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Author Topic: Master or not to master.. the mix!?  (Read 3967 times)

  • **
March 15, 2011, 12:21:44 PM
i think everyone should bring the mix in the best possible shape. if that includes limiting, then thats fine. when i listen to mixes i always adjust the volume, so i don't see any problem here. if the mix is too strong limited, i will give critics on that.
my point is also, that e.g. my mixes are quite dynamic pre-mastering (or lets say "pre-2bus FX"), so i think its difficult to estimate how it will sound after that. i also had often the case, that e.g. a dull sounding mix A sounds wonderful after mastering or a already "mastered sounding" mix B couldn't be repaired in the mastering stage, but could sound better to the average listener because its not dull as mix A.

  • ****
March 15, 2011, 03:49:00 PM
Well isnt that the hole point to avoid dull sounding mixes!?. And get better mixes before mastering!?.
As you say if a dull mix can sound good mastered how can we give feedback!? when there is nothing to give feedback on when its mastered. But if it was submitted unmastered than there is room for improvement!, and thats the hole point of this forum. To get better at mixing and bringing the mix to its full potential before it hits the mastering fase.
Thats how I see it anyway :)

                     Salvation Army
            bringing music to the people
                       since 1865

  • ****
March 15, 2011, 11:53:41 PM
Well isnt that the hole point to avoid dull sounding mixes!?

..., and thats the hole point of this forum.

...

Thats how I see it anyway :)

 ;D  Me, too!

  • **
March 16, 2011, 09:28:36 AM
A mix engineer once told me..."Why Master something; if the mix is perfect?" (wiki; audio mastering) Mastering, a form of audio post-production, is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master); the source from which all copies will be produced (via methods such as pressing, duplication or replication). Recently, the format choice includes using digital masters although analog masters, such as audio tapes, are still being used by the manufacturing industry and by a few engineers who have chosen to specialize in analog mastering.

I know I probably sound like the biggest dick right now, but c'mon man.....where in the definition does it say Limiting? Do I need to reread this shit again? Or print more definitions like...Limiting? I understand. I get it. Limiting squashes things down like mash potatoes and then we bring them up to make them louder, doesn't a kick ass compressor do that too?

"A true limiter has one critical task: to ensure that signals do not overshoot the threshold. May I add: no matter what. Often it is sudden transients and peaks that we limit. Limiters have many applications outside mixing: they are necessary to protect PA systems, to prevent one FM radio station from intruding the frequency band of adjacent station, in mastering limiters help maximize loudness. In mixing, the task of limiting peaks is nearly reserved to the final mix output, where signals must not exceed 0dB before being converted to digital or bounced to integer-based files (or any other digital media). We already saw that a compressor can be configured to behave much like a limiter. To make a compressor a true limiter we must have peak-sensing, hard knee and zero attack time. It happens that compression (well, limiting really) of such nature will be the most aggressive and obvious one can draw out of a compressor. Anything but subtle gain reduction can bring about some dreadful results." --   Roey Izhaki

Now that we have looked and examined some of our equipment, and realize we're in the Post-Production Stages...I think Suitcase should definitely contact some of his Mastering Homies and get their take on what Mixing and Mastering is to them. What is expected of us when the mix is ready for Mastering? How do we transfer? What will they actually do in the Mastering Production? How would I go about Mastering My Own Mix?

If we're gonna be a family lets be a family and learn what it takes. This site was put here for us to learn about one of the steps in Post-Production and how we can be the best at what we do and how were gonna get it to the next step...Mastering! Faceit! Everyone's gonna mix differently.....different setups, different interests, different lifestyles! You Name It, We're There! But we all have one common goal: MIXIT!  

-Monkey
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 09:32:18 AM by Audio Monkey »
Mix It!

  • **
March 16, 2011, 10:26:50 AM
Well isnt that the hole point to avoid dull sounding mixes!?. And get better mixes before mastering!?.
As you say if a dull mix can sound good mastered how can we give feedback!? when there is nothing to give feedback on when its mastered. But if it was submitted unmastered than there is room for improvement!, and thats the hole point of this forum. To get better at mixing and bringing the mix to its full potential before it hits the mastering fase.
Thats how I see it anyway :)
"dull" is just one keyword for illustration. i made the test several times when i posted a unmastered good mix to a not good mixed, but mastered one & guess which one got better critics in average?
so the question here is maybe more about "should we limit or not on the 2bus". each mix has a loudness potential & for most genres: the better the mix, the more loudness potential the track has. but of course, we would not like to talk about loudness war, but its present & as mastering engineer i'm faced with it every day. so what happens if a bad mix needs to get loud? it will not sound good.

long story short: if a loud mix sounds good, then the mix is good & it doesn't matter if its mastered, you see the full potential. if a mix sounds bad - loud or not - then there are 2 options:
(1) the mix is bad
(2) someone ruined the mix on the 2 bus
in both cases my critics will not be that good & for (2) maybe i would recommend to bounce the mix w/o 2bus processing. but this decision is up to each individual. so if i'm unsure what to do on the 2bus, i don't do it, right?

