Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

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Syncretia
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Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Syncretia » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:30 am

I generally make the kick and snare louder than the other stuff, but what I find is that after being mastered the kick and snare are a bit squashed from all the compression and limiting.

I don't think it's really the mastering engineers fault, there's always going to be a little something taken off the top.

How can I change my mix so that these don't get squashed down so much? I know side-chained compression helps. But, any other ideas?
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keefbaker
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by keefbaker » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:33 pm

remove frequencies you don't need from them so they take less headroom and therefore get squashed less.

1.A.M.
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by 1.A.M. » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:24 pm

1. Don't overcompress, you might brickwall limit and result in squashed square signal
2. Leave at least -3-6 db of headroom for your mastering engineer
3. Change your mastering engineer... :lol:

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ionic
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by ionic » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:11 pm

welcome to the 21st century.

Vios
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Vios » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:01 pm

If you don't like the sound of your master, ask for a refund and get a new mastering engineer. If it sounds great before mastering and not very good after it should be clear to you where the problem lies.

One of my friends who produces deep house ran into this problem when he sent a track to someone who does dubstep mastering. His track came back overly compressed and clipped! He decided to use a different mastering engineer.

Tarekith
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Tarekith » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:02 am

Kruddler wrote:I generally make the kick and snare louder than the other stuff, but what I find is that after being mastered the kick and snare are a bit squashed from all the compression and limiting.

I don't think it's really the mastering engineers fault, there's always going to be a little something taken off the top.

How can I change my mix so that these don't get squashed down so much? I know side-chained compression helps. But, any other ideas?
Not to be a smart ass, but why not just turn the kick and snare down some and ask for a revision from the mastering engineer?

Machinesworking
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Machinesworking » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:55 am

Kruddler wrote:I generally make the kick and snare louder than the other stuff, but what I find is that after being mastered the kick and snare are a bit squashed from all the compression and limiting.

I don't think it's really the mastering engineers fault, there's always going to be a little something taken off the top.

How can I change my mix so that these don't get squashed down so much? I know side-chained compression helps. But, any other ideas?
Well there's more than one way to make the Kick and snare stand out in a mix. If you do it by making them louder than anything else in a mix you will lose the ability to get a "sausage" style master unless they get squashed. So you have a few choices, don't let your mastering engineer squash your mix, or turn the volume down on the kick and snare and EQ them in the mix to really stand out, side chain compression can help, but IMO it shouldn't be the only way you attempt this because to really get it to stand out, you will introduce "pumping" into the song, which IMO should only be there as a desired "effect" not as an artifact.

It's also likely that Tarekith is dead on here, and all you need to do is turn down the kick and snare. We haven't heard the song so we have no idea why you need them louder etc.

Syncretia
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Syncretia » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:31 am

Thanks for the responses. I guess something is getting miscommunicated or I'm not understanding something. I'll try to explain it again. This is a general statement. It's not about one particular set of songs that one mastering engineer played with.

1) The kick and the snare are generally the loudest part of the song
2) I do leave 4-6 db for headroom
3) To get some degree of loudness, limiting is required
4) Limiting takes the top off the wave (this will end up being the kick and the snare because they are the loudest parts)

So, at the end of the day, the kick and snare are always going to get squashed a bit. Basically, it's a tradeoff. It's the same trade-off that everyone face. More loudness? Or, more dynamic range (in this case more volume difference between the drums and the other instruments).

So, as mentioned side-chained compression is one strategy to get more dynamic range but keep the loudness, but it creates the pumping effect mentioned. Another strategy is side-chained EQ which is much more subtle but I haven't had much luck in making it pronounced enough to make a difference.

I'm not saying the mastering engineer did a bad job. This occurs when I attempt to master my own tracks. The more I try to maximise the loudness, the more the kick and the snare loose their loudness in comparison to the rest of the mix. Of course I can just not limit as hard, but then the song comes out quiet.
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3dot...
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by 3dot... » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:04 am

maybe give the engineer a stem for kick/snare..
separately to all the rest stem
just a thought..
Image

timothyallan
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by timothyallan » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:55 am

Kruddler wrote:Thanks for the responses. I guess something is getting miscommunicated or I'm not understanding something. I'll try to explain it again. This is a general statement. It's not about one particular set of songs that one mastering engineer played with.

