Proper Monitoring Volumes with Q&A


DIY Mastering


Lesson Info

Proper Monitoring Volumes with Q&A

I just touched on a little something called uh the fletcher munson curve so this nerdy, nerdy curve um is a thing that shows the dips in your frequencies how you're hearing perceives things so as sounds get louder, you're years so smart it tends to push away the things that commonly get loud, which are usually people talking too loud with annoying voices. Incidentally, so there's a dip in your hearing in the high mids so what the fletcher munson curve and what a lot of speakers are designed around is the idea that you're going to be listening at eighty two d be with this curve, which you can see right here? Um there's this optimal thing around sixty eighty eighty two d b so a lot of time if you read um dorky message boards, they're going the first bit of advice they have that's totally right is do not work loud, it is so hard and I wish I could take back some of those years of my life and smack me upside the head with a book of how loud I worked. And then I learned that when you don't ...

work loud, you get such better mixes working at sixty eighty b a lot of your time in eighty two tb when you're doing your main vibe work and you're trying to get a good emotion out of it it's plenty loud and it's not that loud and with others. The great thing about us is allows your ears to not get fatigued very fast and that's the biggest thing, especially when you're working long days like I work fifteen hour days sometimes and to get, you know, there's very little chance that my years make it to our eight of those fifteen without feeling a little run down, never mind our fifteen our fifteen I like to be doing edits and not doing any queuing and tweaking anymore. You know, simple decisions about little things by the end of the day, back to this curve. This is why you want to do it. You can make really good decisions at a medium value. A two is pretty loud as it is. Go right ahead. Mixing weighty allowed no is that I end up losing all ability to hear high end yes, and I end up trying to like e q it back in and then I'll go and listen the next day and I'm like this's so harsh and gross sounding you and everybody else words this at some point let's try to save you know I know you have to make your own mistakes in life, but let me try to make mistakes and your mistake as well. Please don't do this but you know what's great about like a well I was just going on a big ranch about don't look at the spectrum analyzer I know what I've been working a long time and if I hit those so I was working on before the other spectrum analyzer and I see that I'm uh adding too much trouble I go it's time to go to bed and so that's one way of spectral analyzer could be really awesome is that it tells you you know you need to call today go take your shower go take a break you know call someone pretend you care while you're doing doing at a dig I'm really giving away my secrets of how about a friend die a bard I um anyway um so that monitor volume is really, really, really crucial if you do lose objected objectivity you're gonna one don't go up. The only time I think it's good to do a loud volume test is when you're like I nailed it sometimes that could be great theater tonight to just give yourself that glorious one hundred decibel blast of your song and feel those double bass drums just punch you in the face over and over again and you know the gutter old growls rattle your chest and everything in it but um the best thing to do when you lose your perspective is go down not up the other great thing which brings us to is a b go back and forth all those techniques whether it's itunes you can also you know the one thing I didn't mention to is if you own the song load the song that you're a being onto that other failure were at three four output and put that on your three four and listen without to scroll back and forth and listen back and forth and see what you hear so the next thing to regain our perspective as we said is different speakers so um when I work I have a bunch of different speakers at my studio I actually have five different pairs that I could go back and forth from but that's me being a gear stop and accumulating a lot of different speakers over the deck over the years and not sewing um so what's great about switching speakers though is yet again you lost perspective and another pair of speakers that you listen to music regularly on khun really really bring you back and all of a sudden show you that like the other thing too is your usually working on one pair of speakers and you're used to weigh that basis you go to that other pair of speakers in all the sun you can realize wow guess what um that bass I thought was so awesome sons really cardboard and flat on these when I compare it to other base that's part of being in a untreated room and part of not knowing your speakers well enough and that you're not a far along enough in your relationship with some of sometimes which we'll get to in one second as well when you do switch speakers and when you want to go over to your friend's house who has the awesome audio file system that wants to impress you at the dinner party always listen to a song you know when you've been listening to a lot on that system before us in your own mix, I've had so many times bands go come to me and they say we went overto brian's father's house and he spent ten thousand dollars on speakers and there's no kicks there and vocals on a record I go bride's father wired his speakers out of face bride's father is an idiot