Mastering by Fanu

fanu

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292
It's been a really intense engineering year. I'll be honest: it feels good to have become a full-time engineer that a lot of producers trust. You don't get that easily; there's a ton of competition, and a lot of people call themselves audio engineers, which guarantees nothing. The road to earning that trust and establishing myself in the market has not been short or quick, but it's been well worth every minute.
I have the greatest job in the world. Nothing makes me happier than making a producer happy.
I guess one of my strengths is being very open in communication and informing producers what they should change in their mix – for no extra charge. We work together to come up with the strongest, most ideal end result.
Thanks to everybody who worked with me in 2017. Let's do it all again in 2018. I can barely fit anything else in this year, and will be chilling for 2 weeks in Jan, but don't hesitate to get in touch (fanusamurai@gmail.com / no private msgs).
 

fanu

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Messages
292
Ez guys.

To kick off 2018 with a bang (and drown myself in work; I'm just back from holidays…), I'm offering mastering for 35 EUR (+VAT if in EU) per track.
Offer lasts till end of January only.

Refer to this post when contacting me.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


A real quick production tip from the mastering lab as I came across the topic while mastering again.
About the relationship of kick and bassline.

In any types of music, you need to make a decision about your bass and kick placement.
For good separation, one has to sit lower than the other.
In a lot of electronic music and bass music, the (sub) bass sits below the kick.

There are no hard and fast rules, as music isn't math, exactly, but…
A good rule for kick/bass separation is at least 30 Hz. Ideal would be an octave.
E.g., in my music, I aim to have the sub at 45–60 Hz, and kick at least 30 Hz above it or higher...if you can have an octave between them, that's amazing (e.g., sub at 50 Hz, kick that x2 = 100 Hz).
There is no real "rule" as it's not math, but the bigger the separation in terms of where they peak the better.
Keep them apart by 30 Hz *at least*...and even more is better and makes for a clear, powerful mix.

Also, another "non-rule": the shorter the kick, the less problems with the bass it often means (UNLESS you're doing the sub of the song with the kick…e.g., in trap).
A subby kick tail – if you have a sub bass – often clutters things up and creates a messy feel.

So, keep your kick and sub nicely separated. Otherwise it'll mean trouble for the mastering engineer, and if they clash bad, I'll end up carving and doing all sorts dynamic control and we still won't get the desired result, as the clashing elements start to "fart" really easy in limiting.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


A real quick production tip from the mastering lab as I came across the topic while mastering again.
About the relationship of kick and bassline.

In any types of music, you need to make a decision about your bass and kick placement.
For good separation, one has to sit lower than the other.
In a lot of electronic music and bass music, the (sub) bass sits below the kick.

There are no hard and fast rules, as music isn't math, exactly, but…
A good "rule" (or a tip, rather!) for kick/bass separation is at least 30 Hz. Ideal would be an octave.
E.g., in my music, I aim to have the sub at 45–60 Hz, and kick at least 30 Hz above it or higher...if you can have an octave between them, that's amazing (e.g., sub at 50 Hz, kick that x2 = 100 Hz).
There is no real "rule" as it's not math, but the bigger the separation in terms of where they peak the better.
Keep them apart by 30 Hz *at least*...and even more is better and makes for a clear, powerful mix.

Also, another "non-rule": the shorter the kick, the less problems with the bass it often means (UNLESS you're doing the sub of the song with the kick…e.g., in trap, and also in techno, you often have the kick and the bass in the same package).
A subby kick tail – if you have a sub bass – often clutters things up and creates a messy feel.

So, keep your kick and sub nicely separated. Otherwise it'll mean trouble for the mastering engineer, and if they clash bad, I'll end up carving and doing all sorts dynamic control and we still won't get the desired result, as the clashing elements start to "fart" really easy in limiting.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


Relating to the kick/bass tip I posted…peep this guy.
Melda Production has a great tool called MMultiAnalyzer.
You insert it on every track you wish to see, and it'll show a nice graphical representation of where all the tracks sit frequency-wise.
This way you can get an idea of whether your sounds are clashing.
Here, my bass is red, my drums are white, and a pad sound is blue.
Just like I pointed out, have your drums sit higher than your bass (in bass music)…this pic shows you just that.
Definitely a recommended mixing tool to producers.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


