Old 01-23-2019, 08:07 PM   #1
future fields
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Default Question for those who mix and master their own music

Do you find you are able to get your song in the mix stage perfectly EQ'd for mastering or do you find that you still need to apply some EQ at the mastering stage in order to get it where you want?
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:27 PM   #2
Pinknoise
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Since I mix and simili-master my stuff it's all done in the mixing stage no sense leaving the mix needing extra eq at the 'master' stage.

It's not a real master what I do it's just a compressor a clipper.and a limiter. I sometimes put an eq right from the start with a little high end boost (Maag eq) because I like the sound of the shelving boost but I mix into it, not necesserily because it needs it by default.

Master engineer getting mixes from solid mixing engineers often don't have to eq at all.

Some prefer not to put anyhting on the master bus and do it at end or import in another project. Some prefer to mix straight into the master chain. I get better results this way it just makes sense to me since the extra plugins will enivitably change the sound/balance.

There is an advantage to master a bunch of tracks together for sound consistency, metadata, etc.

Last edited by Pinknoise; 01-23-2019 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by future fields View Post
Do you find you are able to get your song in the mix stage perfectly EQ'd for mastering or do you find that you still need to apply some EQ at the mastering stage in order to get it where you want?
I'm an old fart and I mix and master at the same time which I've been doing for the last 50+ years. I have a special bus
setup I use on almost all my productions that includes my own MASTER track as well as a Master FX track. There's several
more buses to go with that, that's the basic idea.

To start with my Master FX track has an EQ and a limiter. The EQ is bypassed, and will remain so, until I'm nearly done
mixing. In fact, if I've done my mixing in a good way, the EQ may never be used. The limiter starts out with a -0.5
threshold and a -1.0dB output.

When I'm done mixing I will add EQ if necessary and adjust the limiter to my taste. I do use reference material because
it helps me a lot.

In all honesty, I couldn't do it this way if I didn't have a good control room and a decent sound system. The way you hear
it is the most important part of all.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod View Post
I'm an old fart and I mix and master at the same time which I've been doing for the last 50+ years.
Hehe, add compose and record to the above elements and that describes me to a T!
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:38 PM   #5
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Do you find you are able to get your song in the mix stage perfectly EQ'd for mastering or do you find that you still need to apply some EQ at the mastering stage in order to get it where you want?
Leave it unfinished (imperfect) and then try to pull and tug on the rendered mix during mastering instead of having the flexibility of working from the multitrack until finished?! That would be just about the most insane exercise I could think of to come up with!

Mastering is preparing a finished mix for consumer delivery formats. In troubled cases where the mix is either unfinished or damaged and the multitracks have been lost, you do what you can and what you have to. That this has morphed into some people thinking it's OK to turn in an unfinished mix and "fix it in the mastering" is just insane IMHO.

I'd make a similar comment to the "we'll fix it in the mix" mentality. Lazy at worst, misguided at best.
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:24 PM   #6
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If you are doing it yourself, presumably you've already got the "perfect" EQ... to your ears or at least you've done the best you can do.

A mastering engineer with "different ears", different monitors and a different room is probably going to tweak the EQ.

Compression and limiting can affect the frequency balance so sometimes you need to re-EQ after limiting/compression.

Plus, it's human nature to think we can improve the sound by "tweaking the knobs just a little", and it's the mastering engineer's job to make those final adjustments to improve the sound so it's difficult to just leave things alone...
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:42 PM   #7
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Just my impression as a hobbyist:

With a versatile tool such as Reaper, for non-pros (i.e. somehow limited expertise and resources), it makes sense to do the "Mastering" just in the FX chain of the Master track. So you can switch back and forth between "Mixing" and "Mastering" on the fly.

I use an EQ, a compressor, a multiband compressor, and a "safety" block-limiter (at -0.4 dB) there. (Just free plugins.)

Now as a general rule I try to do the mix with this chain switched off until it "sounds good and natural" at my studio monitor. Switching on the Master chain should add some "polish" and make it sound better when listened to via multiple different systems (Car stereo, headphones, kitchen radio, ...).

I am rather happy with the results, and so are the members of my band.

The by fare more complicated problem is Microphones and other recording conditions.

-Michael
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:33 AM   #8
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For one offs and single releases, I usually just do it all in the mix project. If I'm compiling an album out of different pieces that were recorded and mixed in different projects during different sessions, I usually leave off the final master processing when rendering the individual tracks. Then I bring them all into a mastering session. I might add some EQ and/or compression to individual tracks here. It's not because I left those decisions for later, but just to try to get them all a little more consistent between pieces so they sound more like they belong together. I adjust relative levels based on the flow of the album. Then they all go through the same final EQ, compression, saturation etc which helps a little more putting them in the same sonic space and gets me the final levels.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:13 AM   #9
serr
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Now the question was "for those who mix and master their own music". So that's what I answered above.

Giving your final mix to a different engineer for mastering is certainly a thing. Teamwork with someone with fresh ears/perspective can produce good results.

I'll add that many times I've requested the mix session from the client after hearing their "final" mix. Explaining that I'd be able to do more in 3 hours with all the pieces in front of me than I'd be able to do in 12 hours pulling and tugging on the render from where they had it.

Such a thing wasn't possible back in the analog days. Today it is.

Re: mixing into "mastering chains" - ie limiters and distortion boxes (those tape emulator plugins are flavors of distortion FYI)

This is crude. You're basically bludgeoning the tracks into a brick wall (literally and figuratively) until you finally have slammed it down to the point where whatever was buried in the mix is revealed. If this is where you're at and the best you can come up with to hear what you want to hear, that's fair enough. You'll have a lot more options mixing if you try to get what you want to hear out of the source tracks with nothing on your master bus though. I don't want to just say it's wrong. Someone will surely find an example where such a thing was right. (If it sounds right it is right after all.) But you DO have a lot more options if you actually try to finesse the source tracks.

Last edited by serr; 01-24-2019 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by future fields View Post
Do you find you are able to get your song in the mix stage perfectly EQ'd for mastering or do you find that you still need to apply some EQ at the mastering stage in order to get it where you want?
If it sounds like it needs EQ, I haven't finished mixing it.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:47 AM   #11
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I have on occasion asked top masterer's to work on my recordings
I have been very pleased with most on their results especially when
faced with what may have been naive recording practices.
This said because my work is as an artist I do not have the dollars to do this all the time.
This said on two of my occasions of three I have been the pleased victim of masterclass as far as sound goes Bob Katz and his team and Turtle Rock Mastering Aus. Nothing beats talent and folk like these I would use them all the time if I could afford to do so and by the way they did not charge like wounded bulls either.
All this said I have worked on my sound over the last three years worked on my home studio and my skills. I am now in the position where I think and others picked at random consider my presentations CD quality.
I have not got that golden ear yet though, I have Harbal.
Harbal I hear you say.... well years ago I would produce music where the balance was suspect, as the years go by I have got used to my gear and I present better mixes today.
Early on when I ran my mixes through Harbal the mixes were better and the change produced by Harbal was huge (looking at the action on the eq graph).
Today all I get is a minor twitch of 1db here and there.
The Harbal version though always sounds better even if I have to listen to the original mix a couple of times to understand why.
Today I have the benefit of Tonal Balance from Izotope this has made my life tinkering at mixing and making my mastering efforts a whole heap better at the end. I am not selling plugins here I have many, I have hardware too.
My next CD/ Release may be my own or it may be mixed and mastered elsewhere
The Masterer's I have used I have been blessed, their skills and experience I will never have I would know that by now if I did and do recommend the good and great ones.
I keep on trying to mix/Master because I like to learn.

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