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> Mastering Test / Critique?
Todd Simpson
post May 28 2014, 07:41 AM
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I"m going to put my neck out and share a preliminary "Mastering" pass of a song I'm doing for a friend of mine. This is a "Home Brew" sort of deal and MASTERING is probably not the right word. I'm just trying to make the track sound better than the source before it gets put up on a HD audio streaming site.

So here is the "BEFORE"

https://soundcloud.com/techniqueswithtodd/05-rage-original-pre-mastering


Here is the "AFTER"
*will add after it uploads. 24 bit AIF it's 100 Megabytes!!

https://soundcloud.com/techniqueswithtodd/ragemastering-version2-52814-216-am

So do you think it sounds better and do you have any tracks that you are trying to "master" @ home that you wanna share for some feedback?

MR. MIRO: If you notice mine and others, be kind! smile.gif

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 28 2014, 08:12 AM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post May 28 2014, 08:46 PM
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Hi Todd,
I'm away at the moment in the UK - long story short but I need to take my elderly mother across from one end of the country to the other so that she can see my sister. (Why my sis can't go and see my mother is another story.) If you still want feedback I'll give them a listen when I get back next week. One thing - for an A/B comparison you may want to level match the two versions since louder nearly always will sound better to most people smile.gif.


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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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Mertay
post May 28 2014, 10:04 PM
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Hey Todd,

I think I understood your approach, what you need to keep in mind is when boosting freq.s in mid.s or cutting from lows you have to consider the loudness you want too otherwise it will be considered harsh. As I understand you focused on overall freq. balance but didn't include dynamic shaping (limiter etc.) so aim for a loudness then use eq so the song dynamically can flow with that loudness (basicly eq and limiter working together till you reach the loudness levels you want).

This will help when working on the next song as 2 (or more as an album) songs has to sound as equal/same as possible both loudness and freq.s spectrum-wise. So the first song you master is the reference too for others wink.gif

If possible, I'd start with the densest arrangement in the album specially if you want commercial loudness levels cause they're usually harder to make louder without damaging.

Hope it helps until Tony corrects me biggrin.gif

Edit; Forgot to write listen them on as many speaker sources as possible, headphones don't work well for mastering. I can't use the speakers now as its pretty late here but you seem to be doing ok smile.gif

This post has been edited by Mertay: May 28 2014, 10:07 PM


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Todd Simpson
post May 28 2014, 10:08 PM
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Yes feedback please smile.gif I gotta say, soundcloud really kills the audio quality.

QUOTE (tonymiro @ May 28 2014, 03:46 PM) *
Hi Todd,
I'm away at the moment in the UK - long story short but I need to take my elderly mother across from one end of the country to the other so that she can see my sister. (Why my sis can't go and see my mother is another story.) If you still want feedback I'll give them a listen when I get back next week. One thing - for an A/B comparison you may want to level match the two versions since louder nearly always will sound better to most people smile.gif .


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Gabriel Leopardi
post May 28 2014, 10:40 PM
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Hi Todd! I don't have trust-able monitors here were I am now, but maybe it would be good if you provide wav files, and also if we can download them to be opened on a daw to compare. What do you think? Is it possible?

I'm also curious to know what you exactly are looking for with the mastering... what's the original mix lacking for you?


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Todd Simpson
post May 29 2014, 12:54 AM
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Well said smile.gif I stopped without balancing the levels out to get both of them even. sad.gif Going back to work on it more tonight.

Some great tips!! Hope everyone reading takes notes!! Always listen on multiple systems. I've been doing mixing/tracking and home mastering for years so I've been around the block. But folks who are newer to mixing/tracking etc. will sometimes do EVERYTHING with just earbuds cause that's just what is at hand and it has horrible results when the mix is played back on actual monitors.

