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> Opinions On My "mastering", Questions for tony and others more experienced than I
The Uncreator
post Jul 15 2010, 04:13 AM
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So I got this mastering plugin called Izotope Ozone 4, Sold one of my lesser used Ibanez's and picked it up a short bit ago. It had great reviews and the demo I tried sounded great. Its the first step for me for setting up a small home "studio", Got some other equipment lined up but this wasn't to big a dent in my pocket compared to the other stuff.

Okay, first I want some opinions on the song I posted (Skip to just before the 3:00 mark, forgot to exclude the intro bit) - I haven't used anything quite as intricate or capable as Ozone 4, So I'd like to know if I'm doing the right thing (In the sense that my "masters" are progressing in the right direction)

Secondly, there are a few aspects of Ozone 4 I was hoping I could get some explanation on. Paragraphic EQ, Master Reverb, Loudness Maximizer, Are all things I know well enough, But there are some other things I am not sure how to use to properly.

1. Dither - I know the absolute basics, but nothing about what it is really, how I should use it and when.

2. Exciter - I can tweak these setting and understand the change, but on a technical level I am a bit unsure exactly what I am doing with it.

3. Multi-Band Dynamics/ Multi-Band Stereo Imaging - Know next to nothing about it, can hear the effects, but once again - I am unsure of when and how I should use it.


Thanks to anyone who can help me further my knowledge smile.gif


EDIT

Ignore the solo near the end, I am not yet settled on a proper lead tone yet and its just a demo.
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Attached File  The_Jovian_s_Kiss.mp3 ( 15.88MB ) Number of downloads: 223
 
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 10:00 AM
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I'll get back to you properly ASAP Uncreator- just got to go do something smile.gif .

V quickly though - very rarely use a reverb during mastering (usually only in cases where I need to get stereo width for a specific reason) and the idea of a 'mastering reverb' sounds to me more like advertising spin than anything else. Reverb by all means but more for during the mix than mastering smile.gif . Exciters and harmonisers - personally never used either during mastering although I know some MEs who occasionally use an exciter to get a specific vibe.
Not sure why you would use a harmoniser in mastering and a multi-band harmoniser again to me just sounds like advertising spin. IMHO a harmoniser is something that might be used during mixing to get a particular effect but that's a production/mixing decision.

Dithering is all to do with bit depth reduction from 24 (or 32 or 48 etc) to 16 bit CDA and how you then cope with the resulting quantisation noise and distortion.

This post has been edited by tonymiro: Jul 15 2010, 10:03 AM


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The Uncreator
post Jul 15 2010, 02:16 PM
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Excuse the multiband harmonizer, that was a typo, Fixed it laugh.gif
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Staffy
post Jul 15 2010, 04:44 PM
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Without any reference to the original material before the mastering, its hard to tell how You succeeded, since EQ etc. can be made at both mixing-level & mastering-level. Anyway, I think there's some harsh treble over the entire mix, which I personally dont like. Otherwise, the song has really improved since the first demo! smile.gif

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jul 15 2010, 05:39 PM
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Sounds very good! smile.gif I suggest you do couple of passes with different settings, save them all and compare. With time and tweaking you will find what works best. Don't forget to listen on many systems, this will give a clear perspective of what sounds bad. If you hear one thing sounding bad on several systems - back to project to fix that (and locate it on your speakers).

In my humble experience, depending on what you want to achieve, a multiband limiter that is transparent can be used in most situations. After that, you may use exciter or some multiband compressor that colors the sound, if that is the goal. Two compressors can often yield good results, when used very carefully. It's important to know how your compressors and limiters behave, and to hear the interaction on the speakers properly.


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Staffy
post Jul 15 2010, 06:20 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jul 15 2010, 06:39 PM) *
In my humble experience, depending on what you want to achieve, a multiband limiter that is transparent can be used in most situations. After that, you may use exciter or some multiband compressor that colors the sound, if that is the goal. Two compressors can often yield good results, when used very carefully. It's important to know how your compressors and limiters behave, and to hear the interaction on the speakers properly.


