Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Mastering
GMC Forum > Discussion Boards > VINTAGE GMC > Community Activities and Tutorials > Recording
Fingerspasm
Was thinking about some of the information I received on a thread I started about drums. In it the subject of Mastering came up. I had been trying to get my mix to sound like a Mastered version of other popular groups I have heard in that type of music. So I guess when it comes to mastering you need to start by already having everything mixed properly and the levels between the tracks pretty much set. So now you are ready to start mastering the track to give it that full and alive sound. By alive I do not mean like a live recording but like it has space and not flat and dull. So would the best way to approach this be to group the drums in one group and the guitars in one group and the vocals in another and master that way in 3 groups. In other words as an example add compression and EQ etc to the drum track treating it as one track instead of 5 individual tracks. And then do the same with all the guitar tracks. EQ, Compress etc as one track instead of all the guitars tracks individually. Or is that still part of the mixing process. And should the Mastering be done to just one mixed down track? Or is it a combination? I am trying to figure out when you start to increase the volume from the mixed level up to the level you should achieve on a Mastered version..... Hope this makes sense.
Emir Hot
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Sep 25 2009, 12:08 PM) *
And should the Mastering be done to just one mixed down track?

Yes.

When you have your mix ready you export your final stereo track and do mastering on that. Check for overall sound scope. Bass frequencies, middle range etc... You need to make sure that it has enough of everything on every posible HI FI device (car, old radio, modern system etc...). You also cut ends and beginnings, fade out if necessary - all that is mastering process.
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Emir Hot @ Sep 25 2009, 06:13 AM) *
Yes.

When you have your mix ready you export your final stereo track and do mastering on that. Check for overall sound scope. Bass frequencies, middle range etc... You need to make sure that it has enough of everything on every posible HI FI device (car, old radio, modern system etc...). You also cut ends and beginnings, fade out if necessary - all that is mastering process.


Thanks Emir
Dejan Farkas
Just to understand difference bestween Mixing and Mastering.

Mixing is a proces of applying effects, filters, etc. during the mixing stage, on one or multiple tracks of the project, while Mastering is done on the finished mix. Mastering can be aplied to one track only as Emir said, but you should rather make your mix in that way that you don't need to do it in Mastering process, since when you enhance one thing in Mastering, you loose on another.

So just to make it clear, the less intervention you need in Mastering process by making a better mix, the less quality you will lose smile.gif

I hope I did not confuse you smile.gif
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Dejan Farkas @ Sep 25 2009, 07:54 AM) *
Just to understand difference bestween Mixing and Mastering.

Mixing is a proces of applying effects, filters, etc. during the mixing stage, on one or multiple tracks of the project, while Mastering is done on the finished mix. Mastering can be aplied to one track only as Emir said, but you should rather make your mix in that way that you don't need to do it in Mastering process, since when you enhance one thing in Mastering, you loose on another.

So just to make it clear, the less intervention you need in Mastering process by making a better mix, the less quality you will lose smile.gif

I hope I did not confuse you smile.gif


Makes sense. Was wondering about using effects like compression and EQ etc on individual tracks to get them how you want to sound in the mix. Will adding all of these effects early in the chain have adverse effects on the mastering? Or is this a common thing to do?
Dejan Farkas
Lets say this way, Mastering is mainly fixing errors from a mix, so whatever you can do in the mixing stage is great, you can apply any of the effects to individual tracks, or even to multiple, and you have more freedom to make your mix sound better. Mastering is mainly making a compromise, gain on one thing, and lose on another smile.gif
enforcer
And also it is generally a good idea to let a different person then the one who did the mixing, do the mastering... That produces a better result.

tonymiro
The ME needs to work on what is regarded as the final main mix so that is what you normally* supply. So as both Emir and Dejan said you should normally supply the final main mix i.e. the best quality mix take that you can.

However, we don't live in an ideal world. The very first thing that an ME does is listen to your recording in order to make an assessment as to the quality of the tracking and mixing and is the recording 'good' enough to master and also what mastering is required. (note - it is 'good enough' not 'perfect'.)

