No offense taken.
Btw there’s a written interview RB did soon after releasing his LP in 2014
I’ll dig that up too because I think there were insightful tidbits about his approach and practice
oh giusepe ielasi ! i very much enjoy his work for senufo edition
he would be my first choice if I was going to have 3rd party help
when i’m tracking with the modular i tend to use a compressor (mutable streams) at the last stage before my interface. nothing severe, no sidechain - but it really helps keep my levels bright and consistent as i layer things up. i’m still a newb when it comes to mixing, but i’ve found that it really helps to leave a lot of headroom on the master bus and turn up my monitors instead. then at the very last phase you can bring it up/compress as needed.
and finally - listen on a lot of different devices. headphones, laptop speakers, nice monitors, phone, etc…
I realise that I neglected to describe my setup. Not helpful when seeking advice.
I record mix etc in ableton suite. At home, so creating a neutral listening space us difficult (esp with a 3 yr old tearing about).
Thanks everyone for the advice and links. It is appreciated. In non solo efforts, mixing and mastering was always handled by someone else. So my attempts have mostly been trial and error. Mostly error
I’ve noticed a lot of “do as I say, not as I do” in this field, and I’ll list what worked for me:
- With very loud masters, more often than not, there is some kind of distortion involved. It could be gentle saturation, a character compressor that has been pushed a tad, or it could be an overworked limiter - e.g. L1 on the rhythm bus. Clippers for the last 0.2dB extra.
- RMS at -12dB (relative to 0 peak) is entirely reasonable and leaves you space for kicks and transients. -14 is a little quiet but I find it more pleasant to the ears. VU meters measure this and tons of music has been made before using those, they’re almost “genetic” to the process.
- an external 1/3-octave spectrum analyser always in your field of view changes things for the better. Alesis DEQ230/830 seems to be an underdog for the purpose. Klark DN60/6000, Samson, Mackie and others have done one. There are DIY kits. RME bundle a view in Digicheck, good for secondary display.
- When you’re done, walk out of the room, and come back to listen after a while. Best to sleep on it
- Ask someone to lend an ear. They will notice extra things.
quick and dirty hacks
- Relentlessly EQ out in the bass submix anything that’s not essential to it, especially below 30Hz, but as high from the bottom as it would go - e.g 35,40,etc. Doesn’t have to be a high-pass, could be a shelf. Trade some of that nice rounded feeling for headroom. Or don’t.
- Watching the spectrum, in many (non-vocal) tracks there’s a visible dip in the 170-300Hz region. there is usually a build up of many things in there. i see that usually scooped, it also gives extra focus to the kick and bass. There are other similar dips, depending on genre or artist - sometimes around 700hz, other times around 1.5k
- While it’s true you don’t need multiband for mastering, i am yet to learn how one achieves silly loudness without using it. iZotope Ozone when desperate ;]
- If not sending to a mastering engineer, peak at -0.3 for internet output, peak at -3 for youtube, peak at +1 for soundcloud :] Loudness is however more important and more difficult to measure and control - there are specifics for iTunes, Spotify, and Youtube.
- If sending a track for a compilation, master as loud as possible.
It’s not like they’re diametrically opposed, but Katz to me represents attempts to standardize technical approaches whereas my big takeaway from Becker is that sound is narrative, so any choice is valid insofar as it furthers the narrative that the artist (or whomever… the corporation) is trying to tell.
The classic advise here is to check mixes on a car stereo.
Yep. This is why it’s always recommended to hire a professional etc… But when that isn’t a reasonable option I really think, with practice, it’s possible to get very good results with almost any gear.
as mentioned, good references can really help along the way, here are some that helps me:
for something loud: tony conrad - four violins (1960)
for something open/sparse: thomas brinkmann - x100
when you need to reset your ears from listening to bad mixes: steely dan - aja
for bass: basic channel - m7
for relaxin ears in between sessions: wynton kelly - kelly blue
this is some world class knowledge ya’ll are dropping
post after post
ok i’ll toss this up
who wants to practice on a short song of mine?
anybody can have the wav to mess with and post results explaning their techniques
Sure. Might be fun
I’m very curious about the results of the mastering practice. This thread is super useful so far.
tony visconti,brian eno
it’s a digital world, now
and someone still has to 'make music, before anyone can do anything with the track- trust your ears
i am not a mastering engineer and shy away from the process for anything i work on. i usually send my clients to a dear friend, Nick Dragoni, at M Works in Boston, who is fabulous, or Dan Countant who is Sun Room Audio (J Robbins recommended me to him when we produced a record together), or Joe Lambert Mastering. all top notch people.
as for mixing, i do that for a living and can speak great depths about it!
more then having a quiet space or “proper space”, have a space or two you know SUPER well. like, hey, this Pink Floyd track always has crazy bass when i play it on this system. etc. checking mixes there against your own can be the most useful.
there is a great plug in called Magic AB. you throw it on your master bus and load in a bunch of audio tracks from other releases and you can very quickly switch between your own mix and others. you can also level balance too. remember, our ears naturally amplify lower and higher frequencies as the sound gets louder.
i have NO idea what “normalizing” entails and i highly suggest to stay away from it.
one other thing to consider is when we record on tape, the medium naturally rounds off peaky transients. when we mix down the line, these spikes will start to trigger our bus compressors/limiters at a lower level. lots of peak limiting will go a long way at making a file that can be mastered louder (note: the mastering part should be where you focus most on loud, not the mixing. i usually send files to mastering engineers at -10db or more.)
this video is amazing, by the way. it’s wonderful to have actual sonic tests, however compromised they may be, to theories i have read about for years. great find!
Love this thread! DIY mastering is one of those topics that somehow seems to provoke super-strong emotions, like choice of text-editor for programmers…
I’ve always rolled my own mastering for band demos/CDs/whatever, not out of arrogance or expecting I can do better/worse than anyone else but just because I was fascinated to understand the whole process of recording & mixing music. Constantly came under fire for this from bandmates, but why should mastering be somehow off-limits to garden-shed tinkerers? These things were always recorded/mixed on the cheap anyway, usually to pick up bar gigs or just have something to sell after a show…
Actually came up with a mini CD processing plant in my old bedroom in london including CD printing on an inkjet and stuff. Very labour intensive but it’s on-demand, so I don’t have piles of 200 expensively-mastered CDs lying in my closet left over from now-defunct bands!
Btw great link - loads of really useful tips & points in there - bookmarked.
while reading on here in an older thread I began to articulate a personal discovery
I enjoy mixing as a creative challenge and the compromises needed while working on the whole rather than stems or multitracked channels. Mixing is almost as much fun as “making music” itself. So with dub and dj culture as a validation I began subconsciously structuring my methods to be, essentially, hands on mixing rather than note-by-note tone & rhythm generation.
I do a bit of both obviously but no longer hide from the mix/mastering process