Music & Audio > Electronic Music Production > Diy Mastering > Compression & Distortion Demo

Compression & Distortion Demo


DIY Mastering


Lesson Info

Compression & Distortion Demo

I have a mix here by a band called the stolen that are actually releasing this song today, it's from a dp called adults, they're really cool new jersey pop punk band it should be on the stolen dot band camp dot com or the stolen new jersey I can't remember I didn't write good notes. Um, so, uh, getting into this master um, first thing I have on here is a compressor, um, it's set pretty lightly and that after that you see any q doing a pretty light curve that I actually mixed through, which I'll explain a little bit more later, this is a multi band compressor. Um, obviously, when we talk about compressors, this is a big part of it too, but we'll get a little bit more into this later as well, then we get to our first distortion plugging so this is on in this mix. I think the most important control you can see on their is mix ten percent I am, I'll give you a quick example of this is so the spends a little bit of a nineties throwback like kind of reminiscence of get up kids with a little ...

bit of a modern touch, so we didn't want this to be the cleanest mix like it's not looking for that perfect digital precision that happens today, so adding a little bit of this distortion said it really pleasant to me. So obviously it's at ten percent. So what does it sound like? A one hundred percent absolutely horrible. So the reason I'm mixing the sin is that there's parts of the snare like, if you listen to the kick snare and that same thing of the syllables and the vocal, this singer, and particularly had some really hard teas that you know, I could d s but no matter what there's still there, because there in his voice you can d s things all you want. You can't really get rid of things this to me as I mix this. This gave me just a little bit more of that harmonic richness and a little bit more of that weight. Uh, calm those tickets near peak. So this's without it. Ah, question to my son question. So as you could see without this is actually a little bit more punchy and moving, but I actually wanted what I decided was having those kick its stairs be that punchy in without as much crack wasn't as good. What did you guys hear in that difference? Aside from it being very subtle, I would say I noticed, uh, more strumming of entire itself, like you could hear the, uh, you know, excuse me I think guitarist but you know when you strum on the guitar you khun the attack of the guitar yeah you definitely have a little bit more of that of that snapback sound and that's another thing is because were clipping off some of the sound we're bringing up everything that's um back there so you're getting a little bit more detail so that's a great observation um so moving down the line there's another distortion plug it in so this is fab filter saturday and as you can see that filter saturday let me also say is I have a serious well if we call this a man it's a man crush it's pretty it's pretty I I really love this thing and uh so this setting though as you can see there it says b six saturate er so while I had called that last point so that last point also get into his air distortion it comes for free with pro tools that I would classify as a distortion as you heard what I turned it really far up it was really, really abrasive but like a tiny bit of it was very subtle and just helped everything glued together a bit this is a much, much lighter segues so there's a little key setting here that it could be really overlooked which is mixed twenty seven percent yet again, I found a setting that I really liked. I dialed this in the way the distortion sounds and truth be told, this is a pre set on this plug in that I barely barely tweaked, like usually when I put it up in the mix, I have to move one or two knobs it's a pretty good priest and this is something we're going to be discussing more wait, wait, is that there's a war on ever using presets? And that work doesn't come with the great ass tricks that should have presets are great as long as you learn to tweak away what you need from them and get them to be a little bit more right, I use a preset that I then tweak to my own settings almost every day and there's nothing wrong with that. And even the biggest guys I know, I watched them literally hit the preset and then turn one or two knobs and customize a little. The problem with presets is when you don't customize so that we have that out of the way. Let's talk about this part, just a quick anecdote on that for any big chocolate fans not, you know, whenever I watch him work, he loves presets hey uses precepts for everything. And the reason why it works for him is he knows what he knows, what he wants it to sound like in his point of view is if I can get it there with a preset why would I not do that? And if you can't well then he'll do what he needs to do is not only using presets but he would always prefer to start there if he can because why wouldn't you? I think there's a thing too of that presets sometimes come with authority and you feel like o well this person said it right and because programme material is always different there's no right it's yes you've made it better but now see if you could make it even better than that by wording these knobs and the more you learn these knobs the better you get at hearing the differences between things and get that experience to know the right to make the right decisions so that's a great point so with that what's here with this booking does so here's the mix theo ah wei question to my years without it and then to hear what it really does is hears it all the way up again so to me the most apparent thing that this does is it really makes the high end sparkle and as you hear when you turn it up it makes the bottom disappear um many distortions will get rid of your bass as you turn it up it's one of the reasons that's what's very common when you distort a base of the mix is you do a blood and of