Q) Is it O.K. to
compress my drums
before I take it to the mastering facility? -Ken
mean compress the drums while you're mixing the whole song, yes,
it's ok, but I don't recommend it. I rarely compressed drums.
Compressors are slow and they let the peaks go by. Compressors handle
RMS (overall) level which works wonders on vocals, bass, guitars, keys,
etc. Limiters handle the peaks which can cause a digital "over." In
mastering, we work on peak and RMS gain reduction.
looking for a particular compressed tone to the drums, cool,
go for it... in general... nah. If the kic drum is inconsistent in
level, punish the drummer (just kidding) by having him or her be at the
mixdown and be in charge of riding the fader. Or automate the level so
it's consistent. That's called manual compression and a lot of big
engineers do that. Gating the kic and toms (a little bit) is a good
idea. (More here
Is it fine to E.Q. my final mix before
taking it to mastering?
mean eq the individual tracks of your mix, absolutely. If you
mean take the final mix and "master" it, or stereo process it... say if
one song needs some highs, another song needs some lows.... no. Spice
up the individual tracks so each mix sounds great then leave it alone..
Compare with commercial CDs all the way. Don't depend on compressing
the stereo buss or using stereo eq on the mix. DON'T bounce your mixes
to another tape, file or disc just to make a sequenced, eq'd, edited
version to save time in mastering.
The songs sound great when the mix is
E.Q.'d and the drums are compressed, but when they're not it's kind of
is a great place to remedy muddiness, but I'd ask why it sounds
muddy to begin with. If you're comparing
your mixes with commercial CD's every step of the way, it shouldn't
sound muddy. You'd be listening to your mix, then you'd listen to
[whoever's CD] and you'd go... GASP! OUR MIX SOUNDS MUDDY COMPARED TO
THAT! And then you'd go back and start tweaking stuff so it sounds
clear. (When you add highs to vocals, make SURE you use a de-esser -
dbx units used to go for around $150.)
you might not have $200,000 worth of processing gear like the
big artists can... So you may not get exactly that same sound, but it
should be in the ball park. (It also helps to have really really fine audiophile
speakers.... I know, they cost $2500 or more... and your local studio
gear shop will object.... more about that here.) But j
as important is the signal you send to the
montors. The electronics, cables, D-A converters are all important for
having an accurate "lens" to listen through.
get it as good as you can. Leave that as your master mixdown.
Then if you want to eq and compress the whole stereo thing (like rough
mastering) for your own REFERENCE sake, go for it. Keep that to show
around and listen to.
VERSIONS, eq'd and non-eq'd to the mastering house. Always
back up your master mixes - like do two passes and always vault one of
them. Then let the mastering house decide which they want to use. If
it's a top of the line place, they'll want the one that is the original
source. The extra stereo processing takes it down a generation and can
box the mastering person into a corner... they may not be able to undo
stuff that you've added.
Q) I want to know if it would be OK to add
effects to my music tracks.
What effects can the studio use on my voice?
that's hard to
say without hearing the song. Each song
sort of generates a vibe that different effects help and different ones
don't. I'd say listen to anything commercially available in your style
and see what you'd like to hear. Delays, chorus units, vocal doubling,
filtering, backwards reverb, dry, wet, spread, mono.... the list is
endless. But be original - don't just copy someone else's sound.
I really think I need to use some compression and chorus.
can be a
good way to go if it fits the song.
I told the studio that you guys need the vocals hot, but when they gave
me a copy of the mix it sounds as the lyrics and the music are two
different tracks (not blended).
to hand them a
copy of a commercial CD you like and
say, "Would you please mix it so it's similar to this." Their idea of
"hot" and my idea of "hot" could be two different things. Always have a
couple CDs on hand to compare the sound of when mix time arrives.
Listen, compare, adjust. Listen, compare, adjust. Get ideas, try
things, be creative, think of something no one else has. Listen,
compare, experiment, adjust.
Q) I have a Roland 1680. Is it okay to mix
your 16 tracks to the internal two mix down tracks? I also have an
Otari analog deck.
for making a reference CD? It depends on what the Roland can
do. If you can make a mix-to-CD without going down a generation via a
separate "stereo mix file", that's a good way to go for a reference.
For your actual final mix, mix right onto that Otari (or 96k
Should I avoid backing up 1680 data onto CD
and bringing it back in?
on fewer songs at once, mix, back up the files, and move on
to the next songs.
Should I use my Focusrite preamp's EQ going
into the 1680, avoiding the 1680 internal EQ?
less processing in the 1680 the better - but do what you must.
