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I know we've already got a daunting collection of stickied threads in this forum, but I think if there's any other topic that needs a sticky, it's production. The problem with the art of production is that it's an art that takes many years to truly master. As one of many upstart musicians who lack experience in this field, I say this forum needs a database of production knowledge.

What we need are links to training resources. We need book recommendations, tutorials, and other forms of study media. People can ask questions about concepts, hardware, genre-specific tips and other related issues.

Mastery of this skill is a long-term commitment, but with a thread like this, we can at least help to accelerate that process.

COMPILED RESOURCES:

Websites:

Dave Moulton's website w/ articles

The Loudness Race (server down much)

Waves site 1 & 2 (guides and plugins)

Tutorials:

general tutorial from Gamedev.net

Dave Moulton's Golden Ears training

Books:

Digital Recording, Software & Plug-Ins by Bill Gibson

The Art of Mixing, 2nd Ed. by David Gibson

The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, 2nd Ed. by Bobby Owsinski

Hardware:

KRK rockit powered speakers

Creamware products

Powercore Element

Powercore PCI MKII & plugins

Virus/powercore synthesizer

Plugins & VSTs:

Inspector plugin suite

Firium mastering EQ

Har-Bal EQ system

Interruptor delay

Arts Acoustic reverb

Kjaerhus Golden Series plugins

Ohm Force plugins

Sonic Flavors R66 reverb

Audio Damage products

Elemental Audio plugins

URS EQ plugins

s(m)exoscope

Optimaster (creamware)

UAD-1 (creamware)

Vinco compressor (creamware)

PSY Q processor (creamware)

Other Resources:

zircon's Production thread

(Also read through the thread. Remixers have shared many helpful tips!)

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A better way than following a step by step guide to making a shitty cookie-cutter master is to actually learn what every method used to master a song does. That way you'll know what you want your song to sound like, and know exactly the tools to make it sound that way. But I'm just an asshole.

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A better way than following a step by step guide to making a shitty cookie-cutter master is to actually learn what every method used to master a song does. That way you'll know what you want your song to sound like, and know exactly the tools to make it sound that way. But I'm just an asshole.

Agreed. Which is why I don't think a few tutorials are sufficient to cover this topic (although they do contribute). This is where the book recommendations and concept/theory discussions come in.

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A better way than following a step by step guide to making a shitty cookie-cutter master is to actually learn what every method used to master a song does. That way you'll know what you want your song to sound like, and know exactly the tools to make it sound that way. But I'm just an asshole.

While I agree with you on both counts , I looked through that guide and found it to give some nice tips, if nothing more. Looks like a nice staring read if you really are terrible at production.

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Some general tips:

Get a quality compressor and EQ.

Roll off frequencies not used by instruments.

Learn to turn stuff down, things don't need to be as loud as you think.

Turn the reverb OFF.

Don't be afraid to really carve stuff up with the EQ to make it fit in a mix.

Remember to pan stuff.

Don't overcompress... except for drums. Ratio's low, threshold a couple db below where it's peaking.

And most importantly, use your ears.

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Some general tips:

Get a quality compressor and EQ.

Roll off frequencies not used by instruments.

Learn to turn stuff down, things don't need to be as loud as you think.

Turn the reverb OFF.

Don't be afraid to really carve stuff up with the EQ to make it fit in a mix.

Remember to pan stuff.

Don't overcompress... except for drums. Ratio's low, threshold a couple db below where it's peaking.

And most importantly, use your ears.

I have to disagree with the excessive use of EQ, and frequency rolloff. I've tried this method a number of times and I've found that minimal EQ is almost always preferable. really "sculpting" a sound is OK for purely synthetic stuff (leads, pads), and I do encourage that, but for anything else I think it's a bad idea.

