Mastering-Question for engineers

SoS_Productions

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Hey guys, how does this process work exactly? I've recently found someone who can master my tracks. How do engineers do this? Is the MP3 of the track all you need? And is it better to lower the volume on everything for my final mix before I give it to an engineer? I've heard horror stories of engineers recieving tracks, and the volume of the drums or bass can be so high that the engineer can't do anything with the track, and it ends up sounding like crap.
 
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Dustek

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Some engineers will take the wave, a better one will take your sound production files and fiddle with them. Lowering the volume is a good idea as it gives the engineer headroom. Actually fuck it, ask Gordo.
 

logikz

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mastering, as it turns out, is what you do to the final wav, the separate stems is mixdown. one tip you frequently hear is not to use any form of compression (ie limiters) on the masterbus and as little as possible of it on the rest of the track so as to leave headroom for the engineer to work with. its to do with compression being multiplicatory, not additive, meaning if you compress once with 1:4 and then another time with 2:5 its heaps more compressed than just a bit more than double.

this all makes sense to me but i havent sent anything to any mastering houses yet. i will though, soon as i work up some ambition
 

kama

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have absolutely NO CLIPPING on the wave, the engineer will have your head if you do.

2 things that matter the most are peaking and bit depth. You should settle for no less than 24bit wav when giving it to the ME. Peaks no more than -3 db.
 
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MARLZTAH

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mastering is not something you should worry about unless your releasing your track

if all your doing is sticking a few tracks on the web or whatever, a bit of diy mastering will do fine

also.... remember mastering is not a cure for a bad mix
 

moriaty

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The thing to remember about mastering is that its stealth. Basicly if a tune is mixed good, mastering will bring out the best of it, if you send a turd, no amount of surgery will sort it.

A mastering chain will usually be compression,equalising, and limiting. In order for the M.E. to process the tune, it will need to be as clean as possible. The first thing they do when receiving a tune is to open it in an editor. If the waveform is squashed, they'll send it back, as nothing more can be done on it. That happens when you stick a soft limiter at you master output, which at the time may do make the tune sound big and punchy, but no matter your tweaking skills, its likely that a pro M.E. will know his shit better.

If you've just made a tune, all mixed and finished, and want to play it at your local night, then by all means slap a limiter and an eq, and try to give that final extra shine.
But if the tunes goes for release, then send the label the clean version, and let them do the dirty work.

If you still want your tune mastered for your personal joy, then you can do much much worse than checking Macc's service.
http://mastering.subvertbeats.com/
charges about £25 per tune, ive heard results of his, and i know i'll be sending him some stuff soon.
(y)


Actually fuck it, ask Gordo.

(y):teeth:
 

moriaty

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have absolutely NO CLIPPING on the wave, the engineer will have your head if you do.

2 things that matter the most are peaking and bit depth. You should settle for no less than 24bit wav when giving it to the ME. Peaks no more than -3 db.
Well said. I have read that M.E.'s need like 6 dB headroom, but recently i checked mistabishi's work, where he mentions that he likes to limit his tracks, whilst still leaving headroom. Apparantly that way he makes his tune grittier...
But hey, who am i to argue ?!
 

Serum

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A lot of current artists do send squashed tracks to be mastered, depends on how much you want that sound really.

If your mixdown is shit and you squash it then you're in trouble!
 

fastfret

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don't send an mp3 for mastering send a wav file. mp3s are much worse quality, the polishing turd analogy can be applied here
 

KEMZ

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just my 2 cents here - i always record my bass in mono, as someone told me once that stereo bass tracks do wierd stuff when its pressed in to vinyl??? the sound is not much different in the computer but ive never had a tune mastered or pressed so not sure

anybody clarify this or is it old wife tales?
 

fastfret

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just my 2 cents here - i always record my bass in mono, as someone told me once that stereo bass tracks do wierd stuff when its pressed in to vinyl??? the sound is not much different in the computer but ive never had a tune mastered or pressed so not sure

anybody clarify this or is it old wife tales?

apparently the cutting needle has a tough time when cutting bass in stereo and jerks about, but can handle a lot more in mono
 

DJ_March

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Yeah, mastering for vinyl is a who different box of frogs.

