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Saoirse O'Shea
post Dec 21 2009, 08:28 PM
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Thought you might want to hear what your on-going Route 66 recording might start to sound like as a mastered track Staffy. Note this isn't a full master - not least as I'm working of your tracking mp3 rather than the mixed wav and have returned this as a compressed mp3.

Attached File  1staffy_Route66_PreSonus_Master_Mix.mp3 ( 6.63MB ) Number of downloads: 229


Also I don't have a reference track as to what you want the final to actually emulate so I've just imposed my own idea wink.gif - sort of Dianne Reeves meets Abby Lincoln. (OK maybe not tongue.gif .)

It's only the first couple of minutes - I had to cut the file in half as the whole file is a bit on the big side at nearly 14 Mb.

If you have any questions as to what I've done to it fire away. If you want I can expand this in to a Mastering Log. (YEs sad ME person that I am I keep a log rolleyes.gif .)

For those who haven't heard Staffy's original file see this thread


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Staffy
post Dec 21 2009, 09:42 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Dec 21 2009, 08:28 PM) *
Thought you might want to hear what your on-going Route 66 recording might start to sound like as a mastered track Staffy. Note this isn't a full master - not least as I'm working of your tracking mp3 rather than the mixed wav and have returned this as a compressed mp3.

Attached File  1staffy_Route66_PreSonus_Master_Mix.mp3 ( 6.63MB ) Number of downloads: 229


Also I don't have a reference track as to what you want the final to actually emulate so I've just imposed my own idea wink.gif - sort of Dianne Reeves meets Abby Lincoln. (OK maybe not tongue.gif .)

It's only the first couple of minutes - I had to cut the file in half as the whole file is a bit on the big side at nearly 14 Mb.

If you have any questions as to what I've done to it fire away. If you want I can expand this in to a Mastering Log. (YEs sad ME person that I am I keep a log rolleyes.gif .)

For those who haven't heard Staffy's original file see this thread


Awesome Tony!!!! Sure we want the log!!!! smile.gif The processing You did really cleaned up the sound a lot and widened the stereo image in my ears. Still the bass is a little too boomy, but thats really my fault.... huh.gif But it got a lot better here! I can easily put the wav-file on-line if You want, but since the real interesting stuff is supposed to come, eg. the Cubase version, I suggest that we continues with that instead.
And of course Im very curious of what Yoa actually did! smile.gif

//Staffay


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Guitars: Ibanez AM-200, Ibanez GB-10, Fender Stratocaster Classic Player, Warmouth Custom Built, Suhr Classic Strat, Gibson Les Paul Standard 2003, Ibanez steel-string
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Dec 21 2009, 10:47 PM
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Glad you like it Staffy smile.gif .

In brief (I'll post the log properly tomorrow - it's not on this pc) what I did with a few comments are, and from memory:

Equpiment - Lavry Blue AD/DA-RME-DAW. LP eq - Algorythmix Red and Sonoris LP, MP eq- Flux EPure. Comp - Flux Solaris.

Download and change mp3 to a wav. Change wav from 16 to 24 bit and upsample to 96k.

First pass evaluation: nice live mix, levels generally good, look at reducing sub bass, vocal concentrates in low mid along with guitar and upper bass, add some air.

First correction - LP high pass filter at 35Hz, 12Db. LP Shelf +3Db 8k. LP low pass at 12k 12dB. All ms. Gainstage change to attenuate @-2dB.

Comment: drop sub bass ok, some bass resonance, vocals come up a bit but essing, needs more upper mid and high end.

Second - correct LP hpf to 27, 12dB, mid. Baxandall LP high shelf at 7k mid, to add air. Wide MP q on 1.4 gain of @ 1 dB mid channel. Bass on right channel - MP eq to reduce resonance at 5ooHz wide q.

Comment - side channel eq brings down bass. Improved clarity on vocal with shelf and lowered bass. Bass resonance reduced. Vocal - some essing.

Third - mid channel - side chain LP cut narrow q -6dB at 4.4 K and 7.2 to side chain compt for essing. Put de-essing before eq and gain stage eq in to comp. Add compression and upward compression after eq. Side chain compression to increase stereo breadth. Gain stage to keep peak level at or below -.5 (to allow for mp3 conversion) - crest ok at 12dB; peaking at @-0.8 with no clipping. Limiting - not required. Downsample to 44k dither to 16 re-render to mp3 320 bit rate.