Excellent points otherwise. Reverb on the master track is a terrible idea. Typically this is my final signal path for the master;

* Parametric EQ (only making very small modifications, +/-3db, and usually only to the lows/highs)

* TRacks compressor (I love the sound of this, and I set it so that I get a nice, saturated mix given the type of music I do)

* TRacks limiter (some colored limiting to keep my levels in check)

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* Parametric EQ (only making very small modifications, +/-3db, and usually only to the lows/highs)

* TRacks compressor (I love the sound of this, and I set it so that I get a nice, saturated mix given the type of music I do)

* TRacks limiter (some colored limiting to keep my levels in check)

Could you or somebody else elaborate on compression. I have found that a lot of the industry audio-engineers are frustrated with being asked to make CD's as loud as possible through compression. On OCR, the judges also tend to look down on overcompression of tracks as it loses the natural audio quality of the instruments. So my question is what is a "nice saturated mix" setting on a compresser such as the TRacks compressor. Also, do you not generally compress individual tracks like your drumset, guitars, vocals independent from each other? How do you achieve a good balance with this if you are only applying compression to the master track?

As for what I can contribute, I found a really great series on mastering through workbooks and associated ear training from Dave Moulton (one of the top audio engineers in the world):

Some Links:

About Dave

Dave's Website with GREAT mastering articles

Golden Ears Training

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Could you or somebody else elaborate on compression. I have found that a lot of the industry audio-engineers are frustrated with being asked to make CD's as loud as possible through compression.

Well, that's extreme compression and limiting - reducing a normally large dynamic range to virtually 0 and then maxing the whole thing out at around 0db. It's difficult to do that without actively TRYING to so I wouldn't worry about it.

On OCR, the judges also tend to look down on overcompression of tracks as it loses the natural audio quality of the instruments.

I don't think this is the case. We rarely make a big deal out of compression, in fact more often than not I would say it isn't used ENOUGH.

So my question is what is a "nice saturated mix" setting on a compresser such as the TRacks compressor.

I have an FL mixer preset called "SimpleMaster" that I created for Impulse Prime. I use it in all my projects to date.

The compressor is set to a 12.4ms attack, 702.7ms release, 2.47 ratio, .7db stereo enhance, -15db input drive, and 12db output.

The eq is a little boost of 1 or 2 db in the very low and very high frequencies.

The limiter is set to boost the lows slightly (again), release time of 200ms, 2db input drive, -.2db output.

Also, do you not generally compress individual tracks like your drumset, guitars, vocals independent from each other? How do you achieve a good balance with this if you are only applying compression to the master track?

I compress a lot of my tracks besides the master. Bassdrums, snares, leads, harmony synths.. etc

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Saturating a mix with compression is the #1 way to muddle the sound altogether.

The correct way to fill out a song is to carefully balance the frequencies used by each instrument. A true well balanced song has its most important elements added during the MIXING stage, not the mastering.

Like I keep saying, mastering is merely doing some final sculpting of the song with slight EQ and slight compression. Making a song as loud as possible starts at the mixing stage. If you try to overcompress a badly mixed song, you'll end up with something that really hurts to listen to.

By learning how to properly isolate instruments using EQ during the mixing stage, you can compress the song less severely during the mastering stage while still getting a very loud and saturated mix, and thus eliminate many of the problems usually associated with badly compressed songs.

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Okay, I read the brief mastering overview from gamedev.net linked in an earlier post, and I just want to say that it's almost all very bad advice.

I'll take it part by part...

2) post-processing (mastering) makes the song as far as quality goes (unless, of course, you're starting out with utter garbage in the first place)

Wrong. Utterly wrong. Mixing does.

No matter what your target format is, the most important thing you need to pay attention to when composing your song, is quality - quality sells. The days when someone like Prodigy could sell millions of records of tracker music, are over.

Opinionated meaninglessness. Good songs sell, quality has just become cheaper and easier to attain. Tracker music will always be awesome. And the Prodigy used Cubase and a Roland W-30. Liam was a keyboardist, and he played those beats in by hand, dammit!

The only solid ways of ensuring the quality sound of your music is by either:

More crap. There are lots of ways to ensure quality sound. Using good samples and synths is a start, but a decent microphone and a quiet room, along with a quality mic pre, is far from impossible to aqquire.

