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View Full Version : Mastering with one fell swoop


mij sang
04-16-2013, 07:54 PM
When I'm finished recording a song I do a basic mix , I take my computer to a different room and plug it into different speakers and display screen. From there I master the song by inserting mastering tools on the master track. I was getting tired of bouncing the song to two tracks and then walking it over to another computer to master and bounce again. I think it works great, ie….if I want to change my bass drum I can do it without having to go to my recording room where it sounds different and then re-bounce. What do I lose by doing this, volume?

PT - 10.0.1
Mac - 10.6.8

Craig F
04-16-2013, 08:46 PM
and your question is? I can not tell what you want to, or are doing defiantly

mij sang
04-17-2013, 09:55 AM
My normal process to to bounce down to a stereo track and master it on a different computer in a different room. Now, after the recording is done I just unplug my computer and bring it over to a different room /speakers and add mastering tools to my Master track. I have more control over what I need to do. but I wonder what I may be loseing.

Craig F
04-17-2013, 12:13 PM
don't know, I would guess it depends on the speakers and the room

BohoProAudio
04-17-2013, 01:55 PM
It depends on your mastering project structure. What I use for mastering involves at least three levels of bus processing, as well as changing the bit depth and sample rate. If you are mixing in 16bit, 44.1kHz(not ideal), that's one thing. Most people don't, and for good reason. You want maximum dynamic range and frequency response in the mixing process, but it ultimately has to get down to what is playable on cd or mp3 format.

The point of mastering in a different room is to hear your mix in a fresh environment. The point of mastering in 16bit/44.1k is to hear the absolute final product as it will be heard by the general public. The full dynamic range that you want to mix in won't be in the final product. That is accounted for in mastering, but you want to go in with your loudest and quietest that can be squashed, then boosted across one stereo track as needed.

It would be better to master your project in the same room with properly bounced files than to master in a different room within the original mix file. I keep a multi-band compressor and limiter deactivated on my master mix bus so I can check dynamics while I'm mixing from time to time, but it doesn't replace the full process. Also, if you're mixing a full album, they'll have to be mastered together anyway, so you will need the bounced wav files.

mij sang
04-18-2013, 04:02 PM
That makes a lot of sense. I still found that the mastered mix was different than what i was expecting on other speakers. I was just trying to cut down on the guess work.
What bit and sample rate do you like to bounce down from? Are you a fan of the 32 bit float?

Thanks Bohoproaudio bro

YYR123
04-18-2013, 04:29 PM
32 is only - on the grid or itb if you will its not the recorded quality

So he probably does 24/96 or 24/48 depending what the final is going to

24bit 96khz for CD or 24/48 for film

But basically he is saying that don't dither beforehand - after you bounce to 2 track file - master then dither for 16/44.1

BohoProAudio
04-18-2013, 04:30 PM
Well, that's why I play my masters through three pairs of headphones and three sets of speakers. You want your mix to translate to as many listening environments as possible, so I always take one down to the car, as well as cheapo speakers and earbuds. And it's all guess work until you hear it for yourself. The time you put into critical listening is what makes your time worth the money you're charging.

You can only down-convert from whatever the original session was tracked in. The standard(cd-compatible) end format is 16bit, 44.1kHz. These days, 48k, 88.2k, and 96k are more common rates for sessions, but 24bit depth is still the norm. I still don't know much about 32 bit float, but I think it's just a software spec that allows for higher headroom on the daw side. Most of my sessions are tracked in 24bit 44.1k and 24bit 48k, but everything bounces down to 16bit 44.1k. Sometimes the client will ask for higher sample rate, but if they don't ask for it, it's up to you. Higher rates mean larger files, fyi.

mij sang
04-18-2013, 05:44 PM
I thought Boho suggested to master in 44/16. This would bring us a closer reference to the finished product.
"The point of mastering in 16bit/44.1k is to hear the absolute final product as it will be heard by the general public."
You meant mastering down to? So 96 and 88 are foiled by the drop down to 44/16.

CME
04-18-2013, 06:38 PM
You've got a few things that are working against you IMO. First why use different rooms? Are either room acoustically treated to be as neutral as possible? If neither is, then pick one and treat it. Seriously. That will go way further than anything else you can do. Which one and how to treat is impossible for me to answer. There are other great forums and resources on that subject. Check out some books by F. Alton Everest also.

Then understanding what you're doing matters too. Read up on bit-depth and sample rates. What they mean, how they affect sound, and what works when. But fwiw I always track in 24-bit. Mix in either 24-bit or 32-bit float. Master in whatever bit depth I mixed in. And then dither down to whatever you need the final file in. And use sample rate conversion if necessary at that point.

But seriously get you a room treated so you can hear the subtleties of the difference in 96khz vs 48khz sample rates. Or 1.5 db of gain at 1.6khz vs 2.5 db at 1.8. Or a compressor set at a 2:1 or 4:1 ratio. Once you can hear better your mixes will translate much better.


