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Motion - A Mastering Experiment

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Rucklo
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Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:39 PM Reply

I've made my first "real" master of a song. It's not optimal, since I've mixed the song myself (wich makes it alot more difficult to "listen with new ears"), but I gave it some time to rest after the mix, before entering the mastering stage.
I'm a newbie at this, and I'm learning. If you have any views regarding the technicalaty here, or have any pointers or whatever, feel free to start a discussion. I made a thread out of this since it is indeed an experiment for me, and I figured some might be interested to learn more about this (just like I am). Best selfwhoring thread ever? :)

Compare the tracks
Motion, Pre-Master

Motion, Mastered

What is mastering?
- Mastering is the final stage when a product i is prepared for it's final medium. If you intend on playing the song in a nightclub, you will master it one way, if you want it to sound good on low-end radios, you'll have a different approach. If you intend on the audio to be in a flash, you'll optimize for it. There are many aspects to take under concideration when mastering. If the product is going to be an mp3, you must be aware of the fact that mp3 don't have the same dynamic range a 16bit CD quality .wav have. If you make extremley compressed electronic music, for example, it might even be difficult to actually hear any difference between .wav and .mp3, since the processing surley will glue the dynamics to the rough, making it as loud as possible. it's a difficult art to master, but we're all n00bs in the beginning.

Stereo bus out
- When you've finnished the mix and is satisfied with it, it's mastering time. Yes, you can very well process the stereo bus out in the mix, just make sure you have some headroom. Just because you slapped on a multiband compressor and a limiter on the stereo bus doesn't make it mastered!
When mixing, it is very good if you know a few things about mastering (not a must, but it might help the mastering engineer in the end). For example, if you suspect that the mastering engineer will use a multibandcompressor, then it could be a good idea to isolate certain sounds from the future bands where the multiband compressor will be at.
The most important thing in the mix is hower to make it sound good and leave some headroom!

What I have done with the song in the mastering stage
- With this song, I have exported the mix as a 16 bit 44.1kHz .wav and started anew in Cubase. At school, where I've mastered it, we have quite a few UAD plug-ins, wich I mainly have been using.
First step was to make four copies of the track I then individually filtered them as follows;

Low End - 0-80Hz (in reality, everything below 30Hz is cut, but not completley)
Low Mid - 80-900Hz
High Mid - 900 - 5000Hz
High End - 5000 - 18500Hz

Before doing these cuts I did let the mixx go through a multibandcompressor with dividing at about the same frequencies, but it was a very delicate compression, and in all honesty didn't do much difference.

- I used a Cambridge EQ with a butterworth filter to make the nessecary cuts. The thought was to treat each band individually, and compress them thereafter. Instead of using a multibandcompressor to do the job, I could now use whatever compressor I wanted to do the job!
When cutting like this, it's important to know that the point actually set in many cases (not all cases) actually is the point where the filter is filtering 3 dB. This mean that a 6dB/octave highpass filter set to 200Hz will actually cut 3dB at this point. One octave being the double range of one frequency (100-200Hz is counted as one octave, 500-1000 is one octave etc.), this mean you have to pay attention to what kind of filters you're using to get the same amount of power as the original mix had. There will be a slight difference in the sound due to other reasons, but I won't get into that here.

- I experimented around with adding various effects (I wish I had an exciter...) on the different bands, and ended up distorting the low end (0-80Hz) with a built in Cubase distortion unit (rather crappy, but it got the job done....). After the dist, I set another lowpass filter with the same values as the previous one to keep the bands "intact". What the distortion unit did, was to introduce harmonics of even the lowest frequencies, and it made it heavier and better in my opinion.

- At the end of each band and chain I added a Fairchild compressor. It's a very cpu hungry unit, so I had to use the freeze function when I had set it right. Before freezing the tracks, I used some automation to set the volume of the bands, lowered the volume at some spots to make it seem louder when the song kicks in, for example.

