Mixing down and Mastering

Author
stinkydoom
Max Output Level: -90 dBFS
  • Total Posts : 4
  • Joined: 2016/08/28 21:34:06
  • Status: offline
2018/02/15 05:53:09 (permalink)

Mixing down and Mastering

   
Hi everyone,
   
I need a little help here.
   
I recently mixed down all my songs to waves and opened each one in separate sessions.
   
The mixes sound pretty good, but of course they still need adjustments.
   
   
The waves have plenty of headroom to work with for mastering (as per online pros showing images of bad/good waves). I'd show an image of my song and a pro mastered song wave but can't figure out how to attatch a pic here..
   
I used very little (if any) compression and I used just enough EQ  to separate frequencies from bass/drums, Vocals/guitars etc...  Being "old school" I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible.
   
I'm not doing what guys are doing today: using plugins willy nilly.
   
   
Then I pulled several songs from CD's directly at the original  bit depth into my mastering session and when I look at the wave files of mine and a professionally finished song I find there is  little difference in how the waves appear.
   
I used Rush: 2112/Tom Sawyer, Iron Maiden: Murders in the Rue Morgue, Metallica: Master of Puppets and so on....
   
Listening to them directly through my sound card they don't sound very good. Flat with no dynamics. Bummer.........
   
   
If I take the same CD's and play them on my HHB CD burner/player and use the headset plug with a headset on the CD player it sounds normal. Really good.
   
   
So I know I'm getting the actual sound of pro mastering without color.
   
If I just play back my"non mastered" song "as is" the sound is not exactly the same but very close to a fully mastered song. How is this possible?
   
   
I really wasn't expecting this and it leaves me with the question; What should I do at this point?
   
Do I risk trying to go further and perhaps ruin it or .........?
   
Any insight/advice would be appreciated.
   
#1

6 Replies Related Threads

    burgerproduction
    Max Output Level: -86 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 209
    • Joined: 2015/05/01 02:49:17
    • Location: Italy
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/15 09:56:18 (permalink)
    One question - The CDs you mentioned are all by older groups. Are they old albums or new?
    If you are listening to older albums which were mastered for vinyl (ie, less bass and treble), they will have different dynamics to newer albums which have greater fidelity. 
    If they are remastered versions of tracks, they should sound better, but still using older studio sessions.
    It all depends what sound you're going for. Retro? Lo-fi? Emo?

    Cakewalk by Bandlab, Sonar Platinum Lifetimer, Windows 10, HP Laptop, CPU i5, RAM 8GB. Audio interface: Edirol FA-101 Firewire interface with moded drivers. Microphones: Audio-Technica, M-Audio, Behringer, AKG. Pianos: Casio digital, Yamaha B1 upright.  Guitars: Dobro, Tanglewood, Danelectro, Fender. Hats: Fez
    Check out my music :
    https://53mph.bandcamp.com/album/like-water-to-the-sand
     
    #2
    sharke
    Max Output Level: 0 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 13933
    • Joined: 2012/08/03 00:13:00
    • Location: NYC
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/15 14:45:32 (permalink)
    I wouldn't go on what your waveforms look like, there's a lot more to a mix than that. 
     
    Also, it's very hard to be a judge of your own mixes. You have an emotional attachment to them, and I find that oftentimes your ears adapt to any problems the mix might has to the point where you don't even hear them. Someone else, who has no emotional attachment to your song whatsoever, might compare it to a pro mix and sense that there is something missing or something that makes your mix sound less "pro." You never really know until you put it out there and let fresh ears have a listen. 
     
    For this reason most people advise not to master your own music. Much better to bring in a new set of ears with a fresh perspective. You could do that by posting your track on the songs forum and asking specifically what people think of the mix and how it could be improved either by further mixing or in the mastering stage. You're likely to get some insight about things that you never would have noticed on your own. Like sometimes, it never occurs to you that the hats are too loud because you've gotten so used to them, but as soon as someone else hears the mix they immediately stand out too much. Or perhaps your bass isn't quite as tight as the pro mix. Of course it could be that none of this applies to you and you really have produced a great mix which only needs very subtle mastering to tuck things in here and there, but you won't know for sure until others with good ears have had a listen. 

    James
    Windows 10, Sonar SPlat (64-bit), Intel i7-4930K, 32GB RAM, RME Babyface, AKAI MPK Mini, Roland A-800 Pro, Focusrite VRM Box, Komplete 10 Ultimate, 2012 American Telecaster!
    #3
    stinkydoom
    Max Output Level: -90 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 4
    • Joined: 2016/08/28 21:34:06
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/16 00:58:01 (permalink)
    @
    You asked the one question I never considered.
    The music I'm using as a reference is in fact old. Although mastered professionally the songs were mastered for vinyl and not mastered for digital. Hence the dull sound.
    My bad. I should have realized that.
     
    After I made my post I decided to pull in another song mastered for digital and it was very different.
     
    Sadly, there aren't any modern songs similar to what I'm writing and I needed something similar to my writing style for referencing purposes.
    I guess I'm in the right neighborhood for having plenty of headroom for mastering.
     