the two and when you hear about parallel compression para parallel distortion this is why is that distortion ted's tojust say goodbye, dear base most of sex most this things that are pleasing to area there's some distortions that don't do it those air usually really muddy and then you're like I don't want to use that it's making everything sound worse um what did you guys hear in this bucket? Um I noticed particularly with the acoustic guitar stuff that's going on underneath totally when you had it all the way up I don't know it started ringing out at least we had it all I, um started bringing out this sort of unpleasant just the pick hearing the strings I in moderation obviously it was nice because I don't know it just brings it up in the mix, but within all the way up is a little a little abrasive yeah so let's go down the line I hear from everybody yeah, I'd have to I'd have to agree I mean ultimately it's uh it's one of those little tiny parts of playing in acoustic guitar it's you know that element that you want to hear, you want to hear the you know the movement of the pick you want to hear you know you want to hear the dynamic of using an analog instrument? Yes, but at a certain point it it was starting to overpower the mix and then started to be like the only thing that I could focus on because it was it was this loud little piece that was like click click click click over the top of it and made the transience really annoying uh it was just the difference between it being often on it seemed like with it on it was a little more fullness or a richness kind of in the mids yes that's definitely with this but I really like about this plug in is a lot of the settings really give up nice like I was talking about the pocket I discovered that gives things of nice polish is it really makes a harmonic rich this in the high end that really is pleasing to my ear and sounds very like hi ends polished modern radio and when I feel like I need modern radio, I mixed this setting in and I'll tweak some of the particularly these four little levers of tone that go down like steps there those tend to be like where I do a lot of shaping on this plug in on die just as I said I'm in love with this program um we we talked before about gluing the mixed together with the previous distortion. I really heard it on this one. Yes, um, great end. Uh, maybe I think it's a perceptual thing there is their gain on it. Yeah, well, the saturation could could be perceived as the same thing is gained, like, especially the big thing is, you know, if you think that this might gain is distortion and you're turning up volume that brings out harmonics and yes, that's, exactly the same thing is, you know, there's settings on this that are meant to be guitar emulation. So it's very related. Okay, I wasn't sure if I was hearing different frequencies being accentuated. Are you are you are correct. One thing I did notice that I thought was cool was that when you had the plug in on the vocal sound really rich? Yeah, and complimented the song very well, we're versus when you shut it off or you had it at one hundred percent, it didn't have that. It sounded like what you'd hear it like of that's, all or something, you know, like a great puts its that live feeling, but not necessarily like in the you know, the best way possible that's great, yeah, that's totally dead on a comment from the chat room with saturn term from stereo launch with saturn turned all the way up you could still hear the song with the air distortion the song was kind of lost that's totally true and I think that's the big difference between saturation of distortion is that distortion you know you really get into like what we consider distortion bogus because obviously distortions a broad term but when you see a problem that says distortion most of time it's a really severe thing where saturation zaveri light pleasant thinking you know not that you should judge by the screen but there's a reason I could do twenty eight percent deals beyond that there's times I used this thing on forty percent on some of the really cold wispy mixes I get two bastar you can crank this thing up I've never been able to crank that distortion upon even things that want to sound lo fi I can't crack it up to twenty eight percent so so ah point also from the chat room so I know some people are having trouble hearing these really subtle differences in the stream yeah he's also are very subtle even without the stream like your work. One of the great things we discussed yesterday is you know, alan duchess at west west side mastering has a great saying called accumulating subtleties were doing lots of little things that make a greater big and you have to whether you're recording your acoustic guitar on down, doing tiny little things and making them out up to a big haystack that's part of recording that's, one of the best ethics of anything you're going to do in your recording. So if you are having trouble hearing these in the stream it's, you know apologies. But take, try. Try experimenting with this stuff like, you know, you do fall, try following along or better yet, purchase it. And, uh, and you will not only be able to hear a higher quality stream, but, you know, try falling along with this stuff. So use the same ploy ins or similar plug in following stuff. Listen, listen on your own monitors at home and that's gonna be your best guide rather than listening, you know, to what you're doing anyway. Great point. So with that let's go to the next distortion in the mix, which is bizarre, urs saturation. Um, it's a great plug in. I love us programs. So what? This is set on as you could see that tiny font that'll point to his tape head thirty inches per second. So this has two great, um, settings on. It is wanted as a dry and wet, so the saturation functions on this. Very much of like how hard you're hitting the tape than the dry and what is how much you want a blend of that tape there's so many great plugs with this and truth be told, I don't use this one as much as I used one phoenix, but I