- I took the freeze files (same thing as if I would have exported the different bands) and started yet a new project, with these four files.
I tried a few various things, but nothing really worked out the way I wanted it, except for one thing; A phaser added on the high mid starting at 2 min and 8 sec. It's on until 2.40. After this I once again filpped around with the volumes, automating them to make it right. I tried out a phase-mojo thing to give the highend some sparkle, but it didn't cut it. I also tried to stereo-image the high+mid high, but nothing made it sound better in my opinion. On the stereobus out, I slapped on a neve compressor (wich stole 65% cpu of the UAD-plug in card! But it does the job very good). After this came a limiter, set to a maximum limit of -0.1dB to really squeeze the loudness up. I did automate the limiter, so the threshold differ with 3.5 dB at most, wich makes quite a difference...

This good enough?
- Definitley not. There are many flaws with this experiment. I had problems with the subbass being to loud, and in the final stage (before the neve compressor and the limiter) I actually lowered it with more than 3.5 dB, to be able to squeeze a little more out of the limiter. The lowend STILL is a little overpowering, but I probably should have checked the song in more systems (i checked at home where I have no subwoofer, at the studio and at another computer with decent listening at school). I do think that the final result it too compressed. But electronic music like this is very forgiving. Especially the high-end is too compressed, just listen to how hard the hi-hat hits. This is me setting the attack a little badly somewhere along the way, probably both in the mix and the master. I can live with it though. The mastering process took me around 8 hours during three days. Obviously alot time was spent trying things out.

Short about the mix
- The fun thing about making music is to make the songs from skratch (allthough it's extremley timeconsuming). The bassdrum that hits before the song really kicks in is a sound-puff that have been processed mad. When the song hits in, a loop is playing. The "wind puff bassdrum" is highpassed high up (700-800Hz) to only let the midrange of it stay. The "weird" samples are all foley things I recorded around school with a H4-zoom handy recorder (i must buy one...). The synths are all made from skratch using Reason 3.0's Malström Graintable synthesizer. The beat is an old loop of mine. And in that loop there are some toms that really muddies up the mix alot, but I didn't feel like going back to the actual loop and alter it, since I had already started to slice and process it in Cubase. The skratching is made by me, and it was quite sloppy to begin with, and have been edited to fit more slick.

The pre-master
- To make it easier to compare the two I have slapped on a limiter just to raise the volume of the pre-master. The transients may suffer the effects of limiting, but the dynamics and the balance should be rather clear to hear the difference of anyway.


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Buoy
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:44 PM Reply

so that's what these two tracks on your audio page meant. Is this thread supposed to be that mastering thread we're talking about or what?

and you're right- best selfwhoring thread there is... you managed to write a whole article about your songs...
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:45 PM Reply

Hmm, they are both interesting song, but what I noticed about the mastered one is that the bass was much more prevalent than in the pre-mastered one.

It does sound a lot better though.

Blatant self-whore, too bad you are the only mod who is on this forum
B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:52 PM Reply

Naw... I get kinda emotional when my little newbie is trying to learn :').

This is good man! You are definetly going the right way here. I will however give you more feedback on MSN because NG is lagging like crazy atm.


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Rucklo
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:57 PM Reply

This is definitley not an "official mastering thread" by any means. I've spent some time trying to learn a little about mastering, and simply wants to share it. This is definitley not about the artistic aspect of the song, how it's built, been managed or even how I've mixed it. The mastering aspect is what it's about, but I am a complete n00b when it comes to mastering. Most people around here are even more n00bs about it though :)
Only one I know have done a little mastering is B0unc3.

Mastering is as much techincal knowledge as artistic, and the differences might be very hard to spot for the untrained ear. The master I made is quite obvious wich one have been mastered (since it's compressed to hell:). But if it's better?

Hopefully this can at least give some insight of the mastering stage, and at least give some kind of understanding what the difference is between the master and the mix. I hope.

And yes, this seriously is not meant to be a selfwhoring thread. I hope to share the very little knowledge I have with my fellow NG' ers, and that somone else will think the same way. *cough*b0unc3*cough* ;)
Together we'll gain experience.


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Rucklo
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 01:58 PM Reply

At 4/13/07 01:52 PM, B0UNC3 wrote: Naw... I get kinda emotional when my little newbie is trying to learn :').

This is good man! You are definetly going the right way here. I will however give you more feedback on MSN because NG is lagging like crazy atm.