    "It all depends what sound you're going for. Retro? Lo-fi? Emo?"
    I'm going for the warmth of the old analog with the crispness of the new.
    Trying to balance the old with the new is a task in itself, but I think I'm slowly getting closer.
     
    When I said I'm old school think of going to a studio where there are 2" 24 track tape machines, and racks of compressors, EQ's etc... The only automation were boards with "fader memory" for mixing.
    Guess that shows my age LOL!!!
    @
    Thanks for the reply.
    Already there with mixing and use much of your advice already.
    Thanks!!
    #4
    burgerproduction
    Max Output Level: -86 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 209
    • Joined: 2015/05/01 02:49:17
    • Location: Italy
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/18 15:45:21 (permalink)
    stinkydoom
    When I said I'm old school think of going to a studio where there are 2" 24 track tape machines, and racks of compressors, EQ's etc... The only automation were boards with "fader memory" for mixing.
    Guess that shows my age LOL!!!

    Not at all!
    Bands like the White Stripes insisted on using analogue studios for their tracks, and they made the most commercially successful album of its time (google it if you don't believe me). There's a very cool studio in London which is analogue only. Analogue doesn't necessarily have to mean less fidelity; in fact tape is a pretty damn good medium for recording (take it from me, I had to transfer a 20 year archive of dat tape recordings to digital, and there was nothing wrong with the sound), what changes in older recordings is the mastering for vinyl.
    If you consider that a record player needle is basically a little bit of metal that has to vibrate inside a groove to reproduce sound, you can imagine what would happen if those troughs and peaks were too high or low.
    Bass was the worst for vinyl - too much and the needle could pop out the groove. It's no co-incidence that techno music came about with the advances in CD technology; vinyl just couldn't handle that type of bass, that's why old school breat-beat stuff sounds to light on bass.
    I personally love that old analogue sound - if you listen to my music, you'll see. I used to record using tube pre-amps, but got fed up with the amount of background noise and inconsistent sound quality, so now I use plugins and fx to get that sound. I also use some tricks of my own to make my basses sound retro, but with more bass, and to make my drums retro, but with better highs. 
     
    Using other band records to inspire your sound is a great idea. When I recorded my first single for vinyl in 2001, we had Lou Reed's Transformer on rotation in the studio as inspiration for the sound. However, in this digital age I would suggest trying to find more recent recordings. I find singer-songwriters such as Ron Sexsmith have some pretty good sounding albums in terms of dynamics, or The Fleet Foxes, who manage to maintain a retro sound with great dynamic range. 
     
    Whatever you choose, good luck!

    Cakewalk by Bandlab, Sonar Platinum Lifetimer, Windows 10, HP Laptop, CPU i5, RAM 8GB. Audio interface: Edirol FA-101 Firewire interface with moded drivers. Microphones: Audio-Technica, M-Audio, Behringer, AKG. Pianos: Casio digital, Yamaha B1 upright.  Guitars: Dobro, Tanglewood, Danelectro, Fender. Hats: Fez
    Check out my music :
    https://53mph.bandcamp.com/album/like-water-to-the-sand
     
    #5
    bitflipper
    01100010 01101001 01110100 01100110 01101100 01101
    • Total Posts : 26036
    • Joined: 2006/09/17 11:23:23
    • Location: Everett, WA USA
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/19 15:27:31 (permalink)
    It doesn't matter whether your references are old or new, as long as whatever you choose sounds the way you want your mastered mixes to sound. For some Rush fans, that might be 2112; for others, it's Vapor Trails - two very different-sounding records by the same band.
     
    Sharke's right in saying you can't tell a whole lot by looking at waveforms. However, "not a lot" isn't the same as "nothing at all". You can in fact learn something by looking at waveforms. It's just not the whole picture. A better visual aid would be a good LUFS meter with a histogram. My favorite for this is iZotope Insight, but that's a relatively expensive tool. There are less-expensive LUFS meters around, and more and more we're seeing that functionality built right in to mastering limiters (e.g. Fabfilter Pro-L2 and Cakewalk's own Adaptive Limiter).
     
    LUFS metering isn't the magic key, unfortunately. There's more to it than meets the eye. Go to YouTube and type in "Ian Shepherd". You'll find lots of advice on the subject.
     
     
     


    All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

    My Stuff
    #6
    batsbrew
    Max Output Level: 0 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 10037
    • Joined: 2007/06/07 16:02:32
    • Location: SL,UT
    • Status: offline
    Re: Mixing down and Mastering 2018/02/19 19:08:53 (permalink)
    the project page in Studio One Pro is amazing.
     
    amazing.

    Bats Brew music Streaming
    Bats Brew albums:
    "Trouble"
    "Stay"
    "The Time is Magic"
    --
    Sonar 6 PE>Bandlab Cakewalk>Studio One 3.5>RME BFP>i7-7700 3.6GHz>MSI B250M>G.Skill Ripjaws 4 series 16GB>Samsung 960 EVO m.2ssd>W 10 Pro
     
    #7
    Jump to:
    © 2022 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1