wasn't able to bring my pro tools hd system, and you're only confused the phoenix on the hd system on the version I have, they have a new version that you can do that, but I wasn't able to acquire it in time. But this show is very much the same thing, I think there's tons of great saturation plug it's out there, the slate one is really cheap waves makes one called j thirty seven that's expensive too, and that comes with those bundles. If you're the owner of one of those bundles, they all are great, so blending the sin will me goto make this all wet s o this is with the saturation on get this one little tweak because there's a little loud with us on this is not what I usually think so this is without it question to my mind and then this is with it all the way up. So what I think is interesting with this one is and so this was not in my original mastering shane is this is the first what we put on where it actually sounded worse because we've now saturated too much so no matter what to me this was making the bottom end for b was making the mix less three dimensional on this shows exactly what happens when we go too far that there is a place where this kind of doesn't work so with that I'm going to take off the other distortion turn this one down a little would find kind of on the fly amore usable placed illustrate what mohr tape saturation works like ah wei my way so if you watched what I just did, there is I turned down the saturation to a point that I thought it sounded good then I turned it back up to a point that was a little too far and then I blended in some of the wet and dry that I think is a lot of when you're talking about using tape saturation where is the other distortion thing? And this other saturation are as much tape they sound more like eh? I want to say like harmonic excited saturation, not really exciter as saying this is, you know, tape as that less high end punchy sound, whereas the fab filter has the brighter sound you want a blend and find where that high end balances it and a lot of the time you will go well the saturation sounding good it's making the kickin snare fat but now I have a dullness to my ex that's where your dry and wet not coming tio really good handy um what did you guys hear as the difference in the way this one saturates when it's all the way up and really rocking compared to the other ones I definitely noticed a much larger amount of room sound once it was getting slammed especially the snare there's a lot more you could actually hear the tale yeah lot of particularly paying attention to the snare that's mostly what? Yeah that's mostly you know you want everything to work but you know, since the kicks there in vocal in a lot of this music or the wildest things you're going to get a lot mohr of indicators on what's working and then I almost feel like once you're happy with that, then listen to your guitars and bass you know other details and make sure they're not getting ruined. I feel like we were getting a little bit more tail on the vocals like a little you know us sounds towards the end of ah, you know each phrase yes and that was something that I didn't really particularly notices much before putting on the watch right that's great yeah I feel like it's long same lines when it was all the way up I noticed that the symbols kind of more sicily that's another thing too is that yeah you'll get especially since tape compression is very hard on your highs whereas these other ones that you khun taylor like the fab filter that could be kind of any shape you want but when people model tape they're really trying to model the way tape teams high frequencies and so that's exactly is that you'll get a different symbols is that's not this bright modern thing as much as it's an older more coms sizzle brassy sound I like to think of it us ah when it was that a hundred percent saturation and completely wet I was hearing um lack of definition in the in the mid range instruments like between like the the the meaty sound of the drums and um the guitarist it kind of seemed like they were um coming together more or less where when it was turned down it seemed toe have that gluing together effect but without the while retaining the senses of their separate instruments yeah but the glue is a really important point that we keep getting through to you is that you know it could be really hard to find where you get that mixed the feel like it's all one thing and saturation specifically tape saturation could really be a big part of that and your compression is really good about it especially individual tracks the mix that your overall you know, a lot of people called the the two bix compression that you put on something the you know, the glue to your mix and there's definitely something to that for a lot of john rose that that's the the key not as much is you're like folk singer records but like even light rock records like a steely damn that's a lot of the glue in these really soft instruments what I notice in this ah saturated version is that the palm muted guitar comes out a lot more thin you wouldn't in the other iterations, which you know, anybody who plays him pop punk band only like loves that part list for that one oh yeah, yeah, the palm muting getting it right is so essential to this so the last is our friends compression um so we're going to get into much more compression on this tomorrow, but just to show the role it's playing in this mix since we just were over these distortions, I want you guys to see how this works is the thing I'm not going to really get into the attack and releases of it today, but um what you're going to see here is, um here is the compression that's happening this mix way to go my way so the first thing to notice what this is, you know, I have a humongous compression meter, this is ah, foxes, celera this's, another company that you'll see throughout this course that I have a humongous crush on their plug ins are really, really precision for mastering and give you a lot of control to do things. One of the greatest things they have to is