A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

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msnickybee
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A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by msnickybee » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:52 am

OK folks, be nice to me, I've not posted on here for a while, but between family stuff I've still been recording (a bit).
So.
This will be a contentious and debatable subject, and I see lots of posts on it.

But when I came back to recording, I always try to open a previous mixcraft project and think "what can I learn from this, what mixing/mastering/track treatment went well that I can reuse?"
And for me, Izotope Nectar on the vocals, Bass Devil on the bass, real double tracking of my acoustic, Fusion Field on a send track - these are the quick basics I set up.

And I used to then complete a good mix, dump to WAV, reopen a project, and then master it. But no. I switched a few years ago to mixing into a Limiter from fairly early on (with some switching on and off A/B as it were).
But now I master straight on the stereo bus of Mixcraft. Is that mastering? Probably not. Is it some polishing I apply AFTER getting a good mix, to make it behave nice in the car and on some small speakers I test with? Yes.

(where is the question I hear you ask!)

Well, it's this. Do any of you folks do this? And what VSTs or other techniques do you use at this critical mastering phase?

I pretty much tend to use (in this order):
GSXL4070 parametric (some EQ polish I find)
TB Parametric Equalizer (great for a hi lo pass)
Limiter no.6 (big fan of the Mid/Side compression with multiband limiting)

And the point is, I've been able to use this on a few different songs. Without them sounding too similar. Is that my style? Does that work? Am I on the right track, kinda like building up a toolbox? Anyone use anything else? I could never really like the Izotope Mastering essentials, no matter what I did it coloured the sound pretty much.

thanks kids!
Nicky
MC8.1 PS user since v5
My latest EP Bittersweet is now available on Spotify
or check out my YouTube channel

aj113
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by aj113 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:36 am

It's what some people call 'pretend mastering'. I do it on every track I record, and the vst processors I use are similar to your own.

Nobody can say what is right or wrong, because in the end all that matters is whatever noise is coming out of those monitors.

I have tried various methods of mixing and mastering, but 'pretend mastering' has one big advantage - you can hear the end product while you mix. Nothing else is going to be done to this music after exporting it so you can go right ahead and tweak it until it sounds perfect. That's some immense power, it unlocks a lot of doors.

You don't mention a spectrum analyser. If you put one at the end of your chain you can check that the frequency range is not crazy, and if you're recording multiple songs for an album you can use the master EQ to match the songs up to each other (approximately of course) so that they fit together well on the album.

Similarly you should check for loudness. If you are recording tracks that you intend to put together on an album, they need to be of equal loudness. Again, there is more than one way of doing this but here's the easiest (and quickest) way I have found: Export the track, then import the wav into Orban's free loudness meter. Unless the loudness is exactly where you want it (highly unlikely), adjust your master limiter in MC and re-export. Check the wav again in the loudness meter and re-adjust the limiter if necessary (and re-export etc.).

I've no doubt there will plenty of people along shortly to lecture you (and me probably) on the use of a limiter but stick to your guns - limiters are vital for mastering.

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msnickybee
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by msnickybee » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:09 pm

Hey thanks, some good stuff there!

Yes, I use "Span" and see what the peaks are, L/R balance, then reimport the flac or wav into mixcraft.

But yeah, limiters, I really don't go crazy, but I just think multiband peak limiting makes sense (to my small brain anyway). And that's only *after* some gentle mid/side compression.

Nice term - "pretend mastering" - hadn't heard that, and good to know that I'm not completely mad with some of the things I do!

Thx!!!!!
Nicky
MC8.1 PS user since v5
My latest EP Bittersweet is now available on Spotify
or check out my YouTube channel

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AHornsby
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by AHornsby » Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:16 am

msnickybee wrote: And the point is, I've been able to use this on a few different songs. Without them sounding too similar. Is that my style? Does that work? Am I on the right track, kinda like building up a toolbox? Anyone use anything else?

thanks kids!
The answers can turn philosophical at any given moment.

I believe that 'mastering' is the moment that one chooses to finish the project and that there may be many permutations of any given song that are just as desirable as the next, i.e., the perfect song doesn't exist... not in this world anyway.

Even though I have never 'mastered' a viably commercial recording I have come to know these two things are a part of the process: Some people are addicted to compression and that the limiter is my friend.

Oh yeah. And then there's the fact that Miley Cyrus needs her autotune. -h

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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by fredfish » Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:51 am

AHornsby wrote: Oh yeah. And then there's the fact that Miley Cyrus needs her autotune. -h
Now you could have broken that a bit more gently !! :lol: :lol:

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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by aquataur » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:10 am

AHornsby wrote:Oh yeah. And then there's the fact that Miley Cyrus needs her autotune.
There must be a reason why she wants to pop out at all cost.

-helmut

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msnickybee
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by msnickybee » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:14 am

I leave you guys here alone for 5 minutes and look what you go and do? :wink:
Nicky
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Mark Bliss
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by Mark Bliss » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:20 am

Note that I was minding my own and averting my eyes....... 8)
Stay in tune, Mark

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msnickybee
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by msnickybee » Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:33 pm

AHornsby wrote:I believe that 'mastering' is the moment that one chooses to finish the project and that there may be many permutations of any given song that are just as desirable as the next, i.e., the perfect song doesn't exist...
I believe this too. Up to a point Complete the mix, then "master it" in another tool, or new mixcraft project perhaps with a specific mastering hat on.

BUT also I'm fine with breaking rules, quite deliberately, and I now find that polishing the overall sound, and I love playing with mid/side compression as I go along, it means that I don't get to the mastering stage, find things I can't fix there, and have to go back to the mix. There *is* no mix, it's all just my song, organic, more art than science, and one minute it's not finished - next minute it is.

Went a bit lyrical there!
Sorry!
Nicky
MC8.1 PS user since v5
My latest EP Bittersweet is now available on Spotify
or check out my YouTube channel

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AHornsby
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Re: A repeatable and abbreviated approach to mastering

Post by AHornsby » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:41 pm

msnickybee wrote: it's all just my song, organic, more art than science, and one minute it's not finished - next minute it is.
I agree. Does it seem like hocus pocus happens sometimes between those minutes?

-h

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