Mastering nightmare - please help.

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by MasterD, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    Hello everyone! EXAMPLE 1.png EXAMPLE 2.png Depeche-Mode example .png


    I’d very much appreciate a constructive help from guys who are well experienced in this.


    The Mix - I’m in a middle of mastering a dance/electronica single, unfortunately I can’t publish it here,
    but I’ll use other matching audio waves to illustrate my problem. The mix was a bit hot to start with,
    so I had to go back into the mix session and make adjustments. The entire track is pretty steady around 0dB, the loudest few small parts reaching a bit over 0dB to -4.0db. There are no clipping. After summing the mix to stereo I get a very reasonable looking wave file.

    The Mastering – Since this track will have a music video done in few mounts, then on iTunes, Radio and maybe hit the dance floor, my mastering process transforms into a nightmare!! All because of the recent requirements and metering plugins that evaluates the LUFS (headroom), Dynamics, etc…I can easily now finish this track loud with a great looking thick wave file and be done with it! But no, ALL the plugins that I use to evaluate this track, like LEVEL from ”Mastering The Mix”, WLM from “Waves” and others show that there’s a problem with the headroom and dynamics.

    On the mastering chain I only have very little EQ, minimal tape saturation, little compression and a limiter, all used in very low dosage. I work in 64bit, 32/48 resolution.

    My three main questions:

    1. DO I REALLY need to make so many mastering variations? Club, CD, TV, ITunes, Radio, etc? Each with its own LUFS?

    2. Why these metering plugins show my overall output so high even if my stereo file is not clipping? And when drastically lowering limiter/gain to meet these plugin’s LUFS requirements, the finish mastered wave file is barely looking mastered and the overall output is not that loud?

    3. Producing BIG FAT finish mastered wave file is NOT acceptable anymore these days?

    Please take a look at the attached pictures to see my issues. (Click thumbnail then right click to view large image)

    EXAMPLE 1
    EXAMLPE 2
    EXAMLPE 3

    Thank you and appreciate the help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
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  3. mercurysoto

    mercurysoto Audiosexual

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    Big fat finished tracks have nothing to do with how loud *you* crank it up in your studio setup. I suspect you are suffering from mixing at too loud volume. A well balanced track should sound exciting at a volume that allows two people to talk in front of the speakers. As you may know, LUFS meters have only one purpose: to help you to prevent streaming services from slamming down the volume of too hot songs to achieve a normalized playback experience. Tracks with little dynamic content might end up sounding thinner and quieter than other songs when streamed. I’d suggest for you to have someone in your area, an audio professional, listen to your song and give you a second opinion. If you mix at too loud volume, it’d be hard for you to “feel” it at low volume.
     
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  4. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    I'll look into that, thank you.
     
  5. hani king

    hani king Kapellmeister

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    HI masterD
    1 * I can advise you make few versions of same track and then save one for car listening / other for room and headphone
    2* if your master has like 20 tracks and over,make sure you check the basslines first
    give it some good EQ and cut all high ends ,
    3*there might be some areas where the melodies are running all over that part ,make sure all controlled and fit in(panning works here)
    4*try few mastering plugins and see how they work for you (after using many mastering plugins
    like t-racks and ozones ,each produce its own take on your track,you will hear something different for sure )
    5*some wise guy told us '' less is more '' ,sometime i forgot that i applied a a compressor on a track to high
    so when i do the mastering that compressor goes UP and ruin your track,make sure you TRACK DOWN your layers
    which its plugins and effects

    good luck masterD
     
  6. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

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    you can do what YOU want, try IK mastering plug and A to B, try a few plugs then decide if you really need to do much at all.
     
  7. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    Thank you very much for the advise!

    It is strange, because this is one of the best tracks I have as far as the final mix. It is so well balanced that I hardly needed to do much in that mastering process, just some nice finish, that's it. Yup, I do actually use combination of Ozone 8 and IK:) My Ozone Compressor is only on 2.0dB! And -0.5 ceiling. I can crank it 2-3 dBs even more...but NO...The metering plugins show problem with headroom! The Mono test is excellent! Sound the same...and even better! Test it on different cars, sounds amazing! It's just these sh...ty metering plugins! That ruin everything. I don't understand how this track sounds so good and then when I put it under few plugins like the LEVEL and WLM, I get readings that suggest there's a problem with headroom and dynamics! If I really need to follow the MFiT settings, the loudness output will be ridicules.

    By the way, I use the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro and the Sennheiser HD 650, two really amazing headphones! So as far as critical listening think i'm pretty good.

    HOW MUCH DO I REALLY NEED TO RELY ON THESE PLUGINS???
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  8. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

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    People take differing opinions on this, but my own is that i approach the thought process of mastering as first critical listening to your base mix.
    next you make a decisions about what needs to happen, and last you grab the tool that can achieve this.
    this can be for 1 step or for 100 step process, and since each audio track is a like a unique finger print , what you need to do changes each song or track.

    you basically want your mix to be able to be "cranked" on any playback system without blowing the speakers ( because of unexpected plosives and transient spikes) this is of course besides the point of making the song sound good.

    PS
    a little side note about what i have found the most helpful with mastering at home.( home studio,portable studio ,or small business studios)
    get a high end tactile feedback from 20hz to 55hz integrated into your mastering playback system at listening position.
    this has been the single most helpful addition for myself imaginable .( combined with best acoustic treatment and alterning A to B with headphones and monitors .)
    the reason for this is that that lowest octave range 20hz to 40z is absolutely critical in modern production , tactile allows for a flat response that no amount of bass traps can assist your tiny speakers with)
    here a suggested affordable option to start looking into it
    https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-sa100-amp-with-2-aura-pro-bass-shakers-bundle--300-9002
    http://subpac.com/
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  9. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    Thank you MMJ2017,i'll check it out!
     