+1 AMT (Analog Mastering Tools) Max Warmth really lifts it all, as well as using T-Racks T3, if Your budget is a little bit limited. Otherwise, a hardware multiband compressor/limiter is preferred, but that will be expensive to get a good one..... sad.gif

//Staffay


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 07:13 PM
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As Staffay says it can be difficult to comment without the original mix though we can make some comments that relate it to comparable commercial music. Additionally it can be difficult to judge mastering based on mp3s due to the additional compression. It can help a lot if you can post a wave file - doesn't need to be the entire track, often 1 - 1.5 minutes of 16 bit is enough to get an overall impression.

Anyway I'll download the mp3 and format shift it to a wave and give it a listen asap but will probably be sometime tomorrow (just finishing off and then up-loading a mastering session for some UK label). Whilst I'm doing that a bit more info:

--------------------------------------------
An all in one like Ozone could probably get you most of the way to a mastered end product good enough for commercial release. The two main things to watch out for imo are: 1-presets, only use them as a starting and not an end point. They're not specific to your audio and so you shouldn't think that they're ideal for it. They can be a good place to start at least until you get some experience. 2- over doing it, any processing that you do should be careful and improve things. We often get things sent here that have been over/poorly processed and when we ask why the reply is, 'but it's part of my daw so I kinda always use it'. All processing distorts the original in the sense that it changes what was originally recorded so it needs to be done with care.

Personally, and perhaps I would say this as it's my work, an all-in-one plug like Ozone is fine but can't replace a good ME who knows how to use their particular hardware/software. We use very specific items for specific instances and we have to get to know them well. I might use 1 or more specific EQs on a track both for technical reasons and also because a particular EQ will give me a coloration that the others might not. AFAIK although all-in-ones have improved a lot over the last few years they still can't do that. But I would say that as I'd find it hard to believe that something that costs a few hundred bucks for lots of processors could match say my hardware EQ that costs over 6000 wink.gif.

On a good mix the processing shouldn't make radical changes; a bad mix needs this and excellent mix might not need any processing at all. Generally the processing used in Mastering is: EQ> wide band compression> limiting (plus dithering if you see that as processing). Of those EQ is the most important and most used ime. At the mastering stage you should be after fine tuning, or as my daughter calls it, 'sprinkling on the fairy dust', a mix to get the best out of it and removing anything that shouldn't be there. So on a good mix you often are talking about cutting or adding less than 3dB to any particular frequency range/band; compression ratios are often less than 2:1 - very often 1.3:1; limiting is often done not in a single process but sequentially moving the level up gradually.

This might sound counter-intuitive but processing is actually not the main part of an MEs job. By far the two biggest bits are quality control and sequencing IME. Ozone can be good enough for the processing but afaik you'd still need to look elsewhere for the other aspects of mastering. Nonetheless there's no harm in using it, learning about and getting experience in how to audio process masters smile.gif.

---------------------------------


Dithering - is a process used for bit depth reduction when we convert from say a 24 bit to a 16 bit file. Most MEs work in 24 bit but the red book standard for audio CD requires 16 bit digital audio. To go from 24 to 16 you could either hard truncate ie cut out 8 bits of data, or you can dither and noise shape.
If you just truncate the bit depth from 24 to 16 then you will have quantisation error. In some cases this may not be too noticeable but in the majority it will be.

The issues with changing bit depth from 24 to 16 is that you both remove audio data and you increase the amount of distortion in the audio due to quantisation error. In the former you can never get back the data that is removed so dithering 24 to 16 and back to 24 will not give you back the original data - you will get a 16 bit depth file plus 8 bits. In the latter there are different ways of dealing with the distortion - and this essentially is dithering. Dithering involves masking the quantisation error by putting low level noise over it. There are different ways to dither - how and where you apply the noise, and the type of noise you apply. So when you dither though you are 1 reducing the bit depth, 2 inducing quantisation error, 3 masking that by inserting low level noise. Hence, if you have to dither do it as little as possible and so if you intend to get your audio mastered leave the dithering to the ME. If you're doing the mastering yourself then place the dither at the end of the processing chain as the very last process when the wave is rendered to 16.

I don't have, and never have had, Izotope but I think it has an option to use the Powr noise shaping algo. That's a v good one, we have it as an option in sadie as well though tbh I tend to use tpdf routinely.

Multiband dynamics
I very rarely use MBC in mastering - possibly about 2-5% of all the mastering that comes in needs it and it's always for a very specific purpose and even then I only use it if the client can't remix the audio instead. Where it can sometimes be used is for deliberately adding different compression levels to different frequency bands - say where you want a tight rythmic bass that needs the release to follow the tempo but also need to clamp down on high frequency transients with very short attack and release. In your case though as you've got the original audio stems I'd suggest that you stick to wide band compression and leave the MBC alone as much as possible - ie if you needed to do the preceding example compress the bass stem separate to the drums.

