R/E/P Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?  (Read 3321 times)

Zorran

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« on: February 05, 2007, 06:00:55 pm »

hey guys,

ive got a small project studio setup, where i record/mix/master bands. i know it isnt the most ideal scenario to be mastering your own stuff, but most bands that come to me, have a budget. ive convinced one of the bands to send their album overseas for mastering, but i have a few questions to ask you pros.

so far ive just been using plugins.. usually something like lin mb/c4 > eq > L3. my drums usually get a wee bit drowned and the high mids of the guitars get more pronounced. i also find the overheads become alot more pronounced.

ive tried using a slower attack on my kick and snare compression, but i find i have to mix the drums 2 db louder than my 'ideal' settings. what i wanna ask is, is this universal across every mastering lab? if i do end up giving my projects to mastering labs, will i still have to do this, or can i mix how i wanna hear the end result.

i realise i come off as a complete noob, but i am one. i havent been lucky enough to be involved in higher budget productions, but you gotta start somewhere right. your help would be greatly appreciated.

zorran

craig boychuk

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 409
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2007, 09:07:40 pm »

Compression and limiting will definitely change the transient response of your mix, and can indeed rob the drums of their impact.

Multi-band dynamics processing in particular can really mess with the balance of a mix...many people only use multi-band stuff if they have to correct glaring problems.

So, if you're going through a lin MB, C4, AND an L3 (which I believe defaults to a MB mode), odds are they're messing with things a fair bit.

Try omitting the compressors entirely and just go through the EQ and L3.

If you feel your mix needs some compression, try a wideband comp.

Much like how you adjusted the attack time on the snare and kick in your mix, try using a slower attack on the compressor you use for mastering. Slowest attack and fastest release is a good place to start from, then adjust to taste...

Also, try using the L3 in wideband mode...I've never used one, but I think you can just switch off the multiband option. Many mastering engineers think that multiband limiters are a bad idea. Personally, I'd never use one - but, ymmv.

Hope this helps a bit.

-craig



Logged
Capture the pasture rapture.
www.cbaudio.com

Zorran

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2007, 09:51:10 pm »

thanks so much craig! that certainly helped alot.just to clear it up, i dont use the lin mb and c4 at the same time. its either/or. i will definately try playing with the attack and release more a bit Smile

my (and the rest of the world's) only issue is that everyone wants it too loud and squished. they want it to compare to ted jensens masters after theyve played one of his cds. i just cant seem to get it that loud and clear Sad and i hate the result of a compromise.

i dont think my mix needs compression, ive just found that i can get it louder and clearer overall once the transients are a wee bit compressed. ill definately try using no compression though.

any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated Smile

thanks again craig.
zorran

craig boychuk

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 409
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 11:49:58 am »

Hey, no prob.

Good to hear it's either/or with the two mb comps, guess I didn't read your post correctly.

It can be a losing battle trying to get the level that some clients request/expect while keeping the mix intact...sometimes, it just ain't possible! The reason those experienced MEs can get the results they do is because of precisely that...their experience. They know what they need to do to get what they (and/or the client) wants to hear, and have the palette of gear to make it happen. So, in my opinion, one of the best things you can do is work on building your own experience by trying new things and seeing how they work for you.

If you don't think your mix needs compression, then by all means don't use it! The level will come from the limiter.

If you feel you need the extra teensy bit of level you get from compressing, but don't like the other effects of the compressor, try clipping the input of your ADC a wee bit (or more than a bit, if you're into it)...that will take care of  some of the bigger peaks, and will leave the balance of the mix intact. Of course, be careful & use your ears...it can be easy to go too far with this. As with anything, I guess! Heh.

You may also want to try out a bunch of different limiters and see if perhaps there's one that stands out as being particularly useful to you. Personally, the L2 has never been to my liking, and I can only imagine the L3 is the same (or worse, in mb mode). That being said, lots of people use them, so it's all a matter of opinion and workflow.

One thing that I've been doing recently with some success is several smaller stages of limiting, instead of hitting one limiter super hard. However, I tried this with the L2 and it always sounded better to me with just one in the chain.

FWIW, I've been demoing the Voxengo Elephant limiter and have been really impressed. It's kinda weird, there are a lot of variables to mess with...confusing at first, but extremely versatile once you get to know it. You really have to tweak it for the type of music you're working on. At first I dismissed it outright, but I went back to it in desperation when someone wanted all that level and the L2 just wasn't cutting it. With a little love, it can do wonderful things, imho.