Comment: vocals sound clearer with more space around them, bass down, less sibliance, more dynamic movement on guitar and vocals generally, correlation ok.


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audiopaal
post Dec 22 2009, 11:12 AM
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Wow, that was great Tony smile.gif
Looking forward to the log!

Btw, what do you do to switch from 16 to 24 bit and upsample to 96k? smile.gif
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Dec 22 2009, 11:29 AM
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To go from 16 to 24 I used R8B8Pro - I can also just do it on the Lavry but wanted to keep as much of the processing ITB. For upsampling
this time around I did it in the daw and then set all of the vsts to 2x where they could do it. Again I could have done it on the Lavry.

Generally I prefer to master at 96k as it gives better, clearer response above 1k. TBH its downsampling that tends to cause issues for most people.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 23 2009, 01:36 PM
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Awesome job tony, the track's clarity has improved a lot. I still think guitar and bass could be a bit more lower in volume.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Dec 24 2009, 12:21 PM
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Thanks Ivan smile.gif .

Re instrument levels - unless they are either badly clipped, very out or unless a client requests it at mastering we normally don't change them much as we assume that they're at the level that the client wants since they've been set at tracking and at mixing. If we start changing them at mastering we can affect both the stereo balance of the song and how the instruments sit together an awful lot. As it is upping the space around the vocals also reduced the volume on the bass and the guitar a bit.

It's going to take me a few days to get hold of the mastering log - we're in the middle of a few bad tormentas here which are causing a lot of problems. The studio is at the mo unplugged to protect it from power outs, surges etc.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 25 2009, 01:55 AM
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Thanks for clarification tony, that makes a lot of sense. I looking forward to see the log, I'm sure it will be informative, after the power problems ofc.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 6 2010, 05:57 PM
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What follows is not quite the mastering log we use (and I've excluded our internal stuff like pricing etc). Our log is pretty much short hand settings and looks a bit like this:

EQ - LP Son All @27Hz 12 dB 8 v, Mid only 220 _1.1 0.3, 1200 2.0 3.2
MP Flux L only 110 -1 0.2, 550 -1.1 2.2.

That's so that we can replicate what we've done should we have to at some point in the future. As such it may not mean much to anyone else and wouldn't necessarily translate well to other equipment anyway. I've added additional comments explanations as well in parentheses as well.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Client: In house sonoris LP test {partly done as we were messing with the Sonoris LP eq's mid/side capabilities that day).

Track: 'Route 66- Staffy'

Original: MP3 Required final format: MP3 [for upload to GMC]
Track length: 5:56 approx 6mb MP3. Reformat and upsample.
[We don't master mp3 files, only uncompressed 24 bit. As this was an MP3 I have to first both reformat it to a Wave and change it from 16 to 24 bit. I change it to 24 bit as our mastering sequencer runs internally at 24 bit which gives me a much better noise floor than 16. I then upsample from 44.1 to 96k. I use 96k for a master as it provides more upper end clarity and shifts the Nyquist up beyond audible.]

Reformat- RB8 Pro, soft clipping in [as I'm reformatting a compressed mp3 I want to watch any over shoots, limiting etc. Staffy's levels are generally ok but there are a couple of transients that over. They aren't a problem though as they are fast transients. I'm going to take the RMS down at gain stage on the EQ. Soft clipping here is mainly for those transients.]

Upsample - internal DAW to 96 [I'm doing this all 'in the box/ITB' else I would upsample on the Lavry AD/DA, also shift from 16 to 24 and gain stage on the Ibis at the same time. I generally don't go above 96 as it I don't think the quality improvement is worth the additional processing cost. Upsampling, shifting to 24 bit and format changes here will all have to be dealt with at the end when I re-convert to 16/44.1/mp3.]

Monitors and meters to K14 [I don't use peak meters for mastering. I use the K system and usually set out at k14 for rock/jazz. Monitors are pink noise calibrated on the K system. This means that I can accurately set, maintain and repeat spl, volume etc for mastering. This is important both wrt the Fletcher Munson effect and also so that I am much less likely to clip on transients.]

