Mastering in Ableton
So our file is rendered from our mix down on we've come into a new project and I have also selected a uh I attract tio compare it you that is mastered so what I'm going to do is I'm gonna put the our version of our example track on channel one and paste that into our sequence here here and then I'm gonna grab second version paste that end o and I'm going to make sure that neither of these is warped and that the play head is at the beginning that is a juicy way form look at that all right yeah that's loud so we'll see I don't know if tone wise it it might be similar this I think that our newer track is a little softer you want to maybe something you want to choose something that is really similar in tone and atmosphere and um because uh obviously you know that's that's your target you want us to make sure that the track you're comparing it to is is something you really appreciate from a master a mastering and a final standpoint so uh you know I you know are some title for this uh this p...
art of of our discussion on a bolton is the final coat of paint and in some ways that's that's true mastering is basically sort of the last stage and it hasn't there's a lot of parts of mastering traditionally which are mostly equality assurance process um and uh so it's mainly the I think the mastering engineers biggest job is to make sure that there are no there's, no errors or there's no, you know the sound is as good as it can possibly be s o you know we're going to work with a high resolution file is possible um we're going toe and after we do our first version of the master we're going to test it out and multiple locations we're going to render it without death ring because we are going to render this for digital distribution well and when I do a master I usually do a few different versions at different bit rates one for cd one for dvd one of the highest I can get and I just forget back catalog and and usually I submit the forty four one sixteen bet versions tio places like soundcloud or are the digital distribution because that's that's what they want to encode at we are going to be maximizing the loudness in this stage loudness does matter a lot of there you know, there's the loudness wars have been going on for years and, um there's a lot of debate about how loud music should be um and I feel like I coming from a deejay perspective it does matter when I'm trying to mix the track in and the tune isn't loud as loud as its contemporaries it makes a difference because I I need that energy transition toe work and and if I lose that energy and the volume of the song or them, you know, it doesn't sound as good in the mix down stage or the mastering stage then that's going to be unfortunate and I might not play that tune as much, so it is, it is important to have gladness, and we want to maximize a lot this so that we can maximize this this resolution about either that we're working out as well. So, um, you know, getting it loud is is nice. This track has a lot of that allows a lot of dynamics, and so there are there is a lot of change in the in the loudness of each of the sounds it's something that I would like to emphasize as ah in the mastering stage and and in the mix down stage is that, um, you know, open yourself up and to the sound and and notice the delicate parts of the sound and because audio can be so delicate and it's it's beautiful acoustically are in a like an acoustic situation, you know, and just take some time to appreciate it and, uh and notice it because it that's it that's it can be a mindset tio go there to say, I want I'm going to focus on the smaller, delicate pieces of the audio and that's the way I really like to think of it and that's the mindset when I'm listening to something master and it's a very uh yeah it's just it's a process and a mind state and um and and yeah, I just go there to enjoy it and then and things you know, the constant challenge of the composition is like how my guiding the attention and and that's something you you also want to think is you know, is this instrument sitting in the mix in a way that is guiding the tension or is that you know, is there something stealing away from it? Well, that should have been fixed in the mixed on process and I feel like we've addressed most of that in this song so we're just going to have to try it out and see um how it uh work we're going to be aiming for fourteen decibels of average headroom with this track it looks like the track we're comparing it to has a way less than that um I'm easy a man on this that's that's a very loud songs let's solo and just see this is a this is a higher energy track you know looks like right now by warping is on it's just turned working off and I brought my play head back I think I was editing the clip earlier so this is an older track on its slipping a little bit it's about to be over well that is a lot that's it's really I mean theme song we chose to compare this to is really overly compressed it's somewhere between it's bouncing pretty much between five ten zero tv so it's a theory of this average peak of this track is is up there it's zb it's probably too high so it's going to be interesting to see if we can get it are others ching sounding as loud so now that I have so we're make sure that's what not warped a lot softer of it's here so I might go toe are a pax something I'm gonna dio I'm going to go in here way had turned on um on our warping and recording so exclusive this way we can wait it zoomed in obscene difference which is which makes it out poor consideration as far as a comparison goes but um basically we do have a lot of room to work with here so I want to start adding some some compression on the return bus and I are saying I might even go in here and we'll take a look at we can even use an instrument rack that comes with live or an audio excuse me an audio affect iraq is what we want we can try a couple of them out so here's an analog tape channel strip that might be interesting to try and then we've got a meaty analog master let's try a few teeth out punchy death it's which is