Mastering It Yourself

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by lefty, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. lefty

    lefty Guest

    First I must say much respect to all the great mastering engineers on this site. Today's music no longer needs that fine detailed nuances that major labels strived for in the past . And to top it off, if your music is too polished and pristine (in rap or R&B) it gets labeled as not being grimy enough. Ive witnessed first hand how a big studio in my area that records Ginuine ,Tank, Prophet Jones, using a top of the line Pro tools system deliberately start off at 16bit 44.1 . I had the opportunity to get a few tracks that this studio mixed and mastered and i was suprised to find all they did was use filters to get frequencies out of the way .No longer were there such thing as a "great Piano sound " "great guitar " " great anything"..., Leaving me to give this advice to anyone who takes pride in recording music . If you want done right do it yourself ; get a book(basic mastering for starters ) and one of your favorite sounding Cd and try to get as close to that quality as you can. when you get close burn it and take both Cd's to circuit city and play both of them(your favorite and the one you tried to imitate). try them in the audio speaker dept where all you have to do is press diffrent buttons to hear the sound on diffrent speakers..,If you are close or cant tell the diffrence quality wise you need to master yourself .,after having a bad experience with getting a master that sounded worse than the original.., I now do everything myself ; even if my work is not that of a bernie or bill roberts , i dont care as long as i get love from radio and the clubs . I record in Cubase 5.1 and master in Wavelab 4.o with a spectrum analyzer. I use it in recording and mastering to get frequencies out of the way of each other while keeping the music phat ..,at times i do 16 bit other times 24.., as long as youre chosy about the sounds you pick you shouldnt have any problems . Today s rap and R&B secquences can be done in 10 to 15 minutes thanks to midi...Mastering is just an aspect that you can learn if you take the time .If you can hear compression , masking , and sibilance you can master ....If anyone out there agree with me holla back.. after all everything is just a song , no big deal just a song .. matter of fact most engineers as they get better they use less effects and less processing . all you really need is EQ, Compressor , Limiter and once in a while a subtle reverb unit ... and to all you guys who make a big deal out of mastering .IT"S JUST A DAMN SONG
  2. NutekK

    NutekK Guest

    utter rubish!
  3. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Go for it! Please keep us posted on your career development, and all your major releases.

  4. lefty

    lefty Guest

    :p: The point i'm trying to make is great gear is fine but you are now left downgrading your quality ..I cant say too much for i'm not an expert .., I don't wanna be either. I don't sell a lot of records by the major standards but I make a decent living . My type of music needs that edge ..,how many times youve listed to music and hear great quality but a lousy generic song. Now if I analyze your point of view ; maybe that pristineness can increase my sales .., who knows . I thought this site was geared to helping the beginner , sem-pro's , and all others learn how to do things .This site is suppose to teach not make you think things are impossible .My mentor the great Gypsy Robinson who taught master P, rolled with Too Short , Hung with Dre and still making waves in urban music . He told me one thing that everyone on this site needs to know " When an expert tell you it can't be done , go out and prove them wrong ". This man 60+ year of age and he showed me how to survive this business even when it seems bleek. So I hope you guys (pros ) start sharing knowledge and help the younger generation .

  5. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    As Rick said, Go for it!

    ....but the "other pair of ears" can hear stuff that you not believe. Any other pair as well.

    Get your buddys together and that way you will have others opinions that will help during mastering. Fades, heads, tails, authoring, text, listening on 3 systems...I make about 5 dollars per hr. at the going rate for some of the projects that I get. The others I do free...just not worth hassling over a 20 dollar bill. You would have to get in line for the free stuff. Could take I have them lined up.

    If I was in this for the money, I would have sold out long ago. Unless you have a contract with a working studio...this game is financially dead. It is the love of it is all. That is all that is left.

