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Some questions for Mastering engineers ! Equalizer Plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Verified Member
Some questions for Mastering engineers !

Hi ! I have some questions for you, the mastering engineers !

I am a music producer and I have hearing loss in the high end, basically my hearing is attenuated in this area and the risk is that I could boost too much the high frequencies to compensate.


I am aware of that, and I am not over boosting my sounds (I will never make a huge boost of 15db on a sound for example), but I don't know how good is my high end area of my mixes.


For this reason, I decided to work with a mastering engineer.

My questions are simple :

1. Can a mastering engineer can act like a safety net and correct my high end (10khz-20khz) to perfection ?

Let's take an example, let's imagine the worst scenario :

I made a mix and in this mix I over boosted some sounds. I am into trance, so here we will say that the cymbal is harsh and the synth lead have too much high frequencies too.

Could a ME correct it easily and bring a good sounding result ?




2. Should I go for stems mastering ? Because, if the ME correct with a single file based mix, the correction he would apply would also affect the other elements of the mix, and it would not be ideal.

So, if I go for stem mastering, could it make the ME able to make precise and even significant changes without affecting the entire mix ?





I hope you can help me !
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

For me, it kinda depends on how it sounds. If it's just a little out I would try to correct it as transparently as possible. If it's really out, I might talk with you about some adjustments in the mix. If that didn't work then stems might be an option to consider, but for me that's a last, last, last resort. Whatever works best.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
A mastering engineer first acts as a safety-net compensating for monitoring and catching noises or artifacts that were missed in the heat of battle! It's unfortunate that some want to redefine mastering as being compression, clipping, and limiting.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Verified Member
Thanks for your answers.

So as long as the engineer have the stems, can he make accurate corrections on the high frequencies ?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
For sure if they have stems. And lots of times even with just a mix.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Slug1's Avatar
Maybe think about a little compensation in your monitoring system to add some high end. Not the ultimate fix, but maybe worth a try. And also, if you boost something WAY out of whack, a good mastering engineer will say ‘hey I can try to fix this high end, but maybe you could remix it and cut some highs’. In other words instead of just trying to fix it, sometimes a good mastering engineer will work with you to get the mix more balanced before moving on to mastering. Sounds like you’re on the right track.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

simply level-match and A/B compare your mix with commercially released music that you believe has the right balance of highs.
get it in the ball park, a good ME will take care of the rest. no need for stems.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Silvertone's Avatar
I do mastering for several producers and musicians that have severe hearing loss above 5k. Because they used to be able to hear 5k and above the brain itself can compensate for what the ear is missing. Tony Levin when playing in Dream Theater had a Monitor mixer hit the wrong button during a rehearsal, Tony said everyone pretty much lost their high end hearing from that point on.

Guess what, Tony’s mixes that he does himself sound fine. Same with another name producer that I know. One producer has completely lost his hearing in one ear and yet his stereo balances are great. I’m always amazed.

Read the book, This is Your Brain on Music. It’s deep... real deep! Music unlike any other form of communication (or anything else for that matter) uses every part of the brain, music is stored in muscle memory, it’s why you start swaying when you listen to music or have to move when you play an instrument, it’s stored in memory that can transport you back in time. We communicated with music before speech was developed. It is primal. Our body clocks to the tempo of music.

I highly recommend everyone audio professionalread the book. It will answer questions you’ve probably wondered about and make you think of things you haven’t. Did I mention, it is deep!

It is truly fascinating what the brain can compensate for... especially when it comes to music.

None of these guys I talked about above send me stems. If over all top end is a little off usually a shelving EQ of some kind will do the trick. Usually. lol

Good luck. Have fun.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

What range are we talking about? If it's past 10kHz then I wouldn't worry too much. Just balance your instruments/tracks properly and don't do any crazy boosts on stuff that already contains a lot of high frequency energy.

I'm not aware of many instruments that have their fundamental in the upper registers. This means as long as you actually hear the fundamental it should be possible to create a perfectly fine mix.

I've actually simulated this scenario myself, having a Low Pass Filter at around 8kHz (12dB/octave) and mixed through it, never taking it off, and still got a quite decent mix going. I was doing it for research purposes as some really talented audio engineers that are in their 70's still make awesome sounding mixes.. and at that age, no matter how much you take care of your hearing and have superhuman genetics, you're bound to have some severe high frequency loss in your hearing.

