I would like to open a discussion about mastering solutions we are using for stock music and music in general. In many cases for projects with larger budgets I was using more expensive special gear for mastering and services of mastering, but for these purposes, I assume, that in most cases we use “in the box” solutions. Feel free to share you experiences and techniques that are gave you the best results… or if we can give each other some good advices…
Mastering can be pricey if you send your mixes out. I def wouldn’t bother for here. It’s just not cost effective. For a band releasing an album then that might be worth it…but there’s some really amazing sounding in the box solutions these days. If you have a nice outboard compressor or mic pre and you got good clean levels at the source. You can get great results with a mastering suite that includes pre and post EQ, compressor, exciter, spatial enhancer, phase control and mid side processing with good dither algorithms. All you should need.
For personal projects I do the mastering manually with eq’s, compressors, ... But it takes time to master a song from scratch. For my audiojungle projects I use Izotope 4. It comes in very handy because it has a lot of presets so you can just go trough these untill you find one that works for your song. But you have still control over all the effects in the preset so you can tweak it even more. I know that the waves L3 multimaximizer does a great job too but in my experience you have to mix off your track much better to get the same result. So cost/effectice i think that Izotope works better in my case.
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Yep, I’d agree with JC with respect to outsourced mastering being pricey, especially for use on everyday stock-music.
Having only ever used plugin mastering, rather than outboard for mastering stock-music, I’ve been fortunate enough to use a plethora of different systems, such as Waves, Oxford, iZotope, to name a few.
However, I still wanted to find a system that would emulate the audio qualities and configurations of the high-end out board stuff, but not break the bank. That’s when IK Multimedia’s T-Racks came in.
Been using it for mastering for over 5 years now. It may look a little ‘childlike’ at first glance, but the features, sound quality and especially the warmth, are spot-on. Which of course you can hear it in action on my portfolio.
Instead of working from the ground up, I’ve always got into the habit of building on one of the preset full vintage mastering setups within T-Racks – using it as a good starting point, and adjusting it accordingly to fit the mix. That method has always worked for me in terms of efficiency and end result.http://www.ikmultimedia.com/t-racks/features/
Every time I attempt to master one of my tracks to make it “sound better”, it becomes worse than the orginal. So I came to the conclusion that if it’s the same person producing the whole thing, mastering is pointless. Do it during mixing and when you think it sounds good enough, don’t touch it anymore. Add a limiter and maybe a bit of reverb to the master channel and you’re done.
Soundengine is is absolutely right about the mastering and mixing done by two seperate persons. What I do to compensate it a little is I record the song mix it and than after a week not listening to it master (or mix it again if I’m not happy about what I hear)
I do what almost everybody say it’s wrong (me included), I do everything “in the box” and on the project itself. Sometimes it helps to hear how everything goes through all effects. Based on that I take some mixing or even arranging decisions.
But that might work only for me.
Izotope is Ozone is my tool of choice. You can do so much with that. Even the presets are really well done with just a little tweaking. I run Ozone in the master output of my Ableton tracks so I can keep an idea of how it all sounds together. Then, after I mix I put it on for real and with just a few tweaks, things sound great.
I am not a big proponent of slamming everything so that you have a solid block of audio. I think there should be dynamics. Too much mastering makes things sound terrible and manufactured.
I think there is a lot of mythology that is manufactured by us musicians as to what comprises a truly “finished” track. But one has to trust one’s own ears and, in my opinion, getting all fussy about mastering is really lame.
I generally write, mix and master at the same time to create the sound that I want, I then top and tail (eq wise) and burn a cd and play this on at least 3 different systems to make sure things are at the level I’m happy with, Yes it’s not the best way but I think it is all about what works for you and judging by what a few of you guys say…....... you do the same. I think it is whatever works for you is the best way, it’s what you feel comfortable about and as long as you are happy and the results are good that’s all that matters.
I’m no master of mastering, but here is what I do:
(mono test before mixdown)
- EQ – low and high shelving
- eventualy compressor, to squash peaks in a mix if necessary (to be able to increase mix level), or artistic – to blur or dirty the mix
- trim to around -3dB max peak level
My main goal is to get gain, and tune compressor and limiter to be “inaudible”, so that you can’t hear them working. Everything else should be in the mix, hopefully.