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Mastering...
Old 1st April 2007
  #1
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Thread Starter
Mastering...

Hi Russ,

Iwan here again. In your original thread I touched on mastering apporaches, but I think everyone would benefit by bringing the topic up again.

I am interested in your methods of preparing for mastering (alternate mixes/ stems etc) and any advice for us out here who have to master our own stuff.

All the best,

iwan
Old 2nd April 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I'm also very interested in this!
Do you mix with a stereo comp/limiter on the master fader/output?
Old 9th April 2007
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by recall View Post
Hi Russ,
Iwan here again. In your original thread I touched on mastering apporaches, but I think everyone would benefit by bringing the topic up again.
I am interested in your methods of preparing for mastering (alternate mixes/ stems etc) and any advice for us out here who have to master our own stuff. All the best, iwan
hey iwan,

all my mixes are mastered off 1/2" tape so i dont know how many people will be able to relate to this. i don't like printing stems nor do i like using them in mastering. a lot of poeple might disagree with me on this. but to me, there should be the fewest options by the time it gets to the mastering stage. a lot of poeple are now coming in with pro tools files and it's all stems and they re-do the mix. "let's bring the drums down" or "turn the vocals down in the bridge", etc. there should not be a "mixing" session when you go to the mastering facility. i like to really commit to the mix at the end of the session. i'll print a louder and lower vocal and every so often a drum or bass up pass or something, then the standard instrumental mix, no lead vocal mix, and an a capella.

i spend a good deal of time making sure my mix is as perfect as i can get it. so when i go to the mastering, it will usually just be a slight tweak on the top or bottom and usually not more than 1 db or so. sure there maybe a mix or two that needs a little more tweaking than others, but 90% of it needs only a minute boost or cut. essentially the sound is there so i don't want anyone to mess with it. if your mix isn't good, then you can save it in mastering, but if it's good why fix it?

Chris Gehringer at sterling sound in NY does the majority of my mastering. and i'll sit in the room with him and we master it together. i've been mastering with him since 2000 and he knows how particular i am. but chris always listens first before he tweaks anything. so we go song by song and i let him do what he hears. then i'll sit down and i'll A/B to the original. i'll bypass his chain, i'll try turning the top down one click, or boost the bottom from where he had it, or change the frequency that he had, etc. and i'll ask him "what do you think if we changed the top boost from 12k to 8k?" or "let's try it without boosting the bottom" and come to a combined decision.

i add the slightest analog compression to my mixes in mastering. i don't care that my CD is not as loud as Dr Dre's. i just turn the knob on my stereo that says "volume". when you turn this knob to the right, the song gets louder. hello, anyone with me on this???
what's up with this L2 plug-in that everyone is using. what a piece of crap. i've just spent 2 months recording and mixing an album. i've carefully selected the best mics and mic pre's and placed everything just right. i mixed it with all sorts of incredible gear. then you want to put a $200 digital plug-in to compress all those wonderful dynamics and depth that i toiled over. this just doesn't seem right to me. loud doesn't equal good! turn the f*ckin volume up!

for the ITB users: i hope you know by now that i've never implied that people who are staying in the digital domain are not good engineers.
i've been very impressed with some mixes that were done ITB. i just can't relate to that world, just the same as some of you may not be able to relate to my world. if your staying digital then an L2 or other digital limiter might work great for you. it depends on your preference for sound. in fact there have been times when i couldn't match a certain punch of a rough mix done originally ITB. so i guess we could say we're incompatible with each other sometimes...

i'll be back to talk about buss compression...

all the best
Old 9th April 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
 
not_so_new's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Elevado View Post
hey iwan,

all my mixes are mastered off 1/2" tape so i dont know how many people will be able to relate to this. i don't like printing stems nor do i like using them in mastering. a lot of poeple might disagree with me on this. but to me, there should be the fewest options by the time it gets to the mastering stage. a lot of poeple are now coming in with pro tools files and it's all stems and they re-do the mix. "let's bring the drums down" or "turn the vocals down in the bridge", etc. there should not be a "mixing" session when you go to the mastering facility. i like to really commit to the mix at the end of the session. i'll print a louder and lower vocal and every so often a drum or bass up pass or something, then the standard instrumental mix, no lead vocal mix, and an a capella.