  10. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    Ditto to what mercurysoto said. Also, it is imperative to leave headroom way below 0dB to give the mastering engineer, whoever it is, ample room to boost frequencies if they deem it necessary as well as for adding quality high end gain if it is to be done in the analogue realm.Also, inter sampling peaks will cause distortion. Try for something like -6dBFS or less. And don't forget to dither in order to trade distortion for noise. http://darkroommastering.com/blog/dithering-explained/
     
  11. hani king

    hani king Kapellmeister

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    hi masterD

    if you dont mind me asking ..how many layers/tracks on that track ? and how many of them are BUSed ? with compression ?

    hmmmm,if those issue still exists in your track,i guess the final solutions is
    to reset the volumes of all tracks to average/normal middle then increase it just little bit with the compressor plugin
    added on the respective track,you should see where the issue pops out,using your ears is important here
    it might be the volume of the vst plugin thats too high or over FXed , sometime your ears gets tired :guru:
    )you need at least a 1 hour break noise free before going in mastering session so your ears are on high level picking up
    all right melodies and detect abnormal velocities where the issue pops then fix those exclusively with your own mastering plugins
    izotope and i do use that too but its always nice to have another mastering suite as alternative
    (mine is slate digital plugins for smooth limiter and compressor to peak certain parts or drums or melodies )

    remember masterD ,if your track sounds just right ,dont compress it that much ,just add a tiny reverb and and then see if izotope
    can do the rest

    and yes sir ,Sennheiser HD 650 is what im using now (HIGHFIVE) :mates:
     
  12. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    Thank you guys for the reply!
    And thank you hani king :)

    This particular session is kinda heavy, about 40 tracks and additional 30 sends. At least heavy on my CPU now. So I’m glad I’m finish with it and now I’m at the mastering process. I knew there’s a little problem with the gain at the mixing/tracking stage, I didn’t do a proper Gain Staging at the beginning and oh boy…I’m sorry about that, because that would’ve helped a lot. 80% of the tracks have automation now, so you can imagen what it would be like to adjust each track now….(That’s why a good Gain Staging could help at the beginning! LOL) But I took the time and did my best lowering the volume of all tracks by 2dB or so. The track still a bit hot only in few places when it reaches around -4.0dB. Believe me, I saw people mixing in levels much worse than mine!

    As for Plugins, I do have access to almost any mastering plugin I need, and I’m thankful for that. But - no amazing mastering plugin will sparkle your mix if you don’t know how to use it right!:). So, you also need some good experience with all those plugins to work with them.

    INTERESTING NOTE: I’ve made some comparison using EXPOSE from ”Mastering The Mix”. I used my unmastered track file against other music files I have in my library from different professional well known artists in the dance music. Well… it is interesting that 80% of all music files were completely dismissed by 3 or more problems by EXPOSE. Many files were huge and bloated, had stereo phasing problems, headroom and dynamics. However, some files were the same size wave as my unmastered file and were twice as loud. So, I don’t know how technically/visually EXPOSE is designed exactly, but it is a bit confusing – at least can be visually confusing.

    By the way, what would be a good trick to make a loud master file, but keep the waveform looking fairly small and not bloated?

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  13. DieM

    DieM Rock Star

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    I am no expert to say the least but I would just advise that you use your plugins in small increments and trust your ears over anything else. If something is too hot then back off until It makes sense again then proceed lightly.:)
     
  14. Matt777

    Matt777 Platinum Record

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    Please don't take my post too seriously coz I am a moron as far as mix/master is concerned.. you know, leave it to the pros kind of thinking. so this is more of a kinda logical thinking about the question above:

    If you go to YT platform you know you can get this "stats for nerds" info. So, what does this tell you (you probably know it better than me), but to recap:
    Volume/Normalized and content loudness. Volume at 100% just means that you have your YT slider all the way up (which should always be the case when using this tool). Normalized shows applied normalization. Content loudness is the (fixed) amount your track has been turned down (or up). So I was curious what the big, billion views players are doing. It should be 100%/100% 0dB.. but it's far from it. Checked Maroon 5's Girls like you (this was produced after everyone could see those stats), Taylor Swift - Shake It Off, aso.. Turned down from the uploaded original for almost 5 dB.
    [​IMG]

    So, I can't really tell what they are thinking/doing. But this does not seem to me like it was super-optimized. Sorry, if this only adds to the confusion, but it's exactly what will happen to your track (vid) - if you see 5dB, this is the amount (-5dB) of normalization applied. Seems they care less than you do..? :dunno: Maybe someone has the answer to this too. :yes:

    Edit: theoretically you should look that your "content loudness" does not stick too much up (or down). Still wonder though..
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  15. MasterD

    MasterD Noisemaker

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    Thank you for the insight, by now, this is all getting very technical:) and unfortunately it is part of making music these days.

    Taking all advises to the account and still trying to figure out and fix the current problem with this mastering.
    It almost looks like that my overall stereo mix is already hot and when transferring it to the Mastering channel track, I can’t put
    much work on it (limiting, compression, EQ, etc.) That’s what I think? In the other hand, I’m seen other people’s mix when the stereo
    bus is sky rocking! So I don’t know what is going on. After doing some mastering tests, volume wise, it’s not loud enough and also visually it doesn’t look “healthy” enough (at least for a “dance/Electronica” type track)

    Still like to know “what would be a good trick to make a loud master file, but keep the waveform looking fairly small and not bloated/super limited?”

    And also, for a music video (TV broadcast) that the mastered file will be included in, is -12 LUFS is good or less?

    Thank you,
     
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