The main reasons why I suggest you avoid an MBC as far as possible are: 1- they're pretty complicated and it is very easy to get things wrong and ruin a mix; 2 - they can mess up the stereo field and placement of instruments a lot if used incorrectly and 'unglue' a track; they can add some quite nasty artifacts and pre-ring; there's v little you can do with an MBC that you can't do on the stems with a wide band.

Exciters
Personally I don't use them. Most, not all, add some form of distortion to the audio - usually phase related - as a means to increase the perceived level of a given eq region. (I don't know what process Ozone uses.) Depending on the region used you get an increase in air/sparkle/warmth etc. Ozone's is a 'harmonic exciter' so I guess that it aims to affect the perceived level of 2nd or 3rd level harmonics. IMHO much of this can be better achieved by good eq'ing at mixing and mastering.

Multi-band stereo imaging
New one on me tbh. I guess what it is supposed to do is allow you to reposition particular frequency bands in the stereo field/depth. So you could for instance bring up and forward a vocal whilst leaving the bass alone in the field. If I need to do something like this (apart from asking for a re-mix) then I'd look at other ways to do this: M/S matrix to an eq to only adjust mid or side etc; mono collapse and process a bass; some careful reverb, etc.

TBH it is rare for an ME to make any significant alteration to the stereo field of a track. Stereo field and placement is very much an aesthetic production decision and usually what an ME has to do is maintain the integrity of that despite any processing that they've done. Sort of imagine the situation if I re-mastered 'Dark side of the moon' to collapse the field and move instruments about - probably not a very good idea wink.gif.




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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 08:01 PM
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Just based on a quick listen to the mp3...

A few suggestions:

Personally I'd suggest that the orchestral part of the mix might benefit from a wider dynamic range. To me it seems a little lacking in dynamics wrt the crest which sounds like its about 6-8 dB. I'd suggest that the crest for orchestral should be more like 16-20dB. May be wrong but I'd look at how you are compressing and/or limiting here and perhaps back it off somewhat and drop your tracking levels down a few dB to give you more dynamic range without as much need for comping etc.

Might be the mp3 encoding but I can hear digital distortion and also what sounds like some intersample high frequency noise. I think this is contributing to what Staffay's identified as the harsh treble. Might be worth going back and re-looking at any compression/limiting - maybe serial limit it in stages rather than slamming all in one go.

On the electric guitar passage - sounds to me like there is some digital distortion again and its also pretty compressed. Brickwalling is fine, and perhaps necessary, for the genre but take a look at how you can do that without getting quite as much distortion.

Possibly roll off some of the sub-bass below 50Hz. There's a lot of low end which you might be able to reduce. This will give you more room to increase the perceived levels with EQ elsewhere.

Possibly look at attenuating some of the high mid - sounds to me like there is a lot going on in the 1200-4000 band area and to me it sounds a bit congested. It's also I think adding to what Staffay's harsh treble. Might also be worth looking at possibly gating some of what is going on in there.

Overall it's not too bad - needs some tweaking but I've heard much, much worse on some recent commercial, professionally mastered releases. (*cough DeathMagnetic cough*, *cough Brandon Boyd's Wild Trapeze cough*)

I'll try and give it a proper listen as a wave tomorrow.


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The Uncreator
post Jul 15 2010, 08:12 PM
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Thanks for all the info tony! This is really helping out. Ok, so I'll post two wave files here, First one (MAS-Demo 2) is where I was, Its an alteration of a preset - I changed the EQ to add some accent to the bass, and added about 1.3 db to the mid-high end for guitars, Reverb (Bypassed it), I used the loudness maximizer to bring the volume up (not exceeding 0.4 db, and bring the volume up of everything below that a tad), and the harmonic exciter i used sparingly, about 25% mix to brighten it up a bit.