Normally a client would supply me with a reference track - a piece of music that they like the sound of that they want their recording to be like. As I didn't have one I've just shot for what I wanted - which may or may not be at all what Staffy wants! ME's usually allow for 1 or 2 re-masters to account for this sort of subjectivity - i.e. You give me 'Highway to Hell' as a reference track and I produce a master, you say I want more volume/bass/whatever and I'll do that for free. You then say 'great I want less X' and I do that for free. You then say, 'well it now sounds like ACDC but I wanted Nirvava' and I say 'Fine but it will now cost you. You've used up your 3 lives.' cool.gif

Import into sequencer. No errors from sequencer. Save EDL point 1.

1st audio play - impression - nice live jazz track of 'Route 66'. Quite a bit of low end and sub not a lot of upper end air. Some instrument handling noise. Audience noise at intro and outro - very little in the song. Sudden cut to digital black at end.

2nd audio play [for timings etc] - 0-0:26 intro, talk over, vocal/guitar, background audience.
:26-1:52- band. Some essing. Quite a bit of sub.
1:52-2:34 - bass. As per, handling noise [handling noise here isn't really an issue as it can be taken as part of the bass players style]
2:34-3.38 - vocal scat
3:38-4.42 - guitar. Note 4.33-4.40 - body resonance bass or guitar?
4:42-5:54 outro. Note: 5:05-5:12 noticible sss'ing plus 'ps' and 'ts' - de-ess if possible. Outro long enough so all instuments fade ok. [De'essing isn't that easy at mastering - I'm kind of hoping that I can get at the vocal separate to the bass and guitar here to do this. Outro is fine, everything decays to ambient naturally rather than being truncated.]
5:54-5:56 - sudden sharp fade to digital black. [at the end of a single track like Staffy's this isn't an issue and just marks a cut off point. If this was an album/ep I'd ask Staffy to insert room ambient level rather than fade to black at the start and end of tracks. Digital black within a recording however can cause issues as it can confuse compressors wrt threshold - in this sort of case I'd have to edit out the digital black and replace with ambient.]

Son lp eq master buss [insert a sonoris linear phase eq on the main stereo]. Play back monitor main L, R [monitor audio on the main, the left and the right channel in isolation. I'm checking both the mono and stereo mix AND also if I can get the vocals isolated a bit from the guitar and bass so I can be a bit more surgical for any de-essing'.] Voc on main [great I can].

Stereo- pass out the sub bass at 35Hz, take it down 12dB per octave all channels [I'm looking to see if I can reduce the sub bass and so open up the mix a bit.] LP Shelf +3Db 8k [starting to think about de'essing this so setting up to side chain a compressor. Female vocals tend to ess most between 6.8-8.2 kHz. I'm using a LP eq here as I want to make it quite surgical. Note that this is only on the mid channel - won't have much affect on bass and guitar which are mainly side]. LP low pass at 12k 12dB. All ms. Gainstage change to attenuate @-2dB [taking the RMS level down now to give me some head room and reduce chance of clipping later].

Save EDL point 2. [EDL- edit decision list. This lets me recall the sequencer and any suitable plug-in, including their settings, to this state. I can also edit the EDL off line.]

Playthrough 1- see previous comments. [Note I'm AB'ing what I've done against the original - no point in making a change if it doesn't actually improve on the original.]

correct LP hpf to 27, 12dB, mid. Baxandall LP high shelf at 7k mid, to add air using Algorythmix Red LP EQ. Wide MP q on 1.4 gain of @ 1 dB mid channel. Bass on right channel - MP eq to reduce resonance at 5ooHz wide q. [Baxandall curve (sort of a soft rising z shape starting at 7kHz here and peaking at about 22k with a final gain of 1dB) as I'm trying to add some high end as the mix sounds to be mainly bass and mid range and I'm also going to lose some high end with de'essing later. I've also now inserted a minimal phase eq - in this case a Flux EPure - for wide q work.

Save EDL point 3.

Playthrough 2 - better to me. Previous shelf at 35 was taking out too much sub bass. Opening it up had made the handling noise more apparent hence the minimal phase eq cut at 500 on R. Reducing the bass has left more room for the vocals but it's also made the essing a bit more prominent so will have to de-ess.