Any tips on De-essing?
voices set for a lower frequency, like 2.5k, female more like 3.5
- 5.5, and just use your ears. Don't let the S's "lisp."
|Considering that the 1680 in the "MTP"
recording mode has a degree of internal compression, do you think it's
worth considering recording in the "Mastering" recording mode?
compression can be a trade off: less quality for more tracks. Let
your ears be the judge and use the tool that works best for your
It would be very difficult to have only 8
tracks to work with, if in fact there is also a loss of depth bouncing
in this mode as well.
working on a project now, where the client brought in a PC based
recording. Well recorded, I might add. We compared the sound of the
"mixdown mode" with the sound of the "2-track stereo mix file" (the one
he would have burnt to cd) and the mixdown won by a landslide. All 4
people in the room agreed with certainty that a great deal was lost in
the mix file.
the "bounce" with a non-bounced version to see if you can tell
a difference. Here's the challenging part: Will your speaker system
reveal the detail needed to really hear what's going on. This is why I
stress audiophile speakers, power amps and cables, not just the highly
promoted studio "monitors" that are, granted, more affordable.
the hardness or smoothness in the snare drum. Listen to the
decay of the reverbs and snare. Listen to the width and bigness of the
bottom end. Listen for graininess or harshness in the mids and highs.
however, we have to give a little to get a lot more. If you
have to give up some sonic resolution in order to gain more tracks
(i.e. a more versatile system to work with) then I'd figure it's worth
it. TIP: Consider mixing to your analog 2-track and then transferring
your mix to the Roland, and then compare the internal bounce with the
analog mix. Again, monitor system resolution is the key. That's the
"lens" you're looking through, and you will only see as much as the
lens is focused.
I'm very impressed with my Fostex VF-16. It
does 32-bit internal processing, has 24 bit D/A converters, and 20 bit
A/D converters. However the final product is 44.1kHz, 16-Bit. I'm still
interested in enhancing the overall quality of the music. The VF-16 has
one of the least favored i/o's and can sound thin. AES is
the best, SPDIF is next. If you must go optical, get the most expensive
cable you can afford, or better yet, spend the same amount of money and
mix to analog. Used units are very reasonable on ebay and other on line
the correct Crossover setting I must use to get a quality
sound from a mastering processor?
using it for multi-band processing, the crossover point
changes for each song or project. Once setting might work well for
something, but not sound good for another.
I was thinking of using a mastering
processors like the dbx Quantum or TC Finalizer.
better sounding, but very complex to operate. I had
both, and only use the dbx now. I never ever use the presets, so don't
assume that a preset will really make your CD right. "Mastering
processors" don't come with 25 years of experience, but to just bring
the level and tweak eq, they're good. To send your product out for the
best quality mastering, don't go through a mastering processor. It's
too much of a good thing.
So what do you recommend for me in the
absence of a mastering processor?
on who's going to be listening to your project. Record Co's?
Fans? Publishers? Radio stations? Club owners? Managment co's? In most
cases, just use what you have and no one will be able to tell the
difference, unless they have two versions in front of them to compare.
money, I'd buy a used $333-$500 analog 15ips machine, learn how
to use it and make CD copies off of that. They'll be hotter and have
that analong sound.
Will I gain anything by taking a 16-bit
44.1kHz input, converting it to 24-bit 96kHz, and dithering it back to
Is it okay to use the Otari's built in 1 K
page on 2 Track Analog Machine Alignment.
I heard it is better to run the reverb
input hotter than the output for lower noise.
input as close to clipping as possible for that exact reason.
Do you think it best to subtract high end
from the plate reverb sounds?
whatever sounds best.
How important is it to get 3 (is 2 enough?)
bags of flattened marbles [to isolate the speakers from the surface -
ref: Studio Monitor Madness]?
3 - 4
"marbles" per speaker - one bag otta be enough!
Is it okay to put the monitors on their
sides or better to keep them straight?
gives you the best sound. Experiment so that you feel the most
information is revealed to you. It takes pro studios years (sometimes)
to get their monitors right.
Anything I should be cautious of in using
headphones so much (apartment studio) compared to the monitors (other
hearing the particular headphones, I couldn't say. Just take
your mixes out into the real world via cassette and CD copies, and see
what kind of results you get. Do what works. It just takes time to find
all this stuff out, and that's why the best mastering guys all have 25+
years of experience - they've been down that road a jillion times.
It also seems interesting and worth
mentioning to paraphrase the Russian philosopher P.D.Oepensky [that the
best art is more complete if it incorporates a degree of understanding
regarding science, religion and philosophy as well as the arts.] -Chet
and thank you for that!