If it isn't 'good enough' there are several things which need to be agreed with the producer/mixing engineer (Assuming re-recording completely from scratch is not an option):

1 - you remix, perhaps with help from the ME

2- ME remixes

3- ME masters the main bus file that has minimal effects added at mixing.

4- ME masters what they originally sent and you accept that it is a flawed original take.

5- discuss what else you can do - including go elsewhere.

To do 1 and 2 requires that you have kept copies of: the original tracking files, stems and group stems. If you want me to do 2 then it will cost extra as you essentially are using the ME as a mixing engineer as well. To do 3 requires that you have a copy of the main bus out prior to adding any effects. In these 3 instances what we are trying to get at is a re-mix as close to the original tracking so that we can then re-look at levels, effects and compression, summing etc. If you haven't kept the originals and only have the final file then 4 or 5 apply. WRT 4 an ME may be able to get a poorly recorded mix to sound better but its unlikely to be as good as something that is right at tracking, mixing and mastering. Ultimately the old maxim of 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' is pretty accurate.

*Over the last few years there has been a growth in people sending MEs the group stems to sum and master. An ME often has much better hardware (and software) to sum the groups in to a single file then someone recording everything at home so whilst it is generally true that an ME will master a single file they can sum multiple files first; many will even agree to 'remix' individual group stems prior to summing. (Not all MEs will let you send multiple files for summing though.) Also most MEs are happy to discuss your concerns regarding takes, suggest which is good to go and what the alternatives are - if you're unsure talk to the ME.
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2009, 09:13 AM) *
The ME needs to work on what is regarded as the final main mix so that is what you normally* supply. So as both Emir and Dejan said you should normally supply the final main mix i.e. the best quality mix take that you can.

However, we don't live in an ideal world. The very first thing that an ME does is listen to your recording in order to make an assessment as to the quality of the tracking and mixing and is the recording 'good' enough to master and also what mastering is required. (note - it is 'good enough' not 'perfect'.)

If it isn't 'good enough' there are several things which need to be agreed with the producer/mixing engineer (Assuming re-recording completely from scratch is not an option):

1 - you remix, perhaps with help from the ME

2- ME remixes

3- ME masters the main bus file that has minimal effects added at mixing.

4- ME masters what they originally sent and you accept that it is a flawed original take.

5- discuss what else you can do - including go elsewhere.

To do 1 and 2 requires that you have kept copies of: the original tracking files, stems and group stems. If you want me to do 2 then it will cost extra as you essentially are using the ME as a mixing engineer as well. To do 3 requires that you have a copy of the main bus out prior to adding any effects. In these 3 instances what we are trying to get at is a re-mix as close to the original tracking so that we can then re-look at levels, effects and compression, summing etc. If you haven't kept the originals and only have the final file then 4 or 5 apply. WRT 4 an ME may be able to get a poorly recorded mix to sound better but its unlikely to be as good as something that is right at tracking, mixing and mastering. Ultimately the old maxim of 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' is pretty accurate.

*Over the last few years there has been a growth in people sending MEs the group stems to sum and master. An ME often has much better hardware (and software) to sum the groups in to a single file then someone recording everything at home so whilst it is generally true that an ME will master a single file they can sum multiple files first; many will even agree to 'remix' individual group stems prior to summing. (Not all MEs will let you send multiple files for summing though.) Also most MEs are happy to discuss your concerns regarding takes, suggest which is good to go and what the alternatives are - if you're unsure talk to the ME.


Thanks for that explanation. I hope that it does not seem like I am kicking a dead horse on the recording forum. But it helps to clear things up I think. There is so much information out there now that it makes it hard sometimes to get a good basic grasp on how things work. I.E. What is considered mastering and what is considered mixing and the steps that each involve. This has been very informative form me. Thanks
enforcer
Hey Fingerspasm,

My friend I think something also must be said aloud, the equipment quality, preamps etc really make a huge difference. To reach the quality of a professional mixing and mastering in your home environment is virtually impossible. I understood that fact very well with the experience I recently had while we were having our album production. The thing is, you may emulate that quality to a point, it is great to set your goals to a high level, but you need to be realistic too.