this dry mix for your compression, so if you want overly pump your mix and your compression you khun then blend in the un compressed version, it doesn't much better than I see a lot of other plug ins to um so with that here's the un compressed version question my and then here's me turning up the compression a little too out question do my so obviously I'm not even hitting that compressor very hard, like that's on lee three to sixty be at times and you hear special if you're reading your thoughts, I'm hated this mixed with ten twenty d b of compression in my opinion bus mixers, some best we use very, very lightly to d be in a lot of times be your measuring pretty micro here um, you want to very little now, as you heard when we turned off the compressor, there was a cool openness, but would I often hear is what I will sacrifice that openness for is a little bit more glue to the mix, and what I notice is is my mix gets that thing that we were talking about, forrest, the kick snare and all that starts to feel like one big mass instead of this area open thing, and when you're trying to get a record loud, you do kind of want it to be a little bit more of a big mass while I will often turn this off and try to sneak you in some of the nice things I hear in non compressed version like I loved, you know, turning this off just now I went, oh, I wish I had some of that airiness and those symbols, and then I heard when I turn this off, but I also had time constraints when I was mixing this I'm what did you guys hear? Once you have turned it up too much? Uh, I feel like what you're talking about in terms of them becoming one bulk master, it was, I don't know it was getting pumped e and annoying sounding especially the kick drum it's great, I don't know when you, uh, when you turn up thea, the compression on that, I kind of get like a visual kind of idea in my head where it's almost like you put a a big kind of like filter over the speaker where you you know that that definition in that clarity starts to get just pushed against this uh this screen and that screen is just you know, just getting muffled and things are getting, you know, just kind of not not really fully represented that's a great way and it almost kind of just turns into like, a almost like a like a hazy version of the original sound that's I love that description yeah, I felt like it it sounded when he had to hide sounded flatter and like it lost any depth that it had when he had it off yes, yeah and I agree with everything that said it kind of reminds me of if somebody was taking a, um a volume knob and just going willingly with that stuff yeah, I did like theirs that's actually great point of learning to listen when you're over compressing is like one of the best pieces of advice that I think that does actually come on gears, thoughts and all these message boards sometimes is you don't want to hear the compressor working too hard you wantto feel a good vibe and not here this thing throwing around mushing volumes and sounding like somebody's fiddling with something yeah yeah and it definitely when it was dialed in just right added the a nice amount of of glue to the hole mix rice tea kind of touch on that as well like I kind of felt like it's it's almost like there's a certain focus and then something becomes either too focused where you kind of just lose the whole entire point like something becomes too crisp or you know with the with the compression it can almost go the opposite direction where it starts to be come out of focus and in a weird way totally right yeah I think when you when it was over compressed do you lose a lot of the low end and it almost makes a difference between like something that's polish and something that's like demo level that's that's phenomenal way better that everything we thought chose like that sounds like a crappy cassette demo yeah, well truth be told like what we talk about when they send master's back when they sound like that I say why don't you send it to me with no compression ready I'll take care of that for you I got it so justin we have ah suggestion from the chat room from master who asked maybe during the parts where you're a being with or without the plug ins may be bypassed in and out while the audio was playing sure so that they can hear it taking effect I can absolutely do that from here on out and we have that planned in some of the next ones too same perfect that's awesome so if we could go back to the power point uh uh um well, so the big thing I the point I'm making is obviously this is something you want to spend a good amount of time learning mastering if you will as, uh, you know, you can see it's like all these have happy mediums, it's really, really learning what that happy meeting him is so you have a question actually starts to us, yeah, before we move on, I'm not sure from jumping the gun, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts about the order of the plug ins if there's a way there right now, you know, I'm happy to get into that right now, so sure, um, in this particular session and so we also this is pretty indicative of what I do a lot of times is when I'm mixing and as you can see this curve, um, this is ah, this means I got my pop actually, we go back to the computer for a second so I could show this to everybody. Um okay, so this curve here is a curve that I when I'm working on a pop punk band, I kind of have this one saved I don't like to crank my trouble on everything I'm recording the whole time but I also notice when I'm a being a lot of time the reason I made this curve is that I tended to notice this is what my personal mix is needed in the way I hear things on my monitors to get it to sound right when I'm a being is that I was hearing mohr base and more trouble as you could see there's this little dip there's a filter on twenty uh hurts here um that e q is a curve I usually mixed her in the whole time I'm mixing I'm listening with the cq occur because I've tend to foul find that's that's what I mix well too and that I don't end up turning trouble