Second wave file, is where I am at now. EQ is changed, I lowered the mid-high end back down to about 0.5 db, and lowered the high end to about -1.4 db cause like staffy, I felt like it had too much treble in it. Reverb is still bypassed, harmonic exciter is turned off (added too much gain on the high end I thought), And I have a VST plug in called GClip that is post-Ozone in the signal chain to catch some of the snare hits (I have it at about 91%, most of the audio signals don't reach that level, few occasional snare and cymbal hits)

Also, Knowing the info I have shared about Ozone, would it be damaging to use it in the mixing process? I use the EQ for guitars, bass, and drums cause its very precise and gives me a lot of control, and the reverb and compression sits nicely on vocals. Or would introducing Ozone too much cause interference with itself? Don't know, just a thought.


Attached File(s)
Attached File  MAS_Demo_2.wav ( 8.08MB ) Number of downloads: 81
Attached File  MAS_Demo.wav ( 8.08MB ) Number of downloads: 56
 
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 08:45 PM
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QUOTE (The Uncreator @ Jul 15 2010, 07:12 PM) *
...

Also, Knowing the info I have shared about Ozone, would it be damaging to use it in the mixing process? I use the EQ for guitars, bass, and drums cause its very precise and gives me a lot of control, and the reverb and compression sits nicely on vocals. Or would introducing Ozone too much cause interference with itself? Don't know, just a thought.


I'll try and give them a listen tomorrow

Too long spent mastering today so my hearing is a bit bleh now going over stuff with a novice producer who didn't know what he wanted and couldn't make up his mind wink.gif . 'I want natural dynamics but make it really, really loud' wink.gif laugh.gif .

Mastering EQ you can probably use but it's a bit of a 'hammer to crack a nut' situation as most software mastering eqs tend to be LP and most mixing just doesn't need that. LP - provided you watch out for pre-ring - won't however hurt a mix but it will put more tax on your pc processing than a normal MP mixing EQ. Reverb - despite the description as a 'mastering reverb' is probably just a digital, maybe convolution, reverb and won't do any more harm than any other reverb. Mastering comps tend to work on very gentle ratios and again a software one may tax your pc but apart from that and if you can get the ratios you need it's ok but not ideal. Be aware though that a mastering comp might not have the sort of coloration/vibe that you're after - most mastering comps tend to aim at a very neutral sound whilst most mixing comps try and impart some specific overall sound.

If you're on the 2 bus I'd suggest that you mix in to the compressor rather than using the compressor after you've mixed. Probably the main thing to be careful of though is limiting - very difficult to remove, if you can at all, if it's done at mixing and will really reduce the options you have for mastering.

Not sure if the processors in Ozone will allow you to but in mixing you may need to sidechain, parallel comp, duck, gate and so on. Again not sure if Ozone will allow it but you may need to experiment a bit with the order of the processors: eq before comp sounds different to eq after. If Ozone doesn't do these things then you might need to look elsewhere for processing during mixing - Reaper (I'm assuming you're mixing in Reaper) comes with quite a few mixing plug-ins as well smile.gif .


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Staffy
post Jul 15 2010, 08:54 PM
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As usual Tony left an answer that left nothing out! smile.gif

But I will pass the question bout the multiband compression back to Tony since we discussed it before.

In my belief multiband compression/limiting pushes the sound more "forward" in the speakers to the listener, and hence is the only reason to use it in my belief. But Tony, do You mean that this should be done on the mixing stage instead of the mastering stage ????
A lot of low-budget recordings - as most here, really could use some "kick in the ass" -compression since they are place too far away in the speakers. (including my own as well) I would even get that far and say that a lot of the lessons also would have benefit from this....

As You say only 2-5 % needs this when You get it - does that means that this process has been done by the mixing engineer, or are the mixes that compressed in an instrument by instrument faschion so that its not needed ???

//Staffay


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 09:20 PM
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QUOTE (Staffy @ Jul 15 2010, 07:54 PM) *
...

In my belief multiband compression/limiting pushes the sound more "forward" in the speakers to the listener, and hence is the only reason to use it in my belief. But Tony, do You mean that this should be done on the mixing stage instead of the mastering stage ????
A lot of low-budget recordings - as most here, really could use some "kick in the ass" -compression since they are place too far away in the speakers. (including my own as well) I would even get that far and say that a lot of the lessons also would have benefit from this....

As You say only 2-5 % needs this when You get it - does that means that this process has been done by the mixing engineer, or are the mixes that compressed in an instrument by instrument faschion so that its not needed ???