Third - mid channel - side chain LP cut narrow q 6dB at 4.4 K and 7.2 to side chain comp for essing.
Two Side chains at 4.4 andl 7.2kHz v. narrow q to comp take EQ gain up to +6. Comp to take out most essing and plosives. [again I'm doing this all on the mid channel where most of the vocal sits. I've swept the eq a bit and decided most of the essing is at 7.2 and I've increased the eq gain here on a very narrow q. This should make the 'esses' etc really jump out for the compressor and let it clamp down on them. I'm using the comp to gain reduce rather than eliminate as personally I think over de'essing at mastering can make the vocals sound un-real and artificial. This is also why I'm doing it on the mid rather than the entire mix - this way there will still be some sibilance on the side spill. Compressor here is a mastering grade wide band comp. I don't tend to use a multiband/split-band as I tend to think they cause phase issues, create artifacts and can end up sounding un-natural.]

Add compression and upward compression after eq [some very minimal compression here ratio of 1:1.2, threshold -27, medium attack and medium release. Incoming at 0.2 final gain at -0.3. I'm just really trying to add back a little bit of oomph and transient movement to the bass without sitting on it too much (poor bass player probably hates me as most of my taking away has been at his expense) plus a bit of upward to de-compress the entire mix a little. ]

EDL point 4.

Playthrough 3 - generally better to me - bass ok and no longer dominating, vocals clearer and less congested. Current level @-14dB needs to come up a bit. No obvious clipping at present.

Gain stage to keep peak level at or below -.5 (to allow for mp3 conversion) - crest ok at 12dB [I did the gain stage here manually just by listening for overshoots rather than watching the meters]; peaking at @-0.8 with no clipping. Limiting - not required [not everything needs to be brickwalled limited for maximum loudness. IMHO limiting this track would do it more harm than good]. Downsample to 44k dither to 16 re-render and format change to mp3 320 bit rate. MP3 checked on Reaper 64 bit.

Total time - approx 55 mins.

What I haven't done which I would normally do on a full master -

No actual editing of the waveform; no fades; not as many playthroughs; no redbook; no spectrum or spectrogram check; didn't spend much time fine tuning the eq and used my first hunch as to which to use when and where; very little time on gain staging; no error checking; biggest omission - no discussion with Staffy as to what he wanted/would like ohmy.gif . (Sorry)

T




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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 7 2010, 12:31 AM
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What a professional and impressive job, hats off. Log is very clear, every little detail is there, very cool! smile.gif


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audiopaal
post Jan 7 2010, 07:50 AM
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Very good log, thanks a lot for sharing!!
Obviously I don't get all of it, but some things was very helpful smile.gif

QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 6 2010, 05:57 PM) *
5:54-5:56 - sudden sharp fade to digital black. [at the end of a single track like Staffy's this isn't an issue and just marks a cut off point. If this was an album/ep I'd ask Staffy to insert room ambient level rather than fade to black at the start and end of tracks. Digital black within a recording however can cause issues as it can confuse compressors wrt threshold - in this sort of case I'd have to edit out the digital black and replace with ambient.]

About this...
If I record songs for an album, you wouldn't fade out completely?
Just enough to make it hard to hear..?

If a song doesn't fade out, but stops promptly,
would you do the same?
There's usually a few seconds before the next track starts, so should there be ambience there as well? smile.gif
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 7 2010, 01:34 PM
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QUOTE (audiopaal @ Jan 7 2010, 07:50 AM) *
...

About this...
If I record songs for an album, you wouldn't fade out completely?
Just enough to make it hard to hear..?

If a song doesn't fade out, but stops promptly,
would you do the same?
There's usually a few seconds before the next track starts, so should there be ambience there as well? smile.gif


In part what you are concerned with is that the PQ is correctly identified and works for any cd player so that they can correctly index and see the start and end points and set accordingly. In part what you are also concerned with is the impact of individual songs and how the album moves from one track to the next.

In the few seconds between songs you are normally fading the old down and out and fading up for the next one with the PQ set accordingly. Very often the crossover point only hits zero for a very brief moment ie its not actually three seconds of complete silence (ambient or digital black). What you don't want is he PQ point set wrong so that the cd player sees the start/end points in the wrong places ie it starts the next track before the first has properly finished/ too much silence so that some cd players start to see that as a track and so on. (Keep in mind the Red Book standards on this as well regarding silence, length between songs, 'hidden' or 'secret' tracks and so on.)

