Tips for a loud powerful mix

Sharing a few personal preferences…

I have seen alot of compression and finalizing questions lately and wanted to share a couple of tips I have found to work extremely well within Ntrack.

1. Obviously, you need a good bare mix of your tracks with no master channel plugins to start. If it sounds pretty smooth without being beefed up, thats a good start.

2. Add two of my personal favorite plugins to your master channel: Ruby Tube (set to “medium sparkle”) followed by Endorphin (set to “loud and punchy”. Always make sure Endorphin goes in last in your effects chain. It will make your mix as loud as possible without destroying it or clipping the overall signal.

3. Mixdown to 24 bit, open the file, NORMALIZE IT…sometimes I tend to pull the high end of the mixdown track to -3.0db or so and push the low end of the mixdown track to +3.0db or so…a little more analog sounding when the whole track is fattened and de-essed.

4. Mixdown to 16 bit…Enjoy your fat track.

(Disclaimer: These are only personal preferences I have found work well for me, please don’t slap me with a wet seabass if you disagree with my approach)

http://www.digitalfishphones.com/main.php?item=2&subItem=3

http://www.silverspike.com/rubytube.html

Thanks for the tips, will try them.

Quick question about mastering -whats the best way to do it in N-track? In other words, after I have finished a mix, I would normally render it then import the file into a new N track project, and add the plugs like in your example above as inserts on the track. Is this a sensible way to do things?

ta.

Quote (Mutley @ Feb. 24 2005,05:49)
Thanks for the tips, will try them.

Quick question about mastering -whats the best way to do it in N-track? In other words, after I have finished a mix, I would normally render it then import the file into a new N track project, and add the plugs like in your example above as inserts on the track. Is this a sensible way to do things?

ta.

It will essentially produce the same result if the plugs are added in one unmastered mixdown track rather than in the whole original project. I guess its personal habit that I add the plugs into my master channel mix before I mix down, then just normalize my mixed down track....but essentially the same.
Quote (Mutley @ Feb. 24 2005,05:49)
Thanks for the tips, will try them.

Quick question about mastering -whats the best way to do it in N-track? In other words, after I have finished a mix, I would normally render it then import the file into a new N track project, and add the plugs like in your example above as inserts on the track. Is this a sensible way to do things?

ta.

The way you do it makes sense in a "Save CPU" way. As for mastering, there is a lot to it and a formulaic approach is probably not the best idea. It is very true that if the original mix isn't great, then don't bother mastering it. Get the mix right first. BUt there are so many possible tools and methods to use in mastering depending on the situation. Compression can certainly be part of it (and multiband compression too) as well as limiting, exciters, subharmonic generators, stereo imaging, EQ, "sweetening", and a whole slew of other tricks and techniques. There is a reason the mastering engineer in the pro world is a different person than the mix engineer. It is a totally different approach and batch of techniques.All this to say, don't limit yourself in what mastering is supposed to be.

Here’s my vote for Endorphin. Really adds a nice finish/sound to the mix while preventing the occasional clip.

Where’d I put that darn Seabass??

Just kidding man! Thanks for sharing. Bubba also speaks werdz of wisdom there. Also, I have found that one can get in trouble treating a song as if it is the ONLY song. Mastering MUST take into account the entire compilation into which the song fits. Grabbing a batch of “mastered” tunes, slapping them into your software and normalizing the whole lot and just counting on the software is just asking for…“Geez this song is great…er…how come the second is so “hidden”…and the third one tears your face off!” If that’s what you are after, then it’s good. Just be aware of the WHOLE compilation if that is where the song is going and trust your ears.

My two centavo’s…

TG

Endorphin presets can do funny stuff to your mix so listen VERY carefully !!
By carefully I’m including going through the whole mix with each band (high/low) bypassed, listening for artifacts, pops & clicks. Pay special attention to low mids and lows. Look for small crackles in drum rolls and other low end transients. You may be surprised…


That aside, TG speaks the truth :)

I keep running into folks who use Ozone. Does anyone have both Ozone and Endorphin that comment on how they compare?