My strengths as an audio engineer?
Maintaining close, tight communication with the client is key to me – to ensure ideal end results. I want no less, and I don't want to get paid before we're there (I'm often suggested pre-payment, but I always say, let me make it right for you first, and then you can pay me…and my clients always pay me, even though the option of not doing so in case they didn't like it is there).
What's very common with most mastering services (especially big, expensive ones) is that you send them your mix/premaster, they do their job…and even if there's some glaring issues in it, the mastering engineer won't make a point about it…then you'll get the master back and hear all the shortcomings emphasized – but the mastering engineer won't point it out to you (I do; I always feel we're in it together).
Then, normally you'll send your new mix to them, and they'll run it thru the chain and ask you for a revision fee. If they're fully analog and the chain doesn't exist anymore, you'll pay the full price again.
I rarely charge for a new bounce OR mixdown critique when mastering is booked, but I do point out things in the mix that I feel should be addressed for an ideal end result.
Most common things to point out are drumsound levels, bass levels, kick and bassline clash, and ratio of drums vs melodic elements.
I mix and master music every single day. On top of that, I make music of my own and I can say with confidence that it's as professional as it gets. And I want to get your sound there, too.
I can say I'm a stone-cold expert in immediately hearing the major shortcomings in a mix. And I'll point them out to you for no extra charge. Because it's my pride to make it sound great; I can't be the guy who just does his job and lets the client find out about the shortcomings; I'll inform him about them if necessary. This is something not very many mixing/mastering services offer.
And this is something I get a lot of thanks for.
Another strength relates to all of the above directly: I don't "fail" often. This means I rarely get a client who's left unsatisfied. This happens 2-3 times a year, which is exceptionally low, considering I mix and master on the regular. Reason for "failing" usually is the client's unrealistic expectations in terms of how strong his song can become…but I'll always try to be honest about that in the beginning as well. I ask for a few references, and if I can hear the premaster is far off from them, it's also my job to tell that to the producer.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292

MASTERING MEGADEAL – valid till June 3, 2018.
Song price: 35 EUR.

I'm planning on having a nice summer holiday at some point, but before that, I want to drown myself in work and truly "earn" it.
Therefore, I'm making mastering price 35 EUR per song till June 3.

Conditions:
Songs must be sent in before June 4. Does not apply to any prices negotiated or batch deals agreed on previously.
Only applies to mastering, and NOT any other service I am offering.
Contact: fanu@fanumusic.com and mention "megadeal"
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


Quick thought/tip of the day:Always use more than one limiter in master limiting.
I usually use 2-3, depending on both how loud I have to do and how "peaky" the material is.
Basically you're sharing the handling of the peaks between more than one instance (in plugin world especially, it makes sense in general to do "heavy lifting" with more than one instance of whatever).

Also, how much limiting you need to do also depends on the mix and how peaky it is (transient emphasis tools can often cause a very peaky mix; do check your mix with a limiter often enough to hear you're not overdoing it).
You can also squash peaks before the master limiter(s) by various tools, e.g., a tape emulation (or real tape if you have it!), which can be real nice for taming peaks in a very musical way.

Happy limiting!
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


Happy to say one of my favorite audio interface and plugin brands @uaudio are supporting my mixing and mastering business. Here's a quick look at what some of those UAD goodies are doing in the last client mix.
I always use the Massenburg EQ for pretty much anything, but especially low-mid resonance dips.
SSL G Bus is really good for drum leveling; the producer that I'm mixing here always has super dynamic drum tracks, I'm using it on a kick track where the level variation gets huge, and this guy tames it nicely.
I've started using the Pure Plate reverb for pretty much anything; here it adds some air to the slightly too dry snare track. A part of my job is creating a suitable space for sounds to play in, as sometimes the vibe can be a bit too dry.
The 1176 is a classic. Here it's clamping down on a slightly too dynamic percussion track. You can also get great saturation out of this guy even without compression. After that, LA-2 is the second compressor on this track making absolutely sure levels don't get crazy. LA-2 is one of my favorite opto compressors – always use it on vocals…every time vocals need compression.
There's another SSL G Bus on the drum bus, and I'm running it into a Pultec EQ, which is my favorite EQ for that kick beef…I rarely use its attenuation feature, but the boost for kicks is just unbeatable…turns a thin kick into a weighty one. I like its high shelf for brightening, too, when it's needed.
Main guitar track needed a lot of taming, so another of my fave comps, LA3A is handling that badboy, then feeding the signal into another LA-2A, a legacy version, that doesn't add saturation, as the track already had enough vibe in it. The producer asked for a lot of more low end on the guitar, so the Oxford EQ is doing just that.
There were two conflicting bass tracks, so I'm using the Cambridge EQ (another dope natural-sounding EQ) to remove the lows of one of them.
Harrison EQ definitely has some magic mojo on it, so I'm using it to brighten up a piano that was quite muffled and needed to be way more present in the mix.
The EP-34 takes care of general delay duties in the delay return bus…love the vibe in that one.
The whole mix gets mastering processing in the same project (that's how I always work: get the mix as good as possible, then apply some slight master processing), and goes thru the Shadow Hills master comp, which gives me both slow and fast compression in one…unbeatable in very transparent leveling.

