Mastering engineers advices to producers ?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by agnes, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. agnes

    agnes Guest

    Hi there,

    i'm producing some music and we release records (12").
    Our music is mainly digital.

    I'd like to have some information about what is the most
    accurate way to finalize my tracks in the studio before to
    give the pre-master to the engineer.

    Lately I found myself doing bounce very lower than before,
    which means that I just put a limiter on the master or a
    multiband compressor and that's it. But compare to my older
    bounces i've got to admit that there is a huge volume gap of
    about 20%... So i was just wandering what's best for the
    mastering engineer, either a top notched signal or a lower
    full spectrum signal...

    Thanks for you're inputs,
    best regards,
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Two things I would suggest if you're going to vinyl...

    Whatever you do, don't use a limiter or multiband compressor.

    Get the best sounding mix you can at a reasonable level (maybe peaks at around -4 or -5 dBfs - Don't even get near clipping - Mix down to 24-bit PCM files* and send it to the vinyl guys. Messing with limiters or MBC's before he gets it will likely be a step backwards.**

    * Or whatever the vinyl guy wants.

    ** This goes for digital mixes, too.
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    volume doesn't matter when you are mixing. The mastering engineer will take care of that. Also don't use anything on the mix 2-bus that the ME can't undo like a multiband or limiter. Just mix the song until you like it without regards to volume.
  4. agnes

    agnes Guest


    Thanks guy's ! it seems a little clearer now.

    So I guess if I understand you well, on the audio buses
    i'm able to do some compression (drums, bass...) and on
    the master bus the best is to leave it empty ? is that right ?

    Massive Mastering , where can I check for more informations
    about peak levels ? like you said, -4 -5 dBfs ? does that means
    that that master level should show -4 or -5 on the final mix ?
    i'll try to get more info on google meanwhile ; )
    sorry to bother, not such a tech

    Thank you very much,
    best regards,
  5. Lagerfeldt

    Lagerfeldt Guest

    Yeah, you should preferably deliver a 24 bit mix without any comp, eq or limiter on the mixbus (but some bus comp is okay, just don't overdo it).

    If you're doing a 24 bits mix, there's no problem in the mix peaking at -5dBFS (that's 5dB down from absolute digital max, 0dB Digital Full Scale Audio).

    The advantage from a mastering perspective is that no unnecessary attenuation on the signal would be have to be made. A signal peaking (or often peaking at 0dBFS) could probably need attenuation in order not to clip when equalizing, thus introducing another process, especially with digital eq. If you plan to deliver a 16 bit mix (24 bits is always recommended) then peaking at -3dBFS would be ok in order to still utilise all 16 bits.
  6. In my 30 years of doing this, I can only give 'real' advice, once I hear the tracks and then I could give accurate information.

    I get "into" my prospective clinets early, and we trade tracks back and forth so we both get a "fix" on the direction, with artist involvement before I do a damned thing to your beloved tracks.

    Mastering has turned into an ego trip of tweaking out some eq and compression. Many of my artists spen close to 3 months with me and some about a year.

    It has become a "quick fix of fooolishness"

    I get way deep into the art to make certain what is done finally, is everyones business.

    When it is done at this level, I can consult all the different data as I get it and have personal conversations and get into the real vibe..not some 'fixing it up' vibe.

    Some ME's just take a day, I take into the project and ask a lot of questions and hope to fullfill all of the needs and answers and the project ends up at "best quality"

    Everyone has their own way.

    I don't leave an email address or webpage, if you leave yours, I can give no charge examples of your work.

    BTW, I just picked up a 130 song contract with a completion date of September 2007. I dont rush, I do it best. As the artist needs it. 1 day, week, month, give it the time I have.
  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    what can you possibly do to 130 songs that would take 2 years to do? Even if you took a whole day per song and took weekends off, that's only 5 months.
  8. yeah, i have to agree with michael here. the amount of time that you are tossing around is pretty absurd.

    3 days on a typical LP job (not including revisions) would be pushing it in my opinion.

    Bill, sometimes I don't think we get the whole story from you....

    anyway, this thread is getting derailed.
  9. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    We haven't got the full story behind your name either...?

  10. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    I do a fair amount of mixing for a dance label, and have a vinyl mastering specialist handle the mastering, and I use a Crane Song Phoenix (tape saturation similator similar to the HEDD) across my 2-bus bus to "glue" the mix together. I hit it pretty hard, too, so it's definitely doing a fair amount of pumping.

    The mastering engineer loves the mixes, as does as the pressing plant.
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    completely different use of a compressor. An experienced engineer mixing into a compressor is one thing. Using a compressor on the 2-bus for volume is another. Mixing into a compressor is for sound, not volume. I would never put a mix through a piece of gear and degrade it further for the sake of volume if I knew that the ME would have a better one and know how to use it, and that it would make his job harder if I did.

    No one is saying that the use of a compressor on the 2-bus is an absolute no no, just don't use it for volume.
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    I am doing a project for a client in Boston. He is an old client and I have done his stuff before. The problem seems to be what he is listening to the mastering on compared to what I am listening to the mastering on.

    Lets begin at the beginning. This project was given to me in July of 2004. It is now February of 2005. We are on our sixth revision. The tracks he sent me were done live by my client. They were not very well done and had lots of problems including distortion and phasing problems. This is the first (and hopefully the last project he decided to do himself) This client has always had a commercial studio do his recordings. The results were always very good and it was fairly easy to master but with this client it took 13 hours to master 13 tracks for his last CD release.

    The new material is not very well recorded but the client wants it to sound like the old material I did for him previously. The tracks I have to work with have other problems including hiss, hum and some really strange compression and eq. The engineer that did the live recording with my client is very proud of what he has done but he too knows nothing of recording and I for the life of me cannot figure out what they are listening to the recordings on since they sound TERRIBLE in my studio. We have been FEDEXing him the results of the mastering but he is still not satisfied. I have asked him to find somewhere else to listen to the material as I am sure their is something wrong with his current setup (like a speaker out of phase or some weird EQ or a blown tweeter or midrange.) Anyway it has now gone into 7 months and we are still not there.

    I can therefore imagine a person taking a long time to do a mastering job for someone if they are not in the same city or if the client's sound system is not telling the client the whole truth when they are listening to the mastering results.

    Most mastering that we do takes between 30 minutes and 45 minutes per song and averages out to be about 35 minutes per song. This has been our average for about 10 years so when a client asks "how long" I can tell them almost to the minute AFTER I hear their material. When they ask over the phone and I have not heard their material then it is not so easy to guesstimate.

    As to levels.

    I would like to see -6 dBFS peaks and none above -3 dBFS if I am going to do a proper job mastering the material. Yes I can always take the level down but it is another step and it is better all around to have the client mix at a lower level to begin with.

    As to bus mastering on mixdown.

    DON'T DO IT. If you want to put some compression on individual tracks to make them sound a certain way then do it but don't strap a compressor/limiter across the 2 mix just for "fun" It makes my job that much harder in the mastering phase of the project.

    Hope this helps!
  13. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Here's my opinion:

    - Talk to the mastering engineer you're going to master with;
    - Make your mixes to sound as close as you'd like them to be.
    One year of mastering won't help if the mixes suck;
    - No dithering or comprression/limiting on the mix bus, maximum
    resolution (24 bits ecc);
    - Leave 2 dB room for mastering engineer. I mean, the peaks in the
    mixes should be all at -2dB (maximum signal-to-noise ratio);
    - In my experience, if the mixes are good, 7-14 hours are sufficient
    time for mastering of a record. Ok, the major labels do it for a week
    (with executives argueing in control room).

    Just an opinion,
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