Audio Mastering

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  • @zackdavid  Feb 10

    Hey all! Just wondering how you guys and gals go about mastering your mixes? Being a budget musician with no great ability to master my own tracks, I used Landr for a while. Then eMastered came around...I switched to eMastered. But eMastered has been giving me some issues. I like the result of eMastered over Landr (eMastered seems cleaner, more "produced") however, eMastered has been giving me a result with a warbled/clipped/distorted sound even when at the lowest settings. Of course, I'd prefer to just hire a real person, but money is a factor. For reference, my song "Sun Comes Out Today" is mastered with eMastered and having this issue.

    Thanks for your help!
    Happy FAWMing!


    p.s. if this is already a thread somewhere, let me know...I didn't see it!

  • @mikeb Feb 10

    I do it right in Reaper. First I render the mix (with nothing on the master bus), 24 bit. Then I start a new project, insert the rendered mix.

    I then use Kjaerhus Master Limiter - adjusting so only the loudest peaks get any compression, this has an automatic output of -0.3dB. Then I add a compressor after that (I use ReaComp) with a -4 threashold and 1.1 ratio to give it a subtle boost to -0.1 dBFS. This is not as loud as a commercial mix, but its close.

  • @zackdavid  Feb 10

    thanks @mikeb I definitely need to explore some more programs...I just use GarageBand but it generally does everything I need it to (except perhaps mastering) 😉

  • @erucaesounds  Feb 10

    I use Izotope Ozone, just drop the plug in on your final mix track, and choose the preset that you prefer..... it couldn’t be easier and you are in control. Every one of my songs use it and I use the “glue everything together” preset..... it’s as professional sounding as you can get (without using a pro studio). And I wouldn’t waste your time with Landr or any of those others..... I have never had any luck with them.

  • @tcelliott  Feb 10

    Try leaving more headroom before using eMaster or other services. Just a hunch.

    I also use reaper. With various plugins including an exciter, tube emulation, reverb compression and limiting. Also something from waves but I’m not happy with it. But I’ve not learned it yet.

    And finally I leave at least.5 dB headroom so the songs won’t clip on radio.

  • @faceofeinstein  Feb 10

    I've never once mastered anything haha. I've participated in FAWM since 2008 and have never even worked on a song after or finished anything I've written beyond posting it. I should really do more stuff.

  • @zecoop  Feb 10

    @zackdavid - I used to use Classic Mastering Limiter all the time, but my standard these days (also free) is Baxter EQ plus Ferric TDS. Between the presets of those two, you'll do very well. I also have been using Ferrox (free, yay!) on some. It imitates an analog tape to different degrees and sounds good. 😀

  • @kable Feb 10

    Ozone Elements has this automatic analyzer that adjusts the mix to whatever you're playing through it. It's quite a time saver when having to pump out content like during FAWM.

  • @expendablefriend  Feb 10

    +1 for doing it yourself with Ozone, if you're interested in going down that route. As @kable says, the assistant feature in Ozone provides a useful starting point, especially if you're new to mastering. I used to think there was something magical about the mastering process that meant I shouldn't attempt it myself, but actually over time I realised that a lot of the cheap mastering services available online are really not that good, and with a bit of practice I could do at least as good a job myself.

  • @petemurphy  Feb 10

    I use a gain plugin, followed by Izotope Ozone 6.

    It would be nice to have someone else master my stuff, fresh set of ears, etc, but the thought of spending yet more money that I don't have, on music that only around 3 people listen to, forces me to do it myself.

  • @frenchcricket  Feb 10

    I use the Master Assistant in Ozone, which I call Jarvis [Cocker]

  • @dasbinky  Feb 10

    Another vote for Ozone, though I go with PSP Vintage Warmer now and then. With either, basic (FAWM-ready) mastering is a 10-minute task.

    Knowing I'm doing a mastering step allows me to leave a lot more headroom in my regular mix, so I get more of a dynamic feel in the final track while still getting a more finished feel.

  • @balancelost  Feb 10

    Yup, Izotope Ozone for me. Changed my life.

  • @mikeb Feb 10

    I have used other people to master a couple of albums, but unless they know what you are looking for (and you know how they prefer to receive the mixes, sound-wise), it doesn't always work well.

  • @krayzie003  Feb 10

    iZotope Ozone here too. The mastering assistant is great for getting a quick master on your track. You can also load multiple reference tracks into Ozone and use the assistant to make you track sound similar.

    As @tcelliott mentioned make sure you leave enough headroom for the mastering process. Usually around -6db is good. This is called gain staging. There are many ways to go about this so maybe look it up on YouTube to see which will work best for you and your DAW.

    @zecoop I used to use Ferric TDS. It's a great saturation plugin. Unfortunately Cubase no longer supports 32 bit plugins so I can't use it.

  • @petemurphy  Feb 10

    @zecoop and @krayzie003 - same here. I used to use Ferric, and the author's other plugins, but once I moved over to a 64bit machine, I had to find alternatives. There is a bit bridge in my version of Cubase (V7), but I found it to be unpredictable.
    Great plugins though.