-craig




Logged
Capture the pasture rapture.
www.cbaudio.com

cerberus

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2651
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2007, 08:00:02 pm »

---> all opinion here.  ymmv.

some tracks are weak and need to be "propped up".  in simple terms: any crappy mix could sound remarkably like a record. if a mix already sounds like a record, that would end up much cheaper for the client (if they were mastering with me).

if the mix was assembled with love, but ignorance.. it's not quite bliss, then usually the vibe is hiding in there somewhere. a good m.e. can go fetch it. and perhaps take out the trash too.  

but if they wreck it trying, then that could cost them in increased time for the m.e. to unwind the music from the garbage; assuming they will take it;  busy m.e.s need to draw a line.

unless one makes a decent mix, but really wanted it to sound more like a platinum record... from this year. in which case i think there is a lot an m.e. could do.  there is no "perfect"... it's an assymptote.  so it depends on where your aspirations cross the client's budget.  

and yes to longer release times on low freq insts, that is a way in which i use L3 to help me hone in on "what nature would do".

all opinion here.  ymmv. <---

jeff dinces

Zorran

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2007, 04:43:32 am »

craig thanks so much again!! ive been trying the multiple stages thing too, and it does get me the same level, but it sounds cleaner Smile

basically what ive had to do uptil now is mix the drums louder, so they sit well post mastering..all i wanted to know is, if this is actually normal. does mastering normally subdue your drum levels?

ive found what works for me, but i just dont wanna be ignorant and give a similar mix to what i use, to someone else.

craig, im gonna read through your previous posts Smile


zorran

craig boychuk

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 409
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2007, 03:47:52 pm »

Glad to be of assistance! It think this is the most involved I've been on any thread here.

Zorran wrote on Thu, 08 February 2007 03:43

...all i wanted to know is, if this is actually normal. does mastering normally subdue your drum levels?


The answer is:


It depends...

On the mastering engineer and his/her techniques, and

Your mix.


The perception of subdued drum level is because of what the compressors/limiters/other pieces of gear in the chain are doing to the transient response of your program material. Comps & lims are the most obvious & likely suspects, but other things such as running the mix through some tubes super hot can reduce the transient response of your mix as well.

Drum sounds are mostly transients, so it stands to reason that they would be affected the most.

A lot of it has to do with the mix itself. Some mixes can "take the limiting" better than others, with less of a negative effect. Others can start to have problems with very little limiting.

When you hear a mix that Ted Jensen mastered (to use your example), there's still a lot of things you don't know. It's entirely possible that the mix itself was incredible, and it just stood up to the various "loudness techniques" exceptionally well. Maybe the band got their first ref back from him and thought that the drums ended up being too quiet after he was done with it, and remixed everything with the drums up a couple of dB. Maybe he has an inventive way of dealing with the effects of excessive limiting for level. Who knows?? There are always going to be a lot of different variables in play that affect the final outcome.

So, if you were to rephrase the question "does mastering normally subdue your drum levels if you are trying to achieve the stun-level volume that many current releases have?"

My short answer would be "most likely".

If you know for sure that this is going to be the case, then you may want to adjust your mix to compensate.


Of course, ideally this wouldn't be the case...


-craig




Logged
Capture the pasture rapture.
www.cbaudio.com

Mike Major

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2007, 05:58:16 pm »

I would agree with Craig here.

To me, the better mastering engineers are better at getting it loud without changing the mix TOO much, but it always changes. With the propensity to make everything louder and louder these days, it is hard to keep the original mix together without some trade-offs. The drums are certainly the most obvious casualty but many other things change quite a bit as well. The track ambience and vocal levels change, as does any stereo stuff. You just have to figure out what you can live with and what is unacceptable.

I have found it helps to stick a brick-wall thingy on the 2 mix after you have completed your mix and make notes about what changes when you squash it to hell. This of course would represent the worst case scenario but at least you will have an idea if the drums disappear when the GTRs get louder in the chorus, or if the vocal gets too loud after limiting, etc. Some guys can keep it together better than others, so you may have to  search for the right guy (not a bad idea anyway!) to master your project.

I think the key is to accept a little less RMS level for a better sounding record. I would always choose the latter but our clients are always right....even when they're wrong.

Good luck.

Mike

Zorran

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
Re: Does mastering actually change your mix balance?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2007, 04:50:59 pm »

thanks a million craig Smile i feel my questions have been answered Smile
Pages: [1]   Go Up