QUOTE (Mertay @ May 28 2014, 05:04 PM) *
Hey Todd,

I think I understood your approach, what you need to keep in mind is when boosting freq.s in mid.s or cutting from lows you have to consider the loudness you want too otherwise it will be considered harsh. As I understand you focused on overall freq. balance but didn't include dynamic shaping (limiter etc.) so aim for a loudness then use eq so the song dynamically can flow with that loudness (basicly eq and limiter working together till you reach the loudness levels you want).

This will help when working on the next song as 2 (or more as an album) songs has to sound as equal/same as possible both loudness and freq.s spectrum-wise. So the first song you master is the reference too for others wink.gif

If possible, I'd start with the densest arrangement in the album specially if you want commercial loudness levels cause they're usually harder to make louder without damaging.

Hope it helps until Tony corrects me biggrin.gif

Edit; Forgot to write listen them on as many speaker sources as possible, headphones don't work well for mastering. I can't use the speakers now as its pretty late here but you seem to be doing ok smile.gif


Good idea smile.gif Soundcloud just kills too much of the quality to be honest. So I'll put up wave or aiff. The mixes seemed to lack a bit of sparkle and air and low end beefiness. Also, the mids are a bit pronounced around the vocal range. I want to smooth it out overall but add some punch and sparkle at the edges smile.gif



QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ May 28 2014, 05:40 PM) *
Hi Todd! I don't have trust-able monitors here were I am now, but maybe it would be good if you provide wav files, and also if we can download them to be opened on a daw to compare. What do you think? Is it possible?

I'm also curious to know what you exactly are looking for with the mastering... what's the original mix lacking for you?


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klasaine
post May 29 2014, 03:00 AM
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I listened with both headphones and speakers.

1) cool song!
2) I generally 'like' the way both sound.

But I prefer the first version because I can hear more separation of instruments ESPECIALLY when you're playing the clean electric arps behind the vocals (which is a great guitar part so I wanna hear it). All in all, IMO, the dynamics of the v.1 makes it all more interesting to my ears.


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Todd Simpson
post May 29 2014, 03:13 AM
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I'm not actually playing on this one but I agree! Very cool parts!! Thanks for giving it a listen and critique smile.gif

QUOTE (klasaine @ May 28 2014, 10:00 PM) *
I listened with both headphones and speakers.

1) cool song!
2) I generally 'like' the way both sound.

But I prefer the first version because I can hear more separation of instruments ESPECIALLY when you're playing the clean electric arps behind the vocals (which is a great guitar part so I wanna hear it). All in all, IMO, the dynamics of the v.1 makes it all more interesting to my ears.


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klasaine
post May 29 2014, 03:23 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 28 2014, 07:13 PM) *
I'm not actually playing on this one but I agree! Very cool parts!! Thanks for giving it a listen and critique smile.gif


Ha, ha! That makes more sense. The rhythm parts sound great - good parts, good playing. The leads seemed a little, shall we say, rhythmically unconventional compared to what I'm used to hearing from you.

This post has been edited by klasaine: May 29 2014, 03:24 AM


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Monica Gheorghev...
post May 29 2014, 08:10 AM
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I'm on the same part with Ken. I also prefer the first version. Has more air and instruments are more distinctive.
The single thing that I don't like it's at part that start at 3:40, that guitar sound it's too noisy for my taste. I like a lot that part as composition but not as sound. Somehow I have the feeling that my studio monitors will start buzzing when I hear that sound biggrin.gif But this is just to suit for my taste.
The song it sound great and I like it very much smile.gif

It's a great idea to put a wav file because Soundcloud or Reverbnation broke too much the quality. Sometimes their transcoding system can create audio artifacts as they transcode all tracks to 128 kbps mp3 for streaming playback. Of course they say if you upload a lossless or high-quality lossy file they will usually reduce these to a minimum. Another thing that they say is if you make your track downloadable, the version user that can download will be an exact copy of the version you uploaded without any transcoding.
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Todd Simpson
post May 29 2014, 08:13 AM
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Thanks for taking a listen smile.gif The "mastered" version is quiet compared to the source so it's tough to hear what's happening a bit and soundcloud is killing the quality. sounds entirely different on soundcloud than it does as a wave sad.gif

QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ May 29 2014, 03:10 AM) *
I'm on the same part with Ken. I also prefer the first version. Has more air and instruments are more distinctive.
The single thing that I don't like it's at part that start at 3:40, that guitar sound it's too noisy for my taste. I like a lot that part as composition but not as sound. Somehow I have the feeling that my studio monitors will start buzzing when I hear that sound biggrin.gif But this is just to suit for my taste.
The song it sound great and I like it very much smile.gif

It's a great idea to put a wav file because Soundcloud or Reverbnation broke too much the quality. Sometimes their transcoding system can create audio artifacts as they transcode all tracks to 128 kbps mp3 for streaming playback. Of course they say if you upload a lossless or high-quality lossy file they will usually reduce these to a minimum. Another thing that they say is if you make your track downloadable, the version user that can download will be an exact copy of the version you uploaded without any transcoding.


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Darius Wave
post May 29 2014, 08:45 AM
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can't tell too much besides I like the mood of the song (I'm away from my regular gear) But.. I've just laugh a lot once I read Ken's post because I had the same feeling. I mean..."Hmmm sound a bit like Todd but...when the solo came....that's definitely not a Todd's kind of playing biggrin.gif" Listening on the regular 2 + 1 PC set and don't hear anything wrong with the mix but I can't listen loud enough to catch the details.


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Todd Simpson
post May 29 2014, 08:51 AM
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Started from scratch!!!! Thanks much for putting your ears on it smile.gif Anyone up for a relisten, I'd appreciate it!!!

Base Version for Reference

https://soundcloud.com/techniqueswithtodd/rage-reference-track

New Mastering Pass

https://soundcloud.com/techniqueswithtodd/ragemastering-version2-52814-216-am
Thanks much for your time!!!

Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 31 2014, 12:09 AM


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klasaine
post May 31 2014, 02:17 AM
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I still like the first one better because I can hear some separation of instruments and personally I need dynamics to be kept interested in a song.
Having said that, v. 2 is a better 'car' or club or even soundtrack master/mix.

This post has been edited by klasaine: May 31 2014, 03:13 AM


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Mertay
post May 31 2014, 02:31 AM
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Ah sorry forgot about this thread, the forum moves so fast this happens often for me sad.gif

Soundcloud seems to use a sucky compressor as I keep hearing it going on and off tongue.gif its like mastering an already mastered song biggrin.gif

I can only say widening stereo field does suit the song but other than that its impossible to comment.

Also don't take soundcloud as reference in any way, I remember the latest dream theater album was first introduced there and was simply terrible. I avoided listening to it again until I realized it sounded much better on other sources.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 4 2014, 02:13 PM
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Hi Todd,
sorry for the delay - just got back late yesterday afternoon.

I've listened to some of the reference track and master from the 29th. Before I say anything the main thing isn't what I or others think but whether r not your master meets the brief/needs of the producer. As I don't know what that is what follows is just my opinion and may be very different to what the producer envisages for the track.

I'd start by suggesting that the ref track needs some correction/adjustment before you should start trying to do much else. There's quite a bit of noticeable background - particularly hiss - so the gainstaging is questionable. I'd also question the track balance - which is supposed to be the focus, the lead female vocal or lead guitar? Both fight to be focus of attention. I'd also suggest that the background vox is a touch too high in the mix and suggest that the producer experiments by comparing and choosing between this ref. and vox up/down versions.

With the master I do find it rather lacking in dynamic shading and a bit flat - this is also dragging up what is already a noticeable background noise floor and making some quiet parts a bit too forward, etc. Levels at times seem a bit inconsistent and there are some noticeable shifts particularly when the track gets busy. I think the spectral balance over-emphasises the mid and at times it sounds quite congested in the mid. I'm guessing that the track spectral balance is supposed to be quite dark but even so there is a lack of shimmer and high end.