I don't mean to sound crass. But there's a reason the guys that do it for a living are called engineers. And no I'm not one that can say that. There's a lot of technical info that gets mixed with artistic choices to record/mix/master music. It's still a hobby mostly for me. But one I'm def addicted too. ;)

BohoProAudio
04-18-2013, 07:53 PM
Mastering is a separate process from mixing. I want my mix to be finished in the full sample rate/bit rate that it was recorded in. Give yourself the benefit of full dynamic range, full detail to mix in. The higher quality file you have to mix with, the better it will sound after it's been cut and boosted and eq'd and piped through reverb.

What happens between mixing and mastering is really the final step in mixing. I export my mix output(Output L/R) into multiple mono files(not interleaved, not mp3) at a bit depth of 16bit, sample rate of 44.1kHz. This is where the 24bit 96k/88.2k/48k/44.1k pro tools file is converted to the two wav files at the final bit depth and sample rate. I change this within the project; it should happen after mixing is done, but before mastering can begin. I then open a mastering project file which is already set at 16/44.1, and then import my right and left wav files.

Whatever procedure you decide on, understand why you're doing it, and do it the same way every time. It's just good work practice, and it's one difference between pros and amateurs. Actually, most established mix engineers will outsource their mastering process, but that costs money.

YYR123
04-18-2013, 08:14 PM
It's still a hobby mostly for me. But one I'm def addicted too. ;)

Same boat just a tad further south - my okie friend

But to the op - yes read read read - then listen listen listen - then experiment - but yeah you can usually find a pretty good deal for a decent master job

I try to focus my energies on recording tech - better quality recordings will sound better - then mix tech's - and most mastering engineers have really nice outboard gear not to mention those really nice speakers that cost about 5k for the pair!!!!

CME
04-19-2013, 01:37 AM
Mastering is a separate process from mixing. I want my mix to be finished in the full sample rate/bit rate that it was recorded in. Give yourself the benefit of full dynamic range, full detail to mix in. The higher quality file you have to mix with, the better it will sound after it's been cut and boosted and eq'd and piped through reverb.

What happens between mixing and mastering is really the final step in mixing. I export my mix output(Output L/R) into multiple mono files(not interleaved, not mp3) at a bit depth of 16bit, sample rate of 44.1kHz. This is where the 24bit 96k/88.2k/48k/44.1k pro tools file is converted to the two wav files at the final bit depth and sample rate. I change this within the project; it should happen after mixing is done, but before mastering can begin. I then open a mastering project file which is already set at 16/44.1, and then import my right and left wav files.

Whatever procedure you decide on, understand why you're doing it, and do it the same way every time. It's just good work practice, and it's one difference between pros and amateurs. Actually, most established mix engineers will outsource their mastering process, but that costs money.

Why dither and use SRC between mixing and mastering? I've always thought it best to keep the dynamic range and sample rate at the highest level all the way through. Give the ME the highest resolution file possible. Then let them, or yourself as the case may be, comp/limit/EQ/ect as needed to the file. Then at the very end SRC and dither. Just makes the most sense to me. Ymmv.

BohoProAudio
04-19-2013, 10:43 AM
Well, the conversion itself induces some loss of dynamic range and sound quality. What you are doing is controlling the product all the way out. If you leave it till after mastering is finished, you risk additional changes that can't be controlled by your mastering process. Better to hear it after conversion, polish it up, then slap it onto cd or into mp3.

It's about process control. When you drop the bit depth down to 16bit, the noise floor and peak level move closer together. Either the peaks will not be as loud, or the noise floor will be louder. In mastering, you can throw a light gate on it to tame that if necessary, but that belongs in a multi-band process, if it needs to be there at all. I like to keep my noise reduction in the realm of the mix phase, with removing silence, EQ after compression(most of the time), and judicious high-pass and low-pass filtering.

Keep the noise floor as low as possible during mixing, but assume that what you hear in the 24bit, 96k is not exactly what the consumer will hear. You want to hear what they will end up hearing, and then shape that to what you want it to be.

CME
04-19-2013, 08:34 PM
Definitely a different perspective. I just tend to compress and limit my mixes. Not heavily. But enough that the loss of headroom and raised noise floor (and increased noise of dithering) by converting first concerns me. But honestly I've never tried converting first. I will give it a go and see what I think. :)

dr_daw
04-20-2013, 08:52 AM
I think in this situation it's all about what you're trying to do, as has been previously mentioned. I've always been a believer that if the session is tracked and mixed at, say, 24/48k then I would leave it at that until the end of mastering. I never 'seriously' master any of my own mixes for commercial distribution. It takes years, and years to be a great recording engineer and mix engineer. It takes even longer to be a great mastering engineer. I've heard many great mixes get destroyed by bad amature mastering techniques.

In my experience the ME's I've used always ask for the sessions mixed down in whatever bit and sample rates they were recorded in. From my understanding they want to maintain that dynamic range for as long as possible. I always do rough mixes to *wav and MP3 to reference, but know that when I send them off to master they are going to come back a little more radio ready.

