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How well is this tune mastered?
Old 27th December 2014
  #1
Gear Nut
 

How well is this tune mastered?

I was hoping to get some input on this tune. Probably more on the production quality than the song itself. I mixed and mastered it as well as I possibly can and think it sounds about as good as I can do at this point. Of course, things that I mixed and mastered a year ago and thought sounded great I now think sound horrible. I'm learning music production and really want some constructive criticism. I recorded a D-18 into an AKG 214 and the bass and drums were programmed. I have thick skin so be as brutal as you need to be. Thanks.

https://soundcloud.com/bradrosten/big-dog-acoustic
Old 27th December 2014
  #2
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wado1942's Avatar
 

The first thing that hits me is that the tune in general is over-compressed and a bit dull. Do I hear some stereo field manipulation? I also hear some of your edits on the lead guitar, like you tried to make it TOO neat. Overall, it doesn't sound bad per say, but it could be better. As for how good your mastering job is, it's hard to say without hearing the original mix. I WILL say I'm glad you didn't slam the life out of the master for the sake of insanely high levels.

Thanks for sharing. I really wish tools like Soundcloud existed when I was getting into mastering.
Old 27th December 2014
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
The first thing that hits me is that the tune in general is over-compressed and a bit dull. Do I hear some stereo field manipulation? I also hear some of your edits on the lead guitar, like you tried to make it TOO neat. Overall, it doesn't sound bad per say, but it could be better. As for how good your mastering job is, it's hard to say without hearing the original mix. I WILL say I'm glad you didn't slam the life out of the master for the sake of insanely high levels.

Thanks for sharing. I really wish tools like Soundcloud existed when I was getting into mastering.
Thanks for checking it out. I tried not to overcompress but will take another listen and see where that can be improved. I did some glue compression in the mix bus with about 2db gain reduction with a 1.5:1 ratio. In the mastering I used about the same ratio and the peak gain reduction was about 3db's. I applied some compression to the lead guitar and could hear what I thought was overcompression, but when I took it out it still sounded the same, so I left the compression in. I didn't do too much to the stereo field. I monoized everything below 120 Hz and set the width at 115%. Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.
Old 29th December 2014
  #4
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wado1942's Avatar
 

Quote:
I did some glue compression in the mix bus with about 2db gain reduction with a 1.5:1 ratio.
This is not something I'd recommend unless you are a superb mix engineer that KNOWS how to get what he wants in the end product. Even then, most of the great mix engineers I know personally will just leave any compression on the mix for the mastering stage where it's easier to tweak to your liking.


Quote:
In the mastering I used about the same ratio and the peak gain reduction was about 3db's.
Ah, so that's basically 5dB total compression with a 3:1 ratio overall. That's a bit much.


Quote:
I applied some compression to the lead guitar and could hear what I thought was overcompression, but when I took it out it still sounded the same, so I left the compression in.
There's another thing I'd avoid. If you can't hear the compression making an improvement, you don't need it.


Quote:
I didn't do too much to the stereo field. I monoized everything below 120 Hz and set the width at 115%. Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.
That's twice as many stereo processes as most masters would get. If you have something hard panned and "widen" it 115%, that means whatever is 100% to the side will also now be -15% on the opposite side.
Mono bass isn't necessary unless you're cutting for a hot vinyl album, especially if the bass is already center-panned.

Try this: no buss compression in the mix, try the guitar with and without compression to see if it's necessary (I suspect the playing is even enough that you don't need any). The low-mids need a bit taming on the guitars, so if you can handle that in the mix, so much the better. While you're at it, a little presence in the drum tracks may be good. Forget about stereo field manipulation unless there's a specific problem that can't be handled otherwise.

Mastering will be a lot easier once the mix issues are addressed. I'll say again, your example really isn't that bad, but there's a few little things that can make it good.
Old 30th December 2014
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
This is not something I'd recommend unless you are a superb mix engineer that KNOWS how to get what he wants in the end product. Even then, most of the great mix engineers I know personally will just leave any compression on the mix for the mastering stage where it's easier to tweak to your liking.




Ah, so that's basically 5dB total compression with a 3:1 ratio overall. That's a bit much.




There's another thing I'd avoid. If you can't hear the compression making an improvement, you don't need it.




That's twice as many stereo processes as most masters would get. If you have something hard panned and "widen" it 115%, that means whatever is 100% to the side will also now be -15% on the opposite side.
Mono bass isn't necessary unless you're cutting for a hot vinyl album, especially if the bass is already center-panned.

Try this: no buss compression in the mix, try the guitar with and without compression to see if it's necessary (I suspect the playing is even enough that you don't need any). The low-mids need a bit taming on the guitars, so if you can handle that in the mix, so much the better. While you're at it, a little presence in the drum tracks may be good. Forget about stereo field manipulation unless there's a specific problem that can't be handled otherwise.

Mastering will be a lot easier once the mix issues are addressed. I'll say again, your example really isn't that bad, but there's a few little things that can make it good.

