Good afternoon all.
My head still spinning a bit from Ian's post (had to take a break!!! LOL!!!). Still not done but will come back to where I left off with it and then post (if there's anything I can add that's worthwhile of course).
But be careful that what sounds like a best process evah "as of this morning" might not just be your ears liking a fresh sound.
I say mix as opposed to master because the older I get the more I'm a 'master-in-the-mix' believer.
Well you're "talking my language" when you say "master-in-the-mix". That's utopia but I do believe it's achievable. And the reason I say this is because with all of these tests something strange actually happened to me: I must have, oh, about thirty different mixed down and subsequently mastered tracks and had many of them open in Sound Forge (that's like my "end of job" tool for just inspecting waveforms, normalising if necessary, and some one or two other good uses). In order to attempt to compare some of these tracks I was simply alternating between each of them (easy by clicking the tabs for each open file at the bottom) and previewing them. One jumped out at me and when I looked at which file it was: to my absolute horror (and pleasant surprise too) it was a mix down straight from Mixcraft with NO mastering!!! Alright: then I carried on comparing the others and, well, that one sort of "got lost in translation" (probably as my hearing got more accustomed to the "pushed" stuff). But the point is: it is possible for sure I believe. And I am also reminded of something that Andrew Scheps has said time and time again in his videos and interviews: he stops with a mix when he has reached a point where (for that day anyway) there is nothing beneficial that he can add to or change in that mix. And as Ian noted too: the mastering is done in different studios and by different people (engineers) (actually have heard this before too) and there's good reasons for this obviously.
Now I actually have been wanting to post a post about which sampling rates to use and why e.g. are there benefits to, for example, recording at 48kHz, saving as 96kHz, doing everything in 96kHz, until you're ready to distribute the final product (all that 32-bit floating point of course). AND THEN I FOUND THIS to my absolute astonishment (and found loads of other links etc. to back it up):
The topic of choosing a sample rate, and downsampling is also sometimes an exercise in sanity. Here are the facts: 44.1 kHz, 88.2 kHz, and 176.4 kHz are sample rates for audio mediums. Think CDs. If your audio ends up on a CD, that’s what these are for. The sample rates of 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and 192 kHz are for video mediums like DVD’s, blu-rays, etc. The idea of “more is better” is inaccurate. It should be “more is different.”
A link to the entire page is here: https://theproaudiofiles.com/6-facts-of-sample-rate-and-bit-depth/
Now not that I didn't know about 48kHz for DVD (video editing another little expensive hobby of mine) but had no idea about the rest.
So. Guess I'll be working at 88.2kHz from now on (even although my notebook ain't too shabby in the bigger scheme of things it battles at those high sampling rates depending on the plugins in use obviously) and, finally, mixing down to CD quality (I too am an "old timer" it would seem and CD quality is good enough for me i.e. it's what I know!!! LOL!!!). BUT "Houston we have a problem": I just noticed that mixing down to 88.2kHz is not an option in Mixcraft. Somebody care to tell us all why??? Never thought about it before but now that I do: it's the only software that I have on my system that doesn't allow you to select 88.2kHz as a sampling rate!!!
And it does make a difference as I've just done some tests i.e. mixing down from Mixcraft 96 - 96, 96 - 48, and 48 - 48. In the 96 - 48 and 48 - 48 files: there are peaks that are HIGHER than in the 96 - 96 files (obviously using the exact same project / clip with no changes).
One other thing in my tests (and notwithstanding the above and working at 96kHz througout in ignorance): I noticed that on my left channel I had some kick drum peaks that were skewed higher than the right channel. So using Sound Forge and something called "Wavehammer" (which really is just a compressor): I compressed those few peaks BEFORE sending the file through mastering software (so that BOTH tracks had the same peak value) and, for some reason, it seemed to make a difference. Why didn't I use a compressor to do this in Mixcraft??? Because I didn't want anything (and everything) ELSE compressed to begin with. And secondly: at mix down you don't KNOW where those peaks are relative to the rest of your audio. As to why it made a differnce in the mastering software??? Hazarding a guess I'd say it's the same reason why NOT eliminating spurious peaks like these would cause an issue if you were normalising audio (both tracks at the same time) i.e. the software would normalise both channels only by the amount specified and by the net change on the track with the highest peaks. In other words: if your highest peak was at 0dB on the left channel and your highest peak was at -1dB on your right channel then a normalise (and who knows if this applies to mastering software) would do nothing if you were normalising to 0dB. Worse still: if your RMS levels were nevertheless correct and you normalised only the right channel in this example then your whole audio would be skewed as the right channel would be brought up and could result in the overall RMS level being changed (which could most certainly affect the overall artistic intention). So. There's a little trick I just taught meself (been around a while you know!!! LOL!!!).Now about that 88.2kHz issue in Mixcraft Greg???