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Digital bounce question
Old 11th June 2006
  #1
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tmcconnell's Avatar
 

Digital bounce question

I do my final mixes in Samplitude as follows. Bounce the entire mix to stereo 24 bit, then normalize, and its ready to send to mastering.

I normally include the mix stereo bus in the bounce (I have the option to skip the master section completely). Sometimes, the highest peak after the bounce will be like -6 db.

Is there any real difference between lowering the gain in the master section to keep from getting overs in the bounce and then normalizing, and adjusting the master gain carefully pre-bounce to get close to 0?
Old 11th June 2006
  #2
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmcconnell
I do my final mixes in Samplitude as follows. Bounce the entire mix to stereo 24 bit, then normalize, and its ready to send to mastering.
There's no reason to normalize, and actually you've added an additional degrading DSP step to your mixing process. The leveling from tune to tune will be accomplished on the mastering side and all you have achieved by "normalizing" is additional quantization distortion and even greater level difference between the ballads and the rockers.

You would probably do better mixing down to 32 bit floating point files and sending those to mastering. But ironically, even then, 9 times out of 10, the mastering engineer will have to dither that down to 24 to feed external processes. ONLY if the mastering engineer is going to use any plugins prior to feeding external gear is there any advantage if you give him 32 bit float files.

So, in the end, mix to either 32 bit float or 24 bit fixed, but do not normalize. And if your highest peaks are anywhere between, say, -10 dBFS and -3 dBFS, you are fine. No further manipulation is necessary or desirable.
Old 11th June 2006
  #3
Mastering
 

There's no reason to normalize, and actually you've added an additional degrading DSP step to your mixing process. The leveling from tune to tune will be accomplished on the mastering side and all you have achieved by "normalizing" is additional quantization distortion and even greater level difference between the ballads and the rockers.

You would probably do better mixing down to 32 bit floating point files and sending those to mastering. But ironically, even then, 9 times out of 10, the mastering engineer will have to dither that down to 24 to feed external processes. ONLY if the mastering engineer is going to use any plugins prior to feeding external gear is there any advantage if you give him 32 bit float files.

So, in the end, mix to either 32 bit float or 24 bit fixed, but do not normalize. And if your highest peaks are anywhere between, say, -10 dBFS and -3 dBFS, you are fine. No further manipulation is necessary or desirable.

Now if you wish to do any further processing on your material which you bounced without the master section, then bounce to 32 bit float and process in 32 float to a new 32 float result. This will reduce quantization distortion, at least in theory. I say, "in theory" because although the reduction in distortion is measurable, it's debatable whether it is audible at these kinds of levels and resolutions. 24 bit fixed point has a dither noise floor of -141 dBFS.
Old 11th June 2006
  #4
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tmcconnell's Avatar
 

Thanks Bob and....

That's the data I needed. I was under the mistaken impression that normalize is transparant. It actually makes life a bit easier because it leaves headroom in case I want to do some of my own processing to the stereo mix pre-master.

btw, is the basic reason people put a compressor on the 2bus for mixing that it prevents surprises that come back from mastering? I always listen to a mix both ways such that I can see what mastering might do to a tune. This lets me do more in the mix toward the final sound, I think. For example, if a little 2bus compression brings out something muddy, I might fix that in the mix (we're talking tenths of a db here). My logic for this is that mastering has their hands tied. If the kick is the source of the extra fuff, then fix the kick - because the ME will have to touch everything in the part of the spectrum under consideration, thereby removing that part of the spectrum from instruments where it sounds right.

Its an old question I suppose - but to what extent should I anticipate the effects of mastering compression in the mix? ted.
Old 11th June 2006
  #5
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmcconnell
That's the data I needed. I was under the mistaken impression that normalize is transparant. It actually makes life a bit easier because it leaves headroom in case I want to do some of my own processing to the stereo mix pre-master.

btw, is the basic reason people put a compressor on the 2bus for mixing that it prevents surprises that come back from mastering?
Oh god. I hope not. This business of "anticipating the mastering" is a very bad mistake and it comes from the whole problem of mastering engineers these days slamming things so much they screw it up. Your job is to get a great mix. Use the 2 bus compressor if it helps make your mix sound better, not for any other reason.

EVEN if you are mixing some kind of a pop tune that you anticipate is going to be altered greatly in mastering or pushed to some terrible limit, I think you are barking up the wrong tree by trying to anticipate it. Make a GREAT mix, one that sounds terrific in all its glory, with sufficient dynamics and good tonality. Then, let the mastering engineer do his thing. If SEVERE mastering has to be done, nothing except experience with the particular mastering engineer in question is going to help you anticipate what you need to do. The best you can do if you think SEVERE mastering hast to be done on your mix is to also supply stems in case your actual mix is slightly altered by the severe mastering. And god help us all... it's not the way it should be done.

The principle I try to live by in mastering is "do no harm." I only break that principle when I am forced to by the requirements of the job or the request of the client.

Here's an example, but it's not about dynamics. Some of my mix engineers were discovering that my masters were sounding wonderfully spacious and with good depth compared to their mixes, and they were loving it, so they began to anticipate that it would come back "wider" from the mastering. I told them that they should NOT anticipate that as I only added or enhanced what needed enhancing. That they should strive to make the mix that sounds ideal, and then I would not add what didn't need to be added! In essence, the less the mastering engineer has to do, the better the source, the better the master will likely turn out. I have a friendly relationship with a mix engineer where we've challenged each other, for him to send me a mix that I don't have to do anything to at all (other than leveling between songs). I always seem to find a little something that will help to raise his A mixes to A pluses, but he keeps on vying to send me an A plus and see if there's anything I can do that won't take it downhill! Now that's a great relationship as far as I can say! So far, I've been able to find something that will help, but it makes me nervous when I get a fantastic mix because as Bernie Grundman has said more than once, the sound goes downhill when you add processing, and the best sound is often the original mix.

BK
Old 11th June 2006
  #6
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Very comforting

That's always my goal, and it sure is nice to hear a mastering master say it out loud, so to speak. thanks. ted.
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