newbie Mixing/Mastering help (long post)
First of all i'd like to warn some that this is a long post and i don't want to offend any of you for my lacking certain mixing fundamentals, so if you can't help a man who's in elementary when it comes to mixing and mastering this thread isn't for you. I think i'm very good at keyboards but I admit I hadn't put much to any effort in learning mixing and mastering. Never thought i needed to. To avoid reading why i hadn't focused on certain aspects of recording, i'll go ahead and present my questions to those- who maybe short on time. thanks
Is there a particular db level i should want to see from my Reason tracks?
Most of the literature i've read seems to be saying the Master Meter shouldn't go above 0 db?
Is that before Mastering and after or? Seems some places say +3db
Should I have Default Mastering enabled while mixing or enable til after i finish mixing? Do you feel its better to export audio and then bring track in for mastering or do you master while mixing? In the Macprovideo I bought, the guy says he likes exporting then importing the mixed file.
Below I have the mastering settings i've used for the past 2 years. If someone who has the time could give me a good range of where my settings should be or a ball park figure if possible. I figure every track is different but if there's a pretty safe setting.
Is the mixing and mastering a big deal for me? I just make beats, i don't have a home studio, i'm not trying to record anybody's album from my setup. I just want to start presenting my music to different artist and labels.
If an artist or label does contact me for my music, the engineers handle the main mixing correct? Pardon me, but i've put years and hours into developing songs, getting better on the keyboards, i never knew nothing about mixing or that being a part of my duties.
That's the end of my main questions, the rest of the hoopla is just me stating how i've used Reason for 4 years and never really did any mastering and lack certain knowledge. I recently bought 2 vids, been reading post and literature on it, but i'm unsure if i really need to spend much time on it right now.
So i've used predominantly Reason for the past 4 years. I love making music, i've never released any music, never really tried to solicit my music or anything. In between working 2 jobs, church, my family, and girl friend here and there, my only other obligation has been making music (in particular, rap beat and dance music--using only reason soundbanks). So an associate heard my music, he was like you could definitely be getting paid for some of these songs, i had always wanted to shop my beats but never thought my stuff was complete enough. After seeing several other "producers" make it, who's music i feel is very simple, repetitive, one-sided, etc...(no disrespect intended, just an observation). I felt like maybe i can make a few dollars with some of these songs that i have spent countless hours on.
When i started making beats, i was unaware of compressing or any of that stuff. I heard of Mastering but a remember a producer say, he lets the engineers do all that kind of stuff, their the professionals, he said something about he can spend 3 days mastering it, then the engineers are still going to redo things so i doesn't do any of it. So i thought to myself, yep, i'll let the big boys handle all the compressing and mastering. So for my first 2 years in Reason I never compressed or mastered a thing. Sad to say, i was happy with my sound, especially compared to other software and hardware i had used.
My Roland and My Ensoniq Mr76 never said crap about mastering or compressing. So I always thought that was for people who were actually trying to do professional home recording. Anyways i can't even remember what (maybe i read it or saw a youtube vid or something) made me start with Default Mastering Suite. But, I immediately heard a better sound. So here i was going through hundreds of files i had previously made adding the master suite to them. At that point I added Default Mastering Suite to my template (back in R4).
Fast forward 2 more years into the future to last week... Ok, so now i'm ready to start shopping my music to artist and labels, i'm trying to get the best possible sound. So i've been looking online trying to find literature on better mixes, watched youtube vids, read post when i light bulb when off.....first of all i've never recorded watching my individual levels....like i see many say they record instruments from -6db to -3db or something. I have always watched the master fader to make sure my tracks weren't clipping, but i really watched individual channel settings, long as it sounded good. Before I exported audio, I always tried to get the Master Meter to be close to red but never clipping (usually around what I now know as +3db). My factory system in my car master volume level goes up to 40, on mainstream cds i turn up to about 32 and its loud enough for me! so that's what i always wanted from my cds, to be loud enough without have to turn my car radio to the max. So my question is....where should my track meters be maxing at? when i'm down mixing where should i want the db level on my master fader to be? I've read so many say never above 0db, but if its below 0 db i have to turn my car radio to 40 and its still not loud enough.
I didn't mention mastering in my last paragraph, because I haven't been. All my songs for the past 2 years have used the same Default Mastering Suite settings.
These aren't the Default Mastering Suite settings, so don't ask me how I came up with this setting, but this is the setting that's applied to every song i've made over the past 2 years. Even when going from R5 to R6 I copied the everything over with the same settings and have used these same settings for every song i've done in R6 and R 6.5
loudness curve 1.36
compression and punch on
low shelf freq 48.2khz
par. 1 freq3.021khz
hi shelf 7.459khz
The gains are all in the middle, q is all over the place.
Stereo Imager is bypassed.
Compressor Threshhold -10.8
soft clip highlighted and its on 29
I've used the output gain on the compressor to turn my tracks up when doing the final mix, so that and the compressors input gain knobs are the only knobs in the mastering suite i've changed over the past 2 years. So i've recorded hundreds of songs under the settings i listed. From the little I have learned about compression over the past week, my current settings look horrible. I will say, some of my mixes sound ok, so maybe i over-rode those horrible settings by doing a lot of changes with eq?? Anyways the settings i've used, don't ask me how i came up with it, but any suggestions on a good setting to use in the Mastering Suite? I know it'll probably vary with different songs but I good base.
I don't know what's happened to me, i went from having tracks sound decent with 1 or 2 hours of mixing. But, ever since hearing about this db level that db level, mastering, compression, i've found myself spending several hours mixing one song. Then the ultimate is i hear old song that maybe the piano is too loud or synth too loud. A few months ago, a problem like that took my 15 minutes to fix. Last night i go back to 2 songs that had minor issues, i spent 7 hours remixing the 2, only to export audio and the 2 songs sound worse after 7 hours of mixing than they did in the mix i made months ago. i probably made both songs in 3 hours. This kind of stuff has been going on for the past few weeks. i've been remixing songs trying to get some clear sound, i lower volume on 1 track, 3 hours later all my faders are in the minimum, i know have to turn the volumes down from the actual devices (malstrom). Next thing I know the song is too low, so i'm turning up the mastering suite output/input to the max trying to get to 0db.
Now that i'm going back in remixing tracks, i'm catching hell with my drums, in particular the snare. Its too loud i turn it down and it sounds dirty....i wasn't having these problems a few months back.