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 Post subject: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:08 pm
Posts: 282
Hi,

Should I mix without using the master track so that it can be sent to mastering more easily, if so how do I do it?

I can't load the same plugins on all the individual tracks. Even if I do, I won't get the same unifying sound or glue as I would had I put the stuff on master. Nor will send/return tracks, at least not to my knowledge. So what choices do I have?

1. Find a masterer I truly trust with my production secrets
2. Take my laptop to a less trusted masterer and have him/her instruct me on what to do
3. Send everything to masterer dry, have him/her return finished result as an .als file, send him/her .mp3 iterations and get instructions on what to do

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
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If you're going to have your track mastered, there's no need to put the same plug in on all the tracks anyway :) Just do your usual mixdown workflow and forget about applying any processing to all of the tracks identically.

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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am
Posts: 5003
marra wrote:
Hi,

Should I mix without using the master track so that it can be sent to mastering more easily, if so how do I do it?

I can't load the same plugins on all the individual tracks. Even if I do, I won't get the same unifying sound or glue as I would had I put the stuff on master. Nor will send/return tracks, at least not to my knowledge. So what choices do I have?


I don't understand completely what you're asking, but I generally export one 24/32bit audio export file with my master chain active as the reference mix, with that in the name, and then another without Limiter gain that I intend for being used for mastering. I give both to the master engineer. Typically I keep multi-band compression and EQ as I've mixed into that quite often.

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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:08 pm
Posts: 282
Cool, so basically I just give him/her one wet and one dry mixdown? In other words the mastering engineer's only task is to properly EQ and adjust the loudness of the wet mixdown?

I thought he/she would have to fine-tune each track individually and then again as a whole, which would be easily done dry. With the wet mixdown, however, my 5-10 secret master track plugins would color the sound so much that a mere multi-band and EQ wouldn't come anywhere close to representing it. I also vaguely remember someone recommending staying off the master channel as far as mixing is concerned, for this exact purpose. I don't remember if it was on this forum or Gearslutz.

I've never mastered anything before so sorry if I come off sounding like an idiot.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:08 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am
Posts: 5003
marra wrote:
Cool, so basically I just give him/her one wet and one dry mixdown? In other words the mastering engineer's only task is to properly EQ and adjust the loudness of the wet mixdown?


Well, it's possibly your job — if you choose to accept this mission to yourself — to make a great sounding mix, that the master engineer can understand, possibly communicate with you about, and ought to be able to enhance this further and make it outstanding (if this is possible for that mixdown).

While you will get better and better with creating a balanced mixdown with dedication and experience, likely you don't have — and probably won't have — the studio, the ears and the experience your master engineer of choice should have. All of which makes mastering (for releases) worth paying for in my book.

I'm currently looking for a new master engineer or master house myself. Been using people I know before.

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Last edited by Stromkraft on Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am
Posts: 5003
marra wrote:
I thought he/she would have to fine-tune each track individually and then again as a whole, which would be easily done dry.


Well, if you by "track" mean a series of mixdowns of different songs (tracks) meant to be presented together, like on an Album or an "EP", this is ideally what a master engineer does. Fine tuning already balanced stereo mixdowns of "songs" or tracks. I guess what he or she specifically does with a mix varies, somewhat at least, with material.

Personally I think a mixdown should already be as "loud" as you want it, with the crest factor on each track having the needed perceived volume together with any parallel compression — which I love to use — and so on.

The fact that what I turn over for mastering typically aren't peaking over -6dBFS is to make some head room for the mastering process.

My main focus is to make my mixes sound as balanced and great as I can and to put across the emotions I want my music to potentially communicate. That's what I rely on the master engineer to understand — I'd assume each one does this in her/his own way — and enhance into a master worthy of being released.

I know machine treatments are on the go now, so that's an alternative for some stuff. I'm on the fence so far for that.

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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:37 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:33 pm
Posts: 6
I would reframe from putting anything on the master as this will colour your perception of the sound of the track.

If its compression or an saturator you can of course use this as a aux buss.

I would work on getting your sound right before the master. The master should only be the cherry on top of the cake and not there to fix your track.

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 Post subject: Re: Mix without master track, if so how?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:08 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am
Posts: 5003
penman3103 wrote:
I would reframe from putting anything on the master as this will colour your perception of the sound of the track.


I think you mean "refrain". I can't agree with you. The whole point of what I put on my master is to colour and gel the sound. That's creative and part of what I do, and not the job of the Master Engineer (ME). The trick is of course to understand what is best left to the ME.

I'd include stuff, that at this processing stage likely are mild, non-drastic strokes, like for instance:

  • Compression I've mixed into or that I think I need in order to gel the whole sound.
  • This could include multi-band compression, depending on the material and how the mix was built, but generally I'd probably ask beforehand if this best be leaved on or off.
  • Saturation, like for instance NLS Buss
  • Tape Emulation
  • Level changes, or even cutouts. I use FreeG
  • Any DJ-Style effects (highly unusual for me, but possible)
  • Any automation of the above

I'd probably leave off stuff like:

  • Limiters, unless I've done something special the song couldn't do without.
  • Corrective EQ. If I need to change I'll do it on the Instrument or Aux/Buss track.
  • Corrective Dynamic treatments
  • Any treatment, still on and that I've tried, and where I felt unsure whether this was improving the track, or that I felt the ME likely could do better.

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