August 24, 2007

Friday Open Thread: Mastering...

by Chris Randall

We're deep in the beta testing of Liquid today, so I don't have time to ponder out a pithy comment on the music industry at large, so this is an open thread.

The topic today: mastering in the home studio. I'm personally of the impression that the whole L3 "squish it 'til it bleeds" method is seriously detrimental to the quality of your music. Since most people will be listening to your music via MP3, and in the unlikely event you're played on the radio, they'll run it through their own brutal compression algorithms, is it necessary to have every tiny sound slamming 0db at this juncture?

What's your favorite 2-buss treatment and finalizing method? Please extemporize.



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Aug.25.2007 @ 3:47 AM
Subbasshead has a point there. While over squashing and brickwall limiting is an atrocity in classical and jazz, it is necessary evil in Black Metal or any other extreme metal. In these genres, you don't try to dig up dynamics and sound quiet, you try to sound so loud that small birds die and fresh paint peels. Of course, some bands have dynamics even if they're metal, but that's their problem and probably rather tricky one.

That said, I don't believe there is any single right way to master (which I don't do, except trying it sometimes) any specific song. It's about experience, and trying and trying, and it ultimately is about the song.

That said, I love Kjaerhus MPL-Pro. I have this thing with Kjaerhus plugins, it appears. Fairly affordable, and a sound that pleases my ears. Might not please others.


Aug.25.2007 @ 5:21 AM
Hi,this is 4 figure. Just bought a DBX 119 for a hundred. I'd be tempted now to just print a mic input of the whole thing, can i go thru Rosie, when can we meet?

-Oh shit dood are u a cop or something, can't you use a plugin like everyone.


Aug.25.2007 @ 5:51 AM
I've done only a mastering session on an album I've mixed: it was done in ProTools Hd, converting from Da 16 to Manley Massive Passive and back in Apogee Trak2, then a little of System6000 MD4 (L-R mode, cause M-S sometimes is really catching but basically it destroys your mixing...) for limiting, hipass filtering and where needed multiband dynamics.
I like a lot the ML4000 from MCDSP as a limiter.
anyway... it really depends on mixes and genre...

Aug.25.2007 @ 9:35 AM
If you're looking for context to this discussion, I'll offer some. My first "serious" CD I had mastered by a professional engineer, and I was very happy with the results. Then I had a thousand of them pressed and didn't sell shit; they are still in my studio. On the other hand, I DID sell lots of songs on iTunes.

Next time around I pressed 300 CD's and "mastered" myself. The new disc sounds at least as good as the previous one, in part because I'm much better now at mixing, and know my headphones and (cheap) monitors much better than before.

I don't tour and will never make money on music--my actual career is in another area entirely. For me, professional mastering just isn't worth it. I am just out to please myself and a few other people--and if those other people are downloading my stuff in the heavily degraded form offered online, then hell, what's the point? If I had lots of money and lots of listeners and was pressing vinyl I would absolutely do it, but ultimately, for my own situation, my time and energy is better spent on Ozone, Elephant, working on mixes, and writing better songs.


Aug.25.2007 @ 11:14 AM
Chris Randall
And there you go. That sums it up in a nutshell.



Aug.25.2007 @ 12:03 PM
Dynamic range compression is not audio data compression.

I always encourage my clients to have someone else master their mixes. I've already made it sound about as good as I can short of putting a bit of total EQ and compression on the mix.

Then again, I'm perfectly willing to admit that I suck at mastering.

I think mastering tools are like most other effects:
- You better know how to use them properly
- A little goes a long way

People like to be able to say they treat their audio violently: "I just slam the shit out of it with ..." but this is generally because it's easier than actually paying attention to what it sounds like or how the tools work.


Aug.25.2007 @ 12:33 PM
@inverseroom: Indeed, at this point, if I had money to invest in some mythical finished product, I would most certainly take my mixes (via stem bounces) to a good studio and mix them through a different system with an engineer that knows what he's doing. I don't want mastering to be a bandaid for my inadequacies. But that ain't happening, most of my stuff will exist for most people in digital form. Like I said earlier, I look forward to having my stuff mastered for release, but that's only when its going to hit a larger market than I'm going to have for the foreseeable future or if someone picks up the tab (ha!). I'd much rather watch someone with good skills have a go at my music and benefit from that.

All of course purely theoretical, I have not the funds, & there's about 6 people who listen to my music.


Aug.25.2007 @ 8:28 PM
for LOUD, i've gotta hit tape. gotta recap my MCI...

I find that my MIO's +DSP sounds better than anything else digital, so I must also use that. I can do all kinds of neat things in there, like parallel compression, look ahead, MS etc, the EQ is super tweeky, and it's all nice and phase locked


Aug.28.2007 @ 8:33 PM
Sometimes patch in analog neuman W475, 1176-2 @ 1:1, generally digital oxford inflator (sometimes), oxford limiter. Much better since I stopped using WAVES!

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