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Preparing stems for mastering

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Heabow, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    The print-new-track and sidechain-to-buss-comp idea is cool but I don't think would work; that said, it gave me an idea. If you set up each of the stem 'tracks' as separate outputs, all routed to the 2bus (IE you've got Drums, bass, rh gtr, ld gtr, vox ld, vox bg, fx, synths all as aux tracks that then go to the main 2bus) where you've currently got your busscomp/tape sat plugins, and then move that busscomp/tapesat over into the individual tracks (ie 1 instance on each output) and just sidechain every track into every plugin, it should have the same end result.
     
  2. wishtheend

    wishtheend clip the apex

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    Anything on the 2bus is going to respond based on the collective sum of all the routed channels. The 2buss comp on individual stems isn't going to respond the same way as the master mix.
     
  3. Arsonstudios

    Arsonstudios Member

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    yeah but if its triggered by the collective sum the GR is the same on every stem.

    trying to elaborate a bit more detailed what i meant:

    lets say we're in pro tools mixing a basic rock song. drums are all bussed to a stereo aux, bass is bussed to a stereo aux, guitars are bussed to a stereo aux and vocals and vocal fx are bussed to a stereo aux.

    those stereo auxes represent my stems. all go out to the main mixbus with a comp on it. for example the waves api comp.
    on all the auxes i send post fader to bus xy. bus xy is the sidechain input of my api comp.
    now the compression going on on the main mix bus will be the same no matter if the compressor reacts to the external sidechain or the internal - cause they are both the same now (equal amount of drums,vocals etc…).

    when i'm done mixing i start to print/bounce stems.
    when i print the drums i deactivate all the other auxes outputs - only the drums are send to the mixbus. still the compressor reacts to the sidechain input wich is the "normal" mix so the GR is the same no matter what elements are actually coming out of the mix bus.
    same for all the other instruments/stems.

    the GR applied to the stems pumps and acts the same on all of the -> the glueing effect from the compression is there when all the printed stems are played back.

    this is actually quite usable when mixing on a console. you can print the stems to the daw and be able to do minimal recalls from in the box. vocals up in the bridge bass down a bit in the chorus etc.
    still not exactly the same because the harmonic content isn't quite the same but still better than not having no comp on it.

    i hope its now a bit clearer what i meant.

    i wouldn't do stem mastering though ;)


    EDIT: sorry didn't see jeffs post which is basically what i meant :)
    but it would work with the printed mix as well because its basically the same with just the annoying fact the you have to print the mix first :)
     
  4. crillemannen

    crillemannen Member

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    I've done some testing and I would say no, it doesn't sound the same. To me using stems make it sound a bit more static. Not worse but not the same.

    I would always props for the band to invest in the mix oppose to the master but these days people seem to think that you can do allot in mastering but it is very limited even with stems.

    For me the masterbus compression is essential for me to get a good mix. It's what glues thing together and creates depth.
     
  5. Arsonstudios

    Arsonstudios Member

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    i didn't say it sounds the same. its just similar because the compressor "behaves" the same. but it def does not sound exactly the same cause theres also a bit of saturation and harmonics which are missing in the stems of course.

    i guess it also depends on how you are using compression on the mixbus if its just minimal gain reduction, heavy gain reduction etc…

    but if you'd use a stock plugin comp with no coloration the concept would work better probably.

    in this video at about 2:20 manny talks about using this technique:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4kYM2WOYwU

    so this all is not my idea :) has been done by people before. i certainly also prefer doing the mix the normal way and also sending it to mastering as a stereo track and not as stems :)
     
  6. ArthurD

    ArthurD Member

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    The only issue is that compression is multiplicative (maybe, if the bus comp was at 4:1, using individually 2:1 might work).
    Unfortunately its impossible to make the comp behave on individual tracks like it was behaving on the mixbus. For instance, the kick might be the one responsible for triggering the comp.
    Just say NO to stem mastering or abandon your SSLG comp
    Just my 2 cents.
     
  7. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    I don't think so because if you imagine an extreme example :

    2 tracks : 1 being a quiet flute, 2 being a loud kick
    the original mix is 1+2 into the buss comp. When 2 hits the threshold, the whole mix is affected by a GR, so 1 and 2 are reduced by GR dB

    In a complicated routing setup like you describe, it would maybe be closer to the real thing, but in this example, I don't see how you could make 2 sidechain into the comp on 1, because the comp settings can't be the same to compress a loud kick or a quiet flute. The settings for a quiet flute would need a way lower threshold, while in the original mix it was affected all together by the 2bus comp. Unless I am missing something ?

    EDIT : actually, I think you are right because being side chained all comp will blindly reduce the volume by the correct GR. The GR is calculated by the sidechain input volume and not the original track, so my example is incorrect. I think what you are describing might work and should be manageable and acceptable, and a simple revert phase test should be enough to check if it nullifies
     
  8. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    This is not absolutely correct because of non linearities of the compressor model or circuitry; also it does not matter because 2 compressors won't be chained, they will only work in parallel and at the same time by the same amount and digital summing is linear, I am not sure the result will be identical because of non linearities in the compressor depending on different input gains (even if the GR is the same on all tracks, is the effect the same on a track wether it is singled or buried in the mix ? I am not sure), but they all triggered by the same mix on channel 3+4 inputs and it should be fairly similar. I think in theory this should work and should actually be pretty quick to set up, at least in my DAW where this is literally just printing the mixbus, setting up a compressor, and drag copying the compressor from one track to the other.
     
  9. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Thanks a lot guys. I've tested some of the options explained here on a previous mix (as always VCC, compressor - SSL and/or a Slate one - VTM on the masterbuss) but not one gave me the exact same result. Not that it is totally different but enough to not go that way.

    What I understand here is that stems are not that common or, at least, not always recommanded. Not that my mixes are perfect, far from it to say the least, but as they are a tiny bit better each time, I wanna keep what I worked hard for and the master compression is a big part of the final mix. So yeah, I'll send a stereo file for each song to the mastering engineer and fix details if ever it's needed.
     
  10. Taurean

    Taurean \m/ \m/

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    Good decision man, keep at it as it gets better, do your stereo bus thing and commit. You will find the mastering process a lot more holistic and less of a pain when the time comes. :kickass:
     

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