i spend a good deal of time making sure my mix is as perfect as i can get it. so when i go to the mastering, it will usually just be a slight tweak on the top or bottom and usually not more than 1 db or so. sure there maybe a mix or two that needs a little more tweaking than others, but 90% of it needs only a minute boost or cut. essentially the sound is there so i don't want anyone to mess with it. if your mix isn't good, then you can save it in mastering, but if it's good why fix it?

Chris Gehringer at sterling sound in NY does the majority of my mastering. and i'll sit in the room with him and we master it together. i've been mastering with him since 2000 and he knows how particular i am. but chris always listens first before he tweaks anything. so we go song by song and i let him do what he hears. then i'll sit down and i'll A/B to the original. i'll bypass his chain, i'll try turning the top down one click, or boost the bottom from where he had it, or change the frequency that he had, etc. and i'll ask him "what do think of changing the top boost from 12k to 8k instead?" or "let's try it without boosting the bottom" and come to a combined decision.

i add the slightest analog compression to my mixes in mastering. i don't care that my CD is not as loud as Dr Dre's. i just turn the knob on my stereo that says "volume". when you turn this knob to the right, the song gets louder. hello, anyone with me on this???
what's up with this L2 plug-in that everyone is using. what a peice of crap. i've just spent 2 months recording and mixing an album. i've carefully selected the best mics and mic pre's and placed everything just right. i mixed it with all sorts of incredible gear. then you want to put a $200 digital plug-in to compress all those wonderful dynamics and depth that i toiled over. this just doesn't seem right to me. loud doesn't equal good! turn the f*ckin volume up!

for the ITB users:
if that's all you have, then make the best of it. i've been very impressed with some mixes that were done ITB. i just can't relate to that world, just the same as you may be able to relate to my world. if your staying digital then an L2 or other digital limiter might work great for you. it depends on your preference for sound...

i'll be back to talk about buss compression...

all the best
Hi Russ.

Nice post. I think most folks around here and in the recording industry in general would agree with you about the volume knob on the stereo and ridiculous slammed mixes but how does the unslammed master fly with he label and / or the artist?

Yeah we can say that it sounds better without getting slammed (and IT DOES) but when that CD is sitting side by side with a "slammed to an inch of it's life" CD and the mook or the artist (or both) has a "their CD sounds bigger than mine" caveman mentality, how do you work around that?

(what do you do about pre mastering mix copies for artists that ARENT so loud? - Jules)
Old 9th April 2007
  #5
Gear interested
 
didier's Avatar
 

Hello Russel,

thanks for your comments! I can relate what you talk about the L2.

I was interested to hear about the mastering proces of the Voodoo album.

greetings,
didier
Old 10th April 2007
  #6
Gear interested
 
didier's Avatar
 

hey russel,
i geuss you explained about your mastering preferences pretty good on that your previous post.. but i was just wondering, was there something special about the mastering process/sessions of "Voodoo"?

thanks for all the info you have shared so far,
it´s been interesting reading!
didier
Old 11th April 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Elevado View Post
i'll be back to talk about buss compression...
don't forget.... heh
Old 12th April 2007
  #8
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AMIEL's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
don't forget.... heh
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Elevado View Post
i'll be back to talk about buss compression...

all the best

Yes waiting to know if you apply bus compression and how!!
From the Beginning..at the end ...settings...