• Info and rates: www.fanumusic.com/mastering
• CONTACT: fanu@fanumusic.com
 

logikz

I Am Not The King
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I can't beleive I never replied to this thread. Great stuff @fanu, old boy. But you don't do anything analog with the track you master, it's all itb?
 

fanu

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Messages
292
I can't beleive I never replied to this thread. Great stuff @fanu, old boy. But you don't do anything analog with the track you master, it's all itb?
A whole lot of world-class analog emulations ITB.
The days when you needed actual hardware for great sound are gone (and this does not mean I'm dissing hardware…it does sound great, but for the sound alone, quality software is what's enough and it surely does pay the bills).
 

logikz

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A whole lot of world-class analog emulations ITB.
The days when you needed actual hardware for great sound are gone (and this does not mean I'm dissing hardware…it does sound great, but for the sound alone, quality software is what's enough and it surely does pay the bills).
What about my bills. Can you pay them
 

fanu

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Messages
292


Mixing and mastering service FAQ

I get quite a lot of DMs and email about certain questions, so I thought I’d make a FAQ here to possibly ease up some DM/email action.
I’ll add a few other things and general claims and address those.

• What are your rates?
I’ve tried to make this unbelievably easy to find, and it’s the #1 Google hit for “fanu mastering”.
https://fanumusic.com/mastering/ always has the latest rates.

• What is “VAT” and do I have to pay that?
It means Value Added Tax and it’s a tax system for services in EU. I run a registered business and have to charge VAT of your country if you 1) live in EU and 2) do not operate a business yourself. I do not charge VAT if you do not live in EU.
E.g., I do not charge US clients any VAT.

• There is the rate for mastering, as well as mixing + mastering, but not just mixing, so what’s the rate for that?
I provide a full final product. If it was “mixed only”, that’d mean, in a way, that someone else would have to master it. What you get from me does not need any external help. So the rate is for mixing and mastering, as that’ll give you a fully finished product. I always make the mix as tight as I can, so on the master it mostly needs minimal EQ touches, resonance control, possible dynamics touches, and limiting, so in mixing+mastering, it’s around 75–80% about mixing, and rest about mastering.
I can, of course, send a non-limited version, no problem, so all dynamics are there.
Especially in big leagues, there’s mixing and mastering engineers all working on the song, as they don’t specialize in both mixing and mastering.

• So how can you be both mixing and mastering engineer?
It’s funny, as I’ve been told by some I cannot be both.
Simply, I’ve been making electronic music since 1992, non-stop. So it’s been 27 years now. Now that is a LOT of learning done mixing-and-production-and-mastering-wise. I have the ears needed to hear what needs hearing, whether it’s on mix level or mastering level, and all the tools in the world to address those things. I hear the song from the angle of the producer as well as audio engineer.

• What level should my premaster be at?
As long as it’s not exceeding zero, all good. I always level it down to -18 as the first thing in my chain to provide me with a lot of headroom. Having said that, I have worked with a lot of material that has been limited really loud and the producer has lost the files, and they’ve come out nice.
In a nutshell, you leave the dynamic control and limiting to the engineer, as he’s most likely more experienced in it than you may be.

• What sample rate and bit depth should I go for?
24-bit, 44.1 KHz is fine.

• Do you do analog hardware mixing/mastering?
This question tells a bit about the person asking the Q. The relevance of this question these days is close to going to a restaurant and enquiring whether they use some specific knives to make the food. You should only care about the quality of the end product.
All mixing and mastering I do happens with software. However, quite a lot of tools that impart some great character on the sound are analog emulations; e.g., I own the full Universal Audio plug-in range and am supported by Slate Digital with their products.
So the sound will have analog beef and color whenever it’s needed.
Even the most curious analog/hardware-only heads have been happy with what I do.

• If I have a song mixed and mastered by you, can you send me all its tracks back with all the mixing and mastering processing in them?
Yes, I can.

• Do you provide vinyl or Spotify versions?
Yes, I do.
I always do the loud version first, and once that is approved, I create Spotify and vinyl versions. Spotify version difference is only that it’s less loud: -14 LUFS. No sound difference.
Vinyl version: not limited at all, and I make sure there’s no crazy frequency action happening, especially in the stereo field. I do vinyl masters regularly, and they always come out dope.