Processing is a bit too noticeable - you can hear the comp kicking in and out and bass instruments/sounds have a tendency to wallow a bit and so may detract from what could be a tighter rythmic feel -take a look particularly at your times and threshold. I also found the vocals sounded a bt over processed and at times sterile and rather 'dgital'. That may be a deliberate production choice though. If this is for a commerical video you may want to watch your levels by the way as the whole thing sounds a bit too hot and lacking in crest for commercial post. Both the ref and the master drift a bit close to white noise in some parts but that may be the poor transcoding from Soundcloud. If it isn't I'd regainstage before you master it to avoid it going quite as hot.

The master isn't bad - but I do think it needs a bit more light and shade both spectrally and dynamically. I'd also suggest that it's a bit limited by some mix issues.

Hope that helps (and wasn't too brutal wink.gif ).

T


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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

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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Todd Simpson
post Jun 5 2014, 01:53 AM
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Thanks much smile.gif Per usual, right on target!!

The source file that I'm working with was a cause for concern as it's a completed mix that I was not able to alter. I noticed the noise floor was quite high and was worried about bringing it up which is exactly what happened.

I was trying to give it more of a car/club mix that would match level with other massively compressed songs on a given modern playlist. By the time I managed that, it was bringing out many of the issues that concerned me in the original mix and amplifying them.

My original goal for the client was just to punch it up a bit and add some width and overall volume. But when I do that I make the issues that exist far more present.

Thanks much for the feedback guys smile.gif I'm going to give it another shot and see if I can be a bit less agressive and still manage to make the bass thump a bit more and spread the field a pinch. I fear that I just went at it way to hard. Back to the mouse and keyboard!!!




QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jun 4 2014, 09:13 AM) *
Hi Todd,
sorry for the delay - just got back late yesterday afternoon.

I've listened to some of the reference track and master from the 29th. Before I say anything the main thing isn't what I or others think but whether r not your master meets the brief/needs of the producer. As I don't know what that is what follows is just my opinion and may be very different to what the producer envisages for the track.

I'd start by suggesting that the ref track needs some correction/adjustment before you should start trying to do much else. There's quite a bit of noticeable background - particularly hiss - so the gainstaging is questionable. I'd also question the track balance - which is supposed to be the focus, the lead female vocal or lead guitar? Both fight to be focus of attention. I'd also suggest that the background vox is a touch too high in the mix and suggest that the producer experiments by comparing and choosing between this ref. and vox up/down versions.

With the master I do find it rather lacking in dynamic shading and a bit flat - this is also dragging up what is already a noticeable background noise floor and making some quiet parts a bit too forward, etc. Levels at times seem a bit inconsistent and there are some noticeable shifts particularly when the track gets busy. I think the spectral balance over-emphasises the mid and at times it sounds quite congested in the mid. I'm guessing that the track spectral balance is supposed to be quite dark but even so there is a lack of shimmer and high end.

Processing is a bit too noticeable - you can hear the comp kicking in and out and bass instruments/sounds have a tendency to wallow a bit and so may detract from what could be a tighter rythmic feel -take a look particularly at your times and threshold. I also found the vocals sounded a bt over processed and at times sterile and rather 'dgital'. That may be a deliberate production choice though. If this is for a commerical video you may want to watch your levels by the way as the whole thing sounds a bit too hot and lacking in crest for commercial post. Both the ref and the master drift a bit close to white noise in some parts but that may be the poor transcoding from Soundcloud. If it isn't I'd regainstage before you master it to avoid it going quite as hot.

The master isn't bad - but I do think it needs a bit more light and shade both spectrally and dynamically. I'd also suggest that it's a bit limited by some mix issues.

Hope that helps (and wasn't too brutal wink.gif ).

T


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 9 2014, 11:24 AM
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Hi Todd,
I know this is a different genre but it may give some idea as to why I think the level of the vocals needs looking at if possible:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-vinens-speil/id388054821

Also, some of Lisa Gerrard's stuff could also be a useful vocal reference here.

Keep at as you're not that far away smile.gif .

T


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