The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Finished Mix Vs Finished Master
Old 13th July 2008
  #1
Gear Addict
 
1ManBand's Avatar
 

Finished Mix Vs Finished Master

Can someone do me a favor and post a finished mix and a finished master so i can hear what the master does. when i mix i keep aiming for that pro final loud sound. I want to hear what i should realistically be aiming for.

anyone help a brotha out?

does a good mix ever go straight to cd.. without any master? has it ever happened in hip hop
Old 13th July 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
 
phillysoulman's Avatar
 

Mastering is the final eq, compression/limiting which is applied to the producers final mix which puts the final "sheen" and over all professional quality to your mix and should only be done by professional mastering engineers.

BTW..if you are a "pro" should be able to tell the difference.
Old 13th July 2008
  #3
Lives for gear
I think it's pointless to post a before and after.

I've had records where the ME did some seriously noticable stuff (especially when trying to match with songs mixed by other people... ie differences great).

I've had records where the only way you could tell the difference between the mastered version of the song and my client reference mix (the final mix with a limiter so the volume is apropriate and they can swap it in/out with other CDs for listening purposes) was to play both back one after another to know which was which (ie. differences subtle).

And I've had records where the mastering engineer did NOTHING except maybe a quarter dB boost at some frequency and slapping the limiter on it. I can't tell you the number of times an artist or indie label has called me to tell me they think the ME scammed them because they can't tell the mastered version apart from my client reference mix and I have to assure them the ME did their job. I only wish it happened more because it means I did a great mix! LOL.

And all the recordings I'm referreing to were mastered by guys who have plenty of platinum and grammy records under their belts.

The reality is that a good ME is going to do what the song requires. So it depends on what you give them. If you give them a f*cked up mix, they are going to torture the thing to get it to sound even listenable. If you give them a killer mix they might only put the limiter on it and call it a day because there's nothing they can do to improve the sound. The only thing you are pretty much garunteed to get regardless of quality (for most commercial genres anyway) is the limiting to set the right listening level - but you can of course run a test mix with a limiter on to know what it will sound like (I label these "client reference mix"). Sure they may use a different limiter, but it's splitting hairs.

So, to know what "what i should realistically be aiming for", just take your final mix and put an L2 or some other limiter on it and get it as loud as the average disc (they all vary a few dB, so don't try for the LOUDEST, be realistic). Then take a listen and compare it to other records. You should be aiming for being able to swap your mix (with a limiter on it) with other commercial records you like and not notice any difference.
Old 13th July 2008
  #4
Gear Nut
 
EspionageWHW's Avatar
 

I think this is an interesting topic. From what I have read, Charles Dye and some others have said that a perfect mix should require no or minimal processing by the Mastering Engineer.

A big concern of mine when mixing an album has been the consistency of how loud the vocals are in comparison to the beats through the course of the album. If an album has lets say 14 songs, I hate the idea of having a few songs where the vocals wind up being to low or loud compared to the rest of the songs on the album. and sometimes the levels sound fine after the mixing stage, but can change rather drastically after mastering

Some websites that offer mastering services have sound files of A/B comparisons of their work. But I'm generally skeptical of these. I think it would be cool to hear an example of a finished mix against the finished master posted by some one who is not a Mastering Engineer.
Old 13th July 2008
  #5
Lives for gear
 
nukmusic's Avatar
 

Chris pretty much nailed it.

Final Mix vs Mastered mix....all depends on what needs to be done. the Final mix should sound good before it goes to mastering.
Old 13th July 2008
  #6
Gear Nut
 
EspionageWHW's Avatar
 

Carter - very valid and lucid points.

Perhaps I just need to work harder on the apparent volume continuity of VOX when mixing an album. Which for me, I feel equates to becoming a master of identifying which frequencies need to be cut in a mix in order to make the vocals always fit nice and snug in the "pocket". Sometimes I mix beats which have too many sounds with overlapping frequencies, making that task a big pain in the a$$.
Old 13th July 2008
  #7
Gear Addict
 
1ManBand's Avatar
 

thanks chris.. that was what i needed to hear. the reason i ask is because i read some forum on here and someone wasnt getting there song loud as comercial cds.. and someone replied with "did you JUSt crank up the volume on your mix and bounce it from your daw" and he said yes. that got me thinking mastering was doing something magical and added db to work with or something lol.
Old 13th July 2008
  #8
Lives for gear
 
phillysoulman's Avatar
 

Hey 1 man band..

If you have the UAD Precision plugs, try this on your 2 bus..and forget about the preset names.

1.Precision eq--Rock tight and open
2.Precision bus comp--Pop
3.Precision Maximizer-- 3 band slam

Send your mix out to an Alesis 9600 Masterlink and make the readout just peaks at 0db.
You should then have a very nice sounding LOUD "master"
Old 13th July 2008
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Sirocco's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
Hey 1 man band..

If you have the UAD Precision plugs, try this on your 2 bus..and forget about the preset names.