getting past brian's father, you want to test out with something you know to know that you know you don't know these speakers that well and you're not as familiar make sure they're not too bases so you don't say, oh my mix was to basie when you just listened on really basie speakers if you put on those beats by dre and you've never heard them before, you're going to think you have the basest troubling mix you've ever heard in your entire life if you've normally been listening on speakers like these so here we have like that thing like all day we've been listing on these yellow homeowners that provided this issue I shall make the caveat that by no means are we endorsing this is how you set up your monitors this is for visual field on ly I don't use these myers but these are nice monitors I actually recommend these yamaha's all the time the people this is just for show but on my monitor source you know we have it set up so that you could go no and as you could hear from that your monitors aren't always the same volume which is why it's important to have that decibel meter by you to teo make sure you get back to eighty two d b do a measurement before you go on make sure everything's cool um the other big thing about using another pair of speakers is most people don't listen an ideal environments these days I read a really interesting statistic that the most popular way with music is consumed today is through laptop speakers the second most popular way is through apple your buds in the third most popular ways to beats by dre headphones so if that's not enough to make you slit your wrists about the possibilities of your music being appreciated all sad trombone there yeah yes exactly so because of that you have to also realize that a lot of laptops a really crappy and playing mano so there's all this like stereo with manipulation stuff that could totally screw up your stereo perception and knowing what it sounds like in mono on a bad speaker is a really important thing I mean and also for your mixes diluting down to something simple that doesn't bells and whistles like I work off of general ten thirty's would make everything sound so awesome in fact when they came out the biggest criticism and all the matter audio magazines went the's monitors make music sound too good for you to work on now since then they become a studio standard they're in every major studio because that's not actually true they're actually very nice to mix on and but they do make things sound great and when band members come into my studio they go wow this sounds great I'm like dude I haven't even started mixing you don't you're not used to them I'm used that how great they sounded I know when things are enough to park quite yet you want to also have something that dilutes your mix down to a pathetic place because the one thing is is when you get all these bells and whistles you're focusing on like oh just the sprinkle of my keyboard sound really blossom when you need to get muchmore macro than that and listen on a terrible speaker like a laptop I use the speaker's called a von tones which are just a single three inch speaker that I put in mono and it sounds absolutely awful but the one thing is is when your vocal kicker stare or to out it tells you when it's too bright you we'll cover your years and run into the next room instantly because it's so shrill so let's say you have a jam box beats pill or whatever all those air great tow hook up and then hit the mono button on and see how joe idiot who doesn't appreciate their music really is listening to your music because odds are that's how your music's going to us to do it your western making free jazz that's the only way audio files are the only people were whistling to your music I personally won't sell my music to anybody without them showing me a picture of their monitors first but it's a good marketing you to murder all right let's see it ok fine here's your cd I see a really good marketing youtube video coming up for this one so that's kind of how we use different speakers and also we got asked about headphones headphones just as I went through before our great thing I love nothing more that's where these truth be told since I listen to a lot of podcast on books on tape I have those apple earphones I think that they actually sound better than ever I'm not saying they sound good but it's a perspective to know and I think there's nothing wrong with what would I get really confused as I said, I take a walk with twenty dollars sennheiser headphones that I know really well because I work on these all the time I have a much more expensive pair of headphones when I wantto sit back at the end of the night and listen to dark side of the moon and partake in some substances or something but like you know, I uh I used these for working every single day they're twenty dollars and they show me problems and people's mixes or my own masters all the time and it's just about perspective and hearing it a different way everybody knows the thing of you put on a pair of headphones and you've listened to record a thousand times you say I never noticed the click tracks in the vocal truck every times he sings on a record or how much tape hiss that has headphones are another great great great way to regain your objectivity and should be considered a different speaker I when I work at home I have a different version of the smaller station and plugged into a dive these headphones I have beats by dre because a lot of my clients call me up and they say there's too much trouble and I say what do you listen to? They go beats