Twenty Important Tips About Mastering
Gaining work experience is very difficult and time consuming, but Sepehr Parsa has made the work easy for those who are interested.
Prominent Iranian musician, arranger and musician who has a lot of experience in all aspects of music, this time wants to say 20 main and important points about mastering.
Sepehr is the first top musician to recount his experiences with great enthusiasm.
Audio mastering is a post-production stage in the music industry.
The process of preparing and transmitting recorded audio from a source, including the final mix, to a storage device and creating an original source from which to make copies and duplicates.
The use of digital masters is more common today, but some sound engineers still use analog masters in the manufacturing industry.
Mastering has always been and will always be an important step in the production of a work, and due to the high level of precision required for it
it has turned it into a magical and somewhat scary operation!
Make a gap between mixing and mastering
Always try to leave a gap between the mixing and mastering process so that the ear can rest and you can judge the sounds correctly.
This always has a positive and beneficial effect on the finalization process of your projects.
At least one night between these two processes is necessary, it is even better not to listen to the mix project for a few days or weeks if possible,
so that you can go to mastering with a fresh and more accurate ear and be able to identify the smallest flaws.
Always remember there are differences between mixing and mastering
In the mix, we try to balance the frequency and amplitude of the sounds so that the music components have the best sound together.
But in mastering, we try to improve the overall sound of a single or parts of an album so that they are on the same level in terms of sound intensity,
and if there are any problems, we can fix them.
For this reason, resting the ears to continue the mastering operation increases your chances for a better and more accurate judgment.
Consulting expert and skilled people can also help you achieve the best results.
۲. Always compare your music with references
One way that will help you a lot is to compare your project with a professional example in a similar style.
Choose a piece that you feel is close to your style and you want your piece to be like it, and during the mastering,
try to get closer to the best by comparing your project with that piece; Of course,
this does not mean that your piece sounds like that reference piece!
But it will also give you guidance on how to achieve the best result,
making your piece sound louder and more likely to attract listeners to the music market.
Note the width of the stereo space, the overall volume of the track, the amount of compression and the bass positionand the sound of the singer.
If your piece does not have the necessary dynamism and spirit and sounds very uniform and linear, give it a little more feeling with the help of Exciter and EQ.
If your piece is more compact than the reference piece and it does not have a wide stereo space,
make it a little wider with the help of stereo plugins but keep your eyes on the levels.
Pay attention to how your music is played on different devices
For a long time, different people knew the importance of mastering the stage only in raising the volume of music as much as possible, but today we are witnessing many changes.
People today listen to music digitally; Such as digital radio or with the help of player software.
In apps like Spotify and iTunes, tracks are changed before being played to be heard in the best possible way, one of which is to level the volume on different tracks.
The idea came about because the various tracks on the playlist or radio podcasts had a lot of ups and downs in volume, and the listener had to manually increase or decrease the volume.
But with the software algorithm and manipulation of podcasts, the sound level of all the pieces is set at this specific level so that the listener can enjoy the music without manipulating the volume.
Now with these changes, why sacrifice the dynamics of sound to its loudness ?!
So it is better not to limit the dynamics and spirit of the sound by limiting it too much.
Try; Quiz and quiz again!
It may be tedious, but it is very important and vital that you try your music on different playback systems;
It may sound great in a studio acoustic environment with an expensive, professional sound system
but what guarantee is there that it will sound just as good on regular players used by ordinary people?
What if the listener plays it on headphones connected to a smartphone?
What if the listener plays it in his car’s broadcast system while driving?
Test your music on different systems to find problems and fix them before playing.
Usually these problems may not be detected in studio systems, but more common and popular systems show them better.
Of course, you may not be able to test your music on all broadcast systems, but it is best to listen to it on available systems as much as possible.
If you can master music in a way that sounds good on all systems, you have put your art to work in the best possible way.
Do not make things difficult for yourself!