    Really, for a night out on the town with a date, you can have your work professionaly mastered because since so many are doing it themselves, the prices are at an all time low. I got beat out the other day because a cat was going to master 80 mins of running time with 19 tracks for 100 dollars. Even offering the gig for 150....did not help.

    It may be time to unplug the amp.
  6. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    I gotta agree with Lefty on these two points.

    He's obviously not a (big time) pro, and some of his reasoning is incorrect. Okay. So rather than shoot the guy down, PICK HIM UP! Let him know WHY he is incorrect, and explain to him how he can improve. Lefty is RIGHT (no pun intended), we ARE supposed to be here to try to help those with less knowledge than ourselves.

    Nobody is perfect and we're all here to share, which means teach and learn. I'm challenging BOTH of you guys to take Lefty under your wing and teach him as much possible information as he can handle.

    Lefty deserves much better than "one liners" shot at him by "pros", now doesn't he?

    Awright ... now everybody kiss and make up.
    Ummm ... ignore that part.

  7. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
  8. NutekK

    NutekK Guest

    5 minutes for brainstorming
    wow 15 or 20 minutes for the sequence
    an additional 15 or 20 for tracking the vocals
    5 minutes for mastering
    a hit song in less then an hour.
    you could make an album a day.


    no one is shooting him down.
    it just appears he has a strange attitude.
    he started this thread for some reason.

    and just things like "its just a song" kinda
    urk me.

    he obviosly is into hip-hop.and when ya think about it you might not need mastering for it
    since 90 percent of it are ripped off samples
    from other "hits" which probably have been mastered by the best around.
    simple formula.
    take a "hit song" grab a loop from it.
    fire up the old mpc.
    load an emu sp1200 kit.
    and have at it.
    as long as all the levels are straight...
    mastering may not be all that important.

    i dont even want to get started with hip-hop
    the direction that music has taken in the last 5 years is damaging.
    music is becoming the equivelent of a mcdonalds extra value meal.

    sorry if i offend anyone its just "my opinion"

  9. cjenrick

    cjenrick Active Member

    Nov 15, 2002
    I like the extra value meal! :c:
  10. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Ummm ... okay ... an appology and a clarification ... is that "taking him under your wing"???

    Guys, try to understand this...

    Okay, he's OBVIOUSLY into Rap, Hip Hop, Techno, whatever. It doesn't make a difference. It could be worse ... he could be into Country (Eeeewwww)! Like it or not, IT'S ALL MUSIC!

    The point is that you two guys are in a unique position to actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE! We all know that SOME of that music can be created that way, but NOT all of it! You're now insulting Lefty by stereotyping him for his taste in music! Guys, you're PROFESSIONALS! Jeez, before he learns the WRONG way, teach him the RIGHT way! If he thinks everybody is just going to kick him around, then he's going to go hide in his little home studio, be convinced that what he's doing is RIGHT, and churn out more of the crap that you guys obviously have "issues" with!

    Have a little patience, show some professionalism, and slowly and clearly explain to him how it can be done much better, for his benefit. Explain some basics, allow him to come back with some questions, answer them along with sharing more concepts, then he will probably ask more, and more, and more ... all of sudden, WADDA YA KNOW ... you discover that the guy is serious, he's actually listening and learning from you, and you're really starting to like him! One day he finally posts, "Yo, dawgs, check it out. A couple of my songs are over on". You go over and listen to them ... and you hear your advice is all over them!

    Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but maybe it isn't! You never know, maybe Lefty was just never taught properly, but he may be hella gifted! Never judge a book by it's cover ... and never give an aspiring producer the cold shoulder. He's TRYING!

    Look, obviously this really bothers me. I don't want to see people on here being treated like I've seen people treated on MOST other audio-related sites. I think we're all a lot better than that. Now I'm not challenging you, I'm BEGGING you, to take this guy under your wing and explain as much to him as you can about the "Rights and Wrongs of Rap", and help to get him on the RIGHT path. I'm absolutely serious, guys. Will you PLEASE do this, FOR ME???

