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The 'Self Master' - what RMS are folk aiming for?
Old 7th May 2020
  #1
The 'Self Master' - what RMS are folk aiming for?

I agree with the idea that you can never 'master' your own work, not in the truest sense. A master, I guess, must have involved the fresh ears and perspective of another person.

That said, many of us employ something of a 'mastering style' process as we are either forced to financially, or are control freaks, or are impatient and want to stick our new club banger on Soundcloud ASAP...whatever the reason, it happens.

What's a ballpark readout for a 'competitively' mixed club track these days and what's available in 2020 to get you there without introducing unwanted artefacts?

Thanks folks!
Old 10th May 2020
  #2
I think I may have used RMS erroneously? What I mean to say, how LOUD are you making your mixes (or perceived loudness) and what are you using to measure this/as a reference point?

In my research I found Howard Massey saying this about LUFS levels:

"Worse yet, pretty much every delivery service normalizes the audio files they stream – a process that can easily degrade sonic quality. What’s more, they all normalize to different levels. Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube, for example, set a ceiling of -14 LUFS. Apple’s Soundcheck, an option in iTunes that goes through your library of music and analyzes the average volume of all the songs, can actually tell the player to turn down by as much as -16 LUFS. And most commercial television broadcasts drop them down all the way to a whopping -23 or -24 LUFS, depending upon the country.

Mastering to one of these target levels is up to you, and arguably not necessary, but bear in mind that the music you’re working with will be adjusted to one of these levels (or others) at some point after you release it, whether you like it or not. A good compromise – and pretty much a consensus these days – is to use -16 LUFS (or -6 dBTP [True Peak] if your loudness meter offers that unit of measurement, as the WLM Plus meter does) as the target for integrated loudness."

so..are you guys 'self mastering' mastering with streaming services normalisation algorithm in mind?
Old 12th May 2020
  #3
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aof21's Avatar
 

Good thread here explaining why most of the speculation on the internet about mastering to lower levels to “optimize” for these streaming services isn’t really what most ME’s are doing and isn’t really a good idea. Targeting Mastering Loudness for Streaming (LUFS, Spotify, YouTube)-Why NOT to do it. You could take it further and say dont worry about RMS / LUFS in general and just use your ears but it can definitely be useful to check some reference tracks in the same genre and measure the RMS / LUFS of those to get a sense of what a reasonable target is. If your references are modern dance music I’ll bet it’s louder than -14 on LUFS or RMS

Last edited by aof21; 12th May 2020 at 03:10 AM.. Reason: Fixed typo
Old 12th May 2020 | Show parent
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by aof21 View Post
Good thread here explaining why most of the speculation on the internet about mastering to lower levels to “optimize” for these streaming services isn’t really what most ME’s are doing and isn’t really a good idea. Targeting Mastering Loudness for Streaming (LUFS, Spotify, YouTube)-Why NOT to do it. You could take it further and say dont worry about RMS / LUFS in general and just use your ears but it can definitely be useful to check some reference tracks in the same genre and measure the RMS / LUFS of those to get a sense of what a reasonable target is. If your references are modern dance music I’ll bet it’s louder than -14 on LUFS or RMS
Thanks for your reply!

Little slow round here, is this sub forum very active?

I guess it makes sense to create a master that will sound best on the intended broadcast system , which for us I guess is...club speakers?

I'll have to grab a couple of recent 'club tracks' (whatever that means..) and check levels for comparison.

I guess its crackers to pander to some streaming services aggressive normalisation processes, I guess they are going to get their grubby mitts on it regardless..
Old 18th May 2020
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

For my style of house I usually aim for like -8 or -8.5 LUFs. Generally it seems like in dance music the slicker more commercial stuff is absurdly loud (like -6 LUFs and higher), and things get more dynamic the further underground you go.

So the loudness you aim for will definitely depend on the genre and kind of DJs you'd like to play your tracks.
Old 19th May 2020 | Show parent
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodybob View Post
For my style of house I usually aim for like -8 or -8.5 LUFs. Generally it seems like in dance music the slicker more commercial stuff is absurdly loud (like -6 LUFs and higher), and things get more dynamic the further underground you go.

So the loudness you aim for will definitely depend on the genre and kind of DJs you'd like to play your tracks.
-6! That seems absurd.

Why push things so loud when services/broadcast systems will normalize fairly aggressively and all mixers come with channel trims? Seems bonkers to me!?
Old 21st May 2020
  #7
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Sapro's Avatar
Watching this thread as I know this is a weak area of mine. I cannot afford to get stuff mastered externally but am definitely interested in this subject
Old 22nd May 2020
  #8
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digital 1010's Avatar
Play some stuff you really like and check what levels they come in at.

Bare in mind well mixed tricks sound full and loud when they aren’t always. I’ve also heard stuff that sounds amazing and the levels are off the chart loud.

Really depends on genre as mentioned above. I’d really not go down that rabbit hole and just find a level that sounds good until you break it for self mastering. When you release stuff or have the money then go to a good mastering engineer but be prepared to realise a load of it is in the mix itself and they should just sprinkle unicorn tears on it with a touch of magic ears.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #9
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digital 1010's Avatar
Also ozone 8 or 9is really good for testing.

Use the assistant and choose the cd, highest setting and then study what it did to the eq levels and dynamics to get it that loud, then go back to your mix and adjust then try again and again till the assistant does minimal changes and it sounds good.

It will give you a good idea of areas of your mix you need to focus on.

You can also use the assistant and track match something you like and it will adjust your track to match (bit hit and miss) This will also give you some pointers on areas to focus on for the genre you like.
Old 5th June 2020
  #10
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If I was going to self master, I’d probably mix differently. For example, I mix my kick level to -3 VU, which is roughly a peak of -12 in the DAW. Leaves plenty of headroom for the Mastering engineer.