We talked about war and controversy above to make music louder, and we said that in software like iTunes and in radio programs
before being played, the parts are changed to be at the same level in terms of hearing and volume.
So what is another reason to limit the sound so severely to achieve high Loundess ?!
Try to resist this temptation! When you avoid over-limiting, the transients retain their natural state, the dynamics of your music suffering are not over-compressed, and the musical state remains.
If you need a mix project, come back to fix any problems
If you work as a mixing engineer and mastering engineer on a project, never try to make a bad mix better during mastering.
The singer’s voice may be low, what is your solution?
Increase its volume with the help of equalizer in mastering?
Before doing this, it is better to think about what other sounds you amplify along with the singer’s voice.
What if the drums are too compressed?
Do you have a solution to this problem in mastering so that the sound of the drums can breathe and restore its lost dynamics?
When you are also involved as a mix engineer for that project
it is better to return to the project after identifying the problems of the mix and fix the problems and return to the mastering work by exiting the mix project.
But if the mix is done by someone else and it is not possible to correct the problems in the mix project
it is better to try to solve the problems to some extent by applying equalization with small slopes and multi-channel compressors or mid / side compressors creatively and of course with caution.
Be aware of the compressor
Applying a Bus Compressor in the mixing stage is a thoughtful and clever solution so that the sounds are beautifully put together and glued together.
Of course, this technique alone should not be relied upon.
You should not use the compressor to increase the sound gain, but it is better during the mastering by trying different compressors and adding the material and color of the circuit to the sound,
to help the sounds to be placed better and more pleasant.
Multi-channel compressors can also be used to control or increase the amplitude range of frequencies.
Finally, you can use the limiter for the final control of dynamics and peak and increase the sound gain in the last line of your mastering plugin list.
Sometimes little work but principles work best
There are many powerful plugins that you can use to get great results in mastering,
but that does not mean you can use all of them to master one piece! If you need to make extensive changes to the sound while mastering,
it indicates that your music is probably not well mixed; So it is better to solve the problems in the mix project and start mastering again.
(This decision in mastering is made because you have gone to mastering with new ears and now you better understand the possible drawbacks of the mix.)
Ideally, if you are on the side of music that is well mixed, has a good balance between sounds, and the instruments are well placed, you do not have much to do in mastering!
Maybe this will result in applying a little EQ to the final correction of the music frequency range, of course,
a little compression and finally the correct limiting (and avoiding excessive use of it) and you can get the best result with the same amount of work. .
The important point that should be mentioned in this section is the amount of changes in the values of mastering according to your music style.
For example, the amount of dynamic music in Ballad style is much more than a style like Heavy Rock!
So according to the style of the music and the final result and compare with the references.
This is another way to get closer to the best result.
Mastering is the last step in the process of producing an audio and music piece that is done once for each piece.
Usually re-mastering is done for parts that are recorded on old tapes and due to the lack of advanced tape cutting equipment, their sharpness, transparency and details are low.
A great idea is to save the order of the plugin chain along with your favorite plugins to this directory.
By doing this, if needed, you can quickly call your desired chain and save time.
Another thing that can be done to make it less of a hassle in the future is to have different outputs from the mastering project called the original version,
Radio Edit, and Instrumental Track; You may need a reader-free version later, which will take less time than already.
Be smart Using advanced analyzers can be more useful than just showing the courier in your DAW.
In the mix, you can use them to decide on the correct performance for the Phase and stereo image and the amount of dynamics.
We have said before; Mastering becomes very easy if we have a flawless mix. In mastering, always have a look at your analyzer to know if the decisions you make are right or not!
There are many plugins and tools available.
Blue Cat Audio Analyzer is simple and has meters next to the waveform display.
IK Multimedia T-Racks Suite is a complete tool with the analyzers you need in the mastering stage.
It also suggests the volume of the volume based on your music style. Of course, each of these tools is available in the plugins of this package.
iZotope Ozone Suite also has great analyzers; It has everything you need.
