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Thread: Barry Gardner mastering studio tour (SafeandSound)

Replies: 0
Views: 4,454
Barry Gardner mastering studio tour (SafeandSound) 04-09-2014 09:53 Forum: Mastering

I put together a short video touring my mastering studio and doing an off the cuff chat about audio mastering I hope you like it.. nice shots of room and equipment and an explanation about mastering for the D&B genre....

Mastering drum and bass video
Thread: How to make such a stunning bassline

Replies: 2
Views: 2,356
10-12-2011 11:36 Forum: Production questions & answers

1) Choice of sound, this is going to determine the character of the bassline, the synth sound is all important, try tweaking a preset to get your own unique sound if possible then your bass line will stand out.

2)The notes: no one can tell you how to write a good melody for the bassline but something hypnotic catchy and yet not boring and monotonous would be the order of the day.

3)Balanced and even bass notes, room acoustics can make it hard to to judge bass levels correctly, this coupled with reflex loaded speakers *innaccurate around the reflex ports resonant frequency can make getting even bass note levels difficult.

4) Getting the bass line locked with the drums is important, the groove and momentum of the B line. Try side chaining the bass line with the kick drum to get a groove going.

TOP TIP: I would bring in a drum and bass track you already like/you know is mixed well and level match it to your mix down, (pull the level down). Balance the imported mastered track to be at the same perceived volume as your mix down.This will give you a starting reference to judge your bass line against. It might not be perfect but it will give you a reference for your mix down on your own monitors. Hearing a mastered track on your own monitors will allow you to match up your own bass line and get you in the right ball park.


SafeandSound Mastering
Thread: New valve compressor installed..

Replies: 1
Views: 5,540
17-07-2011 16:41 Forum: Mastering

Also just popped a nice new analogue optical compressor.

The JM SC2.2, nice sounds for sure, always been tricky finding a nice optical compressor and i am glad I found one of these tricky to find green boxes.

Greetz and all the best.
Thread: Loudness

Replies: 4
Views: 9,461
06-07-2011 23:53 Forum: Mastering

Next time you mix try this, be open minded, if you mix as you produce your track wait till you start a new tune.

Set you DAW at 24bit resolution

Peak you kick/snare or main breakbeat at -18dBFS on the master output

Do not add a limiter to the master output.

Use that intitial kick/snare or main breakbeat as a reference that you mix all other sound to.

You have just built in headroom, your monitoring will be clearer as the electronics in you DAC (DA converter in your sound card) will be working more cleanly so you have just improved your monitoring as well.

Gain loudness in self finalizing or professional mastering after you have exported the file at 24 bit.

cheers and all the best.

Thread: How to master a .wav file with Ozone?

Replies: 7
Views: 9,353
22-06-2011 18:13 Forum: Mastering

Hi there, I suggest that whatever settings you use in Ozone based on what you hear on your monitors should be checked on a number of systems. this is a good practice in lieu of not having ideal monitoring conditions.

Thread: dnb mastering

Replies: 1
Views: 8,812
RE: dnb mastering 18-05-2011 14:43 Forum: Mastering

New page on my website with regards to mastering drum and bass:


Thread: New analogue mastering EQ....

Replies: 0
Views: 4,838
New analogue mastering EQ.... 24-03-2011 21:23 Forum: Mastering

I am pleased to say I have a new equalizer in the studio and it will be getting a lot of use on the masters coming from the studio on the near future.

here is a picture of the finished eq.....

Thread: dnb mastering

Replies: 1
Views: 8,812
dnb mastering 24-03-2011 21:18 Forum: Mastering

I thought I would post up some information on the specifics of mastering drum and bass music.

Drum and bass is an exciting and emotive music with a considerable history and the producers of the music are often highly technical and expert at using their DAW (digital audio workstations) D n B mastering is different from other music styles and it is important at all times to keep the sense of energy and power, this will be at the forefront of the mastering engineers mind. Originally Drum and Bass came from hardcore back in the beginning of the 1990's. It's a music style which originated from the rave scene which swept the world and had the youth dancing in warehouse parties every weekend.

Drum and bass evolved from hardcore rave when some of the music became more four to the floor whilst the jungle dnb strand focused on break beats. Break beats were largely played by black funk drummers of the sixties, seventies and early eighties. Jungle music quickened the tempo of these sampled funky beats and used MIDI to trigger them on the "one" to create a unique musical style with an excitement and energy which is arguably unrivaled when it comes to groove, feel, energy, forward moving drive and exhilaration. D n B is the music of energy.