Don't hesitate to do it here man, hopefully somone will understand and learn more than I :)


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 02:03 PM Reply

Mastering is like a spa treatment for your music. Your music feels good afterwards (improved sound).

Mastering is a very sensitive process that will either make or break a track so experience with mastering is favored if it's going to be preformed.

Yeyeye I'll come up with a good draft for the thread....8-)


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 02:28 PM Reply

Ok, heres my analysis.

The mixing is very good, it has lots of space and it's really easy to listen to. I do not know about headroom (visually) since both of them are limited to the max.

You did a very good job on the sub bass/bass it does get alittle loud when I turn the volume up though so some further looking into wouldn't be wrong. This is a great example of the "spa" i mentioned. except for the hazyness when i turn up the volume you've got great warmth in the bass! This block doesn't involve the kick drum!

The midrange is soft from the beginning, the soft drum mixing and individual compression is almost perfect. I was afraid that those scratches would be a problem, but you managed those great and the sound is all good as it should.

The Treble is ok...Nothing more and nothing less. Why?
Because of that filtering at 2:26. You've missed afew annoying spots here and those totaly kill this part for me. It is like you've highpass filtered with 8.00Q. I don't have a spectrum here atm so I can't give you exact info on where the problem is but it sure kills alot. I'll tell you about it later when I've checked it out.

Pressure
Yeah, you've got it. the pressure difference between the mixes are big.
You've definetly mastered well on this point. Aside from hazyness at higher volumes.

Brilliance
Well aside from the 2:26 incident I'd say you did really good here too. The track has a nice shine throughout the mix.

Summary
You did a great job getting rid of most annoyances in the spectrum. You're missing afew things but nothing major. Remember you're still learning and you'll soon find out how to get rid of your flaws and improve your strengths.

Track summary
Well you mix really good, you definetly make master friendly mixes. You manage to have lots of things going and still have headroom left. Great!

As I said.. You're my little newbie =)


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 13th, 2007 @ 02:32 PM Reply

Opps, my cat stepped on the keyboard, so I don't know if I had edited all i was goin to :O...sry for triple for fuck sake!


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EchozAurora
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 04:02 AM Reply

hmmm... we definitely need an official mastering thread.
because.. well, we could all use help here I think (except B0UNC3, of course =P)
I do all the mixing and mastering for my other band, Shoot for the Day, not to say that EchozAurora couldn't use some help either... but I don't really know the first thing about good mastering, and things often end up sounding too cluttered due to that.


At 1/16/12 03:08 AM, Xyresic wrote: EchozAurora: The SEXY Audio Mod.
Check out soundcloud.com/echozaurora for more recent songs and DJ mixes!

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SolusLunes
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 04:12 AM Reply

I know a bit about mastering, I can at least say I'm decently experienced with it. Though every little bit helps, ya know? :D

B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 05:20 AM Reply

The above analysis wasn't particulary indepth. It is things that are easy to notice if you listen for it though.

And I also have alot to learn still dudes^^.

Rucklo get in touch with me on MSN ASAP. I have an idea I need to talk to you about.


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Rucklo
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 08:29 AM Reply

Thanx alot for the input, b0unc3, I've a few aspects to think about and learn from!

Also, about an official mastering thread... I really don't see the nee or one until people actually starts learning about what mastering is etc.

If a few random mastering threads pops up, then sweet deal! If they're good, we might be able to sticky them eventually.

What we really need is some basic tutorials of what sound really is, the physical and technical aspect of it. To learn to master right, it's more or less a must... I've read on many places that mastering engineers say that technical knowledge is about 50%, and the rest is artistic. It's not too far from the truth, I'd guess.

I'd really like see some more techincal threads in this forum!


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 09:52 AM Reply

Man, keep posting these before/after things and it will come. People will eventually catch up to wtf u're actually doing and understand the basics of mastering.

Hell, there are tons of people that have told me that the mastering in PoE is great (the problem is that it isn't mastered at all!)

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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 10:48 AM Reply

Im a almost complete noob to mastering but I've been practicing it lately. It'd be great to have some sort of mastering thread here on newgrounds. KingBastard's music has amazing sound quality so it'd be awesome If he'd share some techinqes with us.