• Do you work with [genre X]?
I work with most genres. Majority of what I work with is electronic and hip hop. All forms of electronic, especially styles with sub bass: house, techno, DNB, dubstep, hiphop (oldskool and trap)…all that is definitely my home turf. Loud, clean, punchy, crisp and pristine, bassy. This doesn’t mean I can’t work with more dynamic styles; I work with everything. The only music that doesn’t come in, as I’m not profiled that way, is classic rock and organic stuff like jazz.

• If I don’t like your work, then what?
I don’t charge you. However, there has been no non-paying unhappy client in the past three years. And that says something, as I work with several hundred songs every year.
A few rules apply to the no-charge scenario.

• What are those rules?
You must have some ideas how the music should sound and be ready to send me a reference song if I ask for it (quite often I don’t), because those things clarify to you how your music should sound, roughly.
I work with “I’m not sure how it should sound” stuff often, and everybody’s always happy. It can only pose problems if you have no idea how it should and how it should be changed from the “I don’t like it” state.

• Can I see client feedback somewhere?
Yes, please see Reviews tab on the left.
117 positive reviews and counting (that’s just a small amount of people I’ve worked with).

• Can I hear your work somewhere?
I don’t really keep a portfolio online. I have a Soundcloud page at http://soundcloud.com/mastering-by-fanu where I occasionally repost some stuff I’ve handled, but even that is just a very small amount of music and doesn’t cover nearly all of the genres I work with…I use that page very seldom.
I can link you to specific stuff if you intend to use my service and email me about it.
Keeping a portfolio online is very uncommon for professionals for some reason. Word-of-mouth is what gets us jobs.

• How to get in touch?
fanusamurai@gmail.com

• Do you give mix tips?
If you are my client and are sending a song for mastering, yes.
I don’t do free mixing advice, unfortunately. Many years ago I did that, which helped me establish myself in the market, but I’ve had to close that arena.
Also, I make videos of songs I have mixed and mastered for my clients: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyVZEKQ6U0gfor the general idea.
In general, I'm extremely communicative, discuss the song with you until it's fully done, and listen to all your wishes. Instead of "working for you", I feel we're a team where I do my best work and you guide me till it's fully a wrap. After all, I do take pride in making it sound great…it's me who's getting credited for engineering, so I want to make it dope.

• Will you do a freebie for me if I promote the heck out of you?
Sadly, no, unless you’re a major artist. I don’t get these Qs that often anymore, but once again one came in last week.
Unless you can hit me with major visibility, I will not do free work, sorry. This is my living, not a hobby.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292
Putting my summer discount mode on: -25% off all jobs for June and July (can be used for only one job order).

Also, just got 120th positive client review on FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/fanumastering/reviews/?ref=page_internal

For what type of sound I like to put out DNB-wise, see, for example, my last DNB releases (on Metalheadz, Lightless, and Straight-Up Breakbeat).

Any questions about mixing/mastering? Hit me.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292


A quick thought from the lab: never overlook the importance of a good gate!

E.g., I was recently mixing an oldskool hip hop track, and I knew everything was quite ok, but there was *something* that wasn't right, and I couldn't put my finger on it.
Took a break, came back, and realized it was simply the reverb on the snare that the producer had applied, and it was simply too much, as it took too much attention. Good news is reverb is fairly easy to tame with gating.

Here's my 4 favorite gate:
• Ableton Gate: a simple no-nonsense gate…especially great for just getting simple noise out when there's no other sounds happening
• UAD SSL gate: love this for drumsounds
• Ableton Multiband Dynamics…3-band precision with all time controls you need
• Izotope Trash 2 dynamics (could also be Ozone 5 dynamics)…4-band precision…when you need to get extra meticulous in making it all tight!
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292
[IMG]


New workweek ahead.
Heavy metal, deep house from NYC, instrumental hip hop from the UK, DNB from Belgium, DNB from the UK…let's smash it! (<--- not necessarily referring to use of limiters with that one, ha!)

So I've been expanding even more, now working with metal, too. Just handled some extra brutal metal for a band, and they're loving it.

Will be heavy grinding mixes and masters till June 30!
⚠Summer holiday / studio closed: 1–14 July⚠
If you need to have your music treated by then, send in well BEFORE July 1.
Work will commence after holiday on July 15.
 

fanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
292
Want to send your music to be mixed and/or mastered by yours truly?
Let the 131 public comments on my work give you some confidence (phones may not show all of them; use a browser).

 
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