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The Mother of all Mastering thread

mexicancactus


Started Topics :  8
Posts :  31
Posted : Sep 22, 2005 15:30
hey dear mods, can you lock this to the top too, maybe the mastering questions will land here then.

all the best!
e-motion
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  71
Posts :  933
Posted : Sep 22, 2005 16:13
ok i start it... lol (copy pasting...)


i'm new to mastering (have only mastered a track once) and really new to using plugs in the master channel\final wav file (never done it lol).
i'm planning to use Eqium (to cut what's left of the too low\high frequencys), Firium (slightest adjustments, probably not required), Waves LinMB and then Voxengo Elephant.

my doubt is using linMB... it's already hard to use it on a single channel but i have no idea how to work with it on the master channel. i can set thresholds and that but what confuses me is the attack and release values...
i'm asking for some tips in using them and what effects can i get in changing this and that value. some rules would be nice too.

thanks in advance... Boom !
texmex


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  189
Posted : Sep 27, 2005 09:31
I recommend you to check out the Izotope Ozone 3, it's quite a package mastering. It's a good tool to get professional sound quickly.

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/

Note though... I recommend to use it in 24-bit/96khz audio, as the mastering reverb in it will sound a lot better in that sample rate, i don't know why.
texmex


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  189
Posted : Sep 27, 2005 10:26
Quote:

On 2005-09-22 16:13, e-motion wrote:
my doubt is using linMB... it's already hard to use it on a single channel but i have no idea how to work with it on the master channel. i can set thresholds and that but what confuses me is the attack and release values...
i'm asking for some tips in using them and what effects can i get in changing this and that value. some rules would be nice too.

thanks in advance... Boom !



I haven't used the LinMB, but I quess it works like any multiband compressor (I use Izotope Ozone). Anyway, the important thing is to divide the spectrum to meaningful bands. Ozone manual suggests:

Band 1: 20-120 Hz "meat" of the bass and kick
Band 2: 120 - 2kHz fundamentals of the instruments, "warmth"
Band 3: 2kHz to 10Khz upper harmonics "treble"
Band 4: 10kHz to 20kHz "air"

After that it's just matter of applying different compression parameters. To get the punch you need, focus on the bands 1 and 2. Solo the band you are focusing on. Try out slow and fast attacks (start with 10 ms, for softer sound try smaller). For band 1 use release so that the compressor can get open before next kick (100 to 300 ms or so).

In Ozone you have also limiter and expander per band, which can be useful to shave of the irregularities out of the signal. Note though that downward expansion for the "air" band can create suddenly appearing/disappearing high-end for the sounds so use it with care (can be heard when using rising lowpass filtered leads on solo).

The ozone is nice because you also get eq (analog/digital), harmonic exciter per band (for that shimmering professional sound), stereo width per band, master limiter and master reverb in one plugin. The effect chain is also configurable. You can also very easily test how the signal sounds in mono or one of the channels inverted.
e-motion
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  71
Posts :  933
Posted : Sep 27, 2005 19:26
thanks gotta try that
cytopia
Cytopia.org

Started Topics :  61
Posts :  329
Posted : Sep 27, 2005 20:15
Oppinions differ when it comes to mastering, decent or good results generally come from experience and knowing what to do with the plugins you have rather than which specific plugins you use.

I am not a professional, but this is my technique:

1. Mix track as best i can with no compression or limiting on master bus, and mixdown at 24bit or higher.

2. import 24bit WAV into wavelab or cubase, if needed normalize the wav, often not neccesary.

3. EQ ~ many good EQ's, i use the PSP Master Q, and Hi pass below 35Hz to remove the lowest bass, and for the rest it really depends on the track and how it is mixed. Just get it to sounds as well as you can.

4. Compression ~ i use the PSP vintage warmer, i get the best results with this so far, it is quite an analogue sounding plugin for something that is digital. I think i use the mastering first aid preset and then you can crank up the Drive for more volume, not more that +4 i would say. Also can work with the knee, i dont use more than 5% because it can get crunchy, for the rest you can tine the frequency of the bass and treble, and make sure it is set to multiband and on stereo.

5. Limiting ~ finally limiting will boost the volume, i use the L3 ultramaximiser, settings depend on what you are doing, but generally i dont lower the threshold further than -2.0, but it depends on level of track, and i set the upper limit to -0.2. If you are mixing down to 16bit, then quanatize to that, and set dither to type I or II, i honestly dont know the difference between them.

