, yes.

    Personally, I can't even imagine a scenario where you'd want a MBC on your own mix bus. Find out what's wrong in the mix and fix it at the track level.

    (Dead Link Removed)
    Sorry - Had to do it.

    Getting "hot" levels is a lot more than throwing a limiter on the bus. Granted, a really, really excellent, dynamic, clean, clear mix that was tracked with huge amounts of headroom at every possible stage and then preserved like a lion protects here cubs will generally take hard limiting fairly well.

    Mixes that are mixed "too hot" don't have much potential there. Mixes that were tracked too hot are almost hopeless.
    It's way too hard to tell behind MySpace's wonderful playback system...

    "The Beat" is almost unlistenable - A giant wave of distortion. Almost sounds like there are reasonable core sounds hidden in there somewhere though.

    "Yogurt" has some pretty severe 2-3k issues in the guitars - But again, no idea if this is being exaggerated by the squashed-ness of the file or the MySpace player. "Plumper Models" has more of the same- Sounds like there's an exciter (or overactive maul-the-band compression) all over the guitars.

    I'm really not trying to sound "negative" on this, but the fidelity is so low (assuming it's the MySpace player - Famous for horrific sound quality) that I don't think anyone could really make educated suggestions.

    If they *are* squashed (by your hand) I'd UNsquash them and perhaps upload a much higher-resolution version somewhere so we can really hear what's going on in there - Instead of the MySpace version...

    If it helps - At the very least, the stuff sounds well-played and tight. The guitars are smackin' in a good way. But sonically speaking, I can't tell much else from these.

    (EDIT) Heh - We're neighbors (geographically speaking).
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Its late. I'm tired. And I don't what to be cruel. So I shall save masturbation until I'm done with this post. As I do want to hurt myself.

    Regarding your recording, six months eh? I think your engineering is terrific since you're just an infant recording engineer. Thankfully, the diapers on your microphone don't need changing. But I can tell you are a guitarist. How do I know this? Because it sounds as if you recorded the drums in the bathroom, with the door closed and the microphones out here with me. So for something as powerful as this that should kick your ass, I'm just being chased around by a bunch of angry guitars. The drummer took refuge in the bathroom. Lucky Dick.

    You like playing with compressors and limiters just like I do. Can't get enough of them can we? Nope. Sure can't. But there is a good way and a bad way to compress yourself into the corner of your room. You've attempted to pump it up so much, the tip of your " special part of the male body" has already left the building. I want to hear you build the mix starting with explosive drums. A little limiting on the snare and bass drum. Nowhere else on the kit. And you need to bring the bass guitar up to keep pace with the drums. Too pure and you can't hear it. Too dirty and you can't listen to it. So somewhere in between is good. That can be accomplished with a careful trade-off between equalization and level set along with perhaps a little limiting to keep it in check. Not to crunch it down.

    Now you can start working on the guitars but not so much so as to blow the drums out as you have already. Don't worry that your work is not as loud as a commercial CD yet. What you need to worry about is obtaining a proper, foreword sounding and powerful mix. Right now you have nearly attained dynamic inversion. It can be cool for an effect but is not effective here. Remember when the bass drum hits, you want it to feel like Tarzan pounding on your chest. (Don't you think you should get to know him a little better first?) But right now, it sounds as if the drums are being flushed by one of those automatic toilets that doesn't wait until you're done. I hate that!

    Now I don't know about you but my basement would flood if my drums sounded like that. So you'll never hear my drums sound like that. Instead, they'll generally kick you in the teeth. Which is probably why I will soon need an implant to replace my left front tooth? Even Bob Clearmountain didn't remember our in-house motto at Media Sound NYC back in the late seventies. " An ounce of punch. Is worth a pound of sound. " A motto by mixing skills have lived by since 1978. (Actually before that. But that was the first place I actually heard that verbalized that way.)

    What kind of processing do I use on drums? Sometimes lots. Sometimes none. It really depends on the drummer and music and whether I had breakfast. For most rock-and-roll, you'll generally find me using a DBX limiter on snare with a gate. Something similar on the bass drum. Other times, 1176's with all four buttons depressed and maybe a couple of KEPEX I's for some fast gating. And depending upon genre and acoustics, sometimes some aggressive compression on overheads. But not all that often. Unlike others, I mix for television so it's as you see it from the audience. Not from the perspective of the drummer. And believe me, I find that makes a huge difference in perception. At least it does for me. Sometimes a microphone on the hat if it plays a predominant role. Or is that roll? I don't care, I like bagels instead. Toasted with lots of cream cheese. And if I'm feeling daring a nice slice of Nova. Voila'! A perfect mix.

