#1
I've been recording for about 5 years now. I do all of my own eq'ing, mixing, editing, etc but i've always given the files over for someone to master. i want to start doing it on my own but i'm not sure what it is exactly
#2
basically you take the final mixed track, and you polish the sound up, this generally means adding compression/limiting and EQ and also occasionally reverb. There are a tons of books and articles on the web about different ways to do this and whatnot.
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Last edited by Kid_Thorazine at Mar 21, 2009,
#3
so i do the mastering with the final sound files as one track after everything has been eq'd and mixed?
#4
yeah, you master the final mixed track.

I should add that I highly recommend you use good monitors for this, doing it with headphones or crappy speakers is generally a very bad idea.
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Last edited by Kid_Thorazine at Mar 21, 2009,
#6
Be prepared. It takes as long to learn mastering as it does to learn recording.... the biggest difference is that the end product is much more dependent on the quality of your tools than recording is. You can make pretty decent recordings with cheap gear and some good know-how. Mastering.... not so much.

If you're using the BX8 monitors, you're well on your way to fine. I'd be a little wary of 5" drivers like in the BX5, though.... especially for mastering.

Don't waste your time on so-called mastering plugins like T-Racks and the like. They're for people who can't or won't learn about mastering but still want a final product that resembles the real thing.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#7
All in all though, I think I'd prefer for someone else to do my mastering. Two reasons really, one of them being the time it takes to learn, and the equipment needed, as axemanchris said, the other being that I think it's healthy for someone else's ears to have a listen, someone with a fresh perspective.
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#8
Very good point.

There's another very important consideration when it comes to not doing your own mastering....

Given that a variety of factors - your hearing, your monitors, your room, etc. - affect how your final mix will turn out, your final mix will be subject to whatever limitations are inherent in that chain. Let's say that those factors result in a tendency to exaggerate frequencies in the 80-100hz range. (say, the dimensions of your room cause standing waves that lead those frequencies to be under-represented in the listening position....) When you send your mix to someone else to master, they might hear that slight exaggeration and be able to fix it. If you do it yourself, now not only is your mix subject to the illusion of needing to exaggerate those frequencies, but now your master is subject to those factors too. The results... even greater exaggeration of those frequencies.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Quote by axemanchris
the biggest difference is that the end product is much more dependent on the quality of your tools than recording is. You can make pretty decent recordings with cheap gear and some good know-how. Mastering.... not so much.

[...]

Don't waste your time on so-called mastering plugins like T-Racks and the like. They're for people who can't or won't learn about mastering but still want a final product that resembles the real thing.


Unless you're suggesting that you need outboard/hardware processors for a good master I think you're kind of contradicting yourself here.

To the original poster, mastering is just the final polish on an already good mix. It's not a cure-all by any means and it will take a long time to learn. That said you can get decent results by following some simple steps and making sure you have good metering, monitoring and reference tracks. Overall I think that if you're just planning to publish your recordings in compressed formats on the web then you can master yourself. If you plan to release it in any physical format I suggest getting it professionally done. If nothing else, like has already been mentioned, it's never a bad thing to have a second pair of ears, especially ones as fine-tuned as most mastering engineers' (hopefully) are.
#10
I think what he meant with T-Racks is that a lot of people use the presets and crap to get very generic (and very poor) results, that and TBH T-Racks doesn't have the best sound quality either (although it's considerably better than iZotope Ozone, which the other really popular program like that)

Either that or he's one of the people that's of the opinion that you need to high end hardware gear for mastering, in which case I disagree.
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#11
Quote by Kid_Thorazine
I think what he meant with T-Racks is that a lot of people use the presets and crap to get very generic (and very poor) results, that and TBH T-Racks doesn't have the best sound quality either (although it's considerably better than iZotope Ozone, which the other really popular program like that)


Presets are the bane of good mastering, that's true. (And I would like to state that I don't consider myself any good at mastering, far from it, but I'm good enough for the kind of work I do.) The EQ on the T-Racks isn't the best, I'll admit that, but it's not a bad plug-in as such (I haven't gotten the chance to check out version 3 yet which looks promising). Personally I think that the mix is much more important than mastering and that if you have a good mix then all you need is some good EQ (I like API from Waves) and a good limiter (my choice is the L2007 from Massey which you can get for free if you don't mind not being able to save settings).
#12
Right. I meant using good quality plugins - thinking along the lines of Waves, UAD, etc. I also meant using separate compressors, limiters, EQ - not any of the all-in-one plugs that don't seem to do any of those things very well.

Although.... if you go to a pro mastering house, you can pretty much bet they're using vintage analog hardware units.

Some info here....
http://www.musictap.net/Interviews/LudwigBobInterview.html

Interview here describing the gear used at Sterling Sound...

http://www.artistshousemusic.org/videos/mastering+engineer+greg+calbi+explains+the+equipment+used+in+the+mastering+process

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Mar 22, 2009,
#13
Quote by axemanchris

Although.... if you go to a pro mastering house, you can pretty much bet they're using vintage analog hardware units.


CT


That really depends on what type of sound you are going for I wouldn't use something like a Fairchild tube compressor on an electro track for instance, in that case I would almost invariably use all software, but yeah most pro mastering studios will at least have the option of using a bunch of high end equipment like that.
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#16
Just to throw this out in response to the original question....

In the old days, mastering started off as simply applying enough compression so that the needle wouldn't jump while it was cutting the wax cylinder. Some EQ would be added if necessary, but that was about it.

As people discovered that listeners perceived something that was louder as sounding better, the loudness wars kicked in. Everybody trying to be louder than everyone else - or at least as loud. Funny enough.... if you put a heavily compressed track from the '90's/'00's up against a track from the '60's/'70's (WAY less compression) at the same perceived volume (you'll have to turn the second one up a ways to get it there), people will generally describe the older one as sounding better - more dynamic, more exciting, etc.

These days, mastering involves compressing and limiting the living f*ck out of your mixes so the meter at the end of your master bus just flickers at -0.0. No bouncing meters. Just flickering. A great mastering engineer will be able to pull that off and yet still have it sound like there is some dynamic range, when really, there isn't. A second or third-rate mastering engineer will just get a freakin' loud mix that is nothing more than tiring to listen to.

A mastering engineer will also EQ the tracks so there is a consistency of tone from one track to the next as they are sequenced on the album. If the material is well-recorded, it should be pretty consistent to begin with. These EQ adjustments should be minimal with an already good mix.


CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#17
Quote by axemanchris

These days, mastering involves compressing and limiting the living f*ck out of your mixes so the meter at the end of your master bus just flickers at -0.0. No bouncing meters. Just flickering. A great mastering engineer will be able to pull that off and yet still have it sound like there is some dynamic range, when really, there isn't. A second or third-rate mastering engineer will just get a freakin' loud mix that is nothing more than tiring to listen to.


CT


IMO a great mastering engineer wouldn't do that at all, I don't personally know anyone that has their record mastered like that.
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#18
Quote by Kid_Thorazine
IMO a great mastering engineer wouldn't do that at all, I don't personally know anyone that has their record mastered like that.


Not to suggest they *should*, but damned near everybody who has released a rock or hip hop or dance album in at least the last eight years has had their record mastered like that.

Seriously.... watch those meters.... they just flicker just below zero and that's about it.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#20
Quote by axemanchris
Not to suggest they *should*, but damned near everybody who has released a rock or hip hop or dance album in at least the last eight years has had their record mastered like that.

Seriously.... watch those meters.... they just flicker just below zero and that's about it.

CT


Only in the mainstream, but yeah I know, and they've faced very heavy criticism for it.
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