For digital black if it's between songs or the very last song then it's generally ok for a studio album to fade to, and up from, digital black.
If a song stops abruptly on a studio then yes I'd let it sit at black for a little while. You also then have to think of how that abrupt stop and brief digital silence affects the start and the impact of the next song as potentially it can appear to come in very sudden and sound initially very loud. WRT this is why its a good idea to give an ME a say in the actual order of tracks on an album as we have to think about both the overall level of the album and the levels and impact of individual songs and how we go from one to the next. Doesn't always happen - often the producer just tells me the track order and I have to work with it.

If it's a live album then it can sound very odd to fade down to digital black because you expect to hear some background ambient noise and the audience. As this is a live take if it was part of a live lp my advice would be to fade to ambient and set PQ accordingly. It doesn't matter in this case as its a single track though.

There's more of an issue with digital black within a song as it can upset limiters and compressors.



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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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audiopaal
post Jan 7 2010, 01:55 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 7 2010, 01:34 PM) *
In part what you are concerned with is that the PQ is correctly identified and works for any cd player so that they can correctly index and see the start and end points and set accordingly. In part what you are also concerned with is the impact of individual songs and how the album moves from one track to the next.

In the few seconds between songs you are normally fading the old down and out and fading up for the next one with the PQ set accordingly. Very often the crossover point only hits zero for a very brief moment ie its not actually three seconds of complete silence (ambient or digital black). What you don't want is he PQ point set wrong so that the cd player sees the start/end points in the wrong places ie it starts the next track before the first has properly finished/ too much silence so that some cd players start to see that as a track and so on. (Keep in mind the Red Book standards on this as well regarding silence, length between songs, 'hidden' or 'secret' tracks and so on.)

For digital black if it's between songs or the very last song then it's generally ok for a studio album to fade to, and up from, digital black.
If a song stops abruptly on a studio then yes I'd let it sit at black for a little while. You also then have to think of how that abrupt stop and brief digital silence affects the start and the impact of the next song as potentially it can appear to come in very sudden and sound initially very loud. WRT this is why its a good idea to give an ME a say in the actual order of tracks on an album as we have to think about both the overall level of the album and the levels and impact of individual songs and how we go from one to the next. Doesn't always happen - often the producer just tells me the track order and I have to work with it.

If it's a live album then it can sound very odd to fade down to digital black because you expect to hear some background ambient noise and the audience. As this is a live take if it was part of a live lp my advice would be to fade to ambient and set PQ accordingly. It doesn't matter in this case as its a single track though.

There's more of an issue with digital black within a song as it can upset limiters and compressors.

Thanks a lot for the answer smile.gif
I understand it better now, thanks to you!

Might have some more questions for you in the future wink.gif
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 7 2010, 10:44 PM
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Now that you mentioned fade outs, I have a question Tony. If the song has to go to fade out, and you get the recording from the band that doesn't have a fade out, and you are asked to make one (for example, the song continues for another chorus to allow the fade out to be made). Suppose a client asks for a fade out over the last chorus, and you need to create it. How would you do it, if the client only asks for a fade out, not giving you the specific details about it? (I hope this makes sense...).


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audiopaal
post Jan 7 2010, 11:50 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jan 7 2010, 10:44 PM) *
Now that you mentioned fade outs, I have a question Tony. If the song has to go to fade out, and you get the recording from the band that doesn't have a fade out, and you are asked to make one (for example, the song continues for another chorus to allow the fade out to be made). Suppose a client asks for a fade out over the last chorus, and you need to create it. How would you do it, if the client only asks for a fade out, not giving you the specific details about it? (I hope this makes sense...).

Good question smile.gif
Interrested in this as well!
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 10 2010, 01:00 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jan 7 2010, 10:44 PM) *
... Suppose a client asks for a fade out over the last chorus, and you need to create it. How would you do it, if the client only asks for a fade out, not giving you the specific details about it? ...


Hope I've understood you ok here Ivan...

There are no presets in mastering (which is one reason why if use plug-in mastering suites like Ozone that you should see the pre-sets as a starting point and not a 'fix all') - everything you do depends on the individual track you are working on and what follows. So there is no simple answer that applies in every case. All you can do is listen to the track and what follows and make a judgement on what you think will work best to get the best out of the track and for the project overall.

