Mastering an ep
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Thread: Mastering an ep

  1. #1
    Tech Mentor stringerhye's Avatar
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    Default Mastering an ep

    Hey guys.

    I have a collection of about 5 tracks that I'd like to make into an ep. Anyone know hat steps I could take to get them mastered and pressed to CDs.

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    Tech Mentor f0tif0's Avatar
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    Default yo

    yo interested in mastering friend me on facebook name f0tif0, i can probably master it for u
    f0tif0

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    Dr. Bento BentoSan's Avatar
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    [sarcasm] I got some wicked waves plugins with some fully sick presets, send them to me[/sarcasm]

    Seriously... how much you prepared to spend on mastering ?

    Are any labels interested in your stuff or are you releasing these yourself ?

  4. #4
    Tech Mentor stringerhye's Avatar
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    this is more of a demo i guess. Should I just try it getting to sound the best I can myself?

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    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    If it's for anything you want others to listen to critically, I'd pay the money to get someone who's good at what they do to master it. It doesn't need to sound amazing and, well, it probably won't, but if you can swing a couple hundred bucks to get someone else to put their ears to it you will definitely benefit.
    It's the FAQ. Read it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DvlsAdvct View Post
    If it's for anything you want others to listen to critically, I'd pay the money to get someone who's good at what they do to master it. It doesn't need to sound amazing and, well, it probably won't, but if you can swing a couple hundred bucks to get someone else to put their ears to it you will definitely benefit.
    I couldn't agree more here! The current clime leads to a flood of material floating about and one needs to stand out from the herd, if you want to catch people's ear then you need to give yourself the best chance possible. Mastering engineers are a bread unto themselves, they do things we can't and shouldn't even attempt!

    In all honesty it comes down to how much cash you have or are willing to spend on the process...

    lol@ Bento... did you see the videos?

  7. #7
    Dr. Bento BentoSan's Avatar
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    If you are going to pitch these at lables i personally wouldnt recommend getting is mastered - then talk with the label about getting it professionally mastered if they are interested in the track. Chances are the label will already know a good mastering service and will probably get a better price then you can.

    Personally i would get a mate to do it who is half decent with mastering to run it through T-Racks, preferably for free- its best you don't do this yourself as your mind can play tricks on you especially when it comes to the EQ stage. If a label is interested in your stuff then get it properly mastered. That way if you have a bunch of dud tracks that no one wants your not wasting money on mastering.

    So really i think at this stage a halfway decent software mastering is all you will need.

    If you want to rinse this stuff out while your doing, your going to be competing against the mastering of other tracks - so then it might be worth getting it properly mastered so you tracks fit into your sets without sounding weak in comparison to the other tracks.

    @Saint yeah i saw one video - is there more now ?

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor stringerhye's Avatar
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    I have to agree with bento. Im a broke college student I don't really have any disposable income. I just want to get my name out there. So I think trying to master it myself is the most cost effective option.

    Another question.

    What is the best mastering plugin? I've heard things about ozone, t-racks and waves. What do you guys prefer.

    Thanks for all the help guys.

  9. #9
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    @Saint yeah i saw one video - is there more now ?[/QUOTE]

    Yeah there was a second, where the guy goes back 'cos his mate's studio's out of action as his mom needed the laptop LOL "you get me? you get me tho?" LMAO

    And WOW!!! here's where the can of worms is opened... There is no such thing as a mastering plug-in and even with software mastering packages you need to know what you are doing with them. There are tools used for mastering depending on what needs doing to the track, be it EQ, compression, multi-band compression, limiting, frequency-conscious limiting, phase coherence and adjustment, stereo spread, gaining...etc...etc... think you get the idea.

    Here is a quick-fire couple of things to do for a "master" to play out and keep it in the ball park with other commercial tracks without actual mastering. These are tricks we use to "live with" the tracks for a few days and to test them out in sets and with other DJs:

    When the track is mixed and you have gone through the happy period, leave it well alone for a couple of days and don't listen to it. Then, return to your studio and at low to moderate level listen to a few current tunes by others that are in a similar style and that you like the essence and sound of... kick back and enjoy them. It is important not to do this loud as you will get ear fatigue and stuff loud sounds GREAT!!! After a few teas and well spent time open a fresh project on your DAW and import the stereo mix of one of these commercial tracks that you think is best and the closest to you want to achieve. Leave this plug-in free with a direct out to the master. Next, import your stereo mix to another track.

