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SafeandSound SafeandSound is a male
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dnb mastering, FAQ Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

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
issues.

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.

cheers

Barry

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This post has been edited 6 time(s), it was last edited by SafeandSound: 21-12-2013 14:43.

02-07-2010 16:53 Send an Email to SafeandSound Search for Posts by SafeandSound Add SafeandSound to your Buddy List
SafeandSound SafeandSound is a male
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RE: dnb mastering, FAQ Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

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 @)

cheers

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03-07-2010 09:47 Send an Email to SafeandSound Search for Posts by SafeandSound Add SafeandSound to your Buddy List
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mastering Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

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

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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?

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27-10-2010 21:42 Send an Email to BattleDrone Homepage of BattleDrone Search for Posts by BattleDrone Add BattleDrone to your Buddy List
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Ok giving you guys the benefit of the doubt here............

quote:

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.

quote:

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.

cheers

Barry

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This post has been edited 1 time(s), it was last edited by SafeandSound: 28-11-2010 20:50.

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I'll do it free.

You help me, I help you.

www.RedWormAudio.com
contact@redwormaudio.com
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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.

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This post has been edited 5 time(s), it was last edited by SafeandSound: 26-12-2010 07:05.

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There's nothing like the deep end.

My argument would be that I would love to try something that pro experienced guys like you do. Just to give me a taste.

I would also put forward the fact that whoever is interested should do both. Send the track to you and to me. Use yours to release and mine just to help me. Maybe that is selfish of me? I just want to learn as much as I can. I'm 18 and think that I have a talent for this area and want to learn enough to be able to make it my life and profession.

I think and hope that by putting myself forward like this I will be able to make the friends you talk about that will help me learn and develop.

Can I also ask where you are based?

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

I am based in London, UK

cheers

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This post has been edited 1 time(s), it was last edited by SafeandSound: 26-12-2010 21:42.

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I just really want to make this my life. Ya know?!

Would you be willing to have an inexperienced newbie sit in for a mastering session or two to see what the pro's do? I'm not such a newbie that I'll piss you off, I hope. Wink

I'm just fishing now, but its always worth a shot!
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Seriously guys, if you want a good master you should trust no engineer and get Automatic Audio Mastering:

http://www.curioza.com/

If you can’t believe how awesome this is have a look at the video tutorial section and watch the second clip: http://www.curioza.com/index.php?option=...d=138&Itemid=25


..yamean Roll Eyes Big Grin
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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.

cheers

Barry

And happy new year everyone !

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you certainly realized that I wasn't serious, right?

but good thing you directly pointed out why this application is truly a joke.
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Nice one Gregg! Yamean... hahaha!

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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.

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This post has been edited 1 time(s), it was last edited by SafeandSound: 30-12-2010 13:14.

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