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 12:16 PM Reply

My best tips would probably be:
Learn how to mix properly before one attempt to master. If someone would mix like a deaf monkey on speed the possibility of good mastering skills are very (VERY) slim.


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Rucklo
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 12:34 PM Reply

At 4/14/07 04:12 AM, SolusLunes wrote: I know a bit about mastering, I can at least say I'm decently experienced with it. Though every little bit helps, ya know? :D

Definitley. If you know a little, it would be interesting to get some input, and your aspect of mastering, from what you've learned!


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speedmetalmessiah
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 01:57 PM Reply

I'm still new to mastering so anything I can read about it helps. Thanks for the thread Rucklo, and great job explaining what steps you took.

Rucklo
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 14th, 2007 @ 02:07 PM Reply

Thanx, speed.

Well, I'm new to it myself, and I learned alot from doing this. Hopefully this could at least inspire to experiment with mastering.

But like b0unc3 pointed out (rofl deaf monkey^^), it most likley is better to put energy into the mix, and don't think of the mastering at all. A great master starts out with a great mix, and I'm sure that if I showed this to a mastering engineer, he'd probably just laugh, but yeah...
it's definitley more important to make a good mix, but in all honesty, I think my mixing techniques will be altered from this little experience!


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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 15th, 2007 @ 08:36 PM Reply

I listened to your song today Rucklo and thats why I uploaded my first loop on Newgrounds. Just because I heard something great.

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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 15th, 2007 @ 10:28 PM Reply

At 4/14/07 12:34 PM, Rucklo wrote:
At 4/14/07 04:12 AM, SolusLunes wrote: I know a bit about mastering, I can at least say I'm decently experienced with it. Though every little bit helps, ya know? :D
Definitley. If you know a little, it would be interesting to get some input, and your aspect of mastering, from what you've learned!

Hokay, I'll make sure to help out with every little bit I can :D

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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 16th, 2007 @ 01:28 AM Reply

I'd say Rucklo's a pretty cool guy. Not that cool but definitely cool.

Yes I actually read all this, the content is simply beyond my below-average comprehension.
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 16th, 2007 @ 06:41 PM Reply

I do this to make a '3-D' Atmosphere, (In Reason 3.0)

First Make 4 NN-XT modules.
Then assign the first two NN-XT's to the left and right channel.
With the third NN-XT leave it as mono and
with the last NN-XT add a stereo imager.
Add a tiny bit of reverb for each channel and
Voila! you're done.

Hope this helps.


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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 16th, 2007 @ 07:52 PM Reply

Yo Rucklo cheers for the post man, I've bookmarked it so I can review it when in context after I've made my next song. Seems pretty comprehensive to me though, is it not sticky-worthy?


Hi there my name is not Bill.

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HybrisHybrid
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 07:11 PM Reply

I read it again and I think finally get it, thanks bru, I'm gonna try some of this stuff out on my battle loop.

regardless this is in dire need of a good hump and thump
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 07:39 PM Reply

even though I'm not that great at mastering I've found that taking laying a HP on every channel except for the sub bass at like 10-20Hz really helps clean up the mix.


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vwvSTATICvwv
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 07:49 PM Reply

im super pro


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 07:50 PM Reply

At 4/24/07 07:39 PM, cornandbeans wrote: even though I'm not that great at mastering I've found that taking laying a HP on every channel except for the sub bass at like 10-20Hz really helps clean up the mix.

Correct ^^


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vwvSTATICvwv
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 07:51 PM Reply

At 4/24/07 07:50 PM, B0UNC3 wrote:
At 4/24/07 07:39 PM, cornandbeans wrote: even though I'm not that great at mastering I've found that taking laying a HP on every channel except for the sub bass at like 10-20Hz really helps clean up the mix.
Correct ^^

how do you guys figure this stuff out... i have no patience

B0UNC3, stop being a homo and reply to my PM(s)


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B0UNC3
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Response to Motion - A Mastering Experiment Apr. 24th, 2007 @ 08:11 PM Reply

Trial, error, logic, experience, tons of wtf moments...
You get the drill ;D


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