At Home Mastering: primer needed for a first timer!
Hi gearguys, I'm a lifelong musician, quite experienced as a recording artist, but new to the digital home recording process. I won't be buying any new gear for a little while, and want to be prepared for a DIY master of some demo type recording projects I've only just begun, so I'll have a little time to learn.
I'm using Logic Pro, have and a large Waves plug-in library, Kontakt, and the UAD Apollo. I'll have to use the stanky lil' KRK Rockit 5 monitors a friend loaned for a few more months until I can afford my next buying spree. If I need to, I will spring for one or two UAD Apollo plugs. It may be irrelevant, but my style of music leans toward Alternative Country, like Lucinda, Ryan Adams, etc.
I'd greatly appreciate any tips and advice, as I need an easy to follow, step by step primer in mastering with the gear that I have.
Room and monitoring are the most important. If your mixes are 100% in an optimal playback environment then the master should sound very similar, but more polished and of course more level with continuity between tracks.
Thanks guys, much appreciated. the article was well written and very helpful. I got it, learn to mix well, limit a little for mastering, be sure to add dither to convert to 16 bits.
I have the UAD Apollo, with 1176 limiters, I guess I should simply use one of them after finishing a mix. This would of course be only for a really home brewed production. I would certainly use a pro for a release I expected airplay from. The mastering made for a huge improvement when I my last CD was released.
I've been told the 1176 isn't the best for mastering. I have the UAD Apollo, and a full boat of Waves plug-ins, is there a suggested device I should try? Perhaps the Manly Massive Passive?
There are around 100 plugs in Waves, and I'm familiar with only a few of them. A few I'm unfamiliar with are; some API, C1 comp, comp-gate, CLA2-A, 3A CLA 76, puia, SSL comp, EQ, puig tec. Maserati , L1 Limiter.
Would any of these be helpful for an "in-house" master?
The reason the 1176 is not typically used in mastering is because it imparts a sound. However, it should be noted that any sound imparted by a piece of gear/plug-in could be detrimental or beneficial depending on the mix. Any of the Waves plug-ins or others, if used correctly, are fine for mastering. I would definitely start with the Massive Passive, API 2500, API 550A or B, and either a UAD or Waves brickwall limiter. I personally don't use multi-band comps, but will occasionally use dynamic EQ.
Listen carefully to what is missing or excessive in regards to frequency and adjust with EQ as necessary. Keep in mind that in most cases a little can go a long way. In other cases you may need to be more aggressive. This is completely dependent on how good the mix is. Keep referencing the original mix as you work to see if you've gone too far or not far enough. You may want to reference a good set of headphones, as well.
EQ is arguably the most crucial process for mastering. Correct frequency balance will smooth out the mix and allow you to bring the average volume up. Most of the time you won't need much compression (mix dependent). Lastly, a dB or so of brickwall limiting only.
I would always compare my final's to a pro mixed CD and never though
that it could be achieve at home in the box using plugins.
This article gave me fresh insight on my mixing approach.
Thank you guys for posting that info. & blessings.
Cool, thanks Reg. I have so many plugs in Waves and some in UAD, I'll see what I have available, and if there's nothing better or easier, I'll try that VST. I just found a cool plug in Waves called V comp that looks interesting...
I have quite some time before needing to master, so I'll be researching and trying new things for a while. When it's crunch time, I'll be asking for some more specific advice.
The main thing is to have fun, experiment, and have more fun...drink coffee too.
You'll find that a little goes along way. The smallest changes make the biggest difference. The other thing would be to get the mix right, that would go a long way to your goal. Try not to monitor very loud either, you'll hear whats going on better.
Enjoy your forray into the dark art. Try be ojective.
Splglnie swa rnvee my stnogrpotin
Dang Jerry, I'm a bull in a china shop compared to that! I'll tuck that away, and try to remember to try small changes first, thanks guys.
Also "do not look at just the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory" ...you have to point to the sky while this is said...it's true though...listen to the whole sound when you're changing something...not just to what you are changing. Not the mix but the noise the mix is making..you'll be surprised how much a small tweak does..
I'll keep that in mind. I often tell my guitar students, " a small change is a big change, if it's permanent". Meaning, if you practice a small amount, like 15-20 minutes, three times a week, it will eventually get you where you want to go, as long as you do it consistently. That makes it easy for me to remember to apply that concept when mixing.
I'd still like to hear some more suggestions on which plug would be the "must have", when mastering in the box at home.