6. Listen to the final result, it helps to have a good room and good monitors to listen to. Also good to compare master to a different well mastered track, this is easy in cubase because you can load them next to each other, and solo one of them and compare, if you do this take care to put the mastering plugins on the audio channel and not the master bus. You can jump between the master you like and your own master, and compare the sound, also you can run the PAZ analyser on RMX on the masterbus and compare the Frequency response to get idea.

7. Professional mastering ~ I think this is the best option for people who are serious, a good track is worth being mastered by someone else, with fresh ears, experience and equipment. I had some tracks mastered by Colin OOOD and the results were great, much better than i can do here on my own.

Looking forward to seeing other people's techniques,

Smiles...
texmex


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  189
Posted : Sep 27, 2005 21:27
cytopia, I use psp vintage warmer too but mostly on bass and kick. It sounds very warm and it can really make your kicks bigger and fuller. Usually the synth generated kicks are just too sterile. Eq'ing with REQ, bass boost with MaxBass and compression+drive with vintage warmer always does the trick

Sometimes I apply VW in the mastering either prior mastering or prior loudness maximize (minimal compression, some drive).

I know the mastering is a science on its own, but it's a nice way to learn different aspects of sound engineering. You get familiar with eq'ing, compression, different audio properties (bit-depth, stereo field and so on). And this knowledge can be very useful in other parts of the process to prevent undoable mistakes in mastering or mixing.

One thing that popped to my head: there are two kind of mastering plugins which you should be aware of. Ones that are so called "analog" and others that are "digital".

Analog-modelled plugins simulate more or less the way real voltage controlled hardware works. They can create warmth and add colorization to the sound, but on the other hand they usually affect the phase in non-linear way (meaning they aren't zero- or linear-phase which means you can get phase problems).

Digital plugins have more sterile sound (or not sound at all - which is called being 'transparent'). Digital filters are usually more precise and there shouldn't be phase problems (LinMB and LinEQ exists just for that reason, I believe). However, linear phase filters (which are included in linear multiband/eq effects) have a lot longer delays, which could mean noticeable latency making them inpossible to be used in realtime (impluse-response reverbs have long delays too, because of which they are better suited for mixing/mastering phase).

I prefer having minimal amount of analog plugins in the chain to avoid phase problems and too-much-colorized sound. I can then add warmth and color where it is needed (use vintage warmer/tube on tracks or master channel etc). That's why I use linear-phase plugins as much as possible (ozone has possibility to change to digital filters).

Well enough babbling. Keep on experimenting and learning!




industed


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  54
Posted : Oct 1, 2005 18:32
hey want my opinion?!
using linear phase filters is the best way to avoid phase probs.

u got to understand that a good track depends on the musical part(sounds uv chosen,arrangment etc) and on that part where conflicts arise.producing...

my experience and way i work says go digital(the only analog things i use is synths).
first of all u have to get the best mix bfore tryin mastering.
a lil trick is to bounce it as a 32bit track when u finish your mixdown.remember,higher level mix sudnt exceed -4db on your master vu.(others have the opinion -3 db but leave some space to the mastering session).before u bounce it a good test to find out if your mix is good is to use a multiband compressor(the one in sx)and divide the frequency ranges by 4. 0-60hz,60-250,250-2000 and 2000-22000.then play your track and solo each range one by one.
first 0-60.u sudnt where pitch there,jst bass frequncies.if your bass and kick create distortion when played same time u have to options.tune ur kicks pitch a lil higher or filter it to 60 hz -3db(might need -6 sometimes).
60-250hz.bass and kick and other instruments shoud be clearly heard.this is the range of warmth,it says how massive your track is.if not u have to tweak your bass to 500 hz +3db with 0 q.the same thing to tother instruments except kick.
250-200hz.all information of your track sud b heard clearly with a telephone effect.if thers is something you cant hear in that range then u have to bring it up a lil bit.if u get distortion when using strings or pads or guitars or.. for chords u gotto use a lp filter on them tunning it on 3/4.
then 2000-22000 hz is the air of your track.be careful,really loud high frequencies can be very unpleasant!
after doing so and ur happy with the mix bounce it!