Awesome-this really helps! I am working on the remix now and should be able to post it here within a few days. The buss compression is off in the mix and I backed off much of the compression on the guitars and it sounds cleaner. I have an 1176 plugin that I'm keeping in the lead because it does some good things for the tone. The low mid cuts to the guitars really brought the bass out, but I didn't hear any change in the guitar tone. Thanks again and I'll post the reworked version when I finish the master.
Old 30th December 2014
  #6
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I think you have much bigger problems than mastering.

The drum programming is (sorry to seem harsh but) absolutely atrocious. You're using a foot hat articulation for the hi hat
through the entire song. I cant imagine how you missed that. The hi hat never opens and its either straight quarters or eighths throughout.
It sounds completely un-natural.
Next would be the cut and pasted rolls, and WAY too many crash cymbals. You can't build anything on such a weak
and unmusical foundation.
You need some serious help with that. Find a drummer to help you, or start studying tutorials on youtube or something.

You have many more problems with arrangment and mixing as well, but i would address the performances first.

Best of luck!
Old 31st December 2014
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joecandy View Post
I think you have much bigger problems than mastering.

The drum programming is (sorry to seem harsh but) absolutely atrocious. You're using a foot hat articulation for the hi hat
through the entire song. I cant imagine how you missed that. The hi hat never opens and its either straight quarters or eighths throughout.
It sounds completely un-natural.
Next would be the cut and pasted rolls, and WAY too many crash cymbals. You can't build anything on such a weak
and unmusical foundation.
You need some serious help with that. Find a drummer to help you, or start studying tutorials on youtube or something.

You have many more problems with arrangment and mixing as well, but i would address the performances first.

Best of luck!
I can appreciate the drum critique. I've watched a few videos on working with the software and am getting more familiar with it. This is about the 4th tune that I've added drums and I'm beginning to develop a decent work flow with the program, so I can start trying to think more like a drummer, instead of a "guitar player programming drums". So if I keep progressing, maybe the next tune I do will just be horrible, but not atrocious.
Old 1st January 2015
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Here is the remix. I definitely like it much better than the first version. I did more or less everything that wado mentioned, and took out a few crashes as well. I'm sure that it can still be pushed farther but I'm pretty happy with it as it is now. Thanks for the help.

https://soundcloud.com/bradrosten/bi...acoustic-remix
Old 3rd January 2015
  #9
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wado1942's Avatar
 

I'd say that's an improvement but you missed the problem frequency in the guitar. Try 320Hz or so. Tame that and I think you're golden.
Old 4th January 2015
  #10
I find it surprising that no one comments on the drums being too low mixed, the drums are not sitting very well in the mix.
About the guitar, i like it, don't know much about acoustics tho, this is a Martin D-18? Is it a good guitar for strumming pop songs? Do you have any such recorded? Would be fun to hear, thinking about getting my first "professional" acoustic, and should use it for pop recordings, anyways back on topic!
The drums do sound VERY stiff. What you should take a look at is your midi velocities, on the hi-hat, hit that hi-hat hard on the beats where the snare and kickdrum land, then other hits should be slightly less in volume, that creates a "real drummer" feel, or at least closer too it! Simply because "pro drummers" drop the stick from the hand on the 2 and 4 beat, amateurs don't. Also a open hat here and there wouldn't hurt, and if you have more hi-hat samples, try using more variation, it sounds like you're playing the same sample over and over again, kinda.

Good Luck!
Old 5th January 2015
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
I'd say that's an improvement but you missed the problem frequency in the guitar. Try 320Hz or so. Tame that and I think you're golden.
I'll go back and check 320Hz and make sure I can hear the changes that it makes to the mix.
Old 5th January 2015
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by reaper1984 View Post
I find it surprising that no one comments on the drums being too low mixed, the drums are not sitting very well in the mix.
About the guitar, i like it, don't know much about acoustics tho, this is a Martin D-18? Is it a good guitar for strumming pop songs? Do you have any such recorded? Would be fun to hear, thinking about getting my first "professional" acoustic, and should use it for pop recordings, anyways back on topic!
The drums do sound VERY stiff. What you should take a look at is your midi velocities, on the hi-hat, hit that hi-hat hard on the beats where the snare and kickdrum land, then other hits should be slightly less in volume, that creates a "real drummer" feel, or at least closer too it! Simply because "pro drummers" drop the stick from the hand on the 2 and 4 beat, amateurs don't. Also a open hat here and there wouldn't hurt, and if you have more hi-hat samples, try using more variation, it sounds like you're playing the same sample over and over again, kinda.

Good Luck!
Martin D-18's are great for recording because the Mahogany sides give it a bright sound. I don't have any pop songs that I have done myself, but there would be no problem using a D-18 for that genre. As for the drums, I'll use the ideas that you and joecandy have posted in this thread in my current and future projects. Thanks for checking out the song.
Old 5th January 2015
  #13
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wado1942's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by reaper1984 View Post
I find it surprising that no one comments on the drums being too low mixed, the drums are not sitting very well in the mix.
Very few samples don't sound horrible and even then, it takes great programming to make them sound even remotely natural. By then, you might as well have just recorded real drums. So, I think they're mixed right where they should be, showcasing the guitar.


