Caravan Ray wrote:You mention my mastering in your comments - and I agree, it is painfully obvious I am not sounding as polished as most other competitors - which sucks because I do try to master, but I am clearly not very good at it.
First: I think your mixes are great, and I do appreciate a song that's barely mastered vs poorly. Not to rag on Cavedwellers more.
I actually spend a lot of time mixing and get quite frustrated that I am obviously not getting it. I seem to get far to much muddy bass frequencies - but trying to fix it only seems to make it worse. After getting a mix that seems to be the best I can do - I then run it through Ozone - and just pick the pre-set that seems to work best.
In recent history, I definitely realized bass can bring you down. When you have too much in your song it'll suck up all the space and keep your song quiet - and the human ear can't hear it anyway. Roll off the bass so that everything else can get louder.
If you're using Izotope Ozone, which you definitely paid for because everyone here has the extra $500 to drop on software, you should generally be golden. You just need to adjust the loudness slider or switch to a different preset - like, say, Mastering 4 band compression or Mastering Instrumental or Mastering Rock/Pop. BUT that does not free you from the responsibility of listening to the end result of it - a preset can give you a good baseline (no pun intended) but if you slide things around willy-nilly without hearing the consequences.
Any advice on mastering would be gladly accepted.
I can't say "go do A, B, and C and that will be the silver bullet". Unfortunately, it's a little more gut-feelsy reactionary, and a lot of musicians have to learn something they never cared to learn about.
73 KIB (BGM) is probably the best masterer we've got (though he seems to be wildly inconsistent). His mastering is so fucking loud it annoys me sometimes, but it never sounds bad
. That is good mastering - making it as annoyingly loud as possible without sounding like poop. In this contest, I'd say it's desirable to be loud enough to sound polished, but doesn't have to be balls-to-the-wall loud like BGM sometimes. The louder you go for, the harder it's going to be.
You have Ozone, which is the (a?) industry standard, so really, you can just stop reading and play with the knobs a bit. You could also use an automated thing (https://www.landr.com
) or get more in the technical trenches. A master bus is going to look something like EQ - Multiband Compressor - EQ and/or Exciter - Limiter (just like Ozone).
The key to whichever route is going to be understanding what your tool does and how to tweak the parameters, and react to the result. It's not a one-pump thing. Sometimes I master, go listen in the car, and determine the hi-hat is stabbing me and I need to take those higher frequencies down, reduce the harmonic exciter, or adjust the mix. Sometimes I master, use an audio editor to detect the RMS
, and try again since I'm aiming to be consistent across many songs.
* good headphones that have a relatively flat frequency response (http://graphs.headphone.com/
). If you master on bass-heavy cans, you might make the bass too lite or the treble too harsh.
* a visual representation of your song's EQ (eg a VST like Reafir, or the built-in parametric EQ of Ozone)
* a familiarity with crappy compression
* a familiarity with what frequency bands sound like and the confidence to tweak
Your end goal:
* About -11db RMS
* No clipping
* No noticeable compression artifacts
* A palette of frequencies that don't sound dull but also not too sharp, and retains the intentions of your mix
Know your frequencies. Know what "bad" sounds like. Make small pushes until you get a sound you like - something similar to a song you feel was "good". The "general concept" is crunch things with compression until before it's noticeable, fix the frequencies that it inevitably messes up, and then limit as a back-stop against clipping.
And curious - would it be possible to take one of my crappy mp3s and use some masting magic it to make it sound better? Or would they need to be re-mixed first?
Given you have Ozone it's probably not necessary, bruh.
Ozone gonna do a better job than any manual magic I got up my sleeves (especially since my DAW rig is out of commission). However, I am considering featuring some more technical examples in episode 6, so maybe I'll try to work that in somehow.
You'd be much better off finding a guide or video online from a much better masterer, perhaps specializing in your DAW software. I am not an expert - I just know what my ears hear. A lot of my mastering for me is just guess and check with a familiarity for the general solution to what I don't like. I absolutely blew my mastering for the last round of the last Nur Ein, and then BGM came in with a -7db RMS song that was not only delightful, but the loudest goddamn thing ever heard on earth. (I'm guessing it was more like -9db. We'll never know for sure.)
TLDR: BGM should teach us how to master.