Mon, 07 Oct 2013  /  Post a comment
In this post I like to share some tips that I give my clients regularly. These are some basics I also use myself during mixing. If done properly, they can really help in getting a better mastering result.
1. TEST THE BALANCE OF YOUR MIX BY ADDING A LIMITER
A very effective way to find out if you need to adjust something in your mix before you send it out for mastering, is to put a limiter on it. By doing this you will hear which sounds stand out the most. If these sounds are not intended to be so dominant, you now know that you need to tone them down in your mix. Don't forget to take the limiter off your mix before you create your mixdown!
While this is a very simple tool to use during the mixing process, please do keep in mind that it is incomprehensive. A good mastering engineer works with a whole chain of digital and/or analogue plugins. By doing this he will get the best out of your track and that is never accomplished with a limiter alone.
2. SEPARATE FREQUENCIES
Always try to separate frequencies properly. The more room each frequency has, the better. This is not entirely necessary for every sound, but keep it in mind at least while mixing. For example: if you have two sounds that are in the 63 Hz range and you don't separate them, they will add up and they will start to sound wobbly or worse.
If you have a kick drum and a bassline, give them room by separating them using an EQ and compression. Properly balanced frequencies in your mix will result in a higher quality master. It is not that terrible if your mix does not have enough high, low and mid range overall so that the entire mix sounds a bit dull. As long as all sounds are balanced in frequency the dullness can be corrected in the mastering process. This is always corrected at least a bit.
The opposite is true when individual sounds have too much or too little of certain frequencies. For example: if your entire mix needs more high range, but one particular sound has a lot of high in it, then this is a problem. During the mastering process all highs will come forward including this one sound. This sound will then be even more prominent compared to the rest of your track. This is something that cannot be fixed with mastering without impacting your entire mixdown. The right thing to do is to adjust it in your mix.
If you are still insecure of how mastering will affect your mix, you can also request a 'quick master'. I will master your track using a specific chain that will give you a rough idea of how your mastered track will sound and you will hear which sounds you need to still work on. At Fatal Mastering we do this free of charge.
3. COMMUNICATION AND LOUDNESS
Communication with your mastering engineer is key. Clarify as much as possible what sound you are looking for and, if possible, send an example track to your mastering engineer. After all, how a track should sound can be very personal and 'good' or 'bad' are very objective. By communicating this in detail to your mastering engineer, he can better judge if there is any element you should adjust in your mix. It will also help him to give you detailed advice on what you should change in your mix to get the result you desire.
Keep in mind that a mastering engineer could also refuse to work with you if what you are asking him to do go against all his principles of mastering a track. I sometimes refuse mastering jobs when I feel the desires of the client will not reflect my best work as a mastering engineer. Don't make a big deal out of that because like I said, good or bad are objective. Look for a mastering studio that has no issues with getting the result you are looking for.
Loudness is one of those subjects you should be clear about, so tell your mastering engineer how loud you want your track to be. Some styles (e.g. EDM) can handle more loudness but others (e.g. Deep or Soulful House) require more dynamic range to compliment their sound and therefore should be less loud.
4. MASTERING PRESETS
Always be very careful with mastering presets. Mastering your track by using a preset could give the impression that it sounds great, but you will hear the real results when playing your track on different sound systems. More often than not it will not sound that great after all. It would be a shame if you have an important DJ gig at a club and you are ready to drop your track and you find yourself diving into the EQ because of it. There is not one perfect preset. Each track is different and requires a different approach in mastering and should be done by someone who has the skills and knowledge to get the best result.
There are many offering mastering services nowadays and in some cases even big, established studios use presets for electronic music. Be very critical with who you choose to work with and find someone that gives your track what you feel it needs. Not every mastering engineer is the right one, cheap or expensive. Music is personal and you should always work with someone who understands what you are looking for.
To finish this post, I'd like to share two interesting articles that include these topics as well and more (source: Music Radar):
Rob Babicz talks mastering (interview): http://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/robert-babicz-talks-mastering-574468
Watch mastering engineer Mazen Murad master a track (video): http://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/watch-mastering-engineer-mazen-murad-master-a-track-574447
If you have any questions after reading this, or have questions about mixing, feel free to ask in a comment.
Happy mixing! Jaimy
Fri, 25 Feb 2011  /  Post a comment
Its been some time since my last update and that's not really good. Lots has been going on the last month and I've been really busy in my studio with several things. For now I just want to tell you about my latest release on my label Fatal Music. It's a re-release of a single I did back in 2005. It was one of the first releases on Fatal Music and received big support from the likes of Danny Tenaglia, Chus & Ceballos, Tom Stephan and Behrouz.
As I really dig the vocal element I wanted to do an update for 2010 :)
Been a fan of Dj Wady's work for a while now and so I asked him to give his input on it. I couldn't be happier with the result. His Bedroom Remix is a funky, catchy and groovy tune. Very different from the Origianl which is a rough tribal tech house tune.
Jorn is another very talented producer and he was happy to do a mix as well. His mix is techy and funky, but slidely more darker than Wady's remix.
All in all I am very happy with this new package of mixes on Revolution. Hope you like it as well!