mastering is in my opinion the tip and the base of the iceberg...
so u have 4 db to raise rms which is one of the most important things for your track.i suggest (like many others) izotope 3.focus on the harmonics and the eq.always use the master eq as a leveler,try to bring the desirable levels to the frequencies by making frequencies equality match the style of your track.
when your are happy bounce it again and dither it at 16bits.
although known but good to mention ur db levels at your monitors sudnt be lower than 88 and higher than 96db.
always fresh your ears by taking breaks in between.
as soon as your done run your track through a mixin desk if possible.then play it without tweeking knobs and flat equalization.check the vu meters of the desk if they give 1 volt signal.if so,smile,u have a complete master section.if not,remaster it.
and if u want more,after finished from everything ask logic to audio energize your track(dnt over do it coz ull spoili it).when done u ll see tha space and the levels of it and u ll smile again.rms of your track wud be great and everything wud be loud,clear and noticable.
and always remember,music is not jst frequencies,its senses too...
e-motion
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  71
Posts :  933
Posted : Oct 1, 2005 18:56
nice tips industed
industed


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  54
Posted : Oct 1, 2005 20:21
these things are not 100% correct.many ppl have different opinions.
my way is to make a track sound good when played anywhere,from big clubs to small pc speakers.if your track sounds good on your monitors b sure that it will sound gud on a big system bcoz after 100 db all harmonics are excited and everything sound great.the point is wot happens whwn u play it back on my grandmothers hi fi....take carezzzz!!!

Freakuency
IsraTrance Junior Member
Started Topics :  10
Posts :  46
Posted : Oct 3, 2005 21:23
Erez once told me that most of the things depends on your final mixdown and you have to go and correct errors on individual track. For example why boost and cut on the master chanel when you can do it on individual track?
He also told me that mastering is basically the procedure to bring up the rms of the track and using stereo imagining if needed. (most of the times I dont use it on master bus, I try to widen the stereo on individual track as well). You might think then why there are so many articles about mastering explaining different methods of this skill? Well those articles are mostly desighned for engineers who get to work on other people's mixdowns and they try to fix the problem(s) globaly which is on the master bus. They are not interested to go and fix individual chanel unless you pay them enough.

So to summorize things:
1)Ask yourself what is the problem in your track
2)Find the problem
3)Fix it
4)go to 1, 2 ,3 again till you are satisfied with your result.
There is no perfect mix, there are always things that might be improved even nature improves itself using the evolution laws.
Good luck
e-motion
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  71
Posts :  933
Posted : Oct 3, 2005 21:43
yeah i know that the mix is much more important... but still i want to know how to master. not a perfect master (engineer) but at least something useful
industed


Started Topics :  5
Posts :  54
Posted : Oct 8, 2005 22:58
a gud mix for sure calls for a gud mastering.2
reasons i wud bounce ma track bfore master it.
1.if its not bounced i ll finde my self tunning filters and eg and stuff,which affects ma workflow.the faster the better.
2.mastering is not only about an individual track but about an album,tracks being put on after the other. it s really funny if u have a much different sounding from tracks played one after the other...           Switch Off Power Schemes...
br0d
IsraTrance Junior Member

Started Topics :  12
Posts :  355
Posted : Oct 9, 2005 08:54
If I have to use anything other than a HPF for rumble, an adaptive multiband for compression, and a brick wall limiter for level, then the mix sucks and it's time to roll back to the mix phase. When you are both the mix engineer and the mastering engineer, there is absolutely no reason nor excuse for working with stereo channel tools when you could be fixing the problems with track specific tools.

Mastering is an almost dead topic in digital audio as far as I'm concerned. If it's not going to be outsourced to a second set of ears, then the word "mastering" ought not even really be in the vocabulary of someone who wants good mixes, and the mix should stay in "mixing" until you could live with all but the overall level.

Not to sound totally redundant, basic mastering is as such:

HPF anywhere between 20 and 40hhz depending on the material, into a multiband limiter, preferably adaptive phase, and then into a brick wall limiter which shows a gain reduction of no more than 1-3db.
cytopia
Cytopia.org

Started Topics :  61
Posts :  329
Posted : Jan 6, 2006 20:34
Would like to ask those of you who have gotten quality results mastering, what you use in the mastering chain other than EQ > Compression > limiting. My own results are decent, but can be improved on...

I know some people use Stereo imaging, and have heard people say they use alot of plugins that i would never have thought about using, am interesting in reading more about mastering chains.           Cytopia.org
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