If you want to transpose human voice or some highly pitch-sensitive instrument sound, you'll need to use a vocoder

NO! You use a formant shifter!

Even though it's a good idea to add reverb to each individual instrument track (or group) separately to increase the "breadth" of the instrument (group), always consider adding an extra bit of reverb to the final mix to smooth out any "holes" and make the track sound more flowing. Get a free VST reverb plugin here. It is, however, my suggestion that you do your own additional research and compare several plugins as there's nothing that's guaranteed in this world - including the quality of freeware tools.

And then you get the problem that plagues beginner mixers... way too much reverb on your song. Reverb is a condiment, and this method is like drowning a meal in ketchup. Combine this with any type of mastering compression, and it sounds unbelievably ugly. Turn the reverb off. Mix your stuff dry. Add a tiny little bit of reverb on only the stuff that needs it; you should barely even notice it.

You should use the compressor on every instrument track, not just the final mix to provide consistent volume levels and minimize clipping. Only use the compressor when mastering if the levels are really off - as a rule of thumb you should not start mastering a track that clips in the first place, but instead go back to the drawing board and fix the clipping.

Using a compressor on every track can flatten an entire mix. A much better technique is just turning the fader down and EQing a track to taste. I'm mostly of the opinion that compressors should be used to tame peaks and keep volume levels from getting out of hand... Except on drums, where compression is best abused.

This is probably the most important effect of all mastreing effects - a simple one at that. Fruity Loops has a plugin called Stereo Enhancer, which is essentially the same thing: a stereo signal is delayed in one channel, creating a sense of spaciousness. Ozone, however, provides a greatly enhanced version of this effect: a multiband stereo imager, which allows you to specify different levels of stereo separation in different frequency bands.

The trick here is to apply stereo imaging to each instrument track or a group of instruments separately. It is rare that you need to enhance the stereo properties of the bassline or the bass drum. However, adding stereo separation to the lead synth will give a superb effect. Adding a little less stereo separation to the hats will, in turn, provide more focus on the middle frequencies (eg the lead synth) and not distract the listener.

This whole section is a recipie for phase cancellation problems. If you want "phat stereo effects", pan your instruments. Detune your oscillators. Just about anything will sound better than stereo enhancement.

Even though you'll most likely have to skip this step if you're broke, harmonic excitation adds a lot to a mix if applied correctly (that is, when it's not overdone). In simple terms, what this does is that it adds new harmonics in between existing harmonics to "add color" to the final sound of the mix. As far as I know, it's not possible to obtain a free harmonic excitation plugin, so there isn't much to do on this part if you haven't got the money.

There are tons now, but most of them are pretty useless. Good compressor plugins will do all the work for you in this respect, and harmonic exciters tend to give a very harsh sound to everything. I'd avoid them.

First, download this zip file (~1.5 MB), which contains five files in MP3 format (8 seconds each).

These all sound awful. The drums distort on the 2nd mp3. The third one just detuned the osc's on the synth and added delay. The ones titled "premastered" and "postmastered" just add more distortion to the drums, and plainly haven't had any thought behind them. The unfortunate conclusion I have to give you, is that this is all bad advice from someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

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A lot of those arguments seem to be matters of opinion, personal preference or somewhat genre/style-specific. That or you're just taking his statements far too literally or extremely. Don't get me wrong, I agree with most of what you're saying, but I think there's room for compromise between your preferences and his.

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Even though it's a good idea to add reverb to each individual instrument track (or group) separately to increase the "breadth" of the instrument (group), always consider adding an extra bit of reverb to the final mix to smooth out any "holes" and make the track sound more flowing. Get a free VST reverb plugin here. It is, however, my suggestion that you do your own additional research and compare several plugins as there's nothing that's guaranteed in this world - including the quality of freeware tools.