I don’t have the level of gear of the ME, the room or the ability to hear the song fresh again. So shooting to get it louder, I’d probably over squeeze it without realizing it.

To take that out of the equation, I’d probably mix my kick to -6db and balance everything from there. Not much headroom in that case and less chance of me ruining the mix with my hack job mastering.
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
If I was going to self master, I’d probably mix differently. For example, I mix my kick level to -3 VU, which is roughly a peak of -12 in the DAW. Leaves plenty of headroom for the Mastering engineer.

I don’t have the level of gear of the ME, the room or the ability to hear the song fresh again. So shooting to get it louder, I’d probably over squeeze it without realizing it.

To take that out of the equation, I’d probably mix my kick to -6db and balance everything from there. Not much headroom in that case and less chance of me ruining the mix with my hack job mastering.
This is an interesting perspective as it relates to my process. I keep my peaks at never passing -18dbfs by force of habit and to allow for dynamic range. In the past my tracks have been mastered by a third party.

If I try and make up that much gain, having not heard the track fresh eared like the ME, you think I'll inevitably punish the track more than they do?

If you mix in the DAW, what's the difference between setting kick peak at -12, then bringing whole lot up to -6 before your pre master render over doing doing it 'in mix'?

Other than the psychological effect of 'no fresh ears' , in digital, headroom is headroom, right?
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by digital 1010 View Post
Also ozone 8 or 9is really good for testing.

Use the assistant and choose the cd, highest setting and then study what it did to the eq levels and dynamics to get it that loud, then go back to your mix and adjust then try again and again till the assistant does minimal changes and it sounds good.

It will give you a good idea of areas of your mix you need to focus on.

You can also use the assistant and track match something you like and it will adjust your track to match (bit hit and miss) This will also give you some pointers on areas to focus on for the genre you like.
I agree that Ozone's matching functions can be useful. I have used Ozone in a more primitive sense in the past by finding a mastering preset that, when applied, best matches a reference track, and flicking it on/off periodically during mixing to A/B the two and find a happy middle.
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by radio_death_wish View Post
This is an interesting perspective as it relates to my process. I keep my peaks at never passing -18dbfs by force of habit and to allow for dynamic range. In the past my tracks have been mastered by a third party.

If I try and make up that much gain, having not heard the track fresh eared like the ME, you think I'll inevitably punish the track more than they do?

If you mix in the DAW, what's the difference between setting kick peak at -12, then bringing whole lot up to -6 before your pre master render over doing doing it 'in mix'?

Other than the psychological effect of 'no fresh ears' , in digital, headroom is headroom, right?
Well i mix through a compressor and saturator so they would react a lot differently. If it was me id relevel the mix track by track. You are asking questions that you can figure out just by doing the work and seeing how it turns out for you. No real way for me to answer.
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #14
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digital 1010's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Well i mix through a compressor and saturator so they would react a lot differently. If it was me id relevel the mix track by track. You are asking questions that you can figure out just by doing the work and seeing how it turns out for you. No real way for me to answer.
Im the same, i mix via with a tegler creme always on main buss and that passes into the 2 channels on my Audient asp800 with hmx and iron on lightly adding some saturation and back into an apogee sympthony |(on the hunt for something really good to add saturation on the 2 buss, thinking overstayer possibly). I tend to have everything at no more than -12-10 in my daw then make it up to -6 pushing the creme output.

Then I use Ozone as above to get a feel for how it sound mastered, smash it to bits, pull it back etc etc then go back to the mix and amend where required. all my latest stuff has been mastered properly but now and again for a quick fire remix or something short for other purposes I have self mastered but try and stay away from that. I do however send a self master to mastering engineer for critique and advice as love that side of things too.
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Well i mix through a compressor and saturator so they would react a lot differently. If it was me id relevel the mix track by track. You are asking questions that you can figure out just by doing the work and seeing how it turns out for you. No real way for me to answer.
sorry, I understand that if you have processors on your mixbuss (I never do) they would react differently to different gain staging.

I guess I was wanting to explore if there is any difference between pulling individual tracks down to pulling the mixbuss fader down when approaching a pre master render. Never mind, don't stress.
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by digital 1010 View Post
Im the same, i mix via with a tegler creme always on main buss and that passes into the 2 channels on my Audient asp800 with hmx and iron on lightly adding some saturation and back into an apogee sympthony |(on the hunt for something really good to add saturation on the 2 buss, thinking overstayer possibly). I tend to have everything at no more than -12-10 in my daw then make it up to -6 pushing the creme output.

Then I use Ozone as above to get a feel for how it sound mastered, smash it to bits, pull it back etc etc then go back to the mix and amend where required. all my latest stuff has been mastered properly but now and again for a quick fire remix or something short for other purposes I have self mastered but try and stay away from that. I do however send a self master to mastering engineer for critique and advice as love that side of things too.
OK cool, so when you self master - what's your target for RMS and peak loudness? What style of dance music are you making?
Old 5th June 2020 | Show parent
  #17
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digital 1010's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by radio_death_wish View Post
OK cool, so when you self master - what's your target for RMS and peak loudness? What style of dance music are you making?
Electronic music, sometimes a bit 4/4 housey but more often more broken down and chilled but always with quite deep lows.

From roughly -8.5 -7 LUFS maybe peaking into the 6 realm on a spike.

2 recent examples just for giggles

Self Mastered


Mastered by Mike Marsh


Bare in mind that's on Scloud though but you can see the levels.
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