Need mastering advice.....

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by therecordingart, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I'm in the process of recording my old band and I'm completely oblivious to the whole mastering process so I'm taking the songs to a mastering facility. I plan on taking the songs to the facility as 24 bit aiff files on a data disc.

    I've heard a lot of mastering engineers complain about too much compression, reverb, low end, high end...etc.

    Here is my should I bring my tracks? I'm assuming like how I want everything to sound as a final product and the mastering engineer will bring it to the next level. Should I take it easy on compressing the final mix? I was thinking I should just get my levels, effects, and eq in place and leave the rest to the engineer like controlling the dynamics of the overall mix.

    Will mastering engineers listen to my final mix before I bring it to them to let me know where they will have trouble or where I can improve before running through the process?

    I really want this to be a good finished product because my old band plays with bigger bands around here (like Macabre) and they want something that will get people looking at them and into bigger shows.

  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    First, good for you. It's a good thing.

    Anyway - Compression on tracks is great - Compression across the mix is good IF IT'S REALLY NEEDED. And then, just as much as neccessary. If you're doing it to get "loud," don't do it.

    Don't limit AT ALL.

    Keep your PEAKS BELOW -6dB!!! Alright, if you can't stand it, go to -3dB. It's a long story, but it makes a difference. Again, NO LIMITING. Keep in mind that to sink down to 16-bits of effective resolution, your peaks would have to be below -47dB!!! Don't be so concerned with levels - Get a "good" level and go.

    When mixing, mute that verb a lot to make sure you're not going overboard - It's very easy to use too much, and few will care if you use too little. "Normally," it will be brought out a bit during mastering. Just something to think about. If it's a little dry overall, the M.E. can judiciously add some tasty reflections as an option.

    On consultations, some do, some don't (I do for a small fee - Used to for nuttin' and that got out of hand VERY fast - then the fee is deducted if I wind up doing the job).

    Most (well, a lot) will if they're pretty sure that they're doing the job (if they get a deposit or you're a repeat customer).

    A lot of forums with "mp3 clinics" can help a little, but take it with a grain of salt - Lots of opinions will keep you second-guessing yourself forever.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Take it easy on the limiting, compression and the reverb. It is virtually impossible to get rid of them once they have been applied but more can be easily added in the mastering if needed.

    We provide our clients with a 30 minute time period to listen to their tracks before the mastering begins. We use this time to listen to their incoming material and discuss the mastering session that is about to take place. It is also a time to listen to reference tracks that the client brings in. There is NO CHARGE for this listening session. If the artist comes to us early in their project and asks for help we provide a trained set of ears to listen to and make suggestions about their mixes as they are done. There is no charge for this service with the proviso that we will be the ones doing their mastering.

    Finding a good mastering engineer early in the process will be to your advantage. He or she can provide a wealth of information and even if they charge a minimal amount for listening it can save you a lot of money in the end if you listen to their advice.

    The hardest thing I have to do is tell an artist that there is nothing I can do for them since their mix is really not ready for mastering due to problems that would have been easy to fix early on but now will necessitate them going back in for a remix or maybe even a rerecording session.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    I would give you ME a call and see what they would like. Each one has their prefered way. I like to get a peak a the material before the session if possible to make sure that everything is good to go. If something needs to be addressed, this gives some time to hunt down that vox up or what ever else. Again, you should drop a line to your ME and see what they can offer or how they would like to get the material.
  5. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    It's very important for you to love your mixes before mastering. The more you listen to them on different systems and tweak them to your liking the better the end result will be. Dont go in thinking it sounds just OK and the mastering is going to make it all magical.

    When someone new comes into my room and wants to listen to things to hear how it sounds that's fine. Having people bring in a mix to hear and get feedback on is also fine. I regularly get mixes from clients, give them feedback and they sometimes make adjustments.
    If your going to bring your music to a mastering engineer and use their advice to make changes make sure it's someone with the type of experience you can put your trust in. There are a lot of people with advice. Good advice is a little harder to find.
  6. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    I don't have much to add to what everyone else said so well. I personally like to hear what I'm going to be working on before I get down to business...

    As far as how to mix...I would just try to make the most exciting, entertaining mix possible. If this requires a dose of reverb, add reverb. If it requires compression, add compression. Make the music move you as much as possible.

    The only thing to remember, is that there isn't really anything a mastering engineer can take OUT. If you add alot of reverb, it's going to come back with a lot of reverb. If you squashed the mix, it's going to come back squashed.

    Most of all, have fun with it. That ALWAYS comes through. :cool:

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