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Old 18th September 2019
Gear Nut
Musickiks's Avatar

Critique my bands masters vs references (grammy engineer)

This is a sort of sister thread to my question thread in Mastering for Beginners

When my band gets our stuff mastered (we've used guys like Bob Ludwig, Sterling Sound guys, etc) and compare back to references, I don't understand how it always seems like they're quieter, yet the waveform for the references is smaller! And I obviously know it's not them but something on my end I'm not understanding or the way we're mixing the track.

They don't seem to be particularly brighter (such as perceived volume brought on by higher treble frequencies) and I feel like our stuff is even more squished and quieter, and we send in an unlimited very lightly processed mix.

Is waveform size not end-all-be-all? I don't currently have a way of measuring the levels, unless anyone knows of a cheap-easy program for Mac?

Is it because I'm missing a subwoofer? Headphones aren't pushing the subs enough? I guess in my car it seems to equal out more, like the drums come across much more overpowering and such.

Only thing I can think is our mix/master is pushing a lot of subs in the drums that my monitors (Adam A7x) and headphones (Senn HD800s + bass boost from ifi Black Label amp, cause HD800's are way too thin out of the box), aren't picking up.
And maybe I'm also comparing the intro portion of the track just with drums bass, keys and vocals and not the loudest parts of the track. Maybe we should mix those parts louder if we want them to be louder at the beginning?

Another question I'm wondering is, are several revisions normal for mastering? I just hope these mastering engineers don't hate us by doing 3-4 revisions...

Here are the files (they're mp3's as I'm referencing Spotify and AAC files) :

1 - first master
2 - second master (asked for bit brighter, louder, and more stereo-width, a new mix with a few vocal volume changes was used
3 - third most recent master (asked for it to hit a littler harder and felt we lost low end in the kick in previous master probably with the stereo-widening, and a new mix with a slightly deeper kick was used and vocal volume changes was used)

Songs we reference:

Tame Impala, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards - Elephant - New Person Same Old Mistakes
Cage the Elephant - Black Madonna - Social Cues
Radiohead - Bodysnatchers
St. Vincent - Los Ageless
The Growlers - Night Ride
Phantogram - You Don't Get Me High Anymore
King Krule - Dum Surfer

All of Tame Impala's stuff, but Elephant in particular is so weird because the waveform is super small yet that kick and the guitars seem massive and way louder than our master, or the master just simply sounds so much quieter than their tracks yet the waveform says they're nearly the same.

Last edited by Musickiks; 18th September 2019 at 06:17 PM..