And then you get the problem that plagues beginner mixers... way too much reverb on your song. Reverb is a condiment, and this method is like drowning a meal in ketchup. Combine this with any type of mastering compression, and it sounds unbelievably ugly. Turn the reverb off. Mix your stuff dry. Add a tiny little bit of reverb on only the stuff that needs it; you should barely even notice it.

It depends on the genre. A lot of genres from classical, orchestral, cinematic, new age, electronica, trance, 80s music have A LOT of reverb. Even contemporary works like some of BT's stuff is swamped with "80s style" heavy reverb. It is also personal taste. BT had an interview where he was talking about his penchant for using a lot of reverb, while a lot of the newer musicians he works with (like Justin Timberlake) don't like it. I don't know about you, but I could care less what people like JT who take credit for work done by dozens of "unnamed" professionals, but I digress.

Going back on point, I would be careful about making strong, generalized comments personally. European style productions for orchestral are even wetter. It depends on what you are going for or trying to accomplish.

The other points you raised have merit, but some of it is your personal taste rather than based on facts.

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Yep, Gray is right here. In this soundtrack I've been working on recently, one level takes place in a big South American temple. Lots of reverb on numerous tracks was crucial to creating a spacious atmosphere.

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A good way to see how your frequencies should be is to use a spectrum analyzer on a track that you want your song to sound similar to. Izotope Ozone is awesome for this because you can show the average spectrum over a certain period of time.

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A good way to see how your frequencies should be is to use a spectrum analyzer on a track that you want your song to sound similar to. Izotope Ozone is awesome for this because you can show the average spectrum over a certain period of time.

That's brilliant. So simple and yet, I never would've thought to do something like that.

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seph wanted me to make some comments in here. I really don't know how much of what I know is actually generally considered correct or good, but I'll drop a few things I thought were helpful in learning what I have.

I like to see visually what I'm doing to a track. I learned a lot about compression by sticking in the vst s(m)exoscope effect onto tracks as I compressed them. http://www2.kvr-vst.com/get/971.html All it does is show you live what the waveform looks like. Doing this I can see exactly how the compressor is squashing the wav. It also helped that one of my main compressors I used is the Sonitus compressor, and it has got a nice little graph on it, and a little dot that represents the db level of the wav. The dot bounces up and down the graph line so you can see exactly when and how hard the compression is acting.

This is kinda weird, but when judging a final mastering mix, part of what I use is how it looks in the winamp visualization (the old winamp vis, not winamp5)..simple skin mode. I've used winamp so much to play all my mp3's, I know what a song that sounds like mine should look like and act like in that vis. I can usually tell if I've got enough bass or treble, and if its been squashed/limited enough (to my tastes).

That's about all I've got. The visual feedback helps as you develop your ear to hear the subtleties of audio stuff.

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This is an insanely long post, but I wanted to help you guys as much as possible.

Ok, first things first

Ask yourself "How serious am I about making a professional sounding track?"

Because there are a few essentials to help you get the result you are looking for. I would have to say one of the most important things you can do is get yourself some GOOD monitors (speakers) to mix with. Anything flat will give u a natural sound, but these kind of things can be VERY expensive. Thats why I highly recommend KRK rockit powered series http://www.krksys.com

I have the bottom of the barrel (rp-5s) but they do the job, and do it damn well. You can hear EVERYTHING (the slightest bit of clipping is very noticable) but more importantly, they sound VERY natural and are super accurate. White Skies Club Mix was the first track I mixed down and mastered on them. Some AKG k271 headphones would actually work too for mixing down, but mixing in headphones can get you fatigued real quick.

Some important tips

Number 1

TAKE YOUR TIME!!

Work on the track like 2 hours a day for 2 weeks and I gaurantee it will turn out much better than if worked on only a couple times. When you come back to your song with a fresh mind and a fresh set of ears, your judgement is much better. Take breaks during the day so you have a chance to rest your mind and ears and come back to it later. The more patient you are the better.

Number 2

DONT FIX IT IF IT AINT BROKEN!