//Staffay


I agree that a lot of recordings nowadays lack stereo field depth. I've even heard a recent big label, very big budget classical recording that was 2 dimensional rolleyes.gif . Part of the problem is people have perhaps gotten used to some rather 2 dimensional audio over the last ten or so years - go back to recordings from the 50s, 60s on into the 90s and more of it has dpeth and 3D quality (and all of it pretty much predates MBCs). Personally I'd say that width and depth need to be done at tracking and then mixing stages. Placement in the stereo field depth really starts with the tracking and excellent/good recording and that is then enhanced in the mix. If the tracking isn't quite there then there are other ways to alter an instruments position in the depth of field that don't require an MBC. Yes an MBC can do it but, to me, it's making a correction that should have been done earlier and tbh more easily elsewhere.

If however you can't get a better/different mix and have to do it on the master then:

1- EQ - careful and precise attenuation will help on the 2 bus more often than not.
2 - Mid/side and L/R to an EQ to process the channels separately may help.
3- Side chain and careful gating.
4- manual fader rides.
5- carefully re-balance the gain structure - a .5 dB cut or boost can easily make an instrument sit forward or backward in a mix
6- stem master

and if none of that works then an MBC.

Maybe a bit cynical but I come across lots of low end 'mastering studios' that resort very quickly to MBCs as a quick fix for pretty much everything. They very often create more problems than they fix. Also if you listen to some recent commercial recordings you can here an MBC kicking in quite clearly and not particularly nicely. This might not be down to the ME though - we're getting more and more mixes from project and pro mixing studios that put an MBC on the mix and not always particularly well or appropriately. Once it's there it's a real pain to deal with at mastering.

Sorry if it sounds like I hate MBCs - we have a couple here and we do occasionally use them just not that often as we can usually get to what we want a different way smile.gif .

This post has been edited by tonymiro: Jul 15 2010, 09:23 PM


--------------------
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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Staffy
post Jul 15 2010, 10:22 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jul 15 2010, 10:20 PM) *
I agree that a lot of recordings nowadays lack stereo field depth. I've even heard a recent big label, very big budget classical recording that was 2 dimensional rolleyes.gif . Part of the problem is people have perhaps gotten used to some rather 2 dimensional audio over the last ten or so years - go back to recordings from the 50s, 60s on into the 90s and more of it has dpeth and 3D quality (and all of it pretty much predates MBCs). Personally I'd say that width and depth need to be done at tracking and then mixing stages. Placement in the stereo field depth really starts with the tracking and excellent/good recording and that is then enhanced in the mix. If the tracking isn't quite there then there are other ways to alter an instruments position in the depth of field that don't require an MBC. Yes an MBC can do it but, to me, it's making a correction that should have been done earlier and tbh more easily elsewhere.

If however you can't get a better/different mix and have to do it on the master then:

1- EQ - careful and precise attenuation will help on the 2 bus more often than not.
2 - Mid/side and L/R to an EQ to process the channels separately may help.
3- Side chain and careful gating.
4- manual fader rides.
5- carefully re-balance the gain structure - a .5 dB cut or boost can easily make an instrument sit forward or backward in a mix
6- stem master

and if none of that works then an MBC.

Maybe a bit cynical but I come across lots of low end 'mastering studios' that resort very quickly to MBCs as a quick fix for pretty much everything. They very often create more problems than they fix. Also if you listen to some recent commercial recordings you can here an MBC kicking in quite clearly and not particularly nicely. This might not be down to the ME though - we're getting more and more mixes from project and pro mixing studios that put an MBC on the mix and not always particularly well or appropriately. Once it's there it's a real pain to deal with at mastering.

Sorry if it sounds like I hate MBCs - we have a couple here and we do occasionally use them just not that often as we can usually get to what we want a different way smile.gif .



As usual I agree to almost everything You say here - but I found that when using bad microphones (read cheap microphones), the intensity and nearness is just not there. That can of course be compensated by adding some high's and use some compression to bring forward the sound on instrument level. However, imo. MBC's are good when Your recording equipment is on a budget - when using top-notch stuff, there are no reason to do anything at all. If a really good mixing-engineer have done a great job, I guess that Your job will just contain some dithering.... wink.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 Jul 15 2010, 11:22 PM
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QUOTE (Staffy @ Jul 15 2010, 09:22 PM) *
As usual I agree to almost everything You say here - but I found that when using bad microphones (read cheap microphones), the intensity and nearness is just not there. That can of course be compensated by adding some high's and use some compression to bring forward the sound on instrument level.


