Super Secret MIXING/MASTERING Info!

dvyce

New member
I don't even know where to start here...


The truth is, it is not inaccurate to say "do what the mix tells you (i.e. what the mix needs)" in response to a question of how to master.

...and the fact is, the same thing goes for mixing and songwriting (each of which are all very specific craft and art, no less so than mastering.)


Mastering, mixing, and songwriting ALL take a lifetime to learn. That is a fact. Every day that goes by, you will get better and better... and if you actually have a talent for it, you may become great.


It should be a given that you need the highest quality equipment... and that goes for mixing, recording and mastering EQUALLY.

...you shouldn't need someone to tell you that... even though it has been told to you countless times.


in order to master (or mix or record) you will need a complete intimate understanding of various tools such as compressors and EQ's...

...not to mention (with regard to mastering) the guidelines for preparing a finished master ready for manufacture, which is really the ultimate goal of having a record mastered... but I have a feeling that when people ask how to "master" they are really asking "how do I make my track sound as loud as that song from that CD and how do I master it so the mix sounds like a professional CD" (and in that case, there are a lot more steps you need to address before you reach your goals.)


You will need to have the ability to objectively look at a piece of music and hear and understand what needs to be done to it.


(i.e., doing what the music is telling you to do)



You can give instruction on the technicalities of how to use various pieces of equipment and what the various controls do and you can explain what types of sounds have fast attacks (or whatever), but actually using it in the proper place in the proper way is up to the users ability to:

1. hear what the audio needs;

2. decide which tool is the proper one to use; and

3. use it effectively




Some people seem to just be happy having someone tell them what to do whether it is correct and useful information or not.

Someone could tell you some completely useless and false information and people will say "finally! thanks for the help man! good lookin out!"



Please understand this:

There is no "frequency" someone can tell you to boost.

There is no "compressor setting" someone can give you.

There is no "level" someone can tell you to make an instrument in a mix.



--these are all things the audio will "tell" you it needs... and it is up to you to be able to hear what the audio is saying and it is up to you to know how to "answer it when it speaks."



If you are mastering your own material, there should be NO CORRECTIVE MEASURES NEEDED with mastering.

If your hi-hat is too loud, you don't need to try to correct it in mastering... you just lower the hi-hat in your mix!



If your mix doesn't sound right and basically like what it should sound like on the album, then you didn't mix it well.





With regard to both mixing and/or mastering (not everything I am going to mention will apply to both), you can be told things like "don't overcompress, get your levels sounding good, pan your instruments in a balanced way, make sure each instrument has its own space, make the overall album sound consistent, etc"

...but it is up to you to know your tools and how to use them... and it is up to you to know what sounds right.


Every day, I see several people here saying "you should pan this here and use this compresor setting and boost this frequency and roll this off and copy this to another track and use this plugin and this preset and this synth"

...and it is generally bad advice...

...and people say "thanks for the great tips!" because they don't know any better.





If you want to get some help on your mixing, maybe try posting one of your mixes and ask people to critique it. Maybe you can get an objective opinion on whether you need to raise the level of your snare... or if you have too much reverb on your vocal... or if some effect you used sounds cheesy... or if your stereo spread is off... or if the strings sound dull... or you have too much compression on the guitar... or you need to automate the level of the solo section... or whatever


If you want help with your mastering... post something you mastered and have people critique it. Maybe you can get an objective opinion on it. Maybe someone can tell you "it sounds like you have a lot of compression on the track, which is not my taste, but if that is your artistic decision then it is good... but it sounds like you have the release set too long because I can hear the compressor recovering" or whatever.



...and that should do it...

...you are now on your way to becoming a great recording/mixing/mastering engineer!
 

thejay

New member
in which order r plugins supposed 2 follow each other? e.g - e.q. then reverb then compressor etc? how does a producer decide which 2 do 1st?
 

dvyce

New member
thejay said:
in which order r plugins supposed 2 follow each other? e.g - e.q. then reverb then compressor etc? how does a producer decide which 2 do 1st?


i think this thread is more of a "philosophical" one...


if you post a new thread with your question, it will be a more appropriate place to address it (if it is addressed here, it will get very confusing as to who is answering whose question)


...same goes for PlanetHitzProduction
 

dvyce

New member
JiggSaw said:
Maybe we should create a sticky thread called "critique my mix".

you need to make individual threads...

you see, the problem is, if you have 50 people saying "look at my mix" all in the same thread, it will be chaos...