Quote:
What you should take a look at is your midi velocities, on the hi-hat, hit that hi-hat hard on the beats where the snare and kickdrum land, then other hits should be slightly less in volume, that creates a "real drummer" feel
This isn't necessarily true. I know many great drummers that can and do hit very consistently, unless the style they're playing benefits from intentional variation of course. Still, programmed drums benefit from intentionally subbing samples all over the place so that they don't sound like samples.
Old 5th January 2015
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Very few samples don't sound horrible and even then, it takes great programming to make them sound even remotely natural. By then, you might as well have just recorded real drums. So, I think they're mixed right where they should be, showcasing the guitar.
And that's why Max Martin made millions using drumsamples from the 90's Roland Modules that most people agree on sounds good . With acoustic instruments aswell, forexample Bsb songs. Blaming it on the samples is wrong. I find it hard to believe that so many drumlibraries all of them sounds "horrible", with such a nice acoustic guitar sound that he has. It's all in the programming/layering of various percussion, hats, etc. Check out Toontrack Superior Drummer, and various expansions. There's even pre-programmed presets you can load up, and they sound great, and for more realism, just play it on an E-kit with a metronome, and replace the samples with SD.



This isn't necessarily true. I know many great drummers that can and do hit very consistently, unless the style they're playing benefits from intentional variation of course. Still, programmed drums benefit from intentionally subbing samples all over the place so that they don't sound like samples.

True tho i stand corrected. There are lots of none dynamic drummers who play the hats the same or nearly the same velocity all the time, forexample some rockbands like The Hives, or similar, maybe punk bands. But the problem with doing that in a programming situation is, most likely it will sound very much the same as the hit before, versus on a real hi-hat recording it won't, so it's possible getting away with poor drumming in that situation (in my opinion poor, others might like it).
Old 13th January 2015
  #15
Gear Nut
 

I have to agree with wado that the drums do sit in the mix ok. Tonewise I can't hear how they don't. My original thought for the thread was to get feedback on the overall mix and master, but drumming issues were brought up. I really appreciate the drum critiques, but that was not the original point for the thread.
Old 13th January 2015
  #16
Gear Head
 

The crash hard-panned to the left sounds really odd. There's only so much you can do with samples though. The samples themselves sound okay, but their complete lack of variance makes them sound unorganic and plastic in stark contrast to the rest of the song.
Old 16th January 2015
  #17
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I don't think the drums sound terrible. If you used fewer crashes (a lot fewer) and fewer snare fills (and vary them - you use that same snare pattern ("ta tatta" rythm) that'd go a long way.

To my mind, it doesn't sound like it's been mastered. It sounds like it's been mixed competently. If I were you, I would remove everything you've done to that mix that you consider to be mastering, and then pay to have it professionally mastered, giving the mastering engineer clear instructions about what you'd like to happen to your track. And maybe give the mastering engineer a reference track - something you really like the sound of (your track made me think of Steely Dan or Spyro Gira)

That way you will have a properly mastered track, you will have your very own reference track; something with sonic information you can actually learn from. You'll be able to A/B between your unmastered track and the mastered track and see what a professional has done and follow their steps.

(Postscript: unless you're actually planning on becoming a mastering engineer, I really don't see the point in mastering your own stuff; mastering's so damn cheap these days, just get someone else to do it and watch a really good movie in that time you could have spent "mastering")
Old 18th January 2015
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by binarymilton View Post
I don't think the drums sound terrible. If you used fewer crashes (a lot fewer) and fewer snare fills (and vary them - you use that same snare pattern ("ta tatta" rythm) that'd go a long way.

To my mind, it doesn't sound like it's been mastered. It sounds like it's been mixed competently. If I were you, I would remove everything you've done to that mix that you consider to be mastering, and then pay to have it professionally mastered, giving the mastering engineer clear instructions about what you'd like to happen to your track. And maybe give the mastering engineer a reference track - something you really like the sound of (your track made me think of Steely Dan or Spyro Gira)

That way you will have a properly mastered track, you will have your very own reference track; something with sonic information you can actually learn from. You'll be able to A/B between your unmastered track and the mastered track and see what a professional has done and follow their steps.

(Postscript: unless you're actually planning on becoming a mastering engineer, I really don't see the point in mastering your own stuff; mastering's so damn cheap these days, just get someone else to do it and watch a really good movie in that time you could have spent "mastering")

Thanks for the feedback. I probably will pay to have my tunes mastered when I put them all together. It's a great idea to get 1 or 2 mastered as reference tracks. This song will have to be redone as I have too much cut & paste going on. As for the drums, I was most concerned on this tune with getting the bass and kick working together, and I agree with the commenters saying the cymbals need much help.

Last edited by Telemander; 18th January 2015 at 06:57 PM..
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