1) The kick and the snare are generally the loudest part of the song
2) I do leave 4-6 db for headroom
3) To get some degree of loudness, limiting is required
4) Limiting takes the top off the wave (this will end up being the kick and the snare because they are the loudest parts)

So, at the end of the day, the kick and snare are always going to get squashed a bit. Basically, it's a tradeoff. It's the same trade-off that everyone face. More loudness? Or, more dynamic range (in this case more volume difference between the drums and the other instruments).

So, as mentioned side-chained compression is one strategy to get more dynamic range but keep the loudness, but it creates the pumping effect mentioned. Another strategy is side-chained EQ which is much more subtle but I haven't had much luck in making it pronounced enough to make a difference.

I'm not saying the mastering engineer did a bad job. This occurs when I attempt to master my own tracks. The more I try to maximise the loudness, the more the kick and the snare loose their loudness in comparison to the rest of the mix. Of course I can just not limit as hard, but then the song comes out quiet.
It sounds like you have too much stuff going on and you want everything to be loud, or your whole mix needs some work overall, or you want your kick and snare reeeealy loud and everything else quiet. :)

Machinesworking
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Machinesworking » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:31 am

timothyallan wrote:
Kruddler wrote: So, at the end of the day, the kick and snare are always going to get squashed a bit. Basically, it's a tradeoff. It's the same trade-off that everyone face. More loudness? Or, more dynamic range (in this case more volume difference between the drums and the other instruments).
It sounds like you have too much stuff going on and you want everything to be loud, or your whole mix needs some work overall, or you want your kick and snare reeeealy loud and everything else quiet. :)
Yeah there's a trade off when you have a crazy cool mix with everything going on in every spectrum, in that you have to accept a 'squashed' sound to a degree or stop trying to get it to the levels that you hear Rap at.

You can squash everything with bussing and a side chain compressor, Now if you do this you should be able to be really really subtle with it and still get a result. You will have to really really play around with it for a long time to get a result that doesn't sound like pumping though.

I don't know though the other obvious thing to do is to compress and Limit the drums before hand. What I've been doing anyway with real drums, (which NEED this, not a matter of taste etc. just a simple fact), is to use a bus compressor on the whole kit, maybe one on the overhead bus, and one on the kick. None of this is extreme, it's all to get them loud enough without the actual audio file being riddled with snare and crash hits that stand out like sore thumbs and end up being over limited in the mastering stage.

Also in general it's best to think about what frequencies are interfering with the Kick and snare, and how to limit that problem. In my experience lately trying to mix and master some tracks with a real drum kit there are definitely cases where you have to carve out space EQ wise for the Kick especially, but also if the snare sound itself is tonally in conflict with parts of the melody that can make for issues when you get to the mastering stage, it'll sound fine with 18db+ of dynamics but sound like shit when squashed to 14-10db. It's not super hard to figure out what works OK with this, you simply take the bass and if it's nearer to the 200hz + area you EQ it there, and throw the kick on the low, or visa versa.

I'm not an expert at this, but I've been spending the last couple months on this sort of thing, trying to become a decent mixing engineer and throw something out to the drummer that doesn't make him whine! :lol:

No seriously, if you really need the Kick and snare louder, but don't like the way they get squashed by the mastering limiting that you or the mastering engineer is doing, then you're going to have to learn how to give the engineer a mix that has maximized kick and snare without huge spikes in the audio file, which is going to be some combination of EQ, buss compression, and compressing and limiting the snare and kick previous to the mastering phase.

timothyallan
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by timothyallan » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:50 am

Yup.

The #1 way to make your kick and snare louder in your final mix is to remove other sounds in your mix.

#PROTIP

Machinesworking
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Machinesworking » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:15 am

timothyallan wrote:Yup.

The #1 way to make your kick and snare louder in your final mix is to remove other sounds in your mix.

#PROTIP
more like #RAPTIP! :lol:

or Drum and Bass etc.

timothyallan
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by timothyallan » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:17 am

There's only 2 other sounds in a rap song other than the kick and snare. The guy rapping, and the sample he stole and looped.

SNAP!

Komodovaran
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Re: Kick and Snare Squashed In Mastering

Post by Komodovaran » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:19 pm

Your kick and snare sound squashed because you're running out of dynamic range. If everything is tied to the 0 dB peak there's no definition between "loud" and "louder than the other loud".

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