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get that high freqency 'lid' on your master
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isaac663
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#1
30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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get that high freqency 'lid' on your master

So I’ve been working on mastering one of my tracks recently. Kept it basic. Bit of corrective EQ, touch of compression and a subtle high freq boost to open up the mix a little.

One thing I can’t seam to achieve is this kind of high freq ‘lid’ that good quality masters seam to have. The high end seams to have been softened a little, maybe with tape, or tube distortion?

Things I have tried to achieve this with varying success are:

• If boosting highs use a resonant shelf to soften/ sweeten the boost.

• Suble compression on the upper freq using multiband comp (really didn’t like this)

• Distortion plug in - Oxford inflator and UAD Maximiser on the ‘tube’ settings.

• UAD fatso using the warmth control.


Not really satisfied with the results, so I wanted to see what you guys thought. What techniques / gear do you use for this? Is it more in the mix itself?

Haha, does anyone even know what I mean? Or am I’m just hearing things!!!!!?

Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Isaac.
Greg Reierson
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30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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Try getting those qualities in the mix.
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30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
Try getting those qualities in the mix.
Many get irritated when they see an answer like this, but it really is the way to get both tight bottom, and airy but smooth or soft top end. Very often it can also come from how the mids are worked in the mix as well, verses working the top end. Sometimes i find that tweaking the q on a high shelf can bring a nice presence without the glass in the eyes effect. Also, this is where having a wide array of hardware gets you even more options. Just by running through certain gear can soften or smooth-out ares of a master in ways that digital devices cannot.
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30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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The problem you are talking about has a lot to do with listening and identifying frequencies. A lot of people just say "highs" and cut them all with the same scissors. Instead you should learn to identify the differences between 4k, 6k, 10k, 14k and 18k. Its not uncommon for me to get mixes that have e.g. excessive amounts of 6k (often due to EQing problems of the vocal) but severe lack of 14k. This can sound bright, yet unpleasant and not "expensive" or "smooth" There are a lot of EQs that can fix this problem. I personally like to use my Sontec most of the time, but it depends. If it has to be even smoother I might use a Pultec or Avalon EQ.
As others have pointed out, if you are working on mastering your own tracks, this should be taken care of in the mix.

Another thing not to forget is whether the track has a "counter-weight" in the lows/low mids. For example: A track lacking in the 250hz area might sound harsh because this vacuum in the low mids accentuates upper mids. So keeping an overall balance, maybe with a slight low frequency bump can smoothen out the perception of the high end too..
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huejahfink
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30th January 2013
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+1 on fix it in mix.

Working from the stereo mix only, and standard EQ has failed (Joelistics makes some excellent observations in this area)...

De-esser (or dynamic EQ.)
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DominicWyeth
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30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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What sort of noise shaping are you using on your dither?
Adam Dempsey
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30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
Try getting those qualities in the mix.
+100.
Are there cymbals/overhead mics? Make sure they're sitting back in the mix where they need to be.
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Originally Posted by isaac663 View Post
So I’ve been working on mastering one of my tracks recently. Kept it basic. Bit of corrective EQ, touch of compression and a subtle high freq boost to open up the mix a little.
At least try placing that last one first instead (if needed after addressing the mix).
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csl
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30th January 2013
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Try a (single-band) compressor with a flexible sidechain, and boost the treble into the s/c. This'll help tuck the spikier elements in a little when you compress, allowing you to then sweeten the high end with EQ (you'll hopefully find you can push the boost a little more without it sounding harsh).
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31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
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Try cutting a bit of high mids instead.
Trakworx
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31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaac663 View Post
So I’ve been working on mastering one of my tracks recently. Kept it basic. Bit of corrective EQ, touch of compression and a subtle high freq boost to open up the mix a little.

One thing I can’t seam to achieve is this kind of high freq ‘lid’ that good quality masters seam to have. The high end seams to have been softened a little, maybe with tape, or tube distortion?

Things I have tried to achieve this with varying success are:

• If boosting highs use a resonant shelf to soften/ sweeten the boost.

• Suble compression on the upper freq using multiband comp (really didn’t like this)

• Distortion plug in - Oxford inflator and UAD Maximiser on the ‘tube’ settings.

• UAD fatso using the warmth control.


Not really satisfied with the results, so I wanted to see what you guys thought. What techniques / gear do you use for this? Is it more in the mix itself?