But the funny thing is, there are so many professionally made but sounding crap albums out there that, you can surpass most of them with your own possibilities... I really do suggest you to let a pro m.e. do the mastering. You just concentrate on making the greatest mix possible with your own equipment. And if that m.e. is a decent guy, he can help you correct those mistakes you made too to a point ofc...

Remember the ring starts with the musician...

1st, musicians need to play their parts as they should.
2nd, recording must be done properly
3rd, Editting must remove all that time/tempo and peak/level issues
4rd, mixing must take out that very good recording to a new level
5th, mastering must polish that result...

The priority drops from above to bellow man, its like %40 musicianship %25 editing % 20 Mixing %15 Mastering...

Well this doesn't mean you absolutely can't make right a low quality recording on mixing, but it won't sound as good as it could be, and those little bits cumulatively effects the final result...

Hope this was useful

Can
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (enforcer @ Sep 25 2009, 10:56 AM) *
Hey Fingerspasm,

My friend I think something also must be said aloud, the equipment quality, preamps etc really make a huge difference. To reach the quality of a professional mixing and mastering in your home environment is virtually impossible. I understood that fact very well with the experience I recently had while we were having our album production. The thing is, you may emulate that quality to a point, it is great to set your goals to a high level, but you need to be realistic too.

But the funny thing is, there are so many professionally made but sounding crap albums out there that, you can surpass most of them with your own possibilities... I really do suggest you to let a pro m.e. do the mastering. You just concentrate on making the greatest mix possible with your own equipment. And if that m.e. is a decent guy, he can help you correct those mistakes you made too to a point ofc...

Remember the ring starts with the musician...

1st, musicians need to play their parts as they should.
2nd, recording must be done properly
3rd, Editting must remove all that time/tempo and peak/level issues
4rd, mixing must take out that very good recording to a new level
5th, mastering must polish that result...

The priority drops from above to bellow man, its like %40 musicianship %25 editing % 20 Mixing %15 Mastering...

Well this doesn't mean you absolutely can't make right a low quality recording on mixing, but it won't sound as good as it could be, and those little bits cumulatively effects the final result...

Hope this was useful

Can


Yes very useful. I recently started upgrading equipment to try and reach the next level. Not a studio level but maybe a good home level. I got a new macbook pro and logic studio along with an Apogee ensemble for audio interface. Also picked up some descent mic's. Hope to keep building from there. I will have to figure out what is needed to be purchased next to increase the quality of what I am doing. One step at a time I guess.
enforcer
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Sep 25 2009, 07:02 PM) *
Yes very useful. I recently started upgrading equipment to try and reach the next level. Not a studio level but maybe a good home level. I got a new macbook pro and logic studio along with an Apogee ensemble for audio interface. Also picked up some descent mic's. Hope to keep building from there. I will have to figure out what is needed to be purchased next to increase the quality of what I am doing. One step at a time I guess.


what about your reference monitors? You need something consistent to hear biggrin.gif
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (enforcer @ Sep 25 2009, 11:23 AM) *
what about your reference monitors? You need something consistent to hear biggrin.gif


Ahhh yes forgot to mention the monitors smile.gif I am using some M-Audio BX5a monitors. I really like them. After I mix for a bit on those I will listen to the mix on my laptop speakers and then take it out to my truck and listen to them on the Bose Audio system out there and then go into the house and listen to it on the home audio setup. Just to be sure that it will sound alright across the board.
enforcer
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Sep 25 2009, 07:52 PM) *
Ahhh yes forgot to mention the monitors smile.gif I am using some M-Audio BX5a monitors. I really like them. After I mix for a bit on those I will listen to the mix on my laptop speakers and then take it out to my truck and listen to them on the Bose Audio system out there and then go into the house and listen to it on the home audio setup. Just to be sure that it will sound alright across the board.


great man that will do for a while biggrin.gif
Staffy
Yeah, Can is right. One of the best improvements i made was to buy a tube preamp and use it on nearly everything when possible to get some analog warmth. Also the microphones is VERY important, get a good tube-mic with a large membrane for vocals and overhang for the drums. To the guitars it's not so important, any crap-mic will do, as the guitars can be heavily eq'ed, but the most people seems to prefer SM57 (or 58's) and here You also can use the tube-mic to blend in some room with it at some distance.