...you will not be able to tell which response corresponds to which track.
 

MASSIVE Mastering

New member
thejay said:
in which order r plugins supposed 2 follow each other? e.g - e.q. then reverb then compressor etc? how does a producer decide which 2 do 1st?
Verb will generally be a post-EQ auxiliary send. EQ will be in-line. Compression will be an insert (hopefully, post EQ but there are occasions where you'd want it pre-EQ also).
 

Astar

New member
could you elaborate more on mixing/mastering techniques.. what do you mean, "do what the music is telling you to do" .. what are some of the identifying factors?
 

dvyce

New member
Astar said:
could you elaborate more on mixing/mastering techniques.. what do you mean, "do what the music is telling you to do" .. what are some of the identifying factors?


do what the music is telling you to do (i.e., do what the music needs):

When you listen to your mix...

if the hi-hat sounds too loud
= turn it down

if the bass is not "defined" enough
= see if there is any unnecessary very low end frequencies and any unnecessary upper frequencies... maybe compression is also needed.

if the vocal does not stand out as the lead element
= find its dominant frequency space and work your EQ around that

if the drums sound sloppy
= perform them again

if the strings sound weak
= maybe you need a different string sound

if you cant understand the vocals when the synth line comes in
= maybe you need to find a new synth sound or maybe you need to EQ the synth sound so it doesn't fight with the vocal

(and those are just some possible scenarios... those might not even be how to fix any of the problems I mentioned... it may be different every time)



The "identifying factors" would be that you listen to your music and it does not sound right to you.

You need to listen to the sounds both individually and as a whole with the track and figure out what those issues are.

You need to have a strong enough understanding of your tools and audio to know what the problems are and how to fix them.

You can have the same exact bass sound (or any sound) and it could sound perfect in one song; it could sound too bassy in another song; it could sound not bassy enough in another song; or depending on the situation could any different EQ or compression settings... there is never a set answer.

This sort of knowledge comes from practice and experience.

There is really no other way that I know of.
 
Last edited:

Tuco

New member
cool post. im at da point where i wanna mix my beats so i can have my official beat demo (when i finally put it together) to sound right. but i first wanna buy some monitors; because already i could tell when i play beats on my altec lansing 4.1 speaker system w/ subwoofer, and i then play my beats on my car stereo, da bass is on major overkill. so i could tell that im not getting a true representation of da diff. aspects of da beat right there.
 

Babylonian

New member
ive always thought this was what mastering meant. follow what you hear to make it better, too bad i just still dont know how to use things to make it better other than the equalizer and other things i use to follow my ear, so my beats sound fine, but if i were to record something...id be lost
 

dvyce

New member
Babylonian said:
ive always thought this was what mastering meant. follow what you hear to make it better, too bad i just still dont know how to use things to make it better other than the equalizer and other things i use to follow my ear, so my beats sound fine, but if i were to record something...id be lost


Well, That is really what everything in the song making process is... using your ears.

You should really be focusing on the MIXING stage of your process to make your music sound the way you want it to. You should have your song sounding right when you are done mixing. If you are mastering your own music, you should not be doing anything to make it sound better at that point (any problems should have been fixed in the mixing stage.)

After that, you may want to put some overall compression on the mix (if that is part of the sound you are going for), but the rest of the mastering process is more about preparing your finished record for manufacturing and making it into a cohesive collection of songs.


...and you say "too bad i just still dont know how to use things to make it better other than the equalizer and other things i use to follow my ear"

...well, that is what you use... the "EQ and other things", like compressors and your ears would be the biggies.
 

djtrade

New member
the art of mixing is a book and dvd. go get it. the knowledge is out there. how u expect to learn about mixing reading posts? go get that book and dvd and u'll have a decent foundation
 

elohiminc

New member
i seen these three hundred dollar headphones at the guitar center once.... made just for mastering supposely.. what do yall think about that?? it was kinda funny to me but.. i been thinkin about testin em out...
 

MASSIVE Mastering

New member
There is no such thing as a headphone made for mastering. Or mixing for that matter. You can not hear phase relationships in a mix while wearing headphones. It's not possible, period. Depth perception and phase is dependent on the SAME sounds reaching BOTH ears at different times. Same with the low end - Isn't going to happen with your ears covered.

Checking on headphones - Sure. Tweaking expanders and fades - Go for it.

But making critical EQ, level, spacial or modulation adjustments... Maybe not.

And if it was even possible, it wouldn't be $300...
 
Top