    *SOS on his knees*

    If you accept, please PM or email him, appologize for what happened in the thread, and let him know that you want to help him in any way that you can. If you don't want to do it, just post onto this thread and let me know, so I can find someone else who will. I don't want Lefty walking away from RO thinking that we're a bunch of assholes.
  11. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Mastering is an artform. Sure their are basics but I repeat (for the 100+ time on these forums)

    Each tune gets special attention and no two tunes are done the same way. To teach this takes years of experience and a hands on approach. Word can only describe a certain way of doing it.

    Ok..Want to Know?

    The first thing I do is listen to the tune about 10 times on the big system and make notes. I write down what I like, what I don't like, I put down time markers and I label them. I open the tune in many different files with markers in each depending what I am hearing and listening for. This process takes about 2.5 hours. Next, I put it in the car and have a listen and see if their is anything else that needs to be documented. another 30 to 45 mins. I listen many times and make notes. You can't get it all on one take, especially the way I am going about it. Then I drop the entire file as is to ANALOG. Yes, I do it through the console in analog using outboard equipment. It is much more than eq, compression and limiting. It depends on the tune as well.

    Ok...enough, at this point I am into the song about 4.5 hours and I have not even started mastering.

    I could also just punch up a waves preset, choose -6dB RMS and let it fly...but I will not.

    The next phase just depends on the artist, the song, and what I feel it needs. Each is different, what works for one will not work for another.

    I can answer indivigual questions but to explain mastering, do a search. This would go on for over 100,000 words and you would have nothing to hear for example.

    Mastering is necessary if you want the best for your product.

    Someone want to take it from here?????
  12. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    ;) I detected an approach similar to challenge, in other words (make the term mastering go away because right now I don't understand it, or really even know if I need it) I only understand my beats, and my beats are good, and the edge is critical and doesn't need to be tweaked. My subs and amp are powerful enough not to clip, so nobody else's sub and amp, or Walkman is gonna clip...right?

    I suppose this is just his way of digging in, he's watching, he's reading, otherwise he would not have posted. He is interested. Don't think he is going to crawl off into a corner anytime soon. He gives credit already, and will give credit here too, if he learns anything from it.
    I have been working with a producer from Atlanta for the last 2 years. He asks questions on everything from signal flow to vocal booths. He is a good composer, but needs mastering, budget is tight, so he shuns away from it. But he knows he needs it. He does limited releases so right now maybe he doesn't, but when you go to air, or press hundreds, your going to want to make sure that it is acceptable. One only has to have 30 seconds of their tune done to realize the advantage. Like I said, if your production runs are small, do the best you can. If they are big, get it mastered, if you are going to bump up a client to a big label, get it mastered. And if you do go to a mastering house, sit in on it, and learn from it.

  13. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    I knew this post was going to get some attention when I read it this morning. At first I was offended , but then I thought about it for a minute and it came to me that lefty will become one of this forums biggest posters. Like anything in life, the less you know, the more it seems the same, Whether it's wine, cigars, cars, boats, etc...I can remember the first time I had a cuban cigar, I thought it tasted just like a white owl. I don't mind people's ignorance because I myself am ignorant in many things. It's the attitude you have that makes all the difference. People that approach this forum with respect, get respect. Those that post with the attitude that what we do and work at every day trying to improve every minute for years and years, is something that anyone can do within a week after reading a manual and buying a program, doesn't get many constructive replies.

    No one is saying that what we do, can't be done by others. It's just not as simple and easy as you think it is. If things were that easy, then everyone that drives a car every day should be great race car drivers. one test you can try is to take a Dr. Dre record and compare it to yours. Really listen and see if you can match it. At first you might think that you are close but keep listening over time and keep tweeking your stuff and you will begin to hear the differences. The first time i mastered a record, I thought I did a pretty good job. It wasn't until years later when I ran across it and popped it in, that I realized that I wasn't as good as i thought I was at that time.