//Staffay
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Staffy @ Sep 25 2009, 12:14 PM) *
Yeah, Can is right. One of the best improvements i made was to buy a tube preamp and use it on nearly everything when possible to get some analog warmth. Also the microphones is VERY important, get a good tube-mic with a large membrane for vocals and overhang for the drums. To the guitars it's not so important, any crap-mic will do, as the guitars can be heavily eq'ed, but the most people seems to prefer SM57 (or 58's) and here You also can use the tube-mic to blend in some room with it at some distance.

//Staffay


Will have to check into a tube preamp. I was told that the pre's in my Ensemble were really good. I did pick up a new mic for vocals its a audio technica AT2050. Made a big difference. As for drums I am using all Shure mic's that were designed for drums. And on guitar I have a Sennheiser E609 Silver. Will check on a Tube Mic also. Thanks for the info. smile.gif
tonymiro
To add some context to what Can has said our monitor set up here for our mastering work:

Main monitors -
Sonus Faber passive audiophile monitors on dedicated SF stands
Ikon speaker cable
Cyrus pre and mono bridged power amps plus dedicated power supply.
Cost about 8000USD but in mastering terms ours is a relatively inexpensive system.

(For additional monitoring we also use Tannoy Reveal active studio monitors, ESi, AE1s and some basic hi fi stuff to check playback.)

For main playback we use 2 Meridian cd players - about 2500USD each in to a Lavry ADC. The Lavry cost about 4000USD.

This is all in a room that has quite a lot of acoustic treatment.

The reason why our main monitor set up is expensive is simply that if you cannot hear the recording accurately then you cannot accurately master it.

This isn't to say that you can't master on less expensive set ups - you can and a good ME will get a good result regardless. There's also no real reason why you shouldn't try and do some mastering yourself but it's unlikely that you will get to the quality of a pro ME even on a good mixing studio monitoring setup.




Staffy
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2009, 07:22 PM) *
To add some context to what Can has said our monitor set up here for our mastering work:

Main monitors -
Sonus Faber passive audiophile monitors on dedicated SF stands
Ikon speaker cable
Cyrus pre and mono bridged power amps plus dedicated power supply.
Cost about 8000USD but in mastering terms ours is a relatively inexpensive system.

(For additional monitoring we also use Tannoy Reveal active studio monitors, ESi, AE1s and some basic hi fi stuff to check playback.)

For main playback we use 2 Meridian cd players - about 2500USD each in to a Lavry ADC. The Lavry cost about 4000USD.

This is all in a room that has quite a lot of acoustic treatment.

The reason why our main monitor set up is expensive is simply that if you cannot hear the recording accurately then you cannot accurately master it.

This isn't to say that you can't master on less expensive set ups - you can and a good ME will get a good result regardless. There's also no real reason why you shouldn't try and do some mastering yourself but it's unlikely that you will get to the quality of a pro ME even on a good mixing studio monitoring setup.



Thats absolutely true Tony, therefore should I make a tryout with some online mastering solutions which we discussed in anther thread and then compare them to whats possible to do at home with relative cheap equipment. I will post the results as soon as I got some good enough song to send.... (which probably will be never... tongue.gif , so I guess I have to take one of the bad one's...)

//Staffay

tonymiro
QUOTE (Staffy @ Sep 25 2009, 05:32 PM) *
...should I make a tryout with some online mastering solutions which we discussed in anther thread and then compare them to whats possible to do at home with relative cheap equipment. ...

//Staffay


No harm in using a good on-line ME (and AFAIK pretty much all will accept work on-line) and compare their's against yours.

May not be possible for you Staffy but if you can try and attend the mastering session for two reasons:

1 - gives you a first had chance to see what is done and to ask questions.

2 - also gives you a chance to see 'high end' mastering equipment. Mastering equipment, in my experience, is pretty hard to come across and demo so if you can get to see lots of mastering grade stuff all at once wink.gif biggrin.gif.
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2009, 12:22 PM) *
To add some context to what Can has said our monitor set up here for our mastering work:

Main monitors -
Sonus Faber passive audiophile monitors on dedicated SF stands
Ikon speaker cable
Cyrus pre and mono bridged power amps plus dedicated power supply.
Cost about 8000USD but in mastering terms ours is a relatively inexpensive system.