In the case of fafe outs when its needed but you haven'y been given specific requirements some of what you need to consider are:

1- redbook requirement. There is a maximum amount of silence for space between individual tracks to both allow for correct pq placement/identification of track start and stop by the cd player and also so that rhe palyer doesn't read the silence as a track.

2- what you are fading out - both the type of music and the instrument/vocal/sound you are fading. Some sources need to decay naturally to silence and may sound odd if you suddenly take them to zero, some don't. If you have reverb etc on the track you need to llow the reverb to decay or it will sound odd. The hum an ear gets used to hearing something and expects it to develop/decay naturally'.

3- the level you are fading from and to and how quickly. Sudden fade from a loud source to digital black silence for a few seconds can add impact and may be particulalry effective if the fade is made to empthasise a crescendo. For a ballad though youu may however want more gentle attenuation.

4- what follows. Mastering isn't just concerned with the dynamics of an individual track but the whole project. That doesn't mean that you are level matching/normalising every track so that the entire project acieves the same rms and peak. What it means is that everything you do concerns balance and trade off. You increase one thing and it will have both positive and potentially negative affects elsewhere. What you try to do is determine how to mamimise the positives and minimise the negatives.

In the case of a fade out just how will it affect the next track? Do you, for instance, want the next track to follow on from a loud crescendo and a few seconds of silence or not? Can you use a fade out to increase the initial impact of the track that follows ie give the impression that it is louder than it is without adjusting the gain?...

So apart from 1 everything you do requires that you listen to the track/s a lot and make a judgement. It helps if you listen to music that has been well mixed, produced, mastered a lot so you get an idea of what sounds good and why. For some good examples imo for good use of fade/dynamics inside and between tracks etc mid-period Pink Floyd were good at this, also Bjork and Peter Gabriel and earlyish Talking heads. For an idea of great use of crescendo and silence - Starvinsky's Rite of Spring...

Cheers,
T


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audiopaal
post Jan 10 2010, 03:08 PM
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Tony... You're amazing biggrin.gif
Thanks a lot for describing these things for us!

I've got another question if you don't mind biggrin.gif

You talked about Mastering Plug-ins like Ozone, to be used as a starting point and not a fix-all..
I couldn't agree more, although some of the presets work pretty good as a "demo-master" to showtrack
your songs etc.

What I wanna know is, in your opinion, how well does mastering plug-ins (plug-ins in general) compare
to proper hardware while mastering? smile.gif
I've used a few of the Sonnox Oxford plug-ins, Abbey Road Plug-ins, Waves SSL4000 and even Ozone 3 & 4 for mastering.
Well, Mastering as best as I could with what I had, as I'm no mastering engineer like you smile.gif
I do like to try and learn when I have the chance though, so I was actually pretty happy with the final master I did for a black metal band recently. And so was the band, which is great smile.gif

But I only used plug-ins, and there's quite a few things I'd do differently next time around..
But how much better do you think you could make a master sound if you used hardware for mastering instead of plug-ins? smile.gif

And, if they'give me permission, could I send you a one of their songs before mixing and the final mix/master so you can give an opinion on how I did, and maybe what I should do differently next time? smile.gif
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 10 2010, 03:45 PM
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These are some very good observations and advices tony, thank you very much for answering. I'm learning from these answers a lot. smile.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM
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QUOTE (audiopaal @ Jan 10 2010, 03:08 PM) *
...

You talked about Mastering Plug-ins like Ozone, to be used as a starting point and not a fix-all..
I couldn't agree more, although some of the presets work pretty good as a "demo-master" to showtrack
your songs etc.


'showtracking' (nice term for it smile.gif) sounds fine to me - I'm more 'concerned' by people who only ever use the pre-sets for everything wink.gif .

QUOTE
What I wanna know is, in your opinion, how well does mastering plug-ins (plug-ins in general) compare
to proper hardware while mastering? smile.gif
...

But I only used plug-ins, and there's quite a few things I'd do differently next time around..
But how much better do you think you could make a master sound if you used hardware for mastering instead of plug-ins? smile.gif




Mastering plug-ins - IME - have got a lot better over the last few years. Some are very close to equalling pro-end mastering grade hardware - Algorhtymix Red/Orange for instance is an extremely good EQ. They also have an advantage in that you can afford to get and use several whereas the cost of hardware is pretty prohibitive. Since some comps, for example, work particularly well for some musical styles and not others software can let you cover a broader range of styles than just hardware may.

