do or don’t
ive read in places that its not good to put compression over the whole mix on the master channel. however ive also read that endorphin is good to use as an effect on the master channel. any got any clarifications?
Well if you are going to send your mix out to get professionally mastered you probably don’t want to compress the master channel just to get the overall track to sound bigger/louder. Leave that for the master house and just concentrate on getting your mix right.
If however you are doing the “mastering” at home. ie. after you have finished it will be burnt to cd or converted to mp3 for the punters to listen to then compression on the master channel will usually be what you want to get the “bigger” sound and give the song more presence (at the expense of dynamics).
I sused to use endorphin but I think there are a lot better compressors out there these days…
For free ones I’d look at the Classic series from Kjaerhus or mutli-verb
Not aying to not use Endorphin… my preference is now for other plugins…
Basically, get your mix right before you stick anything on the master channel. Then, you can play with endorphin on the master IF you don’t touch the mix or if you’re working with the mixed down file, as compression on the master will change the sound.
You can end up chasing your tail. Do a mix, put the master comp on, chaneg something in the mix, master comp needs adjusting, repeat ad nausem.
Basically, do one bit at a time. Mix, then master.
I tried endorphon, and found it to be a tad harsh sounding, I prefer the classics. or grancomp is a nice one.
TomS posted about the gran plugins a little while ago. Where are they?
|TomS posted about the gran plugins a little while ago. Where are they?|
Willy, try here:
Wasn’t it you, Mark, who first posted here about those? For freebies, they totally rock. I wish they all had metering, however. But they sound much better than endorphin, to me.
Oh, yes, I had seen them, but i think I couldn’t download them or somesuch.
I agree with Willy: mix first, master later.
If you put compression on the master channel while mixing, unless you’re REALLY savvy about how compressors work and what they do and what the side effects are, it will confuse you as to what you’re doing when you make an adjustment in any track. With master channel compression, adjusting any one track causes a change in all tracks. Mixing is confusing enough without adding that kind of complication.
Here’s what I do, for two cases:
When I’m done mixing a “single”, I do a 32-bit mixdown, import it into the same song, and solo it. I put my “mastering” fx as plugins on that track and tweak away. Sometimes I discover something I’d like to fix in the mix, so I mute that track, remix, remixdown, and reimport the file, dragging it into the same “master” track if I liked the tweaking I’d done before. Repeat until sick of song.
When I’m working on a project like a CD or EP, instead of importing the 32-bit mixdowns into the song files, I create a new song file that’s just for mastering the CD. Some FX I put on individual tracks, some I put on the master channel – for the obvious reason (whether I want it to apply to all or just one). I can solo different cuts and quickly compare tone and volume so they fit together in the collection. I can also drag them around horizontally and see how one sounds following another. When done, I just solo each track and mixdown to produce the masters.
Not that I’m any great stuff at mastering. I’m just cheap, really. If I were serious about the results, I’d have them professionally mastered. But since my CD is only for give-away, that’s one more expense to avoid. The friends and family I annoy with it don’t seem to notice the lack of pro mastering.
PS: You can hear it following the link below.
Ditto on leaving the comp off of the master channel when mixing - mix first, master last. Just make sure your master level doesn’t clip when mixing, and you’ll be fine.
You know, I’ve a question here. If the sound of the mix is affected by the comp (and it is, of course), then why not mix to get the best sound you can, then stick the mastering comp or comps and eq adn whatever on, and continue to tweak? Isn’t doing the mix then rendering then mastering as a method just a relic of old ways of doing things, when technology sort of favored or required that approach? Limiting oneself to only being able to tweak overall eq or comp and the like when mastering limits flexibility - but getting the mix close, then allowing adjustments in the mix with the mastering eq and comp and whatever else on would allow for more flexibility.
That is, changing the volume of a guitar or the vocals in the mix changes the way the mastering comp(s) respond(s). that’s one of the reasons why a mastering engineer might get a number of different mixes, with the vox down 3 db, up 3 db, etc. - so they could choose the one that works best in the mastering situation. Well, we don’t have to make 20 different mixes for the mastering engineer to play with - since we mostly do this ourselves - we can just alter the mix right there at the “mastering” stage.
last time I was in a “pro” studio, the mixing engineer had some compression on the master channel. I think you will find some guys that like to work this way, and some guys that don’t.
Before you throw compression on the whole mix, I think its probably better to get a bunch of other stuff in the mix sorted out first, like EQ on the individual tracks.
Among the crowd that that does use compression on the master channel, I think its a pretty safe bet that they would agree its best not to smash the crap out of it. Leave that to the real mastering stage…
I’m with Tom.
I keep the Classic Mastering Limiter in the output, but have it set to add no gain. When I go to mixdown I will tweak it until I just see the limiting kick in on the obvious peaks. I’ll do a mix, open it in Har-Bal so I can get an idea of that overall EQ, then go back and tweak the EQ with the limiter back at the no gain position. I usually try to adjust the EQ in the tracks,but more often than not it’s easier to to do minor stuff in the master EQ. At that point it is very much a mastering thing since the overall balance is what I want. The EQ us usually to add a dip in the lower midrange and sometimes a little high end. I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t change the mix, which it usually doesn’t. Then tweak the limiter gain, save out a mix and look at it in Har-Bal.
Some mixes are squished to heck and back with master compression. I see nothing wrong with doing that if that’s the sound you are going for. THAT is the reason to do it. Don’t rely on masting to fix you mix. If you want your mix to be compressed then do it before mastering.
Endorphin is not a mastering tool in my opinion any more than natural tape saturation is a mastering effect in the analog world. Folks make use of tape saturation, and it may be applied during mastering, but it’s usually done at mixdown, or even when tracks are recorded — for the sound. If you want a warm mix then mix it that way - don’t wait until mastering.