  • @bootlegger Feb 10

    I use a combination of things. Usually it's Slate VMR first with just the mixbuss virtual console plugin followed by the virtual buss compressors rack. There's usually about 1.5/1 ratio on the SSL buss comp there and sometimes I just run the signal through the other compressors in the rack depending on it if sounds good on the particular song. Then it goes through the slate virtual tape machine plugin and lastly the slate fg-x for one more round of subtle compression and all the extra level comes from the master limiter/clipper in the fg-x. I think it turns out pretty good most of the time. I'm generally happy with the overall level of my tracks and all the other effects do some subtle analog- sounding thing to everything that's pretty pleasing.

  • @plog  Feb 10

    Ozone 8 advanced. Went all out cause it has the ability to apply VST effects independently. If I were going to release an album, I'd get an engineer to do up the master. But fawm is pretty much automated. I think good mastering starts with a great mix anyway. So if the mix isn't good, you'll have trouble with the master.

  • @zackdavid  Feb 10

    Thank you all so much for the suggestions and insight. I've downloaded the trial of Ozone to my mac and I definitely have some learning to do but I'll probably be buying it. Definitely interested in any other suggestions as well. Thank you again everyone!!

  • @dukemeyer  Feb 11

    For sure not the professional stuff, but much better results than without it: I finish the mixdown (from the DAW) with an old Akai PEQ 6 equalizer and BBE Sonic Maximizer i486, which was not expensive, but is easy to use and does a pretty good work.

    The best mastering tools are my ears. I learnt to arrange time for breaks. 😀

  • @standup  Feb 11

    For FAWM stuff I use PSP Xenon and/or Massey L2007 on the master buss to get levels up. Seems to do a good job. EQ is mostly done on individual tracks, I never seem to put EQ on the master.

    When I did an EP last year I sent it to a mastering guy. I do think an extra set of ears listening on $50,000 speakers and having the tools to make adjustments that are beyond my abilities is a good idea for a "serious" release.

  • @kissinginpublic  Feb 11

    I got a copy of Softtube Drawmer S73 free with something. I use that for a little compression and stereo widening, and their Saturation Knob for a little gain/warmth/grit. I tend to use Logic’s built-in EQ and Adaptive Limiter though. I don’t bother during FAWM, but I do also check the mix in mono before I master. Makes a big difference. After lots of trial and error, I’ve found that most of my mastering issues were mix issues!

  • @tesla3090  Feb 11

    I've always hired a mastering engineer for official releases. Having an extra set of ears to check the mix, plus a new set of speakers in a new room is worth far more than the cost of mastering. And no algorithm or Ozone preset can perfectly fit the needs of a track like an experienced mastering engineer. can.

    For unofficial stuff I just master it myself. That works well enough, but I still like having that extra set of ears

  • @thelostcartographer  Feb 11

    Sounds like Ozone is worth the $250? I've always balked at the price.

  • @tcelliott  Feb 11

    If you master 50 songs with Ozone that's worth the 5 bucks a piece on line "mastering" for what is, in my opinion, a better result.

    That being said, I got rid of iLok and won't get it again. I also WANT to figure out how to do it myself... but my progress is super slow. So i get decent enough results that I'm not unhappy, but it could be better using free and cheap tools I already have.

  • @radioovermoscow Feb 11

    I mix as I go - get it as close to what I want to hear from the very start. That way "mastering" is literally just deciding it's finished (if you're talking about the 'sound' side of mastering, and not the technical stuff).

    Then it's just a case of making sure all the tracks are about level, picking an amount of DR I'm willing to sacrifice, and calling it a day.

  • @scottlake  Feb 11

    I like the Final Mix plugin that came with Tracktion years ago. Main reason I stick with the 32 bit version of Tracktion.

  • @cts  Feb 11

    I started using Izotope Ozone 8 after chatting with a tech in Guitar Center. On occasion I may use Ferric TD or some of the features with Studio One...but right now my zeal is with Ozone 8.

  • @thelostcartographer  Feb 11

    Are you guys using Ozone 8 Standard, or Elements?

  • @vihaleipa Feb 11

    @thelostcartographer Elements, got it from Pluginbotique when it was in sale where you could buy any product that costs 1 USD or more and you could claim it on top of it. Neutron Elements had the same kind of deal a few months later, I like both of those plugins a lot.

  • @vihaleipa Feb 11

    When it comes to mastering as cliche as it may sounds, if you're just doing it yourself just concentrate on getting as good mix as you possibly can. Garbage in, garbage out sums it up pretty well.

    What I tend to do nowdays with my mixes is using a nice bus compressor (TDR Kotelnikov, it's free and really good] to shave -1 to -2 dB GR from the peaks of the mix, followed by a limiter like the one in Ozone 8 Elements which is really good. After that I place a dither plugin, on some ocassions I may use the mastering assistant function in the Ozone which throws a simple curve over my mix.

    If it's doing any major adjustments for your mix (ie. boosting or cutting a lot of low end) I come back to my mix, adjust it accordingly and then do it again. The result often is more balanced mix. I could take everything off from my master bus and the mix wouldn't sound drastically different (the snare would maybe be a bit "pokey" but nothing major).

    TDLR: Get your mix right, especially the volume l

  • @davidhendricks Feb 16

    Check out this video by MusicTechHelpGuy on Youtube. He used Logic, but he uses plugins any DAW should have, and he explains why you use things and what you're shooting for. The companion mixing videos are worthwhile too. It's probably one of the best videos out there on the subject.

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