on a million different instruments in the song instead I just get it done by doing it right here um so that's after the compressor so now this is what I will say to is that compressors like we were just talking about someone made the really good point about the way the bass gets manipulated with the compressor compressors worked too hard and show off their sound when there's too much base so as you can see on here there's a filter and gae nam for filtering out the bottom end on a compressor filter got the bottom and not a compressor can make the compressor work less hard and let through the bottom end now why am I not doing that here? Because I don't like what it does to my particular type of kick drum in this mix, I don't always turn that filter on, so what I'm instead doing is I'm boosting the base after the compressor, so the compressor doesn't work hard. So now, here's, the interesting part about this is if I'm compressing and I plan on cutting the based on something I will put that before the compressor so would say, I got a song, the master and I'm like there's way too much based on this week, you would then be before the master because any time I'm getting rid of bass, I want to do that before the press because the compressor is not gonna work is hard it's not going to show off all those like coal sounds that compressor can make, and I don't wantto overwork it when I don't have to overwork that compressor. So that's, why the accused after that's not always the case the next in our settings is this multi band compressor, which we're going to talk a lot more about tomorrow to give you a taste. There's a lot of compression going on in that one. Um, you know, especially in as you can see the yellow, um, the mud frequency, I'll let this actually play with no sound. You know, I didn't even know I was doing that much, but I like the way this sounds and that's another reason why? If I had seen that meter, I might have went hey, what's going on, but you know, I gotta say, I'm really happy with this record and my meter's by would have thrown me off a little if I was looking at that instead of listening to it, it sounds good, even though it's probably almost double what I'm ewing on most of my mixes these days. Um, the multi band compressor to me comes after the because we want to smooth out some of the things that the does, so obviously I'm boosting base. I will then want to catch that base with the multi bands, and while I said before compressions going get weird with catching the base because it's multi band it's not going to make a cz much artifacts in the high end of the pumping and where it's going to pump is the bottom, and I like that pumping brings out punch to me, so that's the difference between an overall compressor and a multi band compressor and the way you're treating it? Um, as you can also see a little detail in here is I'm not doing anything above about nine kilohertz this is not always the case but I want to maintain the air of this song, and as you heard when we turned off the compression, how pretty the symbols got at the sacrifice of the kickette stare, being mohr disparate in off level and not as much glue, what I'm trying to do here is make sure we don't do anything, too. How pretty that high end sounded on this track. I love the singer in this band, he has wonderful harmonics than top of his voice, and I really want to preserve those he has this breathy area, especially in that verse I really wanted that always shine, so the multi band doesn't hit that the next two things that happen, and these air, usually my last in this order, is the distortion. This is usually right after that is that I'm starting to think about how harmonically I want the song sound same thing, how harmonically do I want a contour, the song, the tape saturation? I usually will put right before my brick wall limiter, because it's going to determine how the transients are shaped last. After all this, I'm not always using tape saturation on this stuff, but in general, I don't think there's ever been a master I've done where the tapes iterations not last, because it's so much of ah, e q ends dynamic shaper that, like sometimes I put it first, that sometimes, if it, the mix is really out of whack, level wise. But in general, if I'm doing my own stuff, I find that there's a way that the saturation happens with tape. That's really good as a overall smoothing out like justus, the taped takes down high and frequencies when I'm doing all this high frequency, boosting its catching that at the end of all that boosting and saying, no let's, be smooth, let's, be cool andan, obviously, last. We have our friend, the brick wall limiter, and what technically, and this chain comes after, is you see that little thing that says idee, are with the cool polish that's your dithering, which will be getting into a little later today as well. That's, technically the last part of the chain. But brick wall limiter always last.

Class Description

Mastering is often the difference between a good recording and a bad one, but mastering is notoriously difficult to understand. In this two-day workshop, sound engineer Jesse Cannon — who’s worked with the likes of Ross Robinson, Saves the Day, Animal Collective, The Misfits and Man Overboard — shares what he’s learned about mastering from working at top-tier studios like WestWestSide Music and Cannon Found Soundation. 

While there’s no substitute for having an engineer master your music, that’s just not feasible for many artists. This class is the next best thing: a comprehensive guide to DIY mastering.

Jesse breaks down the mastering process from start to finish. You’ll discover the basic principles behind mastering, and learn about the processes and tools at your disposal. Jesse will identify and troubleshoot basic rookie mistakes, discuss lesser-known essential concepts as well as share his essential behind-the-board tools as he takes you through a few real-life examples.

After two days with Jesse, you’ll have everything you need to master your tracks with affordable tools.