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  #1  
Old 2012-11-07, 11:18
raymondh's Avatar
raymondh raymondh is offline
 
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So this is what Mastering does!!

Hi everyone.

A sound engineer who is trying to get his new mastering business off the ground, contacted me and offered to master one of my tracks in exchange for using before/after samples in his publicity.

I chose Natural Progression, my first (hint hint) collaboration with Carl Grace.

The engineer (A New Zealand based guy trading as Greenwood Audio) told me to remove all effects from the master buss, tweak a few levels and reduce the overall level because the original track was clipping, then sent him a 96kHz, 24bit WAV file to work on.

It took a couple of iterations for me to get the raw track right for him to master, here's the end result:

http://soundcloud.com/raymondhayter/...ion-remastered

Apologies for the big preamble - I just found the process very interesting - it opened my eyes to the realm of mixing and mastering. So much to learn, so little time :-)

Anyway - I promised the engineer I'd give him feedback on his work, so will pass on any comments anyone here shares.

cheers,
Raymond
  #2  
Old 2012-11-07, 12:36
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ryszard ryszard is offline
 
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I haven't A/B'ed the remaster with the original, but if nothing else it brings out the vocals as I had suggested in an earlier comment. I'd love to know how that's done. The result is even more magnificent than before. I have listened to this piece many times and still haven't got tired of it.
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  #3  
Old 2012-11-08, 04:57
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carlgrace carlgrace is offline
 
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This is quite awesome, Raymond. It is certainly an improvement over the original but I'm not 100% sure I know what the reason is.... It could be the mastering, or it could be the changes you made to the mix. At any rate it sounds like it is finally DONE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryszard View Post
I haven't A/B'ed the remaster with the original, but if nothing else it brings out the vocals as I had suggested in an earlier comment. I'd love to know how that's done. The result is even more magnificent than before. I have listened to this piece many times and still haven't got tired of it.
I agree the vocals sound much better. I wasn't able to improve them myself on the other song (Master of My Heart) but Raymond and the mastering engineer certainly did wonders with them. Besides being a bit louder, they seem much clearer somehow, like they were behind a curtain before. I suspect it has to do with the EQ but I haven't been able to figure it out myself. I tried cutting the lows but then the vocals get thin. I tried with the highs but then my vocals get dull if I cut or brittle if I boost. This mixing thing is hard.

Thanks for your critiques over the last few songs, ryszard. You've really got me thinking and trying to improve my mixing skills.
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  #4  
Old 2012-11-08, 10:24
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raymondh raymondh is offline
 
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Firstly - thanks very much to each of you for your critiques - it takes time to listen.

Some individual comments below ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryszard View Post
I haven't A/B'ed the remaster with the original, but if nothing else it brings out the vocals as I had suggested in an earlier comment. I'd love to know how that's done. The result is even more magnificent than before. I have listened to this piece many times and still haven't got tired of it.
Thanks! The first comment the engineer told me (his name is Matt), is that I needed to raise the level of the vocals 1.5 dB, so his mastering wouldn't cause the instruments to drown out the vocals.

I think that is the first thing that helped.

There's two other things I suspect helped:
- The file I sent him was 24 bit, 96 kHz. (I normally work at 16 bit, 44.1 kHz)
- I dramatically reduced the compression throughout. I suspect the vocals now have more room to breathe (now I'm an amateur trying to sound intelligent.. :-) )


Quote:
Originally Posted by EricBom View Post
The remastered version sounds louder. Has a little more kick on the bassdrum.
But for a layman like me it´s hard to tell if it´s better.
Thanks Eric. Having listened to your music - you're no layman!
Per above, reducing the compression and increasing the level and a bit of bass EQ on the drums helped a lot.

Also - I'm not sure how Matt did the mastering, but to me, he made the sound a bit warmer. No idea if I'm just dreaming it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by snakeofjune View Post
wow. I A/B-ed and the difference is amazing. The original was good but the remastered version was so much deeper, brighter and crisper; the vocals sounded amazing. So, er, who's this guy and how much does he charge?!
Thanks! www.mastering.co.nz is his website. $100 NZ is peanuts for you guys with real money (Euros, USD, Australian Dollars...).
I'm really happy with the result and on the strength of this feedback, I'll use him for another track or two!

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobyman View Post
Listening right now. I haven't done a comparison yet, but the bass really rides nicely in my headphones. Mind you they are about a hundred bucks more than the ones I was using when I listened to the original. I'll go back and listen to the original again.
Ha ha! Something I need - decent headphones and studio monitors.
Only problem is my home office/studio is right underneath the kids' bedrooms, so I suspect it's going to be a committee decision....

