I will be recording/mixing/mastering my band’s new album… recording and mixing are things I am pretty familiar with, but I usually don’t master my stuff… Any advice for a beginner?
Don’t ever compress.
Listen on a lot of different systems.
Make sure your monitorin situation is as flat as possible. Folks who mix at home (like me) often have odd freq bumps and dips as a result of the listening environment.
Take your time.
Bob Katz has a couple of good pieces on the web out there somewhere.
edit: I meant to say “don’t over compress” but I like “ever” too.
Any software I should look at, or will N suffice?
See my article on intro to mastering for newbies. I suspect you’re not quite as newbie as the target audience for that article, though.
I use n-Track for the little mastering I do, along with various plugins. When I’m working on a project like a CD, I mix each cut independently and render to 32 bits. I start a new n-Track song file for mastering and import all the 32-bit mixes into that song. I put each song on a separate track, but then (sometimes) drag them left / right to create the song order I think I want. I apply overall ambience plugs (like EQ & warmth) on the master channel. I apply compression to each track individually, possibly followed by more compression on the master channel, added last thing. This way I can listen to the songs as a group and change the order and check seques, etc. When done, I mix down each track individually (using “selection” rather than “whole song”). Might not be the most convenient tool but certainly works. If I were a pro working on lots of CDs, I’d find a more convenient one but n-Track works fine for me (one CD every 3 years, maybe?)
When mixing, adjust the master fader (or individual faders, if you prefer) to avoid any clipping – you don’t want the clipping to affect your judgement. When you mix down to 32-bits, though, any peaks over 0dB won’t be clipped, so if you let a few slip through it’s no heart attack.
About what Tom said – I’d say, use compression on individual tracks during mixing to control the dynamics and quality of individual tracks. (Of course, adjust any mix parameter while listening to the whole mix.) Don’t apply compression on the master channel or do anything during mixdown concerning the dynamics of the whole mix. Just make each track sound good in the mix.
For example, I almost always use compression on my vocals because it evens out my less than stellar projection. I also almost always use it on acoustic guitar because I think the guitar parts sound better that way. And I often use it on bass to develop a firmer bottom. I avoid compression on peaky and dynamic instruments where the peaks are an important part of the sound, like drums and piano. (That’s what recording in 24 bits with very quiet mike preamps is for, and it’s what Tom is talking about, I bet.)
Professional mastering engineers like to get more than just a mix, they like to get “mix minus plus seps”. For example, a set like this:
- reference full mix
- vocals only submix
- bass only submix
- mix minus vocals and bass
This allows them more complete control over the dynamics. But for home studio work, I think that’s overkill.
|Make sure your monitorin situation is as flat as possible. Folks who mix at home (like me) often have odd freq bumps and dips as a result of the listening environment.|
this is very, very true… if possible, use a symmetrical room… if you can, hang something on the wall behind you as well… something to “diffuse” the sound to help prevent it from bouncing back to the front of the room… being “flat” is certainly preferred not only in the environment, but the equipment as well… dedicated monitors work best, home stereos and computer speaker outfits generally color the sound…
if you have access to one, you may want to just try a bbe unit/plugin… of course you’ll have to judge for yourself whether you like the effect or not… many people hate them, others love them… just don’t apply too much…
as far as compression goes, too much is…well, too much… unless it’s rap… i’ve learned the rap artists generally want to put a cap in any engineer who doesn’t make them loud and mean… of course, this means compressing large amounts…
hope i didn’t annoy you
|Quote (learjeff @ June 06 2005,15:00)|
|See my article on intro to mastering for newbies. I suspect you’re not quite as newbie as the target audience for that article, though.|
The link is not working for me… or you have a cookie that only allow really “newbie” people to see it?
Edit: I believe that you post a wrong link, can be possible you are not familiar with that site…
Thanks… that info is incredibly helpful!
One thing we need is a cheap and easy way to assess the sound we are getting in the “sweet spot” of our mixing locations. I suspect most are pretty sour.
Thats some great information.
What would also be beneficial would be a similar guide to mixing a track to the point where its ready to be mixed down to a single stereo track - if you catch my drift.
Is there one around?
Thanks for fixing my typo, Marce! I’ll edit it to fix it in the original post too.
Macca, that’s a big topic! You can find a lot of useful information at http://audiominds.com. Be sure to check out the right margin.
here’s another great site: http://tinyurl.com/8pyp9
hey isaac, why does it go to tinyurl.com first, and then to the website?
tinyurl is just a redirector… it accepts any url, but hashes it down to only a few characters… very useful for long urls, such as mapquest, amazon, et al… quite often, links are “broken” in email and web pages because they may be wrapped across more than one line… lots of people will simply sit and click repeatedly wondering why “the link is broken”… so to avoid that sort of thing, i’ve discovered that tinyurl helps greatly… however, i like to see the domain to which a link is pointing, but you can’t this way, which is annoying at times…
hey that’s cool.
The most important thing to remember about Mastering; is to give your subbie a “safety word”.
That way, if you go “too far”, she can let you know.
Apart from that, just experiment, and have fun!