Now we know you dnb producers and heads like their very deep bass lines, and of course high average levels seem important in modern dance music styles and drum and bass is no exception and in many instances it follows the "loudness wars". The challenge for the mastering engineer is balancing power, bass that is deep and even and judging when a track needs a softer / sensitive approach or whether a more heavy handed mastering style is appropriate. Drum and bass sub genres range from minimal, thinly arranged tracks to heavy, distorted, dark and dense attacks on the ears. It is an electronic music form which is complex and now has a 15-20 year history and the ME needs to understand the differences in order to make effective decisions on behalf of the musicians and record distributors in the scene. The use of analogue equipment can sometimes assist with "smoothing" some of the ITB (in the box/digitally mixed) tracks which can in some instances sound a little harsh, some high quality signal paths with high end audio transformers can help soften these hard edges if required.

Being born from urban inner cities not all studios will be perfectly equipped and this can feed into the mastering process as in some cases the tunes will be created with, energy, complexity, significant production time and feeling, but not always in a perfect studio room, as such the monitoring environments may not be ideal and so often bass levels will be out of balance with the rest of the track. This is not always the case and I do not wish be general, D n B has come of age, appearing in commercial spots and has had some chart successes in the last 10 years, it is no longer seen as just and underground genre. Mastering dnb (drum and bass) does take an ear which has experience in the genre, knowing some of the history and origins and also someone who actually loves the music form. As with other genre's the tools used for mastering drum and bass would be eq, compression, (possibly multi band compression) and limiting.

Here is some advice to dnb producers when preparing tracks for mastering :

Master bus limiting:
The mastering engineer will be able to increase the perceived volume of the mix by choosing limiter from a selection for the individual track (each will sound a little different) so it is suggested that the limiter (if you are using one) be removed from your master output bus.

Clipping of the DAW master bus:
When removing a limiter you may then find that the mix "clips the master bus", i.e. exceeds digital zero. This is not ideal as it means the finite numbers in the digital system can no longer accurately represent your mix's audio signal. It is characterized by the squared off/flat topped waveforms if you zoom in to a peak in the bounced/exported file. As asking you to rebalance the entire mix is not reasonable or practical you can reduce the master output fader so any peaks do not hit zero......(i.e. the top of the meter) -6dBFS would be ideal.

Audio File formats:
It is preferable to send 24 bit .wav or .aiff files at the sample rate of your project.Please do not send MP3 files if you have access to wavs and aiffs


SafeandSound Mastering
Thread: New valve compressor installed..

Replies: 1
Views: 5,540
New valve compressor installed.. 17-01-2011 11:45 Forum: Mastering

I am pleased to say that I have just installed a new high end valve compressor.

A Summit Audio DCL-200


It's a beautiful piece of equipment and envelopes sound in a very euphonic way. It can create snappy punchy sounds, warm mixes up nicely or simply add a little body to a mix. Very pleased with it.

When it comes to classy analogue equipment it adds a little something you cannot put your finger on and I am glad to be offering continued value for my clients into 2011.

All the best with your music.
Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
30-12-2010 13:13 Forum: Mastering

I think there is even an online version where you upload a track, it runs some algo on your audio and you get it back with the original as a comparison.

Amongst other preset changes, it was found that the original file was reduced in level by 2dB in order to fool the ears into thinking the B sample was an improvement.
Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
30-12-2010 10:23 Forum: Mastering

Automatic... unfortunately does not do :

1)Quality control
2)PQ encoding
3)Have a sense of good taste.
4)Posess the benefit of a second pair of experienced ears.
5)Allow the music to be heard on a high resolution monitoring system. (and room)
6)Give you any valuable mix feedback.
7)Select the best processing for any given correction job from a high end equipment inventory.



And happy new year everyone !
Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
26-12-2010 21:41 Forum: Mastering

There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm ; ), it's required !

I am based in London, UK

Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
RE: Beating price 26-12-2010 07:00 Forum: Mastering

Hi Redworm, it's generous of you to offer up your time for free, however mastering is the final stage before releasing music and as such it takes an experienced ear to be a safety net before music is released into the wider world. It is easy for those who are inexperienced/ill equipped to make wrong decisions and end up making things worse rather than better. Your £100.00 monitors (KRK RP5's) are not even close to a good mixing speaker, never mind a mastering monitor !(I suspect many members of this forum have better monitoring) If your ability and equipment (and importantly, acoustic environment) is not better than what people have in their own environments how can you expect to improve the audio?

There is a real (and completely understandable) element of trust between a client and a mastering engineer and this is built over time and IMO it's not a place for experimentation and chance.

I would stick to working with your friends music for now, this way you can gain much needed experience before you put yourself in the firing line and offer something that may be detrimental to peoples music and hard work/time.
Thread: FREE MIX/MASTERING. Just tell a friend.

Replies: 2
Views: 4,457
RE: FREE MIX/MASTERING. Just tell a friend. 26-12-2010 06:56 Forum: Mastering

Pls delete
Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
28-11-2010 20:48 Forum: Mastering

Ok giving you guys the benefit of the doubt here............