by dre and I go okay, let me listen I put it on, and usually I think it has too much trouble, but here's, the reality is a lot of people do with some beats by dre, if that's too much trouble on there, there might be a way we have to tweak this a little, especially if you don't you're listeninto if we're working on medium or hip hop everybody's listening on those, so we have to find some compromise where that works so it's important to have won those for perspective, to know where your music's going and know where it's going to go and recognize that it's great to have great speakers, and then it's also great to have dumbed down versions of these speakers and different ways, because people in just music so many different ways. Quick question from dave andrews in the chat uh, is there a way to tell if you're at eighty two d b when using headphones? Uh, well, if you listen at eighty two d b on your headphones here, you're gonna be in a world of pain, so don't do that. But, yes, a tte, the right flat part of the curve, you know, I don't do it like that, so I don't use an exact measuring device, would I often of word like, I know where on my I phoned five s I know that three clicks down on allowed masterworks and then one click up works best for me, but I you listen, the speakers that I put them on and see where it is, so but I do it counted by feel because you can't really measure. I'm sure some nerd is figured out the exact right measurement to do that. I'm not aware of it, I just do it by a year. I know also where I feel comfortable listening, so I feel comfortable listen to music acquire valuable I would say this if I was doing a judgment on headphones for most things, I would morris tab lish put on a reference material, just as I said before, figure out where you feel comfortable listening to a record that's, your goal record and where that feels good on that monitor thing because that's what's really happening is you're going to listen to this music on like, you know how a normal person would a comfortable volume and then you're going to put on your song and then put it on that that same comfortable vibe that's probably get you a great result, but that's a fantastic yeah, I've had interesting experience what that is, you know, like a lot of people, I listen to music. At the gym and I had something that sounded pretty good on my monitors and then I put it on my earbuds itjust came up randomly on my like shuffle on my earbuds at the gym on the treadmill and I have to listen to things louder there x I'm running on a treadmill and it's jim something horrible I couldn't hear anything in that situation, so I think the fact that like people listen to things in other situations now on their phone and stuff is equally important yes actually you made a really good thing too is that? You know, when I like I mentioned like last summer I had a record I mix three times I just wasn't nailing this mix I was turned out I was pretty exhausted shockingly and I put started putting the mics on a bunch of other records I like the way it sounded. Well, I would do that shuffle really pointed the that was what got me there that's a great technique to is once you're testing you mix out if you have a few days, put it on up against whatever you loaded in those nights thoughts on the sample magic thing and put it on a playlist and see what happens when you're mixed pops up randomly up against other things and see if you're really making a great decision about you're mixing your master your overall frequency shape you have any other questions you guys have any way we're going to keep going so if you have a question as faras volume goes, uh I've had a lot of situations where you'll you'll get a cd and it's much louder than others in that in that respect um ultimately with that how do you like I guess if you're putting in your master are you just setting it to zero and then like putting it on your ipod or something or, um sending it to zero like like ciro di beer you know, have you I'm mastering it where I think it's appropriate master on I'm putting it where I think it's good and if it's lower than other tracks that I may hit the volume button on it and get it to where I felt like it was equal to the last truck I may hit scott skip back into a b back and forth a little till I get him right and look like a nerd in the process of the subway looked like somebody medically pressing their headphones, but yeah, I think you want to do some valium matching it's not against the wall but it's also good for when you're valuing your mix is to throw a brick wall with butter on it and get it a feel of like what some mastering would do yeah because with with that I guess I don't know like in the process for me I will I will put a whole bunch of different rough versions of of the same song on my ipod or something like that that kind of just hear the differences or something and go with that but I don't know I guess I was just looking for advice of what what would probably be the best the best tool between them well, I think the best tool is yes, you want to put a little bit of brick wall within a god and then two yeah, I think there's a great thing of like, you know, I'll put on it mixed with more vocal dawei and see how it translates a couple places I'll take it home and listen to it and see how it sounds of my terrible laptop at home and everything like that but I'm getting out your question oh yeah definitely I do I do a lot of the car testing, you know? I think that it's all right dr weir who drive do that I do dot dr we're all thankful for that for not seeing