Posts Tagged ‘mastering’

Hi everyone, I found this great blog today for people who do most of their mixing digitally, like me. As much as I like the sound of analogue gear in many cases, digital mixing is simpler, faster, and best of all, cheaper. This site has some awesome info on VST plugins and what they’re mixing qualities are like. Definitely worth checking out.

 

http://vstparty.tumblr.com/

I know you’re not supposed to master your own tracks but we were working on a budget, so instead I just too a 2 week break from doing anything and came back to master with fresh ears. I purchased a copy of Ozone 5 just for the occasion and I must say, it was DEFINITELY worth it, and as I use it more and become more familiar with it I will try put up a basic tutorial for it at some stage.

As for the EP

First was the linear EQ, as you can see I rolled off the bass a little, and gave some broad presence at 2k, this really helped bring the track out and really make some impression on you.

Next was the harmonic exciter, now these things are tempting to just push up and up and up cause they sound so cool and exciting (lol wonder why) but don’t over do it, you can ruin the effect of the song and the rest of your mix work. As you can see I’ve tried to keep mine relatively minimal with a bit more in the mid and highs were its most effective.

I didn’t do too much with the dynamics and compression apart from the mids, but this was a light deep compressor to bring out some of the clarity and harmonics a little more.

Next is the most noticeable part of mastering, the loudness maximising, I wanted a really full track, but I didn’t want it to just blare in your face so I went for a quite smooth heavy maximiser, and some MBIT+ dither to spread the noise evenly.

I did quite a bit of experimenting with the stereo spread and converting in and out of mono, switching phase, ect, to make sure any spreading I did didn’t cause and phase cancelling, I found some really awesome settings, but many of them didn’t work at all in mono which meant they were best to avoid, or at least tweak, in the end these are the settings I went with.

finally the post EQ, all this work had given really great spread, clarified highs but the bass became a little over powering, so I pulled that down a little and gave a tiny bit more low mids and tiny bit less high mids.

So that was my process for mastering ‘Fairly Natural’ the first serious release by my good friend and the very talented Sam Luff, please check him out and comment on my recording, mixing and mastering with your ideas, advice, questions and opinions as I’d love to hear them.

So today I hung around after a music history exam to do help a friend do all the sound/roadie work for the performance exams, he certainly manages to do a lot of different things at once.

1. The Setup

First we had to get in contact with whoever was performing and asked them what was on stage and what would be miked. We set up 3-4 mics for the first couple of exams even though we knew we probably wouldn’t need them, it was a just in case. Most of the exams just required lugging gear on and off, and some slight monitoring on the piano (which was normally the only thing miked). However, some exams wanted more miked, the most intense being a guy singing/playing piano or playing a leslie organ (alternated between songs), a small choir, a lead vocalist, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. The organ, all the vocals (choir of six had 1 mic between 2) and the piano (bass but was muted as it didn’t need any reinforcing) were miked. Everything had 58s on it except the piano which had a dynamic mic I can’t recall on it. 2 foldback wedges were run out the front daisy chained, also. This set up (including the instruments) had to be completed in a little over 30 min. This was the biggest challenge and the reason for not using more interesting mics/setup.

I found during this that the most important part of the speedy setup is to try and neaten mic cables as you’re running them, rather than afterward and ALWAYS try to work from left to right. Because without time to do a labelling system, and without an incredible memory, this will be your saviour. Keep gaffa tape with you if you can, so that you don’t have to go find it when you want to tape something, and you can do some of the taping while you go.

Also, without a sound check or any way for the performers to let you know if theres anything they want in their foldback there isn’t much you can do other than guess, but there are some things you can listen for that may help. If a singer seems to be a little pitchy, especially if they are a singer who is normally very good, chances are it’s because they can’t hear themselves. With all other instruments (and also singers as well), listen to hear how tight the timing is. If they fall behind then catch themselves back up a few times (or push ahead and pull back) then they probably can’t hear either. Drummers in particular have a tendency to push tempo when they can’t hear, however if they aren’t particularly brilliant drummers they may just not really be listening.

