thread: Mastering...
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Old 9th April 2007
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