Wouldn't argue with that though of course using bad mics (unless intentionally for aesthetics) kind of falls in to bad tracking wink.gif. IME we get quite a few project studio mixes here that fall into that general category - nice tracks but tracked through less than a stellar recording chain. At the end of the day you can do so much with what you have, with the budget and with the time available.

QUOTE
However, imo. MBC's are good when Your recording equipment is on a budget - when using top-notch stuff, there are no reason to do anything at all. If a really good mixing-engineer have done a great job, I guess that Your job will just contain some dithering.... wink.gif

//Staffay


Again yes - my issue tends to be more that people over use and misuse MBCs. They've become kind of this years 'must have' processor - rather like BW limiting was. And there are often other ways to get the same result.

BTW - perhaps a little off your topic but I'd also say that a large part of the problem is how we now listen to music. We listen to an awful lot now on in-ear headphones that have an exaggerated stereo field and depth. We track and mix though on monitors that don't have great 3d field and so we end up in a vicious circle. Translation sounds ok from recording to in-ear but on other stereos the field collapses.


Great mix = little/no processing, absolutely right. Part of the ME's job though is to know when to leave alone smile.gif . Also even in these situations there's still things like sequencing, fades, quality assurance, and so on to keep us busy.

Just on this as an anecdote. We had a recent session where we did minimal processing - mainly just some minor eq before dither etc. Producer said, 'Why should I pay you as you've done nothing'. My wife (who took the call as I was working) said, 'If you went to your doctor for a health check up would you complain and refuse to pay if they said that in their professional opinion you were healthy? You're paying for an unbiased professional opinion. Your mix is healthy.' He paid and we have had work from him since but maybe he's just scared of my wife wink.gif.

Producers like him though are rare - ime the ones with a very good mix appreciate what we do; the ones with a poor mix tend to expect us to sort it out and then complain about the cost.


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Staffy
post Jul 15 2010, 11:30 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jul 16 2010, 12:22 AM) *
Just on this as an anecdote. We had a recent session where we did minimal processing - mainly just some minor eq before dither etc. Producer said, 'Why should I pay you as you've done nothing'. My wife (who took the call as I was working) said, 'If you went to your doctor for a health check up would you complain and refuse to pay if they said that in their professional opinion you were healthy? You're paying for an unbiased professional opinion. Your mix is healthy.' He paid and we have had work from him since but maybe he's just scared of my wife wink.gif.


Hahaaa, that was a good one! I think You shall give Your wife a raise... wink.gif

//Staffay


--------------------


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
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Marshall JMP 2103, AER 60
Effects: BOSS DD-20, Danelectro Trans. Overdrive, TC-Electronics G-Major, Dunlop Wah-wah, Original SansAmp, BOSS DD-2
Music by Staffy can be found at: Staffay at MySpace
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2010, 11:41 PM
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laugh.gif . I wish Staffay but if anything I kind of work for her.

I always tend to say 'we' when I talk about what mastering happens here because I do it and she's the sleeping partner who put up most of the money to invest in the business. So if anything she's kind of my boss ohmy.gif. (She also never ever pays me for work that I do for her media company. Tried to bill her once but she never paid so she's also on my bad debtors list.) Sometimes the 'we' is extended however to include an intern so at least then I'm not at the bottom of the pile smile.gif .


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 16 2010, 07:16 PM
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QUOTE (The Uncreator @ Jul 15 2010, 07:12 PM) *
... Ok, so I'll post two wave files here, First one (MAS-Demo 2) is where I was, Its an alteration of a preset - I changed the EQ to add some accent to the bass, and added about 1.3 db to the mid-high end for guitars, Reverb (Bypassed it), I used the loudness maximizer to bring the volume up (not exceeding 0.4 db, and bring the volume up of everything below that a tad), and the harmonic exciter i used sparingly, about 25% mix to brighten it up a bit.

Second wave file, is where I am at now. EQ is changed, I lowered the mid-high end back down to about 0.5 db, and lowered the high end to about -1.4 db cause like staffy, I felt like it had too much treble in it. Reverb is still bypassed, harmonic exciter is turned off (added too much gain on the high end I thought), And I have a VST plug in called GClip that is post-Ozone in the signal chain to catch some of the snare hits (I have it at about 91%, most of the audio signals don't reach that level, few occasional snare and cymbal hits)

...