As for the actual mixing of this gig, it was mostly level riding, boosts for solos, a little EQ to tidy it up, nothing too fancy, a little bit of reverb as well, all on a basic yamaha mixer.

2. The audio CD and DVD of performance

While all this is going on, a spaced pair of matched cardioid condensers are set up on a high pole in the middle of the audience (everything run neatly so that it only takes up the space of one chair) to record the whole thing, running to the stage multicore and back to a separate digital mixer with a reverb effect on it to enhance the room a little. This signal is then sent to a Tascam CD Burner and a HD video camera running to a DVD burner. This CD and DVD is burnt/ripped/copied/backedup in numerous ways for numerous people and for the Cons achieves.

That’s a little for one person to do for almost 12 hours a day 6 days a week during exam week.

Setup and Recording:

Guitar and bass: The guitar and bass were both recorded using an Axe FX pre-amp, running into Helix board 18 fire wire digital mixer set up with a recording track in logic. The tone/virtual amp setup for the guitar was an off axis miking of a virtual Recto Orange amp. The bass was run through the Axe FX and into the mixer as a direct signal.

Drums: The drums were programmed with MIDI using Superior Drummer software.

Synths: The synths were programmed with MIDI using the Nexus plugin.

Voice: All vocals were recorded in a small room with little treatment using an AKG Perception 220 running into a DI interface, into a recording track in logic. A pop filter was used and singer/vocalist stood a few inches away from pop filter with that a few inches from the mic.

Processing and Effects:

Guitar: The 2 guitar parts were panned hard left and hard right. Both being processed with CLA Guitar plugins from waves, to add a little reverb, compression and EQ colour, some frequencies were then EQed out separately. Intro riff was notch EQed for effect.

Bass: The bass was EQed with a high roll off and some mids cut out, then compressed lightly.

Synths: Synths were given some Drastic EQ dips, peaks and roll offs to help stop masking. Delay and reverb were applied in the plugin whilst creating the sound.

Drums: In the plugin: Kick and snare were EQed and compressed. The toms were noise gated and compressed, some were also filtered. All drums except overheads and hats were bussed to a separate channel and given parallel compression. This bus was then sent to the main out with everything else at a lower level to add an intense thickness to the sound. Drums were all panned to the appropriate places to where a drummer would be sitting. Out of the plugin (aka the drums as a group:) Multipression to compress upper mids was applied, as well as a limiter at a low threshold to keep from peaking.

Vocals: All sung vocals were given a tight reverb, relatively strong compression, some stereo widening (particularly on the harmonies) and some EQ for colouring. Often harmonies were pushed down in volume to keep them from masking the main melody. Screamed vocals were triple tracked, EQed, had reverb applied, and compressed slightly. One track was panned half left, one half right, and one widened to maximum.

Checked phase correlation using a correlation meter plugin and frequency spectrum using a multimeter plugin.

Mastering: Mastering was done using iZotope Ozone 4. In the paragraphic equalizer some lower mids were cut, as well as some of the highs, as there was a lot of hiss. A limiter was added with a -4.2dB threshold to really improve the loudness of the track. A harmonic exciter was added to enhance the higher frequencies in particular. A multipressor was used to compress all the frequencies with slightly different amounts, as the mix needed it to help translate to other speakers in my house, crossovers were set at 80Hz, 324Hz and 5.05kHz. A multiband stereo imager was used to centre all frequencies below 80Hz a little and widen all frequencies above 5.05kHz quite a lot.

IZotope Ozone 4 also has a built in correlation meter, level meters and phase monitoring allowing keeping tabs on phase cancelation and peaking. Mix was converted  to mono to listen, however, just to be sure.

I was mastering a track on my new pair of speakers and got a really great sound, only to bounce it and have it destroyed with distortion (not clipping or static, but digital noise) I had to bounce at a ridiculously high sample rate to save it!