mastering hip-hop

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by sameoldjake, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. sameoldjake

    sameoldjake Guest


    Ok i'm mastering a hip-hop disc (for fun, not for profit) and i'm having some problems. I've done some rock stuff, and everyhtign i read is geared towards rock, but when i apply it to hip-hop, everything seems to smashed.....

    The dynamics of th drums dont need much because, their were done with a drum machine, so the velocity of the drums is all where it should be, you know what i'm saying? and the vocals, and are all mixed well, recorded well.

    So i'm using wave packs C4 multiband compressor, which has a set ratio. I'm using the eltro-masting preset, and kinda adjusting it from their. I'm using stienburg mutliband just for the no-clip feaute basically i'm using it as a limiter. (i have sonar 3, so i have the sonictusfx multiband, but dont like it much)

    Now, here's what i'm doing, I'm taking another (professionally mastered) hip-hop song, and soloing the different frequency bands, then matching each individual song to the level (rms), song by song, band by band. Then i go back and adjust them by ear slightly if something doesnt sound right (more highs, less bass that sorta thing.) I wanna get them to about -11 or -10 rms which they are about at... but they sound too smashed. the mix is a good mix, but when i compress it, it seems the vocals come to far forward on some or go to far back on other... geesh.

    So my question i guess is this, is my process stupid? should i try and use another multiband comp with an adjustable ratio, if so, what is a good ratio for mastering?

    much thanks,
  2. TotalSonic

    TotalSonic Guest

    I master a ton of hiphop and it's extremely rare for me to go to a single multiband comp - let alone 2 of them. Mulitband comps to me tend to work as specific problem solvers for things where a specific frequency band pokes out way over the mix - i.e. a really brittle piercing vocal track over a dull instrumental track (although if the vox were centered sometimes this can be fixed better by using M/S processing and eq'ing and comping the Mid different from the side)
    ime C4 tends to mush up pretty much most stuff put through it although it can definitely be very useful in certain circumstances. The Steinberg "mastering" plugins I have a pretty low opinion of though - I'd avoid using them.

    Instead of soloing specific bands I think you're listening time is better spent evaluating the mix as a whole. In essence - every piece of music is different - so you should know what a great mix should sound like through your monitors - but stick with the track you are working on and ask 2 questions:
    what are the problems? (i.e. sibilance, a specific bass freq poking out, muddy, brittle, transients too much in your face, etc. etc.)
    what does it need? (i.e. could add a little at 80Hz to get some thump, could bump up a db around 700 to bring out the vox, let's cut a little above 14kHZ to get rid of the ice pick in the ear thing, little comp to even things out, etc.etc. - not specific recommendations - just examples of the kinds of thing to think about)
    If there are no problems and you can't think of anything it needs (admitedly a really rare occurance in these days of project studios) - leave it alone!!

    fwiw I find analog eq's tend to work wonders with most hip hop mixes as most of it is done completely in the digital realm and often suffers from "digititus".
    From there usually a little bit of compression (either before or after the eq in the chain - just swap it around and see what works best for the track) - and unfortunately, to give "competitive" levels often a lot of brickwall limiting or maybe some clipping - and most cases you won't need to go to any "masterizer" plugin such as a multiband comp.

    Best regards,
    Steve Berson
  3. sameoldjake

    sameoldjake Guest

    i'm only using the Me stiengburg multiband because it has a no-clip feature that gives me the most head room with out distortion. I'ts not compressing, just stopping the clips. (you actually have to draw out the ratio, which is sucky)

    I'm gonna go back to day and see what i hear. I had a feeling i was being alittle OCD with the rms on each band.

    so i don't have any hardware that would be good for mastering so i'm limited their. I've had a ton of people tell me to use a mutliband compressor for mastering, so that's what i've been using. I should try a single band compressor and try and work the sound with EQ -- that's what your saying right?

  4. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    Also, with hip hop, you need to pay great attention to the low end (obviously). There's a delicate balance to having enough low end without it completely driving all the compression/limiting.

    Hip hop mixes generally have more "space" in the arrangement than most guitar-based rock. FWIW, I pay attention to, in order:
    Lo End
    Snare drum/clap

    I never compromise the lo end, and often have to make decisions that adversly affect the bottom of the list.

    Good luck.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    That's the saddest thing I've heard yet today.
  6. sameoldjake

    sameoldjake Guest

    i tried a few of the tips and they worked pretty well. i'm not getting the to much smash effect i thought i would with a singleband compressor. thanks again
  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Now try using a good eq to balance or correct things before you hit the compressor.
  8. fontane

    fontane Guest

    I agree... and just to bring out a previous point... working with your kick/bass tracks as your foundation seems to be a great way to build your mix just as in dance music...
  9. sameoldjake

    sameoldjake Guest

    thanks for the helpful advise...

    my method in the end was, EQ compressor no limitor.

    i decided to let it clip 2-3bd to get the volume i wanted -- the clips arent noticable either, atleast to me. I was using jay-z's black album as a reference point, i always suspected they did that but didnt have the guts to try it.

    i'll post some samples later if anyone is interested in hearing it.

    I'm definitly gonna get some hardwarein future prolly better recording gear first, my next purchase is gonna be a dbx 1086 mic preamp compressor -- then eventually theirs this cad mic i wanna get. right now i used a $200.00 audio techniac (series 30 or something) and a $99 presonus preamp to a alesis 3630 compressor. not great by any means, but i wanted to learn how to use it before i spent a ton of money.

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