me on the road the way I drive um all right, if that's it we'll go to the next section, which is scrolling through presets so we've talked a lot about this already and as I said, I don't think there's anything wrong with scrolling through pre sets as long as you do it a dead word how to tweak edward, how to dissect how you got there so we talk about scrolling through presets? Um, the other thing is we're talking about objectivity right now, so what I like about scrolling for presets is usually they are really, really different from each other, and when you're really confused, sometimes you your reason you're confused as you've done something really dumb, that twelve d b bass boost was probably not the best idea what I love about going in and scrolling through something through pre set, unlike one of these things like isa topo zone is you, khun gain objectivity by hearing how your master would sound a ton of different, different ways? Um, so what I'll often times do for somebody like, especially when my interns air first learning to bix and I walk in and I go cool twelve debut base instead of just going hey, john, watch this I go, why don't you learn what's wrong and what I have them dio if we could go to the computer? Um, I'll have them pop up our friend isotope ozone, which, if you guys are not familiar, this is an all in one mastering piece it's very, very great for the for the money, but not something I actually use myself, but it can give you a great perspective on what you're doing wrong the same thing is another piece I like a lot for this is wave sea for contracts from the character of uh but overall mix in so many different ways and you could hear what it would sound like there's a lot less based a lot more trouble so I'll say toe you know get scrolls for the priests itself way hit play so that one's presets name is destroyed and I would agree with that preset day but it sounds harsh gross ends at the bottom end is absolutely destroyed yet we're back with so most who's a great bad debts coz with a record next year on tiny engines so this next set it goes on and on that's locked getting a lot of the body I know is in this master initially that one's called fizzy sounds about right I'm sure floppy is gonna sound even better you're rusty oh sure enough that's a little over compressed and making the drums sound really two dimensional it's a little too overdone wow there's a pre sexual just right here um wait so just write was obviously the one I made to be just right but it's not quite just right and this is the thing I like about priestesses I hear that and I go okay that's a lot closer than what I would ever want of all these things so but then I go you know that wildness maximize er is definitely still crank it a little too hard I'm gonna take that up a little bit I'm sure this equalizers doing something terrifying have look at that and you know this is the biggest all these plug ins have a million of these and if you don't know like you know this is an overall one sometimes you're like, you know the guitars aren't wide what does happen if I hear a few ways of widening them with a stereo? Weidner what happens if I do hear a couple different compression settings that have fast releases so racism could also help you learn if you go investigate the thing, I will always stay with these presences great for objectivity but learn what they're doing while they're doing it so you get uneducated year just as the person who asked the question how do I we're in this you gotta die sector presets especially the ones you like like when I found that fab filter pre sent, I must have then spent an hour and I had not build a client because I'm like I'm gonna dissect exactly why this thing sounds so awesome to me I go in and you know you move the knobs and figure out all the nuances you learn that instrument um so if we could go back to the keynote um would you guys here as we went through that did that give you any perspective on the different things that could be done? You know, once you guys make the rounds uh I don't know beyond anything else I feel like it's got a lot of low end and I guess that's kind of perspective that you're probably gonna have because a lot of lower quality speakers won't have that kind of base uh, presence I guess so yes that's definitely true anybody else? I mean, I think that while this was obvious if you guys don't feel the need to tell you I just want to say I like the idea of the kind if he stuck scrolling through presets to see maybe where you could get direction ugo yeah, I mean, it really is cleansing I just would really caution everybody did not settle for that being your only tool is the preset learn what happens when you like that priest that if you go up a little on one of the knobs and maybe that's a better fit just as this preset was a little bit better fed I think it's you know when uh you go around the beds and you find the one that's just right you also may wantto move the pillow around a little um so the key takeaways we had from the section where you xabi material the brigade objectivity we want you to resist the were urged to work at loud volumes and stick with it eighty two d b sixty eighty beat those air great volumes and scroll through the presets to get a different perspective we have questions absolutely okay, so, uh deejay area tracks had asked as a massive mastering engineer how much do you talk with the artist or the producer to find the sound for the track? I actually so this is the funny thing is I say every time I work with somebody I say hey, do you have any goals in