With the exception of Ozone I'd personally stay away from the less expensive 'mastering suite' software. (Don't want to name any as they are used and recomended quite often.) Whilst they may offer a lot of stuff for the price the quality just is not there for mastering across the entire suite. IME you're often much better off buying individual plug-ins for specific purposes. It's also worth noting that different plug-ins can and perhaps should be used for specific work. A LP EQ is not the same as a MP EQ: one is better at surgical work than the other.

It's also probably worth the comment that software plug-ins aimed at mixing often are not good enough for mastering.

Mastering grade software plugs generally aren't cheap (cheaper than hardware but not cheap in comparison with many other plugs) and also often can really tax your pc. Using Algo Red as an example - it's a software EQ that costs about 1000 Euros (not a typo - one thousand euros). Load up a few instances of it and it will tax your pc to the point that ig you try to use it in real time you will have noticible latency. (Latency here doesn't really matter for mastering but if you tried to use it for tracking/mixing it would.) Similarly, I think the Flux MB Comp Alchemist is about 600 Euros and Elysia's Mpresser is about 350Euros (hardware version is about 2000) . Ozone, is again not cheap but very good value for money.

Apart from the price issue hardware though also takes up space and requires maintenance and may well lock you in to a particular bit depth and sample rate. (One reason why we tend to ask for wave files at 24 bit despite the fact that some DAWS use 32 bit internal float.) There is also ease of use - put a plug in in the signal chain and moving it about is easy, swopping hardware in and out not as easy.

Nonetheless software is still cheap compared with say a mastering grade hardware EQ like an Ibis that costs about 4000 Euros and a Vari Q or Slam for 4-6000 Euros. Plus you then have an add on cost for your signal chain - you need to go DAC twice and ADC once to use mastering hardware with a pc, whereas keeping everything ITB only really needs one DAC. To go DAC 2x and gave ADC at mastering level here we use a Lavry Blue and an RME AES card or a Prism. To keep ITB we use a Lavry Black 11. First is 2000Euros more than the second. So to use hardware mastering is something like an additional 10000euros over the ITB option just for 1 EQ and 1 comp.

Given the choice I'd generally argue that hardware mastering grade will giv a better result than all ITB. Where hardware still excels, ime, is analogue warmth and the ability to gain stage properly. Because of this a hardware mastered take can often achieve a higher gain level then a full ITB one before noticible hard clipping. What you will often find is that a good master done on hardware can be pushed a few dB harder than software so you can achieve a higher level if required and often hardware will saturate in a nicer way than software so if you clip its not as harsh.

Hardware mastering generally carries a price premium though and whether or not that is a premium worth paying/value for money is for the client to decide...

Ultimately it's probably a case of does the music merit and will it benefit from using hardware or is ITB software better/good enough (some types of music may benefit from a digital sheen). There is one big caveat here of course - a good mastering engineer will get a better result out of poor equpiment (software or hardware) than a novice will using the best equipment. Mastering, least imo, does require experience, high quality monitoring and a good set of ears.

QUOTE
And, if they'give me permission, could I send you a one of their songs before mixing and the final mix/master so you can give an opinion on how I did, and maybe what I should do differently next time? smile.gif


sure np though it sometimes may take a while before I get round to it...


--------------------
Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

Be friends on facebook with us here.

We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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audiopaal
post Jan 10 2010, 07:43 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM) *
'showtracking' (nice term for it smile.gif) sounds fine to me - I'm more 'concerned' by people who only ever use the pre-sets for everything wink.gif .

Thanks biggrin.gif
Yeah, I'm no fan of presets at all really..
They always seem poorly adjusted, although maaany people just finds something that sounds good enough and stick with it...
I don't understand it though smile.gif


QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM) *
Mastering plug-ins - IME - have got a lot better over the last few years. Some are very close to equalling pro-end mastering grade hardware - Algorhtymix Red/Orange for instance is an extremely good EQ. They also have an advantage in that you can afford to get and use several whereas the cost of hardware is pretty prohibitive. Since some comps, for example, work particularly well for some musical styles and not others software can let you cover a broader range of styles than just hardware may.