  • ****
March 16, 2011, 12:26:02 PM
Well to me mixing is one thing and mastering another. And as this is a mixoff of forum I just dont see the point in mastering the mix or changing the dynamics of the song after the mix is done.
Just to be clear im only talking about the Mixoff section of this site! I forgot to put that in my First post!.
But as we are not changing anything here, as john clearly said he didnt care wether or not is one or the other.
I see dont the point in prolonging this thread in to a mindless discussion. Just because we have different views :)
Nuff said lets mix! ;D

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 12:30:05 PM by MortenDK »

                     Salvation Army
            bringing music to the people
                       since 1865

  • **
March 16, 2011, 12:40:18 PM
thats also exactly my view. so every individual should decide whether to post a master or not. as i said before, i'll match volume when i listen to other mixes.

  • *****
March 16, 2011, 02:49:00 PM
I'm not opposed to adding something to the posting guidelines, but there's an issue here.

When I mix, I use some two buss processing, usually a parallel compressor, a tape simulator, possibly a M/S processing plug, and a limiter.

When I print the mix for the band/client, I give them a version that's not squished, but is in the ballpark of their other commercial CDs. I do this because if I don't, the band invariably wants to tweak the mix forever, since it doesn't 'sound right' to them. I also find that mixing into a limiter changes some balance decisions a bit. Things like the kick and snare can be a bit louder if the mix is limited, and still sound right.

Now, when I send the mix to a mastering engineer, I'll take my limiter off, and and possible some other 2 buss stuff, if I feel my plugs aren't a clean sounding as I want. I also lower the output level a few Dbs, since without a limiter, the possibility of clipping goes up.

The Mastering engineer gets my 24 bit, unlimited, lower output file, as well as the 16 bit limited reference file. That way he can hear what the band is hearing, and hopefully get the same vibe, but better.

I don't get complaints from mastering engineers, so I guess it works for them. The sessions I've attended have always gone smoothly.

I'd say that people should be careful about over-processing a mix that they're giving to the band (talking 2 buss processing here) but be aware that a totally unprocessed mix is going to sound a little weird, quiet, and the band may have a hard time getting past that to hear the actual balance, effects, etc.

I don't think we need to go too crazy with rules yet, things are still developing.

Just be aware that if a band sends out tracks to two or three mix engineers to decide who should do a project, there's a good chance that the other guy(s) are limiting the 2 buss, and the band may not be able to get past your low-output, overly dynamic mix (even if it does really sound better, and would be great once mastered!)

I think you need to give them as realistic a view of what the final product will sound like as possible. That's just my philosophy, though!

  • **
March 22, 2011, 07:05:19 PM
I've thought a little about this, too.

Many of us do a sort of quasi-mastering on our two buss when printing reference mixes. Obviously when sending the tracks to a mastering engineer, you pull that two buss limiter off, and maybe lower the overall level a bit.

I think if people want to squash their mix, that's probably ok. If you make a note in your post that your mix is unmastered, or has two buss limiting, etc, it'll give people a better idea of what they're listening for.

But for now, there's no hard guideline.

What do you think about having a 'mastering' section, where someone could post a 24bit wave stereo recording, and other could post their mastered versions of the song? A little off topic for here, but might be fun!

Yep, that applies to me I make it a little more suitable for mass listening but it's barely mastering, I also try to avoid having the limiter do anything if possible it's mostly a safety measure.

  • No avatar
  • **
July 03, 2011, 08:50:50 AM
OK i'm going to say on this - as i noticed it today - i think there should be no mastering, or at least in the loudening sense of things, done to the tracks.

OR

IF YOU ARE GOING TO MASTER YOUR TRACK AND/OR MAKE IT LOUD LET PEOPLE KNOW IT IS **MASTERED**. (< see no dynamics in letter height either :P)

A lot of tracks here aren't loud as they are just the mix and people will turn their system up, if you suddenly hit a LOUD one, you could do some damage to equipment, either mechanical or biological.

Human nature says people aren't always going to turn their system down before every song they listen too when most tracks are quieter, so a little warning would be nice.

Just my $0.02.

Jimmy
Republic of Western Australia