    There is a lot to learn here for everyone. The moderators here are FREEEEE. We don't get paid and you don't have to pay. So when you post, keep this in mind and the replies will be meaningful and helpful.
  14. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Great replies, guys, thank you!

  15. lefty

    lefty Guest

    Ok , let me clear myself up for those who insinuated my missive. I only said mastering was overrated. Yes anyone can have a song sequenced in 5 to 15 minutes. Geniuses are not needed . If you have a Triton , Motif, Proteus , whatever sound device that's midi compatible . I did not say mixing took 5 to 15 minutes ( read again if you did , or get a your GED).
    Mixing can take me anywhere from a day and a half to 4 days . I run my midi through a Focusrite Mic pre , thru a compressor normally at a ratio of 4:1 on everything only adjusting the threshold according to the effect of the compressor on that particular sound .Then I start with the kick around -5 sometimes -7. then bring the main vocals set the level of the two. now use your analyzer and see the lowest frequency of the kick; boost it about 7db. Then I use a low-pass on the kick and go down to about 240hz. The kick will now have a punchy warm fuzzy sound and itll be out of the way of other instruments .This is just a start of how I mix my music .
    And for those who think I dont master : I do . It can take me about 4 to 8 hours to do this . But most of my time is spent trying someting and hitting the bypass button. it may sound good at first , but when you go back and forth it may ironically worse .
    To make a long story short , the better your mix the less has to be done in mastering . and since everything is recorded in the same studio , the levels are very close . And for those who think all urban music studios sample loops , I dont . I may sample a snare or kick and trigger it midi. THATS IT!! .
    Obviously NUTEKK is a " NEW TECH Rookie". And my advice to him is It's never the gear , just the person behind it .
    Fact 1: Most major studios use interns on
    independent artist . so dont be fooled
    Fact 2:Bill Roberts is one of the few guys on
    here even though he tries to drum up
    business give the right advice that you
    can use
    Fact 3: The Mixing Engineer's handbook give
    you way more information than the
    Mastering Engineers Handbook
    Fact 4: Basic Mastering has way more info and
    how to's that Mastering Engineer's
    Like I said before it's just a song . I'm happy to say that I consider myself a non-pro because I refuse to get caught up in analog vs. digital, Mac vs. Pc , SSL vs. Pro tools.., you get the picture .., I can mix and master and compare it to whats out there and feel satisfied .., t he money I save goes in the bank .. AND ONE THING TO PONDER.., who says it takes 20 years to attain a good set of ears .,what doctor told you this ? :confused:
  16. lefty

    lefty Guest

    WARNING : Please don't feel sorry for LEFTY . He makes a dencent living doing it fulltime in his basement.Please feel free to feel sorry for those who spent astronomical figures on SSl boards and have to drop their rates to stay in business and still paying the note .
  17. lefty

    lefty Guest

    Dude Those guys never even heard my stuff. Matter of fact I met with Universal a few months ago and theyre interested ,but since they can't guarantee me a "FIRM" release on my artists I had to pass . I have to keep money coming in to pay all my bills .If the label never release an album, the advance is all you have till you are released from the contract ..,I posted the post to let people realize mastering is needed but some guys on here act like theyre on acid or something. Once you know how to master it's not a big deal.., why do you think everyone is doing it themself
  18. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    A) Rick, I took a look at your page. Nice little trip through the years.

    B) NutekK ... "Under Construction". Bummer.

    C) Lefty ... in a previous post, I made mention of LOL but at the time I hadn't yet looked at your Bio. It says there that you DO actually have stuff on! :) Cool coincidence. Prob is that it's not a link, it's just text. Would you post a link so that I can hear your stuff? I'd really like to hear what you've got going on!

    D) EVERYBODY ... Okay, I'm the site administrator. One of my responsibilities is to settle any problems that happen in the forums. I wandered into this thread because I didn't like the vibe that was going on here.