Of course, for more complete and advanced options, you can go to the Insight plugin to easily show everything that lies at the heart of your voice to your eyes.
۱۱. Master in other places as well
If you are mastering a collection of tracks or an album, it is better to master the tracks in another studio. Or use other tools and equipment such as other studio monitors.
This will ensure the result of your work and know that you have made the best decisions for mastering your parts.
This will ensure the balance of the sounds, such as the volume of the bass and the vocals.
Because you may encounter acoustic problems in your main environment, which makes your music not be very visible!
۱۲. Use multi-band compressors
In many cases, using single-band (conventional) compressors may not work for you.
In such cases, using multi-band compressors can be your solution.
The use of Multiband Compressors allows you to control the dynamics of each range individually and the effects of each band act only in its range.
For example, by controlling the low frequency range, you increase the clarity of the music, but allow the middle areas to act separately and so-called breathe.
Be careful when using multi-channel compressors and do not overdo it, of course, this is a skill that is acquired over time and experience and practice.
Do not forget to fade at the beginning and end of the piece
In mastering, you may hear unwanted noise at the beginning and end of a piece that has not been heard before for reasons such as the lack of a limiter,
or it is not so clear that it naturally makes your music look ugly at the beginning and end.
The simplest solution suggested is to fade the beginning and end of the piece.
If you use special software for mastering, you can determine the amount of sound disappears at the beginning and end. Also, if you use DAW for mastering
this feature is easier in them and you can do it manually.
۱۴. Wide music
Wide music is usually done in the mastering stage.
A solution that makes the music wider and the orchestra of deeper and bigger musicians can be heard.
Of course, in this stage, as in other stages, we must be careful.
The middle and upper frequencies can be safely widened to a reasonable and required level, but this does not seem interesting for the very low and low frequencies!
Because most of the energy and percussion is in the instruments that are in this area and should be in the center of your stage to be heard properly.
۱۵. Use exciters
Exciters can add clarity and brightness to sound in high frequency areas that is beyond the power of simple equalizers.
This transparency makes the sound more soulful and dynamic and more beautiful to hear.
Exeter adds clarity to your sound by increasing harmonics, phase changes, and slightly increasing distortion at high frequencies.
Be sure to use these tools in your mastering step if needed!
۱۶. Be friends with equalizers!
Although we never recommend that you postpone mixing defects to mastering, important and vital changes can be made with the equalizer at the mastering stage if needed.
For example, if an element needs to be higher or lower in the mix, it can be achieved with a band of equal amplifiers.
And also with the help of the equalizer in mastering, we can reach the sound character that we want.
۱۷. You can paste sounds together
Combining music is less popular than ever, but some people tend to combine tracks from an album so that it starts at the end of another one immediately and without pause.
You can do this in your DAW by layering the cracks, using the feed option, or with a dedicated tool such as the dedicated Steinberg WaveLab assembly section.
Should we use Dieter or not ?!
The answer is very simple!
If your music Bit Depth is 32 or 24 and you want to convert it to 16, it is better to use Dieter.
Dieter adds a noise to the sound that minimizes digital distortion when converting and does not cause a significant loss of quality in this operation.
Dieter’s efficiency in converting the format to a format such as MP3 is fully felt.
Examine all the options before you
It is better to start mastering with priests.
Of course, you should not limit yourself to them.
Especially since genre labels can not always work well.
For example, a rock music priest may not perform well on your rock music, but it may be good for another rnb music and give a good result!
It is best to try solutions to see which one works best.
Trust your decisions
It is not at all unusual that you like to always spend more and more intensity in mastering and increase the feeder, because it seems that such a sound looks better!
In the compression and limiting phase, pay more attention to the sound before you reduce the dynamics too much and take the soul and life of the music away from it and the analyzers get closer to 0 decibels;
If the volume is loud enough, then why do we need it? Reduce the intensity of the operation a little, sometimes it may be better this way.
It is also good to sometimes resist the temptation to limit music more.