How come all the people and record companys you have recently mastered tunes for i havent heard of or neither has google

Well what can I say, they all seem to appear, so I would double check if I was you and if they don't just means they are a small artist.


Those monitoring stands look like the cheap solution and the position of the DAW towards the monitors is weird to say the least. Where's the famous triangle?

The monitor stands are custom built and they work perfectly and have neoprene "seats", very strong, do not vibrate and I am very pleased with them. When you have spent Euro 6,000.- on your monitoring system you might want to save a little money too, lol. I chose the position for my DAW based on a complete absence of reflections at the monitoring position. If you position your rack/desk/VDU's in front of the monitors you create a situation where comb filtering and altered frequency response will be the result. I specifically want a monitoring position where there is zero obstruction between monitor and my ears. If you change the frequency response through comb filtering you will make different (read : wrong) decisions. Yes, it is a little different but IMO technically superior.

PMC IB series of monitors do not produce the most desirable response when put in a typical triangle monitoring arrangement. They are not "toed in" like other monitors because they sound best (most accurate) when closer to a "firing straight down the room" position. This is confirmed in practice.

I suggest you get a free preview from me, I will go head to head against anyone at any price.


Thread: Tekmastering - mastering from £15! FREE samples....

Replies: 3
Views: 6,614
10-09-2010 23:14 Forum: Mastering

Do send me a copy of your track too, then you can compare the outcomes ; )

Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
RE: dnb mastering, FAQ 03-07-2010 09:47 Forum: Mastering

I urge people not to be shy and send something over for a no obligation
mastering preview to see what mastering can do for your music.

You can send a track by www.yousendit.com or www.sendspace.com
using the email safeandsound123atgooglemail.com (at being @)

Thread: dnb mastering, FAQ

Replies: 15
Views: 15,277
dnb mastering, FAQ 02-07-2010 16:53 Forum: Mastering

I thought I would write up my FAQ's, it may be of help to you guys :
(It's also relevant to most music mastering)

Can I send my tracks one at a time for mastering?

Absolutely, though do bear in mind if the tracks are destined to appear on the same release that it can be of benefit to master them as a single product in one go.Though in many instances this is not the clients preferred way of working.Most ME's will keep the masters so the previous tracks can be referenced as the overall job proceeds.

What are ISRC codes and where do I get them from?

In the U.K. officially from here : http://www.ppluk.com/

The relevant body differs from country to country but many of my clients have great success (much lowered costs) with CDBaby. You can register your music releases here and request ISRC codes to be sent to you for the tracks. ISRC codes are required to uniquely identify each track and allow automated royalty payments. They can take up 4 weeks from CD Baby so do this well in advance of your release.

I have just paid for a mixing engineer why should I get my music mastered?

Well the mix room may not have had optimized acoustics and very high resolution monitors and so a specialized room and accurate monitoring in a mastering studio will be able to address overall tonal issues missed in mixing.(As an example I use PMC IB1 monitors http://www.production-room.com/pmc/pmc-ib1s/)
Coupled with the ears of a very experienced engineer you get a second opinion if required and a fresh set of ears on your mix away from the pressures of the mix room. During the mix stage overall balances will have been carefully chosen and the dynamics of the track will have been concentrated on. Mixing is often performed under some time pressure and sometimes edits, extraneous studio noises, thumps, pops and other glitches can creep into the mix un-noticed, in mastering these sonic issues are identified, advised on and rectified. And if the music has been produced in a home studio again the acoustics may have been far from perfect.

Why does pricing for mastering vary so much?

Some companies have very high overheads, high rents, loans on equipment and decor and are using top name mastering engineers who demand higher rates. Then at the other end of the market the bottom line is there are chancers operating in the market charging as little as £10.00/track, many recording and mix studios are having a tough time out there and are offering mastering services, it's a mine field , be very careful when someone advertises incredibly cheap rates for mastering, ask yourself..

What is the experience of the engineer?
What equipment are they using?
What monitors are they using?
How well acoustically treated is the mastering room?
Can the correct attention to detail be taken for the rate being asked?
Can the engineer spend time uniquely processing your music for the rate being asked?

I suggest always getting a free preview from a couple of mastering studios so you can hear the differences be it expensive or lower cost.
It puts power in the clients hands.

What is the ultimate point of mastering?

Bring a number of mixes together as one product (especially if mixed on various systems/studios)

Insertion of sub code data to receive your royalties.

Insertion of CD Text and Barcode information.

Add fade ins and fade outs and space the music tracks on disk.

Quality control check on your spectrum through an accurate
room and monitoring system.

Critically listen for vocal pops, glitches, bad edits, thumps, extraneous studio noises, distortion, clicks etc, out of phase mix elements.

To subjectively improve the sound quality of your mixes if necessary.

