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sephfire

Official Mastering and Production thread

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what the hell is TbT? also, i don't quite understand how root mean square works when applied to decibels either... do you basically just mean the overall mean volume of the track?

Yeah, its like Zircon said. If you think about it, they can't use a normal average, because the wave goes both above and below zero decibels. So to make the whole thing positive, we have Root Mean Square, which solves the problem by squaring the number (I hope you recall that a negative number squared is a positive number). Of course, then the square root has to be taken else the values would be all weird, hence Root Mean Squared.

The thing is, it could refer to the overall volume of the track, or just one bit of the track. It is an average of volume over time, but the time period is whatever you se it to be. For example, I have had songs where the chorus was -11dB RMS, but som eof the quieter verses were -13dB RMS. Overall, RMS was about -11.5dB or somesuch.

Also, I think something to to keep in mind when mastering is to keep who the track is intended for in mind. If it is designed for a club, dynamic range isn't that important. If its for home listening, then remember - as Zirc (I think) mentioned earlier - to ensure it isn't all OMG LOUD.

Disclaimer: I am not, by any means, a mastering engineer. If someone more pro than I says otherwise, go with them. Especially if its Compyfox.

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*Front page resources UPDATED*

Yeesh. I start up a new help resource and then let it slip to page 2. Shame on me. Sorry about that.

Anyway, the page 1 link library is properly updated. Feel free to impart more knowledge everyone! And ASK SOME QUESTIONS.

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Hey, could you go ahead and link to the production tutorial I wrote on this very forum? It has lots of useful info, imo.

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Ok, I've got my own question.

When dealing with hip-hop tracks and the like, you tend to get a lot of heavy bass sounds. Having them all hit at once would easily take things beyond clipping range, but putting them all through a compressor may not get the desired results. Is there a way to compress a set of instruments, but only so a specific instrument gets reduced in volume. For instance, if you have a heavy bass kick drum but also a loud bass guitar. Say you want the bass drum's bass levels to decrease when the bass guitar is there. Is there a good compression tactic for that or is it better to EQ paint that by hand?

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Just apply the compression to one particular track. However if your bass guitar and kick are muddying up eachother that's something you need to address either by (1) EQing them separately, (2) changing samples used, or (3) changing the mic/mic position for the recording itself if its a live performance.

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a few tips on EQing and Compressing for hiphop tracks, especially if you want that booming bass/kick sound.

cut a lot of your instruments in the middle. around 400-500. this opens room for the heavy low end.

boost your kick around 90+. cut your bass at that point a bit.

compression is important. gray taught me that pop producers use multiple compressors on individual kicks, snares, basses, etc in order to carve out their sound. i'm still experimenting with how this works.

also, you're talking about side chaining, no? i'm not to familiar with side chaining. i'm sure someone else can help you there

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"Say you want the bass drum's bass levels to decrease when the bass guitar is there. Is there a good compression tactic for that or is it better to EQ paint that by hand?"

Sidechaining could be very useful in this case. It's often the other way around, though; you want the bass to reduce in volume when the kick punches in. Sidechaining lets you do this, usually it's one compressor on the bass track, which is triggered by the kick, and reduces the volume of the bass. There are different ways to set up sidechaining depending on what program you use. In Reason, this is quite easy. Cubase is a bit more tricky if you ain't got the right plugs.

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I've been reading up a bit on sidechaining, which may end up being the solution here. I'm using Ableton at this stage which (from what I can tell) has a pretty simple sidechaining setup.

I'd usually opt to make the kick override the bass as well, but I've heard the opposite in a few hip-hop tracks that sounded rather cool. I'll try both ways.

Thanks for the tips. :)

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Ok, it's time we took care of a particular shortage in this thread: book recommendations.

I was browsing the very limited selection at Borders today and found three potential purchases:

1). Digital Recording, Software & Plug-Ins by Bill Gibson

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

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

I didn't purchase any of these so I could get some recommendations from you experienced guys first. Can anyone vouch for the quality of these resources or perhaps recommend better alternatives?

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Heh, coincidentally I went to the public library today and picked up the Home Recording Handbook. Though it may not be specifically for mastering, it has a lot of information on current technology and technique. Many professionals were involved in the book, including some from such respected newsstand titles as Computer Music and Electronic Musician.

I also picked up The Home Book of Musical Knowledge and Classical Music 101, but those're more theory and history than anything.

The titles you mention seem like fairly sound titles, i'll check them out as well, thanks :)

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I hate to beg for a sticky in a forum already overrun with them, but we really have some great information in here and the makings of a solid knowledge database in the topic post. :puppyeyes:

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:mrgreen:

Well, now that we're stickied, it's time I started adding content to this here thread. Zircon recently offered mastering services for CD releases at a nominal fee. Details pasted below:

Hey, I just thought I'd put this out there for those in the community who plan on doing commercial releases of their music. I've been doing a lot of music production over the last few years and it's what I've been studying in school too. Recently, I've been doing mastering work for people and they have been happy with the results. So, I've decided to offer very low cost mastering services for anyone on OCR who would be interested. Here's some basic info.

