Mastering Question

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by lipmanaj, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. lipmanaj

    lipmanaj Guest

    I am beginning to approach mastering my recordings, and am not quite sure where to begin. I know this involves equalization, spacing and so on, as well as removing hiss, etc, but I am sure that there are those out there who have actually mastered their digital tracks, and thus have more experience than I.

    These are recordings of guitar, keyboard and vocals (often multipart vocals) recorded on a DAW and then transferred to a PC. I am currently using Adobe Audition for editing. mixing and mastering, which has the capability to add directx plugins.

    So I am asking a question that has the two parts--conceptual and practical:

    1) What are the steps that you are apt to go through in order to master a track? I realize that this question may be both quite basic, and also ambiguous, as these steps may vary greatly from track to track, and according to taste, but any initial structure, opinions, or approach that you can provide here would be appreciated.

    2) In your own approach, what plugins do you tend to prefer for each?

    I realize that, again, these may differ according to approach, taste and particular recording, but any stepwise structure and plug ins for each step that I could then experiment with and vary from track to track would be helpful.

    Many thanks.

    Dr. Alan J. Lipman
    Washington, DC
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Only do what is necessary. Running a mix through processing just because you can, won't do any good. You have to take a good listen to each mix and decide what it needs. Then apply what you think it needs and take another listen. rinse and apply again.
  3. Rider

    Rider Guest

    cant give you any guidelines, but what i generally do on my mixes..

    ill run through my chain in reason.

    EQ - its 2 parametric 2 shelves, so i boost the sub and highs up about 2dB (i can get away with presets, as its all the same kicks, same hats, the bass riffs are generally tonally the same as well), then i use the 2 extra bands to bring out whatever is lost. this is where you really shouldnt follow my technique, but i generally get a pretty wide ~1.5dB boost to the 'sweet spot' in the treble, as it really lightens the song up and makes it punch, then i do the same for the lower band but with a pretty large bump, find out where its too muddy then do a small cut.

    of course with my mixes they benefit from a sub boost (industrial), and the highs are pretty lifeless overall (if youve used reason to synth, youll know what i mean).

    then shave a couple dB off with a compressor.

    then run it into a limiter to bring the RMS up a few dB, making sure its only attenuating the large peaks (which is generally kick hits, or major hits, but never attenuate a part constantly)

    and on some of my older stuff (from 2.5 or before) i might use a stereo enhancer to tighten up individual instruments or the whole mix, or mono out some subs if they are overwhelming (nothing strains you more than a wild stereo sub riff).

    theres also multiband compression which can work well for live situations to even out kicks/hats and gently compress everything between. on my live stuff i usually throw an EQ with a very broad boost at 1k (my instruments are a little.. whatever opposite of warm would be, cold? they are pretty lacking) then i run it through L2 to bring the levle up to a reasonable level.
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