    Now, some shyte happened here that I really don't like to see. There's no reason to be putting other people down, insulting, or getting rude with one another. I thought that it was especially out-of-line to stereotype Lefty because one of his areas of interest is Rap. That just was not cool.

    NutekK and Lefty, you guys are new here, so I'm assuming that you're not familiar with the atmosphere on RO, so I'm going to fill you in a little...

    If you've been to other audio sites, I'm sure you've seen the sort of shyte that went on in this thread today on all of those sites. Well, RO isn't that sort of a site. This isn't just some hang-around site where guys try to out-do each other to inflate their egos. We don't tolerate it here, at all. That's why I've been all over this thread today.

    RO is closely monitored to ensure that RO remains a peaceful, enjoyable place for musicians and producers of all levels to share information without having to fear the "repercussions" that are normally suffered on audio sites for asking a "stupid question". If I see a member displaying counter-productive, nasty behavior repeatedly, toward ANYONE or EVERYONE, I ban them from the site. There are over 10,000 members trying to peacefully share here, so if that vibe is disrupted, it upsets EVERYONE. Our members like the relaxed vibe here, so we keep it that way for them.

    So, that having been said ... shyte was flying in all directions here today, and I'm sure it really wasn't fun for anyone involved, so put this behind you, and don't put yourselves through this kind of stuff again. I DO NOT get paid for what I do here, so the fact that you "professionals" couldn't act "professional" with each other wasted a lot of my free time. As long as it doesn't happen again, I'm just writing it off as a bad day.


    New guys ... enjoy the site. The normal non-threatening atmosphere here may be strange to you at first, if you're used-to other audio sites, but you'll quickly learn to love it.

    PEACE :p:
  19. lefty

    lefty Guest

    There's no beef at all.., I want these guys to speak their mind , that produce honest and creative results . I respond to all who coment and I do respect their comment .., Ive been on this site for a while but I see how people judge without even hearing my work. Yes I may downplay my experience for I believe if you truly love engineering it's not as difficult as people make it out to be. Almost anyone can learn mixing and mastering and no I don't think it takes 20 year to learn it ., Someone took me under their wings and taught me very well to do what I do now .I just wnat these guys to get back to teaching . Just because I do Hip Hop don't mean Ive never done any other genre . Hip hop is what pays the bills for me (housenote car notes and all), and if these guys don't get hip to how the industry is changing , they will find themself out of business.
  20. NutekK

    NutekK Guest


    its relative to whom your comparing me with if i am a "new tech rookie " or not.

    i never said "you sample" i said 90 percent
    of hip hop/R & B (is there a difference anymore...they seem to have melded into a hybrid form) take samples from "hits"
    and to me this is a "safe" way to make a song that will sell. it doesnt realy further the art
    and at this point it surely cant be innovative.

    now im not talking about all..
    im just sayin the music that reaches the masses
    on radio and video are primarily this way.

    even dr. dre knows the value of a mastering engineer (Brian Gardner)

    if you dont want or need a mastering engineer for your work that is your call.

    all i can speek from is my experiance...
    i have been making music for a bit over 10 years..
    an coincindentaly i went "pro" when i started using a mastering engineer for my mixes.
    and they have only gottin better since.i sit in on sessions and he gives me advice on what to look out for...and check this frequency ect....ect..

    A)my room isnt set up to reveal these flaws

    b)i may be able to here something wrong but knowing how to correct it is another story.

    c)i dont have enouph speakers/knowledge/expertise
    to make sure it translates.

    d) i write/sound design/mix all the music myself
    another mind/view of the project broadens me

    anyway if you got a sit down with universal...
    you are doing everything right...
    there are exceptions to every rule

    if i seemed a bit out of line this mornig i do apologies for that.

    but you did have a bit of "english" on your post
    that is what i picked up on.

    anyway good luck on future projects
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