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Mixdown Tips For Mastering (2018) Studio Monitors
Old 14th June 2018
  #1
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Lagerfeldt's Avatar
 

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Mixdown Tips For Mastering (2018)

In 2009 I wrote a PDF called "Mixdown For Mastering Tips" which became immensely popular on the Internet, downloaded more than 50,000 times.

This is a complete re-write, including new pictures. More precise, more specific, more myth busting.

Responsive design means this time it's readable on phones and tablets, unlike a PDF.

Mixdown Tips For Mastering (2018)

I hope you find it useful and bookmark-worthy. Any comments are most welcome.
Old 14th June 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
great, thank you!
Old 14th June 2018
  #3
Gear Head
 

Very useful. Thanks!
Old 14th June 2018
  #4
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It's a great piece!

One thing I deal with on a daily basis that I would add to:

"Vinyl
There are no special requirements for a mix that will end up on vinyl except for one: any deep bass should be mono compatible (see "Common mix problems and solutions"). The rest is taken care of in the individual mastering process for vinyl."


While this is true, it's rarely a problem. And in those rare times that it is, it's easy for the cutting engineer to deal with on a case by case (song by song) basis. Something that can only be determined when setting up the cut. I have plenty examples of panned bass guitar from '70s era vinyl (ELP "Trilogy" comes to mind) that work just fine.

The BIG problems with vinyl are HF content and distortion - far more problematic for cutting and playback than LF issues and harder for the cutting engineer to deal with since they are usually scattered throughout the album.

It can take a lot of time to transparently de-ess a song - something the pre-mastering engineer was paid to do when making the masters. When I get sibilant files and the client is paying for a flat cut, I'll try to find a transparent way to deal with it, but it's a one setting - shotgun approach and I usually err on the side of a safe cut with a bit more de-essing than a risky cut with less. If the pre-master had been properly de-essed I wouldn't have to compromise.

Clipping / distortion is just as bad. Vinyl is an exaggerator. An acceptable amount of distortion on a digital file can turn into too much distortion on vinyl. And it gets progressively worse towards the center of the disc - especially on entry level turntables. If heavy distortion is part of the sound, consider that the vinyl release will have a different sound. Either less distorted than the digital version because of less clipping / distortion on the pre-master, or more distorted because the limitations of vinyl were ignored until it was too late.

Yes, this is an almost daily conversation...
Old 15th June 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Excellent share. This was invaluable to me when I came across the previous version years ago, and was something I forwarded to many friends as we grew on our journeys.

Brilliantly updated. Much appreciated.
Old 15th June 2018
  #6
Lives for gear
very nice. my only comment is i think this:

"32 bit float files do not require a manual dither setting."

could possibly be confusing, so i'd just put "32 bit float files do not require dither."
Old 15th June 2018
  #7
Here for the gear
 

great stuff. i love that you address the "keep peaks at -6db" mantra that often confuses people.

and thanks for the tip on kontakt
Old 15th June 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
very nice. my only comment is i think this:

"32 bit float files do not require a manual dither setting."

could possibly be confusing, so i'd just put "32 bit float files do not require dither."
Right, "manual" is superfluous. Removed.
Old 15th June 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
It's a great piece!
Thanks!

Quote:
One thing I deal with on a daily basis that I would add to:
[...]
The BIG problems with vinyl are HF content and distortion - far more problematic for cutting and playback than LF issues and harder for the cutting engineer to deal with since they are usually scattered throughout the album.
Right. Added.

Quote:
Clipping / distortion is just as bad. Vinyl is an exaggerator. An acceptable amount of distortion on a digital file can turn into too much distortion on vinyl. And it gets progressively worse towards the center of the disc - especially on entry level turntables. If heavy distortion is part of the sound, consider that the vinyl release will have a different sound. Either less distorted than the digital version because of less clipping / distortion on the pre-master, or more distorted because the limitations of vinyl were ignored until it was too late.
Yeah, this is a tricky one since it's not realistic to ask a client to change what's an integral part of the sound (i.e. intentional distortion) in separate vinyl mixes and mastering. So it's a compromise or it's something that requires good planning and a higher budget.

Clipping is of course a huge problem on vinyl, I've heard some atrocious vinyls with clipped CD masters being used. It sounds like rumbling and non-stop distortion.

PS. I've added a word on this, thanks.
PPS. Also added a small section on playing time (just for 12" 33 1/3 LP)

Last edited by Lagerfeldt; 15th June 2018 at 09:35 AM..
Old 15th June 2018
  #10
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Looks great!!
Old 15th June 2018
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Thanks for the effort Lagerfeldt
Old 16th June 2018
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

@Lagerfeldt thanks. although unresponsive...any chance of a PDF?
Old 16th June 2018
  #13
Audio Alchemist
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwazi View Post
@Lagerfeldt thanks. although unresponsive...any chance of a PDF?
Damn.... why? :-D
Old 16th June 2018
  #14
Gear Head
 
protools's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwazi View Post
@Lagerfeldt thanks. although unresponsive...any chance of a PDF?
On Safari..File...export as PDF
Old 16th June 2018
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt View Post
Damn.... why? :-D
lol. for offline access, printing, and portability. PDFs tend to work better for me. I understand that I can print off the website (@protools), but I wanted to inquire in case you had a nicely-formatted PDF available.

either way, thanks for the resource.
Old 16th June 2018
  #16
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I understand.

Just tested:

It actually formats perfectly when you use the Safari > File > Export as PDF... except for the redundant first part of the webpage. So nearly perfect.
Old 18th June 2018
  #17
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Nicely done Holger!

We all (real mastering guys) answer these questions daily, nice to see it all in one place.

Best, JT
Old 18th June 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
Nicely done Holger!

We all (real mastering guys) answer these questions daily, nice to see it all in one place.

Best, JT
Thanks, and I don't know if you remember, but ya'll helped me get material for this many years ago here on GS.

So yeah, it's basically a compilation of what the most common mixdown problems are (from a mastering engineer's perspective).
Old 18th June 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt View Post
Thanks, and I don't know if you remember, but ya'll helped me get material for this many years ago here on GS.

So yeah, it's basically a compilation of what the most common mixdown problems are (from a mastering engineer's perspective).
Excellent, thanks for the reminder!

Cheers, JT
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