For CD mastering - The mix has to be good in the first place. When I do a mastering session, I aim to reproduce the sound and vibe of the original mix with just subtle enhancement to really give it energy and make the track shine. Obviously most people want thier tracks as loud as possible, so its a fine balance of adding enough to shape the sound and bring the levels up without losing the clarity and balance.

For me, I prefer tracks to be mixed with peaks as close to 0dB as possible. If the stereo bus hasn't been compressed, there is usually plenty of headroom to work with.
 

kama

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just my 2 cents here - i always record my bass in mono, as someone told me once that stereo bass tracks do wierd stuff when its pressed in to vinyl??? the sound is not much different in the computer but ive never had a tune mastered or pressed so not sure

anybody clarify this or is it old wife tales?

I've read a different take on this, a certain "pro" mastering engineer said in an interview not to worry about that - If it's pressed the ME will take care of things. And it's mostly an urban legend he said.

Lets see if i can dig it up from the archive here...
 

kama

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ah here it is:

http://monolake.de/interviews/mastering.html

...there is a huge myth about that you can only cut bass in mono, thats something which is really resistantly in producer's heads, its absolutely not true!

It is of course a whole different matter to play a 180º phased bass in a club, I seriously doubt it will sound good. All in all stereo effecting seems to be possible though.
 
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DJ Wizz

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mastering is not something you should worry about unless your releasing your track

if all your doing is sticking a few tracks on the web or whatever, a bit of diy mastering will do fine

also.... remember mastering is not a cure for a bad mix

thus xamples tunes always sound a little too crackly and dirty
 

MARKLAR

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shit this reminds me i gotta get sum tunes mastered!
can any1 do it for free?lol
 

dubster001

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- How would you best describe Mastering?
Mastering is the final stage in the recording process, after you have recorded and mixed your record.
Mastering engineers only have control over the stereo mix, so they are listening to the way the track works as a whole piece rather than concerning themselves so much with the individual balance.
- Is mastering really essential or can artists get away without it?
99% of tracks need mastering in some way, from the basic levelling of the tracks to extreme eq and compression and anything inbetween! All major releases are mastered so if a track isn't mastered, it will likely not have the presence of sound to compete on the radio or on an mp3 player against other tracks.
- What does mastering add to a recording?
Balance, dynamics and most importantly space and clarity.
It's a very strong possiblilty that you cannot achieve these things just from recording and mixing, as the engineers involved in these processes are much more geared towards listening to the individual tracks rather than the whole mix from the perspective of a mastering engineer.
You could argue that music only needs to be mastered because everything else before it has been, but it's not as simple as that - an experienced mastering engineer can make a great result out of a mix. And obviously the better the mix, the easier the mastering engineer's job so the effect of mastering varies depending on the quality of the mix.
- Due to the fact that most recording are now over compressed to the point that any subtleties are lost, with most labels just wanting everything loud, does an unsigned artist have to do the same in order for there recordings to fall in line with most current releases?
Most records that are well made come into the mastering process uncompressed, as a good engineer will know that it's not their task to compress the hell out of the final mix.

The good mastering engineer can get the track to be loud enough to compete, without the need to compress the dynamics out of the track. You find that if a home studio engineer has compressed the track badly at mix stage then the feel has already been lost, and the track will never be as loud as a professonally balanced record.

It is the EQ that makes the difference to the percieved loudness and not the crushing effect of compression and limiting these are used to add dynamics.

- What advice would you have for an artists going though the mastering process?


Do not compress your mix, as that is a decision for the mastering engineer. They should have the knowledge to choose the exact amount of level, compression and eq to add to your track. They will have spent years using the same equipment, same speakers in the same room, day in day out...that is what you are paying for, so get your mix sounding as good as you can without trying to do the mastering engineer's job for them. Then you can leave with a finished record and never have to tweak it again.


taken from:
http://www.streakymastering.com/faqs.php
 

KEMZ

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also, does DAT add anything to a mix? me and my friend were discussing the other day that alot of dudes used too, and still record to DAT tape, my question is does this add its own kind of comression, or character to a mix?
 

MARLZTAH

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about bass and stereo.....

its a good idea to keep the low end of the bass mono..... but most basslines are not solely made up of low frequencys

i usually split my bass track across 3 channels.... one for low, mid and high and only keep the low channel (which i usually LP at somewhere between 60-150Hz) in mono..... stereo effects on the higher frequencys of the bassline can sound pretty cool and of course give them some width
 
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