1.Precision eq--Rock tight and open
2.Precision bus comp--Pop
3.Precision Maximizer-- 3 band slam

Send your mix out to an Alesis 9600 Masterlink and make the readout just peaks at 0db.
You should then have a very nice sounding LOUD "master"
if your going to use those exact presets, make sure u dedicate yourself to tweaking the input of the precision buscomp until its perfect - as of right now we have no idea how hot your sending your mixes to the 2 buss
Old 13th July 2008
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ManBand View Post
...does a good mix ever go straight to cd.. without any master? has it ever happened in hip hop
not sure in hip hop but metallica once did cause they didn't like the mastering.
there seems to be a growing scene of audiophiles who hunt down unmastered versions of albums for the same reason.
i guess the more mature or trained listener won't put up with squashed to death music any longer.
a good thing i'd say.
Old 13th July 2008
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Exmun's Avatar
 

1ManBand,

Something else that you might want to consider is taking one of your tracks to a mastering engineer and seeing/hearing what is done then you'll have a better idea of the difference. As far as mixing, try to create the best masters you can make as close to how you want it to sound like... the exception being don't mix it too close to zero.
Old 13th July 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
 
phillysoulman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirocco View Post
if your going to use those exact presets, make sure u dedicate yourself to tweaking the input of the precision buscomp until its perfect - as of right now we have no idea how hot your sending your mixes to the 2 buss
I used those presets as a starting point as a means of trying to achieve the level and clarity he is looking for and yes, the bus comp has to be dealt with accordingly.

I tend to have very good resulte using this combo and my clients seem to really like it.
Old 14th July 2008
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Sirocco's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
I used those presets as a starting point as a means of trying to achieve the level and clarity he is looking for and yes, the bus comp has to be dealt with accordingly.

I tend to have very good resulte using this combo and my clients seem to really like it.
i happen to use all 3 (but sometimes the psp xenon in place of the prec limiter) but they are the best ur gonna get really
Old 14th July 2008
  #14
Lives for gear
 
phillysoulman's Avatar
 

Cool
Old 14th July 2008
  #15
Lives for gear
 
dhiltonlittle's Avatar
 

it pretty much boils down to that fact that you can only mix as good as you're able to. and the mastering engineer can only master as good as he is able to. if you are the sh*t at mixing then you're not going to need more than a few touch ups if that at the mastering stage. IF however you send you're mix to a guy that calls himself a mastering engineer yet doesn't know what the hell he is doing (which is the case alot of times these days) you're not going to like the results. and vice versa, if you suck at mixing and send it off to an excellent mastering engineer he will hear and fix you're "errors". find one you like and like to work with and keep the relationship. i don't think suggesting plugins and presets is a good idea at all. you guys are suggesting an eq preset without hearing the mix he has. and a bus comp preset that he is putting on at the end of the mix at this point. i'd say at the most just limit if you have too....
Old 14th July 2008
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by beat you down View Post
not sure in hip hop but metallica once did cause they didn't like the mastering.
there seems to be a growing scene of audiophiles who hunt down unmastered versions of albums for the same reason.
i guess the more mature or trained listener won't put up with squashed to death music any longer.
a good thing i'd say.
I think you're thinking of Iron Maiden...

As far as I know, all of the Metallica records have been mastered. I know it's hard to believe, considering the way some of them sound, but it's...."SAD BUT TRUE" (get it?!?)
Old 14th July 2008
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto View Post
I think you're thinking of Iron Maiden...
heh yep i was, thanks.
they all look the same to me...
big hair, distorted guitars you know.

sorry that i'm your truth, telling lies...
Old 14th July 2008
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by beat you down View Post
sorry that i'm your truth, telling lies...
Heh. Nice.
Old 20th August 2020
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
just_manu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
Mastering is the final eq, compression/limiting which is applied to the producers final mix which puts the final "sheen" and over all professional quality to your mix and should only be done by professional mastering engineers.

BTW..if you are a "pro" should be able to tell the difference.
Why is this final sheen and compression not applied in the mixing stage?
Old 20th August 2020
  #20
Lives for gear
 

the unofficial quick history of mastering:
back when vinyl was king, there was a person in charge of creating the "master" plate which would press all of the records. it was a technical job involving knowlege of how to use a cutting lathe. that's where the name originates.

also, an riaa equalization curve had to be applied to the sound source . and compression was used to make sure the grooves didn't get cut too deep. if the grooves are too extreme, it can cause the needle to bounce off the record. so very early on, the mastering engineer was also associated with eq and compression.

over time, the mastering engineer became increasingly relied upon to offer a second opinion on the music. small finishing touches were added in terms of equalization, limiting, and compression. mysterious voodoo like elliptical filters and mid-side equalization started to surface as mastering engineers got seriously into their specialized craft.

tracks were assessed for individual quality, but also how songs would play from one to the next on an album. a goal was to get the album to sound like one artistic work. albums could be tracked in different studios with different consoles and different tapes. the mastering engineer would seek to minimize those differences so the album sounded consistent.