Eqing and Compression can make or break a song. To tell you the truth i rarely use either. People seem to think every track will need some sort of processing, but it all depends on the source sound and how you want it to fit in the mix. Compression confuses a lot of people so I will make it simple; consider it an automatic fader (like on a mixer) It will just balance the dynamics of a track. One huge example of necessary compression is vocals. Because singing is probably the most dynamic of them all, it will balance the soft parts and the loud parts if done properly, that way it can cut through/sit in the mix. The only time i use compression is on drums (almost all the time), bass, and vocals. In trance, the bassdrum and the bass are VERY important to getting a full dance sound. Its probably the most imporant part of a trance track because it makes people move (you will know what I mean if you have heard trance on a huge 100,000 watt PA) You got to be really careful with those elements because without them there is no drive to a track. Seperating the drum channels i find is much easier (bd on one track, clap on one, hihats on one, cymbals on one, percussion on one) Now these are just tips for trance but some of the same ideas apply to many other aggressive genres.

Eqing is usually used to enhance highs and lows in most of my mixdowns but you must be very careful about this as well. I usually compress my bass with some sort of eq boosting in an area above the frequencies of the bass drum (usually 100-200hz) and cut below that so that the bass drum sits will in the mix. There is also a nice technique you can use to avoid this called side chaining (also just used for effect) Most of the time cutting the unwanted frequencies is much wiser than boosting (usually surgical eqing to fix a sound, is more cutting than boosting) My synthlines usually stay untouched and ill end up using bright reverb (a hipass filter on the reverb can cut out the muddiness and lows of the reverb to give a shimmer decay) on the track instead of making it bright with eq, that way it keeps its body but still has some kind of shimmer to it. Eqing on trance usually isnt as necessary as eqing a rock song, so just use your ears and remember to come back to your track with fresh ears to make a good judgement. It only gets hard at about 20+ tracks of simultaneous audio.

Sidechaining is basically something triggering a compressor to "duck" the sound that its sidechained to. Like if you have ever heard on the radio a background song going and as soon as the dj talks the track gets really low in volume. Its because the sidechained input of the djs mic is ducking the input on the compressor. You can sidechain with the new compressor in Reason 3, and doing it in Cubase SX is very tricky but worth it in the end (only a couple vsts that can do this, like Voxengo Crunchessor). The useful thing about sidechaining with trance is the bassdrum can duck the bass, that way they dont clash in frequency. Plus it gives the bass a pumpy sound which just sounds plain cool. There are tutorials on this alone that you can probably find easily.

This brings me to my next point about being serious with your mixdowns. Be prepared to invest

Number 3

YOU NEED SOME DECENT TOOLS TO GET A "PRO SOUND"

I use 4 dsp pci cards for all my effects processing. A dsp card is basically a dedicated board of digital sound processors that will run proprietery plugins off of the card. Consider it the geforce/radeon of audio. The best part about it is NO CPU HIT!!

My main audio card is a creamware luna 2 (now called scope home) http://www.creamware.com but what is unique about this card besides the fact that it has its own operating system is that it has dsp chips built on to run effects. And the quality of these algorithms is incredible. The reverb it comes with "masterverb" has been an essential tool for the past 2 years. But more important is the Vinco compressor which i use on my bass drums to get them to SLAM (easy to do with any vintage type of compressor/limiter - just limit at 0db and bump up that input knob and attack knob till you get the punch you like) I also use something called the PSY Q which is an aural exciter. Usually these tools are hardware only, but in this case they are hybrid (dsp plugins) There is only one native plugin similar that I am aware of by BBE called Sonic Maximizer but i dont recommend it. PSY Q basically uses phase cancelation to enhance the "pleasing" frequencies of a sound. I only use it on the bass because the highs can sound really messy if not used carefully. But its perfect for airing up a pad or adding boom to a bass. There is also another plugin I have called character on the tc electronics powercore that gives you the same effect