Had a chance to listen to the two waves now smile.gif .

I do think there's an improvement between the two so it's going in the right direction smile.gif . Personally I agree about leaving the reverb off for this track as I think it will end up in too much loss of definition and will result in a messy track.

A couple of suggestions that you might want to look at:

For EQ -I think that there is some overlap between the bass and the kick drum in the 80-120 Hz end that could be looked at. For the genre I think eq wise I'd go for a little more low mid and you could still perhaps take off some more of the high end - albeit at the cost of the cymbals. I'm not going to suggest rolling off the sub bass as it often is expected for this type of music. You could however aim for a little more warmth and clarity and give the track a bit more edge/hard presence. I'd probably think about a gentle boost at about 180Hz of @ .5 to 1 dB, attenuating -1.5dB at @480-500Hz, boost at 4500Hz by about 2 dB and attenuating at 7k to 2dB. All frequencies are approx as I haven't run the audio through an analyser though - just what I'm hearing smile.gif .

Elsewhere - just my opinion but I think the drums lack some punch and the cymbals seem to decay for a long time. So maybe put the drum track through a comp and look at how you can adjust the attack and release to add punch and clamp the transients. Bass also needs some compression but with a longer release time to the drums.

At the mo I think the track might benefit from some upward expansion and decompression because I think the limiter is clamping down too soon and a bit too hard. As it is the track, to me, sounds a bit lifeless because of this and there also sounds like there is some unintended distortion etc. Not sure what controls the limiter in Ozone has but you say you've set it to not exceed .4dB (you might mean -0.4) so I assume that's your output level, which is fine. What I think you need to look at as well are the input gain and, if the limiter has them, the threshold and attack and release. Try reducing the input gain - this will help bring the perceived low end up and may help take some of the high end glare down. You can also achieve some of this by eq'ing before the limiter - attenuate the high end and/or add some gain to the bass; a lot of the EQ starting points I mention above aim at this and I think you're G-Clip is as well. Personally I'd also add overall limiting in a few stages: run one limiter in to another and set the input gain at lower levels then you would if you use just one limiter.

Anyway regardless of my comments above you're 2nd track, to me, is an improvement so I think you're doing fine cool.gif .


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The Uncreator
post Jul 17 2010, 06:58 PM
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Thanks for all the help Tony! I spent the better part of late last night reading up on some of Ozone's technical aspects, and with your help the mix is constantly improving, Thanks a million! smile.gif
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 17 2010, 07:23 PM
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Just as a suggestion wrt workflow...

Mastering involves a lot of objective, critical listening and often the tracking, mixing and mastering is all done on the same set up, same monitors (usually the mixing monitors) and in the same room. If you're doing this then if you can try and leave a few days between doing the mix and starting the master ie don't follow on straight away. A couple of days can help you get a more objective view of your work when you hear it again smile.gif .

A large part of why you should use a mastering engineer who is not the same as the mixing engineer is to get a critical, objective opinion on the work. A mix engineer should already have got to the point where they think their mix is good enough to be mastered and so is often not aware of issues in their mix. Very little comes in here that isn't followed up by an email or phone call from me asking if the producer/mix engineer is really happy with 'X, Y and Z'.

Additionally, and to be brutally honest, the monitors and dacs used in mixing studios generally just are not accurate enough for mastering: if you mix and master on the same ones you may have a problem but just not hear it. One thing you can do to try and ameliorate this is listen to as much recorded, commercial music on your system as you can and try to get a sense of how well your setup reproduces the music, what is missing, what is exaggerated and so on.

None of that's to say don't try and master things yourself - just try and get some objective and critical distance between the mix and mastering phases smile.gif .


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The Uncreator
post Jul 17 2010, 08:22 PM
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Yeah, today and tomorrow I think I am going to be taking a break from it. I do not think I am technically mastering it, But more I am trying to understand mastering so I can use that knowledge to better improve the overall sound. My old monitors, which were Behringer Truths unfortunately were damaged when my old house was robbed. So I am using a combination of Alesis Monitors, which are ok for now, and a set of powered Sony studio headphones - Which give me a great sound and perspective on comparison to commercially mastered music, and Samson Studio Headphones, Along with car stereo, MP3 players, etc to get the best overall idea of the sound through as many media outlets as possible.

So all in all, I will be taking your advice and coming back to it in a few days! cool.gif
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