The only issues that may arise are special effects like the typical "rizer" sound in various trance music and of course tambourines/hihats etc.. but even these start out much lower which allows you to get a general idea of the level. Combine this knowledge with a spectrum analyser and you should be fine.

Having said that.. if your hearing loss starts from 3kHz or 4kHz (meaning you have a hard time hearing people talk) then it may get a bit more tricky. Even at these frequencies it's not impossible to make some great mixes as we have absolutely awesome tools to keep balances in check. For instance you can always use a pink noise source as a general guideline. Though most modern mixes since the 90's are quite a bit brighter than the pink noise reference. Or you could get a plugin like Soundtheory Gullfoss or something similar and see how much it is working the high end, which gives you valuable clues as to how much energy you have going on there.

Cheers!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
yes! i’ve worked with numerous folks over the years that couldn’t hear a 10k tone.

it’s a bit of a stark awakening for them, when i shoot tones & they can’t hear the highs.

i break it to them very gingerly.

i tell them that they’ll just have to trust me to master their music properly,

and not let them persuade me to add too much high end.

best, JT
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Head
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
yes! i’ve worked with numerous folks over the years that couldn’t hear a 10k tone.

it’s a bit of a stark awakening for them, when i shoot tones & they can’t hear the highs.

i break it to them very gingerly.

i tell them that they’ll just have to trust me to master their music properly,

and not let them persuade me to add too much high end.

best, JT

Thanks ! Your clients were also the one who mixed their music ?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Head
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
What range are we talking about? If it's past 10kHz then I wouldn't worry too much. Just balance your instruments/tracks properly and don't do any crazy boosts on stuff that already contains a lot of high frequency energy.

I'm not aware of many instruments that have their fundamental in the upper registers. This means as long as you actually hear the fundamental it should be possible to create a perfectly fine mix.

I've actually simulated this scenario myself, having a Low Pass Filter at around 8kHz (12dB/octave) and mixed through it, never taking it off, and still got a quite decent mix going. I was doing it for research purposes as some really talented audio engineers that are in their 70's still make awesome sounding mixes.. and at that age, no matter how much you take care of your hearing and have superhuman genetics, you're bound to have some severe high frequency loss in your hearing.

The only issues that may arise are special effects like the typical "rizer" sound in various trance music and of course tambourines/hihats etc.. but even these start out much lower which allows you to get a general idea of the level. Combine this knowledge with a spectrum analyser and you should be fine.

Having said that.. if your hearing loss starts from 3kHz or 4kHz (meaning you have a hard time hearing people talk) then it may get a bit more tricky. Even at these frequencies it's not impossible to make some great mixes as we have absolutely awesome tools to keep balances in check. For instance you can always use a pink noise source as a general guideline. Though most modern mixes since the 90's are quite a bit brighter than the pink noise reference. Or you could get a plugin like Soundtheory Gullfoss or something similar and see how much it is working the high end, which gives you valuable clues as to how much energy you have going on there.

Cheers!

Thank you for this answer. My hearing is an attenuation of the high frequencies over 10khz. I can hear 15Khz with right ear and 14khz with left ear.


About what you said, I agree. Even, hi hats are samples or from drum machine, they don't need a lot of processing on the highs, if not any.



My real project is to have a ME doing stem mastering to act like a safety net.

This way I will never stress again to publish a music without knowing if the highs are okay or not : the engineer handle it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepino456 View Post
Thank you for this answer. My hearing is an attenuation of the high frequencies over 10khz. I can hear 15Khz with right ear and 14khz with left ear.
You should be fine. I have one client whose hearing rolls off much lower than that and his mixes are great. There was one errant hi hat once that was easily fixed with a mix revision, otherwise all good.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepino456 View Post
Thank you for this answer. My hearing is an attenuation of the high frequencies over 10khz. I can hear 15Khz with right ear and 14khz with left ear.


About what you said, I agree. Even, hi hats are samples or from drum machine, they don't need a lot of processing on the highs, if not any.



My real project is to have a ME doing stem mastering to act like a safety net.

This way I will never stress again to publish a music without knowing if the highs are okay or not : the engineer handle it.
Oh you'll be perfectly fine. Just keep some spectrum analyzers handy and watch out for stray peaks at the ultra high frequencies. Heck I'm not sure if I can hear much further than 15kHz.. or thereabouts.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepino456 View Post
Thanks ! Your clients were also the one who mixed their music ?
No it’s usually the artist, and over 50, with a loud music or guns background.

Best, JT
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