mind? Is there anything I should be listening to that you wish that sounded more like and fifty percent of my clients should be back? One, two, three records and the other fifty percent say I don't know you're really good do your thing and that's fine, because I need you to be honest with you what I said bye stuffed al ala duchess or jamal vory I know I got it where I wanted it already. I want to see if they could take it to a place I wouldn't have given sometimes I want to see if they have something interesting they could bring to it and so I don't want to give them too much direction because I already had a perspective I want to see what their objective perspective would come up with great what? You guys here you guess here in the studio do you have any more questions about objectivity? We'll pick you back up that last question has ever has someone ever presented idea to you where you're like that's an awful awful idea for example like you know, one of my favorite records check your head right? Oh, yeah you would I both yeah so I mean the idea that that the two years after that record came out everybody was trying to have that kind of like vocal effect and film on their voice like, you know, that's just like every like rap record I would so far I would so far as I started to work at the studio that he did that at and that's where I started producing records at first just so I could get that vocal effect has anyone every anybody ever been like? Well, I want to do this and then you just like s o I instead of so I got in tow producing records because my father was nice enough to take me to a studio of professionals and put us in there let me record when I was in eighth grade at a professional recording studio it they stuck us up in a night but I knew what I wanted to hear even as an eighth grader and I turned to the guy like dude, I want to some like appetite for destruction this stupid slaughter drum reverb you got going? It has to go more punk, you don't know what you're talking about. The guy turned up the river and so I went morning how to do this myself so I respect anybody's artistic judgment cause this guy didn't respect mine. But then what I do is I say here's your way and I am make another way that's my way I say, I think you're making a big mistake but that's, your mistake to make here's what I would do here's what I did would you be doing whichever one of these you want me to tweak next? I'm happy to do another revision to this, you know, and I often times even teo, I do my way on my dime because I want my name to be on something I like. And I don't think they should be burdened with my id stubborn vision. And, uh but I think it's really important that one you respect what people want because, you know, the way we get unique things in our culture is that, like, you know, the metaphor I've been doing a lot lately is, you know, macklemore had the biggest song this year. With a song about gave rights now imagine a dorky white rapper from seattle going up to a bunch of a and r men in new york who are used to dealing with gang robbers say I would do so about gay rights, they're going to go no, you need to be hard and show how badass you are you're a rapper and that song would never have changed. The culture would never be the biggest song this year if he had to subject himself to a board room because he's his own and our men he put that song out and it's changed our whole country now, and you have to respect artists, writes an artist's vision, but there's also a way of suddenly saying, I kind of think you're an idiot, so see if this helps you tow see that vision because I think your rock so we have we have a question along those lines, actually from the internet, which is one working with other people, either your studio, their manager, whatever the other stakeholders, how do you deal with trying to get other people to regain their objectivity? Uh, if you've noticed that they've lost it, wow, that's ah, great question it's all that teaching them a lot of these techniques like you, so I have an email where I literally tell people, how do if you're going to brian's house with his father system, listen toe listen to the record you like first listen to it for a while listen the three songs so you understand that this system first I'm the other things too is that you know that it is a thing that the record label often thinks one thing in the band and I think another thing and boy, does that happen a lot even when I'm not even the producer like sometimes on the master engineer and you get it email from the record label that says that wants to have like the competition like this record should be louder and we're all like this seems like a really comfortable volume and when we get louder it gets to d and it gets floppy and nasty and what I have to do is yeah, serve as a referee and use some people skills and the other thing I'll say to them is like, you know, every situation is different but like especially with loudness or I just had one with trouble and I said to the guy, every system these days makes things more troubling it beats your apple laptop, your ipad erring on the side of less troubles never going to hurt us erring on the side of too much trouble could be really abrasive people, you know, it's, just finding the logic in every situation

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.


Michael Pena

This class was awesome. Jesse goes into detail about the mastering process and best practices for mastering in an easy to understand way. The live mastering session was very informative and educational.