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobyman View Post
Okay. Listening to the original. Yeah. The vocals especially are much more clear. The bass lays down like a thick magic carpet that holds everything else up.
Thanks! nice feedback!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mastertonyd View Post
It's a real nice blend!
Thanks Tony!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tincture View Post
Sounds very nice. Haven't A/B'd but the vocals and bass are recognisably improved. Sounds like it was a fun venture. So when you say he wanted the stems without any buss effects did the stems still have any insert effects on them or was each completely dry?
Thanks Zac!

Matt didn't master the individual stems, just the final single stereo mix. Apart from the drums (which he told me to drop the compression the first time he heard it), he didn't want me to change the insert/ individual track effects.

The exception was the drums. After the first remaster came back, the drums sounded pretty whimpy, lost the punch. So I turned the compression off the Kong device, added an FET compressor with some much more subtle compression (mainly to keep the feel of the original drums - which Carl replaced from my original instrumental and I liked what Carl had done) and boosted volume/EQ. Matt then did a second iteration, and voila.

I guess the biggest learning here for me is the penny dropped on the difference between mixing and mastering! :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by carlgrace View Post
This is quite awesome, Raymond. It is certainly an improvement over the original but I'm not 100% sure I know what the reason is.... It could be the mastering, or it could be the changes you made to the mix. At any rate it sounds like it is finally DONE.

I agree the vocals sound much better. I wasn't able to improve them myself on the other song (Master of My Heart) but Raymond and the mastering engineer certainly did wonders with them. Besides being a bit louder, they seem much clearer somehow, like they were behind a curtain before. I suspect it has to do with the EQ but I haven't been able to figure it out myself. I tried cutting the lows but then the vocals get thin. I tried with the highs but then my vocals get dull if I cut or brittle if I boost. This mixing thing is hard.

Thanks for your critiques over the last few songs, ryszard. You've really got me thinking and trying to improve my mixing skills.
Thanks Carl! After that feedback you referred to I thought about trying some effects on your vocals, but I couldn't think of what to add without spoiling the character of your vocals, and it wouldn't really be you (if that makes any sense).

My best guess (and it is a guess), is:
- removing some compression and increasing vocal track levels gave more space for your vocals
- saving at the higher bitrate and frequency pre mastering retained details
- the quality of the mastering - and the added warmth.


What I really like, is that the track consistently sounds good in different listening environments now. Most of my stuff sounds fine on my computer speakers and shite on our home stereo or in the car!! Not the way to impress anyone! I guess the skills to do this stuff is why mastering engineers take years to perfect their craft.

Hopefully, some of the things I've learned here are interesting for everyone! I'm keen to A/B listen to anyone's track's where you're also trying to get a more polished sound!

cheers,
Raymond
  #5  
Old 2012-11-08, 11:29
ryszard's Avatar
ryszard ryszard is offline
 
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Raymond,

IMHO that track would now stand up to airplay along with anything that's out there. All you need is nine more tracks and you have a CD ready for iTunes, Amazon, or whatever. I'd pay for it . . .

*speaks in FM DJ voice*: "All eighties--all the time!"
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  #6  
Old 2012-11-08, 11:59
raymondh's Avatar
raymondh raymondh is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryszard View Post
Raymond,

IMHO that track would now stand up to airplay along with anything that's out there. All you need is nine more tracks and you have a CD ready for iTunes, Amazon, or whatever. I'd pay for it . . .

*speaks in FM DJ voice*: "All eighties--all the time!"
Gosh! That's so kind of you to say so! Made my day!

cheers
Raymond
  #7  
Old 2012-11-07, 12:43
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EricBom EricBom is offline
 
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The remastered version sounds louder. Has a little more kick on the bassdrum.
But for a layman like me it´s hard to tell if it´s better.
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  #8  
Old 2012-11-07, 12:48
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snakeofjune snakeofjune is offline
 
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wow. I A/B-ed and the difference is amazing. The original was good but the remastered version was so much deeper, brighter and crisper; the vocals sounded amazing. So, er, who's this guy and how much does he charge?!
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  #9  
Old 2012-11-07, 12:59
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EricBom EricBom is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snakeofjune View Post
So, er, who's this guy and how much does he charge?!
Rates per song:
$50 standard mastering
$100 stem mastering

2 song revisions, 24bit/96k
16bit/44k and MP3 return.
Online delivery welcome.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JiggeryPokery
And remember, blessed are the cheesemakers, and any manufacturers of dairy-based music !
Quote:
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  #10  
Old 2012-11-07, 13:31
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scoobyman scoobyman is offline
 
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Listening right now. I haven't done a comparison yet, but the bass really rides nicely in my headphones. Mind you they are about a hundred bucks more than the ones I was using when I listened to the original. I'll go back and listen to the original again.
 

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