Where To Start

ChrisChase

Registered
Joined
Dec 16, 2013
Hey everyone,

I am new to these forums and have been searching for days to find a beginning point for learning to master music. I have been recording and mixing for over 8 years, and I would like to take my recording career to the next step. I know how compressors and EQ's work, but I have no idea what the starting point for mastering music is. For example do I compress and EQ each vocal track individually, or do I group them into a bus and try to make them all sit right?

Any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks.
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
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Feb 21, 2013
Mastering are usually done on stereo tracks of the songs of an album. The goal is to make all songs the same levels and sounding similar so you are not force to go on the listening device to change EQ or Volume, from track to track and from other commercial CDs

Many softwares exist to do so and most have a mastering guide. The guide of Izotope Ozone is very helpfull to beginners. You don't need to purchase Ozone to read it, it's free : http://downloads.izotope.com/guides/iZotopeMasteringGuide_MasteringWithOzone.pdf
 

ChrisChase

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Dec 16, 2013
So how come when mastering studios contact me to master my clients tracks they ask for everything individually? And when I get the finished version back it sounds amazing!
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
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Feb 21, 2013
Some mastering centre ask for 3 mix, what you think is right. +3db vocal and -3db vocal
 

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
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Jul 21, 2009
[="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0240808371/?tag=recording.org-20"]Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science: Bob Katz: 9780240808376: Amazon.com: Books[/]

the book is a bit heavy at times, but worth a few reads.
 
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Paschalis I.

Guest
So how come when mastering studios contact me to master my clients tracks they ask for everything individually? And when I get the finished version back it sounds amazing!

Mastering studios always need one WAV file without any processing on the master fader and if there's any you should write down what you've used to help them out.
If they ask individual tracks well that's mixing and not mastering :)
 

audiokid

Moderator
Joined
Mar 20, 2000
Mastering studios always need one WAV file without any processing on the master fader and if there's any you should write down what you've used to help them out.
If they ask individual tracks well that's mixing and not mastering :)

true but and also worth mentioning:

I will often take an existing master and recook it.

I mean, It might not taste like the best steak had it been cooked to spec without sending it back but, some stuff under done, even years back like on say DA 88, DAT tape/ previously mastered, I'll run it through my system and it comes out sounding pretty improved.
 

Kurt Foster

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Joined
Jul 2, 2002
first if you have to ask where to start when you master, you probably shouldn't be trying to do it.

mastering was the art of transcribing recordings from tape to vinyl. when cds came int vogue many mastering engineers switched to burning cds from tape or daw mix files and they included "track sweetening" as part of the service. this is what is called mastering now days.

if a mastering house wants all of the raw tracks then that's they’re way of being polite. what that really means is your mix sucks and they need to completely remix the project to acceptable levels. some houses will request stems to add a little more of one element or another. while not as bad as the "your mix sucks" scenario, it's still not a good thing. if either of these things are happening to you often, again you probably shouldn’t be attempting to master your own tracks.
 

DonnyThompson

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Joined
Nov 25, 2012
As Kurt mentioned, if you are providing someone with all of your tracks, then it is being remixed.

Mastering is - and this is a simple definition because I'm pretty sure you don't know the difference so I'll keep it basic - the process of taking a finished 2 mix and adjusting volume and tone to each whole finished mix/song so that there is a fluidity, tonal similarity and volume continuity from song to song on an album/record/CD... there's more to it than that but again I'm keeping it simple for your sake at this time.

If you are sending individual tracks, then they are mixing, which involves taking all your individual tracks and mixing them together into a finished product using various processors, effects, EQ, volume level adjustments, etc..

If you are sending them a final stereo mix ( 2 mix) you did yourself, then they are mastering.
 
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