(For additional monitoring we also use Tannoy Reveal active studio monitors, ESi, AE1s and some basic hi fi stuff to check playback.)

For main playback we use 2 Meridian cd players - about 2500USD each in to a Lavry ADC. The Lavry cost about 4000USD.

This is all in a room that has quite a lot of acoustic treatment.

The reason why our main monitor set up is expensive is simply that if you cannot hear the recording accurately then you cannot accurately master it.

This isn't to say that you can't master on less expensive set ups - you can and a good ME will get a good result regardless. There's also no real reason why you shouldn't try and do some mastering yourself but it's unlikely that you will get to the quality of a pro ME even on a good mixing studio monitoring setup.


Thats some pretty serious equipment. I will keep adding to mine as I learn more. I have been reading various magazines and checking out stuff in some of the catalogs so I have already gotten over the sticker shock of what some of this stuff cost. What level I reach remains to be seen. Running a business. Dealing with 2 teenage kids and playing guitar takes up most of my time. But I have managed to squeeze in a couple of hours a day lately to try and work on these songs. Thanks for the info.

QUOTE (Staffy @ Sep 25 2009, 12:32 PM) *
Thats absolutely true Tony, therefore should I make a tryout with some online mastering solutions which we discussed in anther thread and then compare them to whats possible to do at home with relative cheap equipment. I will post the results as soon as I got some good enough song to send.... (which probably will be never... tongue.gif , so I guess I have to take one of the bad one's...)

//Staffay


Might try that with one of these songs I am working on. Will have to look into the cost.

QUOTE (Staffy @ Sep 25 2009, 12:32 PM) *
Thats absolutely true Tony, therefore should I make a tryout with some online mastering solutions which we discussed in anther thread and then compare them to whats possible to do at home with relative cheap equipment. I will post the results as soon as I got some good enough song to send.... (which probably will be never... tongue.gif , so I guess I have to take one of the bad one's...)

//Staffay


I have considered taking some type of online course on mixing and mastering.
tonymiro
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Sep 25 2009, 06:29 PM) *
Thats some pretty serious equipment. I will keep adding to mine as I learn more. I have been reading various magazines and checking out stuff in some....



Might try that with one of these songs I am working on. Will have to look into the cost.



I have considered taking some type of online course on mixing and mastering.


Not meant to knock (and sorry if it sounded like that) what you have or are doing and trying to achieve is fine. We all start some where and tbh what you have is a good start and better then when I started smile.gif.
Fingerspasm
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2009, 04:31 PM) *
Not meant to knock (and sorry if it sounded like that) what you have or are doing and trying to achieve is fine. We all start some where and tbh what you have is a good start and better then when I started smile.gif.


Not at all. I am glad that you took the time to make the post and to talk about your equipment and some of your experiences. I have learned in my 42 years to listen to those that have experience. It does not mean that you follow them blindly but you must listen and learn I would like to hear more anytime. smile.gif
On another note. I was down in the reading room and I opened up my new REC Magazine and the first article I read was titled What is this thing called Mastering? It then when on to talk about many of the things we covered today. I thought about Scanning the article and posting it. smile.gif
Ivan Milenkovic
QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2009, 07:42 PM) *
if you can try and attend the mastering session for two reasons:

1 - gives you a first had chance to see what is done and to ask questions.

2 - also gives you a chance to see 'high end' mastering equipment. Mastering equipment, in my experience, is pretty hard to come across and demo so if you can get to see lots of mastering grade stuff all at once wink.gif biggrin.gif.


Yes this is very true. It is one thing trying to poke certain settings at home, but if you don't have any contact with real mastering grade gear it can be impossible to try to emulate the process with software plugs or low cost outboard gear.
So the more time you spend seeing how the ME works and go through all the real pro mastering studio gear, you can then use that knowledge to effectively emulate the mastering process at home. The results will be poor considering the fact only plugs are used, but it will still sound ok for demo projects or semi pro use - the kinda thing you can do with home studio.



This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2014 Invision Power Services, Inc.