I have the creamware luna, the uad-1 studio pack, the powercore element with the access virus synth plugin and the powercore mkii. So basically I can run all of my hardware quality compressors/limiters/eqs/delays/phaser/chorus/mastering and with the powercore, 2 synths (tc01 and virus) with NO CPU HIT. This is the beauty of these cards, is getting hardware results in a software environment without taxing your machine.

http://www.uaudio.com/products/software/UAD-1/index.html

http://www.cwaudio.de/page.php?seite=vinco〈=en&submenu=home

http://www.cwaudio.de/page.php?seite=psyq〈=en&submenu=home

http://www.tcelectronic.com/Default.asp?Id=1236

http://www.tcelectronic.com/PowerCoreElement

http://www.tcelectronic.com/Virus

Now dont get me wrong, there are PLENTY of native vst alternatives out there. Here are some good ones that I recommend

Arts Acoustic Reverb (best sounding native reverb ive ever heard, with minimal cpu hit)

http://www.kvraudio.com/get/1725.html

Kjaerhus Golden Series (Great sounding compressors and eqs, very good for native)

http://www.kjaerhusaudio.com/gold-series.php

Ohm Force plugins (awesome delays, phasers, distortion/compression)

http://www.ohmforce.com/ViewCategory.do?category=Effects

Sonic Flavors R66 Reverb (this reverb is an excellent compliment to the arts acoustic)

http://www.kvraudio.com/get/1715.html

Anything by audio damage

http://www.audiodamage.com/

Elemental audio plugins

http://www.elementalaudio.com/

These are probably one of the best solutions for native mastering besides t-racks and ozone 3.

The URS EQ plugins are the best of any native (some even better than the dsp eqs) but are ULTRA EXPENSIVE

http://www.ursplugins.com/

Waves plugins are decent too but I never find use of them, although I highly recommend these tutorials because the concepts can be applied to any production

http://www.sound.org/titles1.html

(this is mixing and mastering with waves, Ive read the book and gone through the tutorials and its done a world of different for me and my productions)

http://www.sound.org/titles2.html

(this is the trance experience tutorial for expert advice on sound design with synths, mixing, mastering, writing and arranging etc for trance!! i havnt read it personally but from what i hear it is a great resource for people trying to up their dance production)

Number 4

MIXING IT

Now mixdown is the most important part to your pro sound, mastering is only the icing on the cake. Without the foundation of your track (mixing) the cake will fall apart when you put the icing on(mastering) hah

Basically there are a few rules to follow. Different sounds require different kinds of reverbs. Drum sounds (even trance drums) benefit greatly from "plate" type reverbs of rooms and chambers. Experiment with puting a room reverb on the clap or hihats and cymbals. NEVER put reverb on the bass drum of a dance track, it will just muddy and mess everything (unless its a gate reverb to get an offbeat reverb effect). Sometimes its wiser to use delays instead of reverbs. Some artists like M.I.K.E. (push) NEVER use reverb, hes always using delays instead. There are some great free delays out there too that i use religously

http://www.interruptor.ch/

Using echomania can even replace reverb (since its 4 simultaneous tape delays). Using hall reverbs carefully placed on pads and leads in trance will definately open up the track alot, but go easy on the reverb, get the bouncy rhythm delay effect from the delays and then open up the tail of the synth with a hall reverb. I like to use phasers on pads and leads sometimes but usually keeping them mellow. Chorus, is the same way (I use the Uad-1 Choruses which are remakes of the Roland CE-1 and Roland Dimension-D. They are ULTRA lush and thick sounding, very vintage)

Those are basics of fattening a track up. The actualy mixding on the board goes like this for me.

I put the master channel to 0db and bring all faders down. I then turn up my speakers to a reasonable loud volume and start bringing tracks up starting with the bassdrum, then bass, then other drum channels. Then i bring in the accompanying parts like the leads and pads (usually at the main part of the song on loop is where i start mixing) I find what works best is to close your eyes and trust your ears more than the VU meters. You will know when to stop with the faders and for some reason I never go past 0 db on the master track using this technique. It just takes experimentation and patience, but you will eventually get a nice sound. remember, TAKE BREAKS! Even come back the next day if you are getting stuck.