    Firstly listen to the other track and get ultra familiar again with how it sounds in your room. Next switch to yours and note on the meters where it peaks at (it will look like 0dB at a wild guess) and how much the meters are up around this point i.e how much dynamic range is in the music, if it is banging around 0 the whole time use a gainer on the channel or better still on the waveform itself and REDUCE IT!!! this is not pulling the channel fader down, take the gain out of the signal by about 3-4dB at least. You need room to work and you don't want to be overloading any of the plugins.

    Next call up your best multi band EQ and, if it doesn't have one, a Hi pass filter. Set the filter to about 30Hz and take out everything below here, there will be so much going on down there that you can't hear and is just using a ton of energy... you will be surprised how much this actually tightens up the bottom end!

    The following key point is to actually cut other troublesome frequencies; compare to the other track again and try and get it at a similar level, pulling the channel fader down no doubt... Now switch back and forth and play with cutting frequencies from your track to make them similar. You will have to sweep about and concentrate on one area at a time. e.g. Bass, yours is muddy compared to theirs... cut some 250Hz by a bit and see if it improves. Use narrow bandwidths to start with and find the center point of the trouble and then widen them as much as you need. Do the same for the mids, mid highs etc.

    On to boosting :

    After your cuts you can start bringing things back in.. If you have used all your EQ's bands with cuts open a new one (this is not strictly done using the same plug-in for masters and for real tech-heads due to phase shift etc before someone jumps on me for this!) but in this case it will be fine, or open a different good multi EQ. Start at the bottom again and perhaps your kick needs to come out more...try a center frequency around 80-100Hz use a very narrow bandwidth and be cautious of the boost amount you don't want to be adding more than 2/3dB or something was wrong with the mix in the first place. Next perhaps some mid-hi and possibly a hi shelf with a boost from about 8-10kHz to add that sparkle and presence if its laking.

    Ok, EQing done and you have been switching back and forth between yours and theirs right? Cool... take a break, have another tea and come back and see if it still sounds as good as it did 10 minutes ago...it does? Great! lets glue it all together slightly and give it a bit of radio treatment.

    Step one, pull up your best compressor set a ratio of 3 or 4 to 1 set the attack to about a quarter and the release about the same you should now adjust the input gain, or threshold, until you are at peaks in your track getting a maximum of 3to4dB on your gain reduction meter. The trick here is NOT big compression simply merging some of the frequencies together in a musical way so we have set the unit to a low ratio, are not using a super fast attack time as we don't want it taking the power out of all our percussive hits and it is recovering from the dips quite quickly whilst never sucking more than that 3dB from our record.

    Now we can make it LOUD!:

    Not by turning our monitors up but by adding a peak limiter. I would recommend leaving the attack and release as the default is here as you can really screw things with them. It depends what DAW you are using but the peak limiter in Logic or Protool's Maxim or indeed T-Rack's limiter are the sorts of units I'm referring to. Simply set the output clamp to -0.5 to -0.1dB and wind down the threshold with the music playing. You will see the meters climbing up as well as hearing it sound more exciting. Now is the time to look at the meters on your bench mark track, you want yours and theirs to be looking similar and all the time listening to see if you are crushing too much life out of your track, it is very easy to get carried away here and over cook it! Err on the side of good caution and taste! Keep comparing sonically and visually on the meters.

    Time for another tea... when you think you've cracked it, take another break, go for a walk then come back and listen again with fresh ears Make sure you've not rung the life out of it, if you have back that limiter threshold off a bit.. if it's good, big yourself up hugely and press bypass on all the plug-ins and watch the smile appear as you add them back in! All fine? Dandy, now you're ready to bounce it down as your new stereo WAV. If you were running at 24 bit don't forget to bounce it at 16 bit and if this is the case don't forget to use your powR dithering plug-in!

    Welllll... I hope that is of some use, the most important thing is to take time and breaks, it's amazing how accustomed our ears become to deceiving us something sounds good with repeated listening. By coming back fresh even after ten minutes can surprise us. After all, you worked hard enough creating your art so you wouldn't want to rush this last stage right? A few minutes here will be be well worth it!

    One last thing, if the labels like and want it...have the original file mastered not this new one. Any masting engineer would have a paddy working with it! LOL Good luck

    St.

  10. #10
    Tech Mentor stringerhye's Avatar
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    Do master engineers usually just take the stereo waveform or do they take the original file and edit that?

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