Haha, does anyone even know what I mean? Or am I’m just hearing things!!!!!?

Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Isaac.
You mentioned tape and tubes, then you listed a bunch of digital plug-ins you are trying. IME it's much easier to get a smooth clear top end using real analog gear.

But I also agree that it's best not to expect mastering processors to do everything for you. You have more control over individual elements during mixing, so - for example - you can address the cymbals without affecting the vocals.

Tracking is equally (if not more) important. Good playing, instruments, room acoustics, mics/placement, front end, etc. - Get great tones from the start and you have a much easier time at the end.

I think many of the good quality masters you refer to were recorded and mixed really well. Mastering wasn't necessarily where the magic happened. Not to say that mastering can't sometimes work wonders, depending on the situation, but it may not be the first place to look.

Best,
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31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
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I've had good luck with the FabFilter Pro-DS. Never found a de-essing plug I liked for mastering till I tried this one. Give it a demo, see if it works for you ?
isaac663
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31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
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Thankyou all so much!! Loads of great stuff that’s really resonated with me and things to try. Very informative, i really love this place!!!

So here is the 'master' (sorry it's been though soundclouds brutal compression, but hey i dont know where i can get my stuff up clean) https://soundcloud.com/isaacgrinsdal...ther-my-father

Defo undertsand that getting right in the mix is important, i completely agree with this in general ....But also, i'd be really interested to hear about what you would do if this were only a stereo file?
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1st February 2013
Old 1st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelistics View Post
The problem you are talking about has a lot to do with listening and identifying frequencies. A lot of people just say "highs" and cut them all with the same scissors. Instead you should learn to identify the differences between 4k, 6k, 10k, 14k and 18k. Its not uncommon for me to get mixes that have e.g. excessive amounts of 6k (often due to EQing problems of the vocal) but severe lack of 14k. This can sound bright, yet unpleasant and not "expensive" or "smooth"

Another thing not to forget is whether the track has a "counter-weight" in the lows/low mids. For example: A track lacking in the 250hz area might sound harsh because this vacuum in the low mids accentuates upper mids. So keeping an overall balance, maybe with a slight low frequency bump can smoothen out the perception of the high end too..
Quote:
Originally Posted by csl View Post
Try a (single-band) compressor with a flexible sidechain, and boost the treble into the s/c. This'll help tuck the spikier elements in a little when you compress, allowing you to then sweeten the high end with EQ (you'll hopefully find you can push the boost a little more without it sounding harsh).
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls View Post
Try cutting a bit of high mids instead.
This is all great food for thought amongst the other helpful messages. Much appreciated!
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isaac663
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2nd February 2013
Old 2nd February 2013
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Careful eq in upper mids, and using UAD Studer Tape emulation has made a massive difference! I now have my very own HF 'lid'!! Thankyou all!

I'd never felt able to eq upper mids in mastering because i'd alway felt it ruined the vocal, but i gave it more time, and i realise that it was instant A/Bing that lead me to that concultion. When I left the EQ in for long enough for my ear to adjust, it was the single most powerful things that pulled the mix together.

Thanks again guys.
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3rd February 2013
Old 3rd February 2013
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The idea is usually all the sparkle is present in the mix, but somewhat masked. A bit of cut in the upper mids brings it out without adding gain.
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9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
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Besides the "fix it in the mix" solution, which is the key. There are so many possible ways to tackle this. Just some things that come to mind:

- One thing I've noticed is when boosting high freq. with a digital EQ they come out less silky as with an analog EQ.

- instead of boosting the highs, trim off some low-mid and shape the song this way.

- just notch out the freq. that are wrecking the silky smooth highs. There could be a couple, 8khz, 5khz, 3khz.. and so on, typically minor attenuation of certain frequencies is good before giving a shelf boost to the high freq. spectrum. This will keep all the nasty bits from coming in the foreground.

- MBC on the highs or De-esss. So if your cymbals are peaking and giving a harsh sound, the MBC will tame it, of course you'll need to give some make up gain to match the reduction.

The whole notion of tape or tube "magic" boxes to give a silky high end are not the key. Not the one stop solution many seem to think (with my experience and my opinion anyway). Find the problem freq. and deal with them.

You may find yourself using a pinch of all these spices or just one. Experiment is the key. Try a bunch of techniques, commit the masters and A/B them to hear what worked best. Your ears will know.

Cheers
AS
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