not over making mormon wide that might be interesting company q ok so I'm just going to put a few different things on our return bus and we can listen along and see what we think so I'm going to meet that practically useless um it is a comparison because super loud so already sounds to me like that base is a little buzz to it it's also the tone of that of the soft sent that we're using so I am going to also throw a spectrum analyzer special analyzer it's an audio effect called spectrum just to see how are a mixed looks there's stuff it's definitely bass heavy the sub basis super loud compared to the rest of the mix so we can keep that in mind the base is definitely president so it's uh oh you know I had a reverb on here and and then delay we're going to leave those okay see how that changed our spectrum if it all it does look a little more balance it's actually not a huge difference I mean it's quite a bit of a thief there's also quite a bit of tone difference in the style of the tracks wait s so I try to avoid super huge drastic equalizing in the in the mastering of possible I mean that's something ultimately I'd like to address in the mix um so I'm gonna I'm just gonna do a pass and I'm gonna watch and see what the peak where the peaks happenin that I'm going to see if I can automate back off of some play I'm just gonna go back off one of I like the warm and wythe our first bit of clipping is happening there on the drop it's a couple of d b over does it too bad averaging a couple of tv over too much compression in the low end so far it looks like our peaks happening in the very first uh our very first drop here early on way also have are apex of the track the latter part that will that will listen for because the drums and there's more instruments and that part than any other part that's our biggest slipping right there. What about you? And so we're clipping it about a little over two decibels uh and the uh the master track there. So what I can do is I could I could just back off of the warming this woman why gain on the return a little bit right there at the at the drop it's about at that point right there you can see it looks like it's right here but actually just trying to dip that I don't usually dip down more than two decibels smoothed it out, but then then that other base hits it comes down again. So try just trail a little bit there, same thing here, check it on the headphones because we're not super loud here. Good point for let's check so I take it back to the beginning. I'm gonna make sure that the the beginning is whether there's a fate that we're getting just to be sure she wantto do the volume for times six skip ahead, parts good. So getting a little clipping there, back off overall e train bus. I'm starting to get really happy with with the overall balance of everything. I don't feel like there's any really queuing that needs to happen. I feel like it's it's loud enough it it'll play back on any system and I can I can uh you're all of every musical part that I want to hear. One more pass we're getting close just listening to see if there's a big if I pulled it back there a big difference between the volume level and every when it was clipping, but there's not I can hardly I can't really notice it, and luckily we can't hear the automation that was put in, at least right now I can't that's, so you know to be determined in our final testing. We're just giving me a better idea of help me be a little closer to the sound and get a little louder than I could actually get in this room with this setup right now cool so it looks like bringing down the compression we got wearable toe autumn we're able to back off in the places where it was really hot and bring it down just enough so that we're not clipping now so I feel like we're at a good place and basically about time to render this thing um we started a b it but it was just kind of ridiculous I don't really have a lot of songs of this style um on my hard drive right now so um, you know, I might I might see if I can find something later on that compares to it um we didn't really do any queuing I felt like the balance was all there how I wanted it um we didn't do any base cutting so we could do that on are on this channel I usually do a high pass base around thirty or forty there is a lot of deep basin this one's I'd probably do it about thirty hertz role at all that thirty hurts right now still nice and president and the next step is really just going to be rendering and listening in different places on dh er this is what every mastering engineer will tell you is have someone else do it have someone else master your track I love doing it to compare it to I also do a master of my own mainly to compare it and I know if my and sounds better than theirs does then they probably weren't paying attention because I know that I'm not the greatest mastering engineer so um I yeah I mean, I just I I basically just go in there and give it the love I think that that's what really matters with mastering at the end of the day's who puts the time in and goes in and does those automation cz pushes it till it breaks and um, you know, is able to really just spend time with it and and work on it you just have to massage it and that's a big part of this process so our final step will be the render it at all the needed resolutions we pumped it up till it broke. There wasn't any additional queuing required. Um I didn't feel like it need any x dimension expansion s o I didn't had that we did, there was that looked like there was a little bit of with utility with on that return bus that we're using uh we did some volume automation let's take a let's just take a quick look at the the arm answer the average, so I'm not super crazy about abel tunes. Mita ring system. I kind of wish it gave you a value instead of just a general representation of the average, um, it looks pretty good. It actually looks like we're around fourteen decibels. All right, so for all practical purposes of this mastering process, we are finished, so I hope that brings you fortune and happiness with your music.