Mixing/mastering

#161

I do a lot of things “wrong” and it works for me :slight_smile:

I work on headphones only. Very familiar, very comfortable headphones that I’ve used for years. I make “headphone music” anyway, and the acoustics of the room I have available are pretty poor, so it just makes sense.

My recording process is pretty much as if I’m recording a live show – no stems, no sub-mixes, no pre-effect recordings, etc. just a “final” stereo recording. So all my mixing decisions are part of sound design and composition/improvisation. Every “voice” from the hardware has its own channel for FX, levels, EQ etc. in the DAW. I have a general “not too quiet, but don’t clip” goal for the recording process itself. During that stage I like Toneboosters Barricade (limiter/compressor) and Toneboosters EQ (which can do dynamic EQ and/or mid/side and has nice spectrum visualization).

I do my editing on that stereo recording in Sound Forge Pro 10, rather than a DAW. It’s good for visualizing levels, and has some really nice tools for dynamics and EQ that I’ve been working with for a while and am quite comfortable with.

My first editing pass isn’t too strenuous – “top and tail” (start and end of the track) and some general “get the levels approximately right-ish” work. I save the heavy stuff for after I’ve listened with fresh ears, and decided whether the track is a keeper.

When mastering, I always try a couple of favorite presets in u-he Presswerk for “glue” and bringing out subtle details, more so than getting levels just so. About 60% of the time, one of them will makes the whole track sound a little better. Other than that I stick with Sound Forge’s own tools, and have a goal around -14dB LUFS with a max peak of -1dB.

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#162

a big part of mastering for me is listening and if your only hearing a mono mix of a stereo that seams like it might cause some unexpected results or phasing. but i am no expert in this space.

#163

Sweet spots for eq, compression and gain will likely be vastly different between your in the box solution and the neve channel strip, your best bet is probably to get it sounding as good as possible in terms of whatever processing you want to do - eq compression etc - then run it flat through the neve and back in again - one side at a time. Set the fader to 0 and use a 1khz tone to set the input gain so your channel strip output level is the same as what you’re feeding in, then run the mix through. Should be noted as well That doing something like this will only sound as good as your converters.

#164

i’m no expert either. Indeed this process would involve a few iterations to get it sounding right and would probably be a bit frustrating as it is impossible to adjust on the fly. About phase issues there should be none as long as all channels are sewn together back correctly and no EQ happens on the outboard strip.
Maybe i’d just squash the Mid in the Neve, and then try various proportions of “squashed Mid”, “original Mid”, and “original Side”.

#165

Whoops I was thinking I was replying to the original comment not your response. Sorry

#166

some great relevant content in the QPAS thread:

discussion has been re-directed here.

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#167

I am no expert. Regarding loudness - LUFS. I’ve been mastering my own stuff (using UAD mastering plugins) and as more of my music is released to streaming services I found this table handy.

I use iZotope RX7 Loudness plug-in to measure and make sure my tracks are in range for the streaming services and equal loudness from track to track.

I try and listen to my mastered music on as many different devices as possible including, car stereos, Bandcamp streaming (before I publish) and particularly on iPhone and iPad device headphones.

Platform Peak Loudness Dynamic Range
iTunes Store -0.1dBTP -9 to -13 LUFS >9DR
iTunes Radio -0.1 dBTP -15 to -16.5 LUFS >9DR
Youtube -0.1 dBTP -12 to -14 LUFS >9DR
Spotify -0.1 dBTP -13 to -15 LUFS >9DR
CD -0.1 dBTP > -9 LUFS >9DR
Club Play -0.1 dBTP -7.5 to -9 LUFS >8DR
Soundcloud -1dBTP -9 LUFS >9DR
16 Likes
#168

I’ve been playing with Mid Side processing on mastering to increase stereo width etc. and have found it to be a really exciting tool (wish I’d discovered it sooner).

On a master buss, is there a consensus on where in the signal chain is typically best to add Mid Side/Stereo Enhancement processing (e.g. on the SSL Fusion it is post saturation, eq and compression)?

#169

i do almost all of my EQ’ing in MS because i rarely find the need in mastering to EQ left and right channels differently unless there is a panned instrument that needs to be brought down (or up).

as for overall width… if i’m adding any i do it at the end of the chain after everything else is established, as a final icing.

just (please!) use a phase meter to make sure your width addition isn’t making the mix out of phase.

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#170

do you have an outboard M/S matrix or is this done in the box? related, do you have any M/S tools (plugins or outboard) that you recommend?

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#171

Could anyone point in the direction of a good (cheap?) phase meter?

#172

i have an outboard (dangerous music) M/S matrix that most of my EQs go through, i also do a lot of targeted phase fixing ITB with FabFilter ProQ3.

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#173

what platform and DAW/plug in format?

(for hardware, i’d recommend the TC Electronic Clarity meter range)

#174

mac os/ableton, so any vst or au should do

#175

Voxengo Span is free but I never really paid attention to the phase meter until this post. I came across this SOS article if anyone is interested…

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-what-are-my-phase-correlation-meters-telling-me

2 Likes
#176

nugen visualizer

very (almost too) full-featured. $200

dmg audio’s track meter
https://dmgaudio.com/products_trackmeter.php

40 £

otherwise, google “mac au phase meters” and you’ll likely find a bunch!

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#177

M/S processing has been the biggest improvement to my mixing and mastering. I use it primarily to ensure that the bass is centered more and the highs (esp. reverb tails) stay wide.

The technique I found is that at the end of my chain I have devices that let me check the sound as mono, and at decreasing widths from full stereo down to mono. I listen to hear if the feel of the bass sounds the same when full stereo and when mono. Then I check at various narrower widths. That same end device also has a small cube reference speaker emulation (two of them, really), and I can test the sound that way too.

Amazingly, once I started to do this, I found I stopped using bus compression (at most only a touch), and found no need to widen the stereo field: This approach gives a “natural” feel to the field width.

I always have a limiter at the end - though usually as another check on my final level, and it generally does nothing once things are set right. If I want master bus color - say a gentle tape distortion - that goes at the front, before the M/S processing.

I don’t use a phase meter - probably wouldn’t hurt and I imagine I could find one in Max4Live… The stereo/mono testing and decreasing the stereo width testing reveal phase issues in the bass very clearly.

3 Likes
#178

Thank you for the replies @taylor12k and @mzero, most appreciated as always!

Phase monitoring/metering was something I had never considered until now :anguished:

I think this just reaffirms to me that mastering is something that is definitely best left to the pro’s (and would definitely be the way I would go if I ever wanted something doing for a full release).

Still fun to play around with though!

#179

would you mind elaborating on this a little? specifically, what end device(s) are you using to make this decreasing width spot check? when you find that increasing width detracts from (or enhances) the bass, what general techniques are you using to isolate and solve the problem?

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#180

Simply listening to your material in mono will make most phase problems obvious. Outside of a mastering context you don’t need to do more, IMO.