To correct common problems in frequency response.

To correct/advise on mix problems which may cause playback

To increase perceived punch and if desired loudness with
least amount of artifacts introduced.

If requested, critique of existing mixes.

Increase likelyhood that your CD/DDP master duplicates/replicates at the plant correctly and has a technical contact.

To say your music has been mastered alludes to the fact that you take your musical output seriously.

To maximise compatibility across a variety of playback systems, such as nightclubs, radio broadcasts and online playback.

If requested to subjectively colour the music, warm it up, increase depth,add body, add a sense of fullness or round it out, a skilled mastering engineer should be able to interpret what you mean and what will enhance the music.

What is stem mastering?

Stem mastering is relatively rare and only happens if there are continued issues of balance, it is probably used in less than 5pct of mastering jobs.Stem mastering is a hybrid of mastering and mixing, it takes exported files of grouped instrumentation i.e. drums, bass, guitars, synths, vocals (normally stereo files with the mix effects included in the files) and offers further flexibility in tweaks that the 2 track does not afford. Stem mastering is only required if there are issues with mix balance or if the artist if not 100pct satisfied with the mix balances achieved at mix stage.

What file format is best for sending to a mastering engineer?

24bit resolution .wav or .aiff is preferable at your project/session sample rate.
(check the export/bounce window of your DAW for the "Bit Resolution" 16bit is ok (but not optimal)

It is preferable to do the following when sending your music :

1)Make sure the mix is not peaking above zero (clipping) this is identified by your DAW output meter exceeding zero (0dBFS)
2)Remove any limiters or compressors from the stereo bus (making sure that this does not make point 1 happen), it is ok to leave the compressor if it is deemed an essential part of the overall sound character of the mix.

It is not a good idea to request mastering of an MP3,Ogg Vorbis or WMA file(unless this really is all you have)as these are compressed file formats and have lost some of their sonic quality as the file size has been reduced.The best sounding masters come from 24 bit .wavs or .aiffs.

How do I send my music to be mastered?

Check with your engineer, but I have had great success with www.sendspace.com (free up to 300MB) and www.yousendit.com (free up to 100MB), both sites have a desktop upload application which is worth installing as the upload speed is around 30pct faster. And of course you may have your music on CD-R or possibly a DAT tape so postage is also a means of delivery but always "Special Delivery" IMO and preferably with a back up of the medium kept with yourself.

What tools do you use in mastering?

A huge focus is put on the tools of mastering and of course they are important, jobs need to get done and we all like audio equipment !
The most common tool I find myself using and one which I could not live without is the equalizer. Most jobs get EQ'd, tonal balance and
correction of problems is done with EQ. Then we have compression, limiting and occasionally multiband compression to fix specific problems and sometimes character processing to "warm up" audio if requested. Arguably engineer skill/hearing, monitoring and room response are more important.

What can mastering do and not do?

Well a big part is quality control, catching glitches, adding fades, spacing and sequencing tracks, rebalancing dynamics with a fader ride. However popular mastering discussion tends to focus on processing the audio. Mastering cannot generally make a bad mix good. If you have serious mix balance issues these are not going to be addressed as successfully as a few mix tweaks, so any M.E. should be able to offer some mix advice if the mix is out of the ballpark for sensible balance. Remember, in mastering when you EQ the vocal you EQ the snare, when you eq the kick you eq the bassline. It is these compromises an M.E. holds in his mind at all times. Good mastering can make a good mix sound great, the level of improvements differ from mix to mix but there is no doubt in my mind that mastering can make a very big difference to the end result.


Thread: reverb on mastering?

Replies: 4
Views: 7,915
02-06-2010 21:33 Forum: Mastering

Hi there, it is quite rare to use reverb on a stereo master.

I only use one with a client who sometimes sends mono tracks along with stereo
and use the reverb as a pseudo stereo effect to add a little space to a track this has to be done with great care.



SafeandSound Mastering
Thread: Free preview mastering........

Replies: 0
Views: 4,466
Free preview mastering........ 26-04-2010 21:42 Forum: Mastering

I noticed some posts from people here who are interested to hear how their track could sound after mastering.

Well I do free mastering previews, this way you can hear how your track will sound after mastering without any obligation. If you are pleased with the sound you can go ahead and pay for full mastering (very reasonable pricing). Either way there is no risk and you can get to hear what professional mastering can do for your music.

Just send your track as a .wav or .aiff file to my email address
safeandsound123atgooglemail.com (at being @) via Yousendit or Sendspace.

Regarding limiters :

It is preferable to remove limiters and make sure your track is not exceeding digital zero (0dBFS) on your master output of your DAW (i.e. clipping).
This way I can increase perceived levels without minimal artifacts. I have a choice of limiters and can choose the optimal one for your track.

Look forwards to hearing the music.
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