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Mixing with foresight to mastering

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by 26, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. 26

    26 Muzak by request

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    Besides from the snare one has to keep in mind when it comes to mastering, I would like to know if somebody treats his bass (level and frequency) differently in regards to the bass boost the mix usually will experience in mastering.

    Also it would be interesting to know which other elements could need to be mixed with foresight to mastering.
    Please enlighten me :)
     
  2. Fox Mulder

    Fox Mulder The Truth Is Out There

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    If applying the limiter fucks up your mix you got something wrong. Also, you gotta consider the Fletcher–Munson curve. 1khz to 5khz is indeed a very vital range (like duh...). I keep on switching the limiter on and off while mixing to see if everything's in place.
     
  3. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    First off, nothing in mastering just happens. I can give you hundreds of examples on mixes that where never given any bass boost for example. There are always these notions that "this is what happens in mastering", but it doesn't. :)

    There is nothing that can be done in mastering, that you can't get done in the mix!!!

    For metal, of course it's very very important to keep your drum transients under control so that you will not be in for any surprises if a loud master is what you want. And that's usually the key ingredient in most mastering posts, when asking what to think of etc... it's all based around what you need to think of if a LOUD master is what you want. If you just want to get the best out of what you've got, it becomes about a whole other set of questions.

    But for LOUD masters... what will get you in trouble is the drums and then the distorted elements like guitars. After that you need to watch your "steady state" tones. All masters have distortion on them... it's just a fact these days, but if you will detect it as audible or not depends on the arrangement of the song. If you where to dumb it down... it could be said that if stuff happens/changes all the time, it will be much harder to detect any distortion. So what I mean by steady state is stuff like guitar chords ringing out by themselves in the middle or end of songs... big loud toms with lots of sustain... lead guitars. They all contain a lot of steady state information (guitars, midrange resonances 1-6k that won't change in frequency no matter what notes you play). So if you can keep this steady state information under control and also make sure the arrangements of the song lend itself to a loud master, you will be just fine! :devil:
     
  4. SkybluestudiosBEN

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    Do you mean to automate the steady state information by changing the EQ or turning it down?
     
  5. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    Automation, sure!
    EQ, absolutely!
    Compression, damn right!

    Do whatever works in the situation at hand. It really becomes about what technical means you can use that doesn't have a negative musical impact on the thing you're trying to control.
     
  6. 26

    26 Muzak by request

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    Thanks for the replies, Maamar Hug and Plec.

    @Plec: My question was not about loudness in the first place, as my impression of the bass balance after mastering is independent from how much compression/limiting the mixes run trough (a final level that comes at least close to that of commercial releases (relative to genre), is important to me, though).
    It just seems to me, that in music where the bass plays an important role, a lower frequency boost along with the mastering compression can change the picture significantly. But may be that this is an individual problem here.

    BTW, I have no doubt that there indeed ARE mixes that do not need a lower frequency boost, but I still believe that's the minority.
    (Would be cool to know, how many people here manage that on a regular basis)

    Interesting information about the "steady state" tones.
     
  7. amarshism

    amarshism Member

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    It's not always about boosts. If you can keep 250-1k under control you will hear the accentuation in the highs and lows that people normally want from mastering.

    A mastering engineer told me he was totally fine with masterbus compression, but how do you feel about MBC plec? Does it take to much shaping control out of your hands?
     
  8. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    I understand what you mean, but all things aside... if you think it will need a bass boost in mastering, why not just do it yourself on the kick and bass before sending it out? Might sound like I'm coming across kind of harsh I guess but it's not my intent. The reason is that one of the main things that get people in trouble when sending off to mastering is that they expect too much and that they send stuff that they don't really think sounds top notch and that mastering will fix that for them... which it might do in some cases but if you always send out mixes that you think are top notch, you will most likely get even better results back from mastering.