the mastering engineer also became relied upon to get a track hot enough for radio. bob ludwig immediately captured a huge part of the mastering business when he went solo, because he figured out how to cut the tracks hotter than the competition.

now, mastering engineers are still that final second opinion (they are less involved with producing vinyl pressing masters). they are objective, have a different listening room, excellent monitoring systems, experience and technique. it's good to leave some eq and compression room for the mastering engineer. that way they have something to work with. they also now work with lufs and other technical measures of loudness. there are different standards for different streaming services. mastering engineers have kept up with the times, and navigate that maze for you.
Old 20th August 2020
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by just_manu View Post
Why is this final sheen and compression not applied in the mixing stage?
tracking is the heat of battle. you want to allow things to cool off and get a second opinion. the second opinion can be an outside professional. or it could be yourself after you had some time away from the track and the studio.
Old 29th August 2020
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ManBand View Post
Can someone do me a favor and post a finished mix and a finished master so i can hear what the master does. when i mix i keep aiming for that pro final loud sound. I want to hear what i should realistically be aiming for.

anyone help a brotha out?

does a good mix ever go straight to cd.. without any master? has it ever happened in hip hop

Mixes will generally sound quieter than a master.

Sometimes a mix might be so quiet it can sound "puny", but after turning up volume, a good mix still should sound enjoyable, interesting.

In some cases a great mix can sound better (definitely usually cleaner), if the mastering job botched it up.


Mastering isn't necessarily about adding sheen or enhancing low end. A good Mastering Engineer will only do whats needed.

A Mastering Engineer listens for issues that might have been looked over in the mix. It should usually be subtle. A Mastering Engineer will generally get track louder especially if mix is quiet to get it on par with released tracks.


I'd say if mixing Engineer is limiting the final output to correct loudness, it probably is possible that some commercial releases are unmastered. But it is good to have a completely different set of ears, different perspective, environment, look it over as they will often find issues that can be easily overlooked by mixing Engineer, and producer being too familiar with song.
Old 31st August 2020
  #23
Gear Head
 
tific's Avatar
 

Re: Vinyl mastering

I'm a dj & my father & elder brother were dj's. I'm discovering a lot of material which was poorly mastered. Some record labels are also reputable for releasing inferior content.

eg

There were guidelines for pressing recorded audio on 12 inch vinyl to ensure that quality was not compromised. Record labels like Ktel , Ronco & Pickwick had compilations where they would try to fit many songs on one side of the vinyl. Those compilations had sloppy edits, lower dynamic range & compression and poor mastering.

Those notorious labels sold millions & still can be found everywhere. I would appreciate some technical info on them as they had licensing & access to original tapes but still released poorly mastered Lp's over many decades.
Old 3rd September 2020
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tific View Post
Re: Vinyl mastering

I'm a dj & my father & elder brother were dj's. I'm discovering a lot of material which was poorly mastered. Some record labels are also reputable for releasing inferior content.

eg

There were guidelines for pressing recorded audio on 12 inch vinyl to ensure that quality was not compromised. Record labels like Ktel , Ronco & Pickwick had compilations where they would try to fit many songs on one side of the vinyl. Those compilations had sloppy edits, lower dynamic range & compression and poor mastering.

Those notorious labels sold millions & still can be found everywhere. I would appreciate some technical info on them as they had licensing & access to original tapes but still released poorly mastered Lp's over many decades.
Longer length per side = quieter, noisier, more distorted masters. It's a physical limitation of the media.

Not to mention, if a label's whole business model is licensing material for compilations, there's a good chance they're more concerned with quantity than quality. So, you could have a variety of scenarios ranging from just not giving a **** and throwing whatever they could cram onto a side, with no mind given to audio quality, to sourcing tracks from commercially-released CDs, tapes, or other LPs (rather than getting the unmastered mix tapes). Or a combination of the two.

FWIW, I've been involved in a number of projects where the latter scenario has happened. It's actually fairly common, even with 'normal' labels or higher-profile artists.
Old 3rd September 2020
  #25
Gear Head
 
tific's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto View Post
.
Yusef Lateef - Gentle Giant... album from 1972 has a Jazz version of The Beatles - Hey Jude. The closing track on side 1 of the lp is intentionally pressed at a very low volume.

The song credits in all caps state .. 'Do not adjust the playback level on your audio equipment..Re-adjust your mind '

The remastered CD version is exactly the same. It's an eccentric example of Low volume used as an artistic production decision.
Attached Thumbnails
Finished Mix Vs Finished Master-yuseff.jpg  
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 6 views: 1646
Avatar for pony
pony 23rd July 2004
replies: 76 views: 14402
Avatar for A4722
A4722 30th July 2009
replies: 5081 views: 295564
Avatar for basehead617
basehead617 2 hours ago
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
🖨️ Show Printable Version
✉️ Email this Page
🔍 Search thread
🎙️ View mentioned gear
Forum Jump
Forum Jump