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After overhauling my mastering process I thought I would upload a short video.
This let’s you hear the sonic differences between the original unmastered track and a mastered version.
Things to note apart from the extra volume / loudness are EQ and compression.
Listen on headphones or good studio monitors to get the best comparison.
As I said before I’m going to do a short mastering tutorial video soon covering this process from start to finish.
Well I’ve been playing around with my mastering process recently.
The current trend in greater perceived loudness isn’t a great thing, but we all seem to fall close to commercial loudness to keep things consistent with other songs.
I’m not a huge fan of the loudness wars but when mastering for client’s sometimes you have to push a mix fairly hot to keep them satisfied.
Now recently I discovered by using advanced compression and limiting techniques how to push a mix to an almost respectable -7.4 raw RMS with a reasonable dynamic range of 6.1 (any lower and it would fatigue a listener) without audible clipping/distortion. Is this a good thing? Probably not really.
Will it sound as loud as a modern pop song? Sure it will, but it will lack some dynamics. I happen to like dynamics and would rather master at a lower average peak RMS and with a dynamic range over 6.1.
It only proves one think to me, that I can master as loud as any commercial master not really any bragging rights in that to be honest.
It’s always good to experiment though. I’ll try and keep every master as dynamic as I can for the sake of the song.
I’ll probably put up a video tutorial on how to master a track soon.
Note that my balance is spot on for the stereo mix left and right. Also my correlation is +1 (in phase) and not -1 (out of phase) all good then!
EDIT: I have linked the mastered track in question here:
I have worked on mixing average sounding source material and found getting a good mix requires a lot of work when compared to working on well recorded material.
Getting it right at the source is paramount and should always be your first priority before hitting the record button!
When material is well recorded there are two things that stand out:
Let me explain the two points above in more detail.
Signal to noise ratio (SNR) is how much noise there is in a recording in relation to actual signal level. If you record too quietly by not having the preamp level turned up enough you will capture almost as much floor noise as actual signal, not good. You want to have a strong enough signal that noise isn’t very noticeable. All devices like microphones, preamp and anything that outputs a signal with have some noise it’s just the nature of recording. Balancing out the signal and noise makes for a much cleaner signal to work with.
Now clipping is another issue. Record too hot and although your signal will outweigh overall noise you can risk clipping on louder parts. For instance a singer who is very dynamic (with a lot of quiet then loud parts) could sound great until they really belt out a note and then clip the waveform introducing distortion into the sound.
My general rule of thumb to balance preamp signal is to monitor the signal in my DAW with the track meters. I try and make sure that at maximum loudness it never peaks over roughly about 50% on the meter. This way I get a good strong signal, decent SNR and plenty of headroom for the louder parts without the signal hitting 0dbfs and clipping.
Look at this illustration on a clipped signal vs a signal with no clipping, note the headroom available on the unclipped signal:
If you stick to the above rule you will find audio much easier to handle when processing with say a compressor and easier to mix in the long run.
Take as much time as you can initially monitoring and adjusting recording levels before starting. Record a clip with quieter and louder passages and check for 1, noise and 2, clipping. If you have little noise and no clipping you are good to go.
I hope this helps with your next recording session.
New song coming very soon from my band. We where busy on Sunday tracking bass and rhythm guitars.
Sounding great so far. A list of the setup is below.
Microphones used: (close mic’s)
Watch out for the new track soon…
This is a short example video of a mix that was mixed into a compressor at the very start of the session.
I love to mix this way to keep everything in check level-wise during mixing.
This shows how the mix falls apart when it is turned off and the importance of the compressors on the channel inserts and the important mixbus.
Try this next time you mix. Strap a compressor with a ratio of 2:1 with a fast attack and release then proceed to mix. See if you like it or not.