* What is mastering? Mastering is the final step in the recording process in which a completed song or series of songs are sonically prepared for distribution/duplication. It is very important especially for album releases so that all the tracks on the album have a similar overall sound. In short, mastering is that last polish and shine that makes the track ready for release.

* Why can't I just do it myself? You might very well be able to. I'm not going to tell you that it's impossible to do your own mastering. However, many people do not have the experience, tools, or even the trained ears to objectively master their own music with the same results as an external service would deliver. Even many pro electronic artists who do all the production themselves will go elsewhere for mastering.

* What will you do? Since every song is different, the same exact method can't be applied in each instance. Dance and rock music, for example, typically calls for a more "maxed out" sound - loudness is desirable. For a quiet acoustic guitar and voice track, on the other hand, finer details like the level of noise and balance between the parts would be examined. In any case, I will work with you in achieving the kind of sound you want, applying a wide range of software and hardware tools.

* What if I don't like the results? I would be happy to do one track for you first so you can see how it sounds. If you don't like it, no problem - you haven't lost anything. If you like it, I can go ahead and do the rest of the project. Simple enough.

* How much does it cost? It depends on the project (number of songs, length of the songs, and how quickly it must be completed). However, to give you an idea of the ballpark, we're talking $10-$15 a track. Since this is more of a side project for me, and I like the OCR community so much, I think this is a reasonable price. In comparison you can expect to pay 5 times that or more from a service such as XARC or Omni Mastering (also online studios). Of course, we can always negotiate if there is a special circumstance of some kind.

As a bonus, if you're doing a CD project I'd be happy to work with you on finding the best methods of duplicating, promoting, and distributing your album. It's a process I've gone through numerous times myself and one that I've spent a great deal of time studying as well.

There's a full equipment list on my site, at

www.zirconstudios.com/about.php

If you're interested or if you have any questions, feel free to post, PM me or send me an email at admin@zirconstudios.com . Thanks!

EDIT:

And in other news, I will make an attempt to start browsing the Remxing forums more often in search of nuggets of production wisdom. When I find such pearls, I will quote them here for eternal preservation.

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Best book on mastering:

Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science: Books: Bob Katz

Bob Katz is one of the best mastering engineers. The book is full of useful information.

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Wats up guys while searching the web I came across this website with lots of useful info on music. It's examples are used with fl studio, reason, and ableton live. I just skimmed over it, but my impression is that it def has some good info that covers all the basics of doin electronic music. Talks about theory, mastering, production, melodies, harmonies, rythms, basslines.

If someone feels like their missing some of the basics in their music you might wanna check it out.

http://www.modcam.com/emusic/

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http://www.tweakheadz.com/EQ_and_the_Limits_of_Audio.html

Some nice tips on EQing here. Also some hilarious analogies:

The keyboard player starts scowling at the guitarist, who has just ripped off his shirt and put his amp on volume 9. So the keyboard player puts his amp up to 10. Your vocalist is getting all peeved because she can't hear herself now so she starts screaming instead of singing and its o-my-god-awful. Now even the drummer can't hear himself so he starts banging on the crash cymbal. Neighbors complain, police arrive and you find out you are going to jail for some unpaid traffic ticket. That is masking at work.

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Wow, Har-Bal RULES!!! I picked it up on bLiNd's recommendation and it just works wonders.

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I don't know if there's been a question about this topic before, but I'm pretty curious about your thoughts on adding a master reverb to your mastering chain.

Yes, I know the general consensus says " More Reverb = BAD", but I've read in some guides that a medium studio plate style reverb, or a small acoustic room style reverb, combined with a low wet-dry ratio can help make the whole mix 'wash together', and give it the necessary 'shine'. I haven't really extensively tried it out myself, but does anyone else have thoughts to share on this subject?

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Yo. I don't know if anyone is interested, but I was wondering if anyone could give some advice specifically about EQing/Compressing/everything elseing drums for brutal metal. I'm working on one such piece now and I, personally, think the current drum sound I've got sounds cool, but I'm thinking that all the producer heads out there would say otherwise. What advice would you give for producing drums for an extremely busy metal song?

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I don't know if there's been a question about this topic before, but I'm pretty curious about your thoughts on adding a master reverb to your mastering chain.

Yes, I know the general consensus says " More Reverb = BAD", but I've read in some guides that a medium studio plate style reverb, or a small acoustic room style reverb, combined with a low wet-dry ratio can help make the whole mix 'wash together', and give it the necessary 'shine'. I haven't really extensively tried it out myself, but does anyone else have thoughts to share on this subject?

This does work well on some styles that would have a band all together in one room (jazz, rock) as long as you roll off the low fequencies so not much reverb is bring put on the kick and bass. For electronic styles it doesn't have as good an effect...

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