With the exception of Ozone I'd personally stay away from the less expensive 'mastering suite' software. (Don't want to name any as they are used and recomended quite often.) Whilst they may offer a lot of stuff for the price the quality just is not there for mastering across the entire suite. IME you're often much better off buying individual plug-ins for specific purposes. It's also worth noting that different plug-ins can and perhaps should be used for specific work. A LP EQ is not the same as a MP EQ: one is better at surgical work than the other.

It's also probably worth the comment that software plug-ins aimed at mixing often are not good enough for mastering.

I agree, mastering plug-ins have become pretty good.
But that doesn't really matter too much if you don't know how to use it properly biggrin.gif
I've heard about that plug-in, but it's in another league than me unfortunately laugh.gif
I have had good results with cheaper ones (although pretty expensive) like the Sonnox Oxford plug-ins (Oxford Inflator, Oxford Transient Modulator and Oxford Limiter), Waves SSL 4000 (SSL G-channel, SSL G-equalizer, SSL G-master Buss Compressor, SSL E-channel), Abbey Road Plugins (Brilliance Pack) and Ozone etc..
I like to work with good gear/software although I'm not the best in the business, because it'll make me get the best sound I can have at this moment.
And I would recommend these plugs (some for mixing and some for ITB mastering), because they sound really good.
I don't know if you've tied any of them, but I'd be interrested in your opinion if you have smile.gif


QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM) *
Mastering grade software plugs generally aren't cheap (cheaper than hardware but not cheap in comparison with many other plugs) and also often can really tax your pc. Using Algo Red as an example - it's a software EQ that costs about 1000 Euros (not a typo - one thousand euros). Load up a few instances of it and it will tax your pc to the point that ig you try to use it in real time you will have noticible latency. (Latency here doesn't really matter for mastering but if you tried to use it for tracking/mixing it would.) Similarly, I think the Flux MB Comp Alchemist is about 600 Euros and Elysia's Mpresser is about 350Euros (hardware version is about 2000) . Ozone, is again not cheap but very good value for money.

Apart from the price issue hardware though also takes up space and requires maintenance and may well lock you in to a particular bit depth and sample rate. (One reason why we tend to ask for wave files at 24 bit despite the fact that some DAWS use 32 bit internal float.) There is also ease of use - put a plug in in the signal chain and moving it about is easy, swopping hardware in and out not as easy.

Nonetheless software is still cheap compared with say a mastering grade hardware EQ like an Ibis that costs about 4000 Euros and a Vari Q or Slam for 4-6000 Euros. Plus you then have an add on cost for your signal chain - you need to go DAC twice and ADC once to use mastering hardware with a pc, whereas keeping everything ITB only really needs one DAC. To go DAC 2x and gave ADC at mastering level here we use a Lavry Blue and an RME AES card or a Prism. To keep ITB we use a Lavry Black 11. First is 2000Euros more than the second. So to use hardware mastering is something like an additional 10000euros over the ITB option just for 1 EQ and 1 comp.

Given the choice I'd generally argue that hardware mastering grade will giv a better result than all ITB. Where hardware still excels, ime, is analogue warmth and the ability to gain stage properly. Because of this a hardware mastered take can often achieve a higher gain level then a full ITB one before noticible hard clipping. What you will often find is that a good master done on hardware can be pushed a few dB harder than software so you can achieve a higher level if required and often hardware will saturate in a nicer way than software so if you clip its not as harsh.

Hardware mastering generally carries a price premium though and whether or not that is a premium worth paying/value for money is for the client to decide...

I believe Hardware mastering will probably give more warmth to the sound and probably more clarity as well.
But it is as you say... Expensive smile.gif
Of course on most songs it would be the best thing, but on some things I believe ITB can do as good if you have proper knowledge, experince and good software. I lack the knowledge and experience laugh.gif But hopefully that'll come in time smile.gif


QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM) *
Ultimately it's probably a case of does the music merit and will it benefit from using hardware or is ITB software better/good enough (some types of music may benefit from a digital sheen). There is one big caveat here of course - a good mastering engineer will get a better result out of poor equpiment (software or hardware) than a novice will using the best equipment. Mastering, least imo, does require experience, high quality monitoring and a good set of ears.

Have any good ears I can buy laugh.gif

QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 10 2010, 04:38 PM) *
sure np though it sometimes may take a while before I get round to it...

Awesome, thanks a lot smile.gif

And thanks a lot for helping out smile.gif
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