Thanks Russell
Old 12th April 2007
  #9
Gear addict
 
jonutarr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Elevado View Post
loud doesn't equal good! turn the f*ckin volume up!
thats sig materal!


thanks for share Russ
Old 12th April 2007
  #10
hello everyone,

(from one of my earlier posts)
not a big fan of mix bus compression. in the early part of my career i tried for a little while to incorporate that into my style. a lot of engineers were using this technique but i quickly realized that i had better control of my levels and headroom without it. i use individual compression on most of the prominent tracks in the song and i do a lot of riding. So the buss compression would not allow me to create the dynamics i was doing with the rides. Also (in my situation) having all this gear, it seemed silly to me to go through let's say $150,000 worth of outboard (for one mix), then in the end, go through a $5000 limiter like the 33609 for example.

i don't know how engineers mix with buss compression through the entire mix session. i found it was like "chasing my tail". eg: i'd be trying to build up to a loud finale and the compressor would just suck it up. it's just doesn't work for the way i mix.

okay the ever present EXCEPTION:
so i've spoken about everyone making things louderererer in mastering. the past 2 years or so i have been using buss compression on some hip hop stuff. i'm aware that i do have to compete to a certain point. so, i'll use the SSL 9K compressor or the tube tech SMC 2B multiband compressor which works really well. i still don't like the way it handles the dynamics in my mixes, but i'll sacrifice some dynamics to get the level up just a bit more than i could have without it. (that's hip hop!) but i don't put it on the buss until i'm close to the end of the mix. i'm aware that it's not going to be as loud as everyone else's and luckily most of my clients are with me on this. i'm aware of it but i forget about it when i'm in the studio otherwise it'll drive me mad! so other than what i just described, my mixing levels have not changed since i started...heh

jules: most of my clients don't mind the volume on their pre-mastered copies...thank god. but the few times i've had to do it, i let my assistant handle it and i'll look the other way...heh

didier: i'll be back to TRY and remember the mastering for voodoo. that was a long time ago.

all the best
Old 12th April 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 
AMIEL's Avatar
yEAH! we should stop all that volume war!!
Old 13th April 2007
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Elevado View Post
not a big fan of mix bus compression.

i use individual compression on most of the prominent tracks in the song and i do a lot of riding. So the buss compression would not allow me to create the dynamics i was doing with the rides.

i don't know how engineers mix with buss compression through the entire mix session. i found it was like "chasing my tail".

Great to see that in print from a top professional.

Can't tell you how many hours I've chased that tail. heh
Old 14th April 2007
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Tom VDH's Avatar
 

Couldn't agree with you more Russ...!
These level wars have reached a point of total non-sense. It's great to read big time pros like you complain about it and make a stand.

It was funny to read this thread with the Waves banner on top of the page reading "MAXXIMUM"...kinda ironic.

I'm lucky to do mainly vinyl releases where you can't get things sounding good if they're too hot!
On the other hand it's odd no major executive has seen a correlation between decreasing record sales and increasing output levels....maybe there isn't...but more and more people tell me they're having a hard time listening to the new stuff...they get ear fatigue after a couple tracks, and rather play some older albums...

Do you print your mixes hot on the 1/2"?

Cheers!
Old 18th April 2007
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom VDH View Post
Couldn't agree with you more Russ...!
These level wars have reached a point of total non-sense. It's great to read big time pros like you complain about it and make a stand.
It was funny to read this thread with the Waves banner on top of the page reading "MAXXIMUM"...kinda ironic.
I'm lucky to do mainly vinyl releases where you can't get things sounding good if they're too hot!
On the other hand it's odd no major executive has seen a correlation between decreasing record sales and increasing output levels....maybe there isn't...but more and more people tell me they're having a hard time listening to the new stuff...they get ear fatigue after a couple tracks, and rather play some older albums...
Do you print your mixes hot on the 1/2"? Cheers!
hello tom,

can i get an AMEN! yes i do print fairly hot with a +6/185 alignment. but most of the time, i'm not looking for any crunch from printing. with a +6 alignmet, you can get away with pretty hot levels before distortion. but for some hip hop stuff i print hotter than i normally would.

turn up the volume please
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