    Stay away from me after I've had a garlic bagel.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. stimutaxx

    stimutaxx Guest

    Thank you both for your input. I'm going to go ahead and build my mix up using the suggestions given. I will remove the mbc on th stereo bus and when i'm finished i will upload it to a better player. Are there any suggested players that are better for more critical listening? while i'm glad to hear that at his point i shouldnt worry as much about the volume matching up to standard cds this is still something my band is very concerned about. is this something that just comes over time? require certain gear? obviously considering the conditions and budget i will probably never attain the same amount of clarity and volume as a commercial cd but as far as what to tell my band is this something i can develop as my mixing develops or will my recordings always remain quiet. My master meter hangs around 0 dB when the song is going at full force what are the reasons that this doesnt even seem close to what a mastered cds volume. When mastered is the actual output in dB over zero? sorry i keep at the volume thing...i just kind of want to know what i can tell my band to expect. Thank you both very very much for your input and suggestions. Its very helpful to have the help of people who know what theyre doing. dont worry about being cruel or negative. I take it as constructive criticism. im just glad to be able to learn what i may be doing wrong or what i could be doing better. at least to have something ready for mastering.

    i'll post it on this thread when the mixes are re worked. hopefully within the next few days. also thank you very much for the kind wors about the band. and yea chicago great city. also good to know someone who does mastering around here.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Regarding apparent loudness level of your production. Yes, as your engineering chops improve and your mixes become more forward and aggressive sounding, you'll then be ready for the remaining function, MASTERING. That is generally the fine-tuning of the spectral content via equalization and level optimization from a last stage of limiting. The really good mastering engineers use a combination of analog & Digital Equipment. You just can't get away from the sound that analog imparts on a quality mix. Probably why Burgess McNeil's SONTECH mastering equalizer's cost as much as a new car. And why don't own one. It's a high specialty. That's why Bob Ludwig and the rest make the big $'s. And

    Where apparent loudness is important in the final product, it's not necessarily a function of the mix. I think to get closer to what you want, you really need to stick in your favorite, major recognized CD. That's your starting and most important reference. You want your stuff to sound like that so you need to start using that CD carefully to mimic what you are hearing with your product. It really comes down to listening, which is an art by it self and not easily taught. But I look at quality CDs by folks I hold in high esteem (George Massenburg, Bruce Swedien, Roger Nichols, et al.) to be each a $15 college degree in each CD. Almost like getting that prize (which aren't anywhere near as cool as the ones we kids used to choke on) out of a box of Cracker Jack's. After 37+ years doing this, I'm still not quite like my heroes but I'm damn good at it just the same. And unlike my heroes, I'm not collecting any royalties. But that's OK because I love what I do. Can't get enough of it.

    So tell your bandmates that the loudness gets pumped up after the mix makes you dance around the control room. For the time being, you'll just have to match listening levels between your mix and the excellent professional reference CD. And no, light clipping of the final digital signal is not generally utilized but is by some. You can clip off some percussion transients but it's a fine line. Go over a little too much and you've got crap, clicks & slaps. And nothing anybody would want to listen to like your current mix. Just remember, meters are only a guide and not a Bible. In fact, I generally don't look at meters when I'm mixing. If they start sounding a little raggedy, I might look up? But otherwise, it's all about the sound & the mix, not the loudness. Not at this stage.

    Once you have a great sounding, forward, aggressive mix, a lot of mastering may not even be very necessary. In fact, many of my mixes people have told me, " already sound mastered". Thanks! With some of my mixes, I've left instructions for the mastering engineer not to screw much with certain tracks. I'll tell them no modification is necessary for certain tracks, i.e. I don't want them screwing with my mix.

    So it really all comes down to the directions again to Carnegie hall. If you don't know what that is, you might want to try and ask Billy Joel? I bumped into him about 20 years ago, in Manhattan, in a little Italian restaurant. We couldn't decide whether we wanted to send to his table, a bottle of red? A bottle of white? Or perhaps a bottle of Rose' instead? We decided on the red.

    That's a spicy meatball
    Ms. Remy Ann David
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