Sounds like there’s a lot of endorphin fans here but I’m going to suggest that if you can spare the bread, you should look at Ozone ($249). It has several modules - limiter, eq, 4 band harmonic generator, 4 band compressor, and mastering reverb. There’s a lot to the program and it takes a while to learn but it’s well worth it IMO. You can download a demo from Izotope.

I mix down to 16/44.1 before I apply Ozone mainly to save CPU overhead. It uses a lot of processor power. I have not found the need to normalize after using Ozone - judicious use of the limiter takes care of that.

Even if you don’t use Ozone, the company has a great paper on mastering on their web site. You can find it here:

Mastering With Ozone

I am a big VoxEngo fan. He makes a lot of mastering plugs and they are all superb.

I’ve got both ozone and endorphin. Essentially, Ozone is much more comphrensive, but Endorphin is a good place to get the basics with it’s 2 band eq/compression/limiting. Ozone basically gave me too much to work with, so I went with endorphin for a while.

The brickwall limiter in earlier versions of Ozone isn’t much chop imo. It doesn’t sound as nice as the soft limiter, but the soft limiter would let the occasional over through. The new versions don’t do that apparently. The eq section in Ozone rocks…

Quote (8th_note @ Feb. 25 2005,08:33)
I mix down to 16/44.1 before I apply Ozone mainly to save CPU overhead. It uses a lot of processor power.

Why would you not keep it at 32 bit until after mastering?

I thought it was best to keep everything at 32 bit until your last stage of processing at which point you would dither down to 16/44.1 to burn to CD

Rich

i’m still liking ozone. it does alot more than endorphin (which i believe is just a multiband comp, right?). i am learning alot about mastering EQ from the “EQ matching” stuff in ozone.

you’re right tho… ozone can be a bit intimidating at first. they provide a few really good documents on their product and the whole mastering process in general. i’ve read it two or three times now.

Thanks Silver,
Sounds like a winner! Me being a writer/player needs tips like this!
I’ve got my time and hands full with the music creation end of things
I"m looking forward to trying it!

Thanks Bubba for the mastering plugin link. As a musician I would love to find EQ presets. Proven tested ones for verious band peice groopings…

Someone was looking for a surround sound mastering plugin the other day. It’s there! And claled “Voxengo Pristine Space VST”

There are a lot of free or cheap tools for use in ‘mastering for amateurs’ (like me). For instance there is n-tracks multiband compressor. One which I’ve found recently and really like is stardust from Arguru, which has 8-band multiband compressor, bass/treble enhancement, and stereo widener as well as a single wideband compressor. Brickwall limiters can be had from George Yohng and Kjaerhus among others. There is the Elemental Audio Systems Inspector for keeping an eye on spectrum and levels etc.
I must try Ozone one of these days but it seems when you can get pretty good results from these free plugs you’d be paying over the odds for Ozone. But if it gives a song that ‘pro sparkle’ then I suppose thats what people are paying for.

As a musician I would love to find EQ presets. Proven tested ones for verious band peice groopings..

I've delved into presets for eq and the such with the TC and some other brand plugs. They're not a bad starting point, but doing things by the numbers can be detrimental especially when the numbers don't match up!

There's a few good eq pages around such as the one below. Read it, and have a play with your stuff and see how changing bands/levels works. These are a good place to start. Soon enough you'll be stroking your chin going "hmm, I do believe there is too much 423Hz on the kick"...

http://www.recordingeq.com/EQ/req0900/primer.htm

Willy.

i don’t believe there’s anything ozone does that you couldn’t acheive with an array of free plugins (except maybe the eq matching stuff?)… personally, i like ozone because it puts all these pieces into a single plug with a consistent interface and you can save a single preset that holds the settings for your entire mastering process.

for anyone interested in learning more about “eq matching”, check out the guides on the ozone site:

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/guides.html

there’s also a dedicated eq matching product called “harball” (sp?)… which i have not tried but looks a bit more powerful than the eq matching in ozone.

either of these tools can teach you alot about mastering EQ and can be a big help in getting a consistent sound between multiple songs in a project.

:D Thanks guys this is a good thread! Good question Richlum, besides using diskspace it has to the perfect method.