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Old 14th September 2008 , 07:34 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Reading, UK
Posts: 1,130

If you are recording/creating the sounds/music, mixing it yourself then mastering for you own release if you choose to do it your self should be nothing more than gentle EQ, leveling, dynamic range control(mayybe) and limiting as appropriate for the target medium and to balance it with other material.

Anything more drastic and you have the original mix and original recording to work with and most issues are far easier to fix there - especially overall dynamic range and frequency balance etc..

The kind of mastering phase processing available to most of us is probably on the line s of bus compressor (pre-mastering and part of the mix IMHO), enhancers/saturators (again I tend to think more of a mix choice) and EQ, multi-band compression and limiting.

EQ and limiting is easy to do with a good mix - tweak to the high end and roll off the low end as required. And limiting - well again easy - just enough to catch the odd stray peak and have the rest hitting -0.1 to -0.3 dBFS.

Anything more and we have lots of easier options to go and sort it out. On the other hand, if you are mastering someone elses mix - then you need to know your way around the common tools.

Multi-band compression is something that I think takes a while to gain more than you loose from it. You need to develop a process for it I think otherwise you just end up in a continual cycle of trying to offset and balance the effects of the previous tweak and slo but surely sapping all life out of your mix.

I would be interested in hearing the aproaches people have to dealing with using a multi-band - for me I assuming I have decided I need to use one, and decide exactly what I want to acheive with it, then its a can of first of all working through the bands to isolate the ranges I want to tweak using band mutes to check and tweak them, then I can goto work on it like using a regular compressor on a part of a mix. Whatever you do - dont stick one in there and start playing unless you really know how to use them.

I use the UAD precision mastering suite plugins for this job - allways the EQ and limiter - for the EQ its often just a case of rolling off the low end a little and nothing more. With the limiter I'll set it on the K12 or K14 scales accoridng to the material and if nescessarily going back to my mix to get the average RMS level at around 0dB on whichever scale I am using thus peaks at +12dB (or +14dB) - ie 0dBFS. Good metering for this is essential - ie an peak meter and an RMS meter that you can see together and it helps if you have a spectrum analyser handy.

It also helps if when mixing you have you monitor rough calibrate for an absolute listening level of around 82dB (I use C weighted) with -18dBFS RMS pink noise, then it become alot easier to make consitent judgements about the sound from day to day. I basically spent some time with an SPL meter after sticking a bit of paper around the volume knob to write on - maked off the 82dB point, then also marked off +/- 6dB points as well - ie drop the level by 6dB on the SPL meter and mark the point again until I have a useful set of reference marks.

If you dont have a subwoofer - then simply roll off at at least 30Hz - maybe even 60Hz - nothing really drastic - just enough to get that wasted energy reduced a little so that it is no longer dominant. I dont mix/master with a sub on all the time - I dont have the thing balanced up properly, nor is the room adequately treated for it, so I just use it for spot checking and of course while jamming/recording/reviewing etc.

It also worth havign some cheap little speaker present as well - I actually use a tiny little ipod speaker called a 'Music Angel' - its just a little tube with speakers in it and cost about 20 quid. Sticking you music through that can be very revealing
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Last edited by Khazul; 14th September 2008 at 10:49 PM. . <
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