Number 5

MASTERING IS YOUR FRIEND!

Ok mastering can be very tricky and is usually the most difficult part of finishing a track. Basically you have to find a system that works for you. Its really simple actually, surgical eq first, then compression and limitng after is the norm for dance. I used to use t-racks which is great, but using presets isnt always best, you must really know how to you use a compressor and limiter to get the cleanest loudest punch of a track. There are some excellent tools available today for mastering like,

Har-Bal equalization system http://www.har-bal.com/

This program will analyze your track and show a spectral diagram of your song. The rule is basically you want as few extreme hills or valleys as possible. With version 2.0 it uses a function called Intuit-Q which will basically try to fix your track eqing without changing the character of your sounds. This is an excellent pre eqing program which i HIGHLY RECOMMEND buying.

Then I use a mastering eq called firium (from elemental audio)

http://www.elementalaudio.com/products/firium/

This plugin will let you analyze a track and match the spectral diagram to your own track. It still takes some tweaking when done but usually this can really help you out A LOT so you dont have to guess with your eqing. So this plugin basically does the final eqing of my track (its a great eq on its own, the matching is just a cool feature) and there are lots of plugins that do this same job but i find this to be the best one.

Then I use a stereo expander at about 20% to enhance the stereo width of the track.

Now the most important part...MAKING IT LOUD!

http://www.creamware.com/page.php?seite=optimaster〈=en&submenu=home

its only available to creamware users, and its called the optimaster. Now the excellent part of these tool is it is ULTRA transparent (meaning no artifacts of compression and limiting, its very very clean) But the unique part about this is its Wizard fuction. You basically goto the loudest part of your track (usually the climax) and loop it, then press "START" on the wizard and it will anayze the track and bring it to maximum loudness and punch ON ITS OWN. Loudness PERFECT everytime, no matter what the genre. Amazing... as far as I know there arent any native plugins that can do this and even if they could the sound might not be as good. but the waves ultra l3 maximizer is a decent native alternative (besides t-racks).

Now like I said, you have to find a system that works for you. This is what I came up with after 4 years of experience in mastering. Hans Zimmer is a very proud creamware user and he calls this arsenal of tools his "secret weapon" And i couldnt agree more, its really amazing. But beware, creamware cards take a lot of effort to get running stable, and its a very complex system to work with, so I dont recommend jumping on unless you REALLY want that vinco, psy q, and optimaster. They are pretty expensive plugins as well.

For someone just starting out that wants some good plugins, you will have to spend about 1000 bux but i recommend a Uad-1 card (with the fairchild compressor, the precision limiter and eq) and you can do some awesome mastering with those. Getting a good sound takes time and money (sadly) Ive spent a good 9 Gs on plugins and hardware, but the results are truly great.

Now like I said, these tools only make it easier for me to get the sound I want, but with time and patiences you can get get a similar result with native vsts and even free vsts. I plan on making more tutorials and info when my website launches, hope this helps you out!!

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Hot dang. bLiNd FTW.

Quick question to Zircon though: You mentioned that you had a compressor and a limiter on your master track, and that the limiter was there to keep the levels in check. I was under the impression that the compressor would do that for you. But you always have some sort of reason to do something, so I am preety sure I am missing something. Would you mind bringing me up to speed?

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But you always have some sort of reason to do something, so I am preety sure I am missing something. Would you mind bringing me up to speed?

Not zircon, but you know the difference between a compressor and a limiter?

A limiter is essentially a compressor with an infinite ratio. Which means that if something gets above the level it gets squashed flat instead of bent. A limiter is indeed sort of a last line of defense; albeit that a recording that's mastered properly shouldn't have anything that's flat and at -0db anyway, because it means (unwanted) distortion.

Also, a good limiter shows it when there's clipping. A compressor still has a gain knob, and if it's turned up too much, it can still clip.

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