In short...focus on getting good recordings and strong mixing techniques, then spend the few bucks on having them mastered professionally (You can learn alot about your mixes from the ME as well) I've never regretted doing that, maybe in another 20 years I'll have the right room, gear and ears to be a 'mastering engineer'.

CME
04-20-2013, 11:32 AM
Good points. And just to point out, the work I do isn't for big distribution. I mostly mix our church services for the congregation and some other little odds and ends. I would never consider mastering my own stuff it was any kind of "professional" session. Not for a long time anyways.

YYR123
04-20-2013, 05:58 PM
I know 2 preachers from okie - oral from Tulsa and Duane sheriff from durant

BohoProAudio
04-21-2013, 02:01 PM
I guess the important thing that I've always tried to remember is: Get it right in tracking. Then get it right in mixing. Don't expect the mixing process to fix tracking mistakes, and don't expect mastering to fix bad mixing. Take your time listening. Take the time to listen in as many environments as possible. And mastering is all about small adjustments. If it requires heavy-handed, drastic steps, it needs to go back to mix.

YYR123
04-21-2013, 02:14 PM
I guess the important thing that I've always tried to remember is: Get it right in tracking. Then get it right in mixing. Don't expect the mixing process to fix tracking mistakes, and don't expect mastering to fix bad mixing. Take your time listening. Take the time to listen in as many environments as possible. And mastering is all about small adjustments. If it requires heavy-handed, drastic steps, it needs to go back to mix.

You have a website ? How do you charge ? Per song or per album ?

albee1952
04-21-2013, 06:39 PM
I guess the important thing that I've always tried to remember is: Get it right in tracking. Then get it right in mixing. Don't expect the mixing process to fix tracking mistakes, and don't expect mastering to fix bad mixing. Take your time listening. Take the time to listen in as many environments as possible. And mastering is all about small adjustments. If it requires heavy-handed, drastic steps, it needs to go back to mix.
Well said:D

mij sang
04-22-2013, 04:17 AM
I do have fun mixing and mastering in one fell swoop, I will try to kill my room and try a higher sample rate also experiment with BROho's techniques. Thanks for sharing your techniques and ideas, they do not come without a lot of time and effort.
after all these are mixing tricks not magic tricks.

Sincere Thanks

BohoProAudio
04-22-2013, 06:30 AM
I do have fun mixing and mastering in one fell swoop, I will try to kill my room and try a higher sample rate also experiment with BROho's techniques. Thanks for sharing your techniques and ideas, they do not come without a lot of time and effort.
after all these are mixing tricks not magic tricks.

Sincere Thanks


No problem, mij. They were passed down to me by people with much more experience, so I can't take the credit.

Bob Olhsson
04-22-2013, 06:46 AM
What mastering has never been is signal processing in spite of the fact dozens of manufacturers, developers and dealers all have their hands out ready to take people's money!

The goal in mixing should always be for mastering to be just as close to a flat transfer as possible. You can do a much better job of eq and compression in the mix while you still have control over each element than anybody can do after the fact. Often fader moves on individual tracks or the master produce a far more exciting final product than compression after the fact. A mix isn't "done" until it has been checked on lots of different speakers including in a few cars, headphones and some full range speakers.

You want mastering to be a final quality check that catches and corrects anything you missed that might distract people from a positive first impression. Yes, we do sometimes "save" mixes when they can't possibly be redone but the results always sound better when it's done in the mix. Mastering is detailing the car as opposed to putting the final coat of paint on it.

The one thing to leave off a mix is any final limiting for volume. The reason for doing this is simply because there is no way to know what the final volume of a track needs to be outside the context of a particular album or compilation. Until that's been defined, there is no way to know what limiter and settings will sound the best.

mij sang
08-06-2013, 06:52 PM
thank you

Ben Jenssen
08-07-2013, 07:23 AM
What mastering has never been is signal processing...

The goal in mixing should always be for mastering to be just as close to a flat transfer as possible. You can do a much better job of eq and compression in the mix while you still have control over each element than anybody can do after the fact...

You want mastering to be a final quality check that catches and corrects anything you missed that might distract people from a positive first impression...

Mastering is detailing the car as opposed to putting the final coat of paint on it.
Yes. I think it's really messed up.
The term 'mastering' is being used everywhere, and most often by people who think it's about "EQ'ing and compressing, slapping on a gate for noise reduction, and piping it thru a reverb, before limiting it for volume."

In my opinion you shouldn't need to master a mix that sounds good, except for sample rate conversion and overall volume, wich is almost unavoidable today.

In the tape-and-vinyl days, mastering essensially meant getting it from tape to the metal master disc (the vinyl mold) without losing quality, and that the music sounded good when the record was played. The ME made shure that the vinyl grooves had the right distance from each other, the optimal depth, width (volume) and so on. And often, yes, it could be that the mastering even could make it sound a little bit BETTER also.

JFreak
08-07-2013, 07:35 AM
Whaaatt? So you don't fix everything in the shrink wrap :D:D:D

Seriously, the previous poster nailed it. Song should be mixed perfectly and mastering is just quality control. Or, as said, if you are into vinyl then you would really love an old-fashioned skilled Mastering Engineer.