    It all depends on the situation. For myself, I would never dare sending off a mix to mastering without any master bus processing, but I mix with compression and EQ on there as part of what I do so it doesn't really count as pseudo mastering just because the processing is on the master bus. I did remove my mastering chain a couple of times actually when I had my stuff mastered by "hot-shot big name engineer" and in both cases it came back terrible whereas the times I had my usual stuff going I was quite happy with the mastering.

    I think that if you really know what you're doing and not just compressing the mix for the sake of compressing and that it has a sonic idea behind it that is part of the production, then by all means send it to mastering like that. It does take away some shaping control, but if it's the intent of the production to sound like that why should a mastering engineer have anything to say about it? He should just work with that's there and make it even better.
     
  9. jval

    jval Member

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    most of my best mixes have happened when I know it's being sent off to someone good. I can just focus on the job at hand - MIXING - and not make decisions based on what I think the mastering engineer is going to do. I find that I have trouble mixing my own stuff when I know I'm also going to do the mastering... I start throwing mastering crap on my mix bus to check, and it just distracts from the whole process.
    Yes there are things to keep in mind when you know it's going to be smashed down the line. But in the end it just comes down to the simple fact that a good mix usually leads to a good master. Focus on the mix and get it right, let the mastering engineer worry about enhancing and maximizing it. Great advice from Plec above.
     
  10. lolzgreg

    lolzgreg Cereal Shipping Sneapster

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    Andy, check your PMs.
     
  11. 26

    26 Muzak by request

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    I don't trust my room (and my skills, tbh) enough for this kind of decision, so I leave it to the ME. (BTW, i'm just self producing with very few mixes for other people)

    Usually I sent my mixes without anything in the masterbus because I expect an ME to have better tools, but reading your post really brings up the interesting question where the "Mix" ends and the mastering begins. I will definitely rethink my philosophy of leaving the masterbus untouched.
     
  12. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    +1 to all the stuff Plec has said, of course.

    I will already know, when I'm finished with a mix, what its loudness potential is, and how good it is likely to end up sounding. If I'm not happy with the mix I'm sending off, I will not be happy with the master. Nothing in the past has overcome that rule.

    I always mix with loudness enhancement on the stereo bus, because it makes the most sense to me. Most rock/metal mixes are going to end up smashed, so I want to be hearing it in as close to a final state as I can while I am building the thing. This way I also know what steady-state signals are likely to cause clipping, and as a result I can put measures in to prevent this. Gauging by my own rough mix/masters I can tell where the ME is likely to have problems. What they're ultimately getting is a version of the product you have with much fewer parameters to control. If you don't think the mix, at its heart, can hold up to the process of maximizing, there likely isn't going to be much that the ME can do apart from crafty gain staging into certain devices, and some minimal compression and EQ. Certainly much less control and ability to reduce these problems than you have in the mix.

    Ultimately whenever I'm not totally happy with a mix, it's more likely to end up sounding screwed after mastering. It usually implies some misbalance in the mix, some overlapping frequencies, chaotic arrangements, poor tracking etc. All these things can eat up your headroom, and waste energy where it's not needed. I've made enough mistakes, and had enough successes to start getting a greater feel for where this stuff might happen. Even so, some elements end up outside of your control despite your understanding of what they are. Knowing the limitations really starts to factor in. The process filters down from the writing stage, all the way through tracking, mixing and finally mastering. If the songs are arranged in a good way, there will be less instrumental clashing and chaos to deal with. If the tracking is good, you won't have to over-process and run the risk of weird frequency build-ups. If the mixing is good, then the mastering engineer has his work cut out for him.

    I'm still making these mistakes, and learning as I go. The main revelation in recent times has not been to recognize the mistakes, but rather to recognize when it is that I can't do anything about them. The understanding that a finished song is one collective effort. Everything has to go right, from first base, all the way through to the final master copy in order to facilitate a comfortable process throughout.
     
  13. waltz mastering

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    +1
     

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