Yes, I’m a rebel. I also know that it’s easy to screw up a mix doing the stuff I do.
|Limiting oneself to only being able to tweak overall eq or comp and the like when mastering limits flexibility - but getting the mix close, then allowing adjustments in the mix with the mastering eq and comp and whatever else on would allow for more flexibility.|
I think its a matter of reference. If you start changing the mix during mastering then you’re moving your goalposts and could end up so far away from the original as to unrecognisable and not know how you got there.
Tom is quite right, but I advise against slapping on the master compression until you really think the mix is done. Yes, this way offers a more flexibility – or perhaps, faster flexibility & feedback.
I mix to 32 bits and import it because it allows me to inspect peak levels in different areas without having to play the track, and look at the unmastered waveform. I do think it’s a good practice especially for beginners and intermediates, and largely for the reason that Willy mentioned – as well as the non-intuitive behavior of adjustments. But once you’re really solid on your mixing and after you’ve learned quite well what compression does, then there’s nothing at all wrong with mastering a mix “in place”. Note that this makes it hard to master a collection together though, which is a very important aspect of mastering. (Again, nothing wrong with two stages of mastering, if that makes sense for your project.)
For professional mastering, studios often provide several mixes:
- “full” or “reference” mix: how you as the mix engineer mixed it, with all tracks
- vocals submix
- bass submix
- drums submix
- “mix minus” – everything but the above submixes.
Often not all of these, for example the drums submix could be omitted and put in the “mix minus” instead. I suspect that if a mastering engineer had the opportunity to get the full mix setup, they might like that too, to give the most flexibility – but it wasn’t practical until DAWs like ProTools. (Yet, even with ProTools, if it’s done I haven’t heard of it.)
Note that, while the advice to avoid master clipping is generally good advice, when mixing down to 32 bits it’s not critical: “clipping” in that case is just an indication that something needs to be fixed, but it can be fixed in the mastering process, and no information is lost due to this clipping indication. That’s the magic of floating point format: it doesn’t really clip (lose information due to too high levels) until you hit over 700dB, which is almost impossible even if you try.
BTW, Phoo, Endorphin is also a multiband compressor and is used for mastering for that reason. Also, mastering “hot” to tape isn’t unheard of and Endorphin imitates that. But your point about its use on individual tracks is a good one. It’s a plug that’s equally at home on a track or on the master. Personally, I haven’t managed to make very good use of it.
As usual, “rules” for mixing are usually guidelines or rules of thumb to serve to simplify things until you understand the subject and the reasons for the rules. Once you get there, the rules are abandoned and understanding guides the process. Coloring outside the lines is strongly encouraged, but it’s best to know when and why one is doing it!
|BTW, Phoo, Endorphin is also a multiband compressor and is used for mastering for that reason. Also, mastering “hot” to tape isn’t unheard of and Endorphin imitates that.|
I agree, but I find it not very good for mastering as much as a tool to fix mixes that need help after the fact. I used it on one fartones song and don’t really like the results (of course I want to remix all of them – it never ends). I rarely use it on tracks, but it would be great for that in my opinion.
I know some mastering was done hot intentionally for that reason, but many many more two track mixes were done hot that way in the first place. Mixing and mastering hot to tape will flatten the peaks and the overall EQ.
I just say that if it’s intentionally changing the sound then it’s a mix thing - masterers should not be changing the mix. It’s it done to get rid of peaks and EQ imbalances that keep the overall volume from being raised it’s mastering. Good mastering goes out of it’s way to not change the mix except to undo too much “whatever” like overdone or unnatural sounding EQ and to make the over all result similar to most other stuff out there that it will be compared to – to get close to an unspoken standard.
In general I’m MUCH more worried about EQ in the master output that has been added to make a mix “sound better”. Out of house mastering will probably be fighting that WAY more than any compression or limiting added.
While I do add EQ in the output channel it’s only after many listenes on other systems, after getting trustworthy feedback from others, and dependent on what I see in Har-Bal (since that’s my tool of choice for this right now), and after trying to fix it in the mix at the track level. Sometimes it’s better to add a little dip or boost if you KNOW what it is. I can’t trust my ears for this. And it is most definitely a mastering thing.
That’s a very interesting link, btw, to davry engineering. He explains why rates higher than 44.1k might sound better, but going over about 60k is a waste of time.
Interestingly, so far I’ve only seen one credible scientific experiment that claimed there were any benefits to sample rates higher than 44.1k. (It involved gammelon music and people who were used to listening to it – and man, that stuff does have high frequency content!)
One omission in the paper, though, is that it is only concerned with recording and replaying the original waveform, and doesn’t take into account any issues related to signal processing like using FX and mixing. I’m sure if he’d seen the algorithms used by variable delay line FX, i’m confident that he’d say that yes they’d sound better in higher rates, and that it wouldn’t matter whether they were recorded at higher rates or upsampled to them.
Oops, posted that on the wrong thread! Now watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. Hmm, must have been the wrong hat.
Just one wee question re mastering, and this is about the “unspoken standard” Phoo mentioned.
I’ve assumed that one of the main purposes of mastering is to make your “song” sonically like the songs played before and after it. And that means not only songs on the same CD, but also songs on the same radio station, the same juke-box, whatever.
So, is the unspoken standard a good one? Was it derived by generations of mastering engineers with golden ears? Or is it more a product of the “my master is louder than your master” thingy?
It doesn’t actually matter to me; I have no intentions of making my music for anyone but myself, but in the 50+ years I’ve been seriously listening to music, it seems that the unspoken standard has changed, and not for the better IMO.
But, that could be (and probably is), due to my aging ears.