How to Master your Song
Mastering is the final step of the mixing process before a track is launched. The top aim achieves a couple of various things: to make the track sound professional on quite a lot of speakers, to extend the amount of the track to a standardized level, and at last simply to make the track sound the very best it possibly can.
Mastering audio generally is an advanced process. Skilled engineers spend years perfecting methods and chains of effects. A lot of practice and a refined ear can result in spectacular outcomes when rendering a mastered track from an uncooked track.
Many individuals use software programs to master audio, and software is simpler to work with than analog gear for those who’re simply beginning out.
How to master your song?
I don’t actually do a lot of mastering because I favor getting a separate mastering engineer to lend me their ears for the ultimate polish, however after I do fast ‘n’ dirty mix-buss mastering, right here’s my go-to chain.
- Multiband Compression – I tend to spend a while getting the low-mids proper with the multiband compression because there’s one thing about tightening up that space to actually make it sound like a record.
- Linear Phase EQ – If certain frequency areas are leaping out and aren’t being tamed by the compressor I have a tendency to chop them by just 1-2 dB right here. You possibly can argue whether or not the EQ ought to be before or after the compressor however in this case, it was after.
- Saturation – I’ve used numerous completely different saturation plug-ins all through the years however I’ve actually fallen in love with the Vitamin from Waves. It’s a multi-band EQ, compressor and saturation plug-in multifunction. It’s all the time on my mix buss.
- Pultec EQ – The Pulteq EQ can actually tighten up your low-end.
- L2 – I don’t actually use the limiter for something more than making sure the signal doesn’t clip. It’s set to -0.3 and evenly limits the loudest elements of the track.
Along with my mastering chain, I rely closely on my metering plug-ins to guide me in the best course for preserving dynamics and ensuring I have a balanced frequency response. The song itself will guide you what to insert on your mastering channel and how to master your song.
Right here’s my metering chain:
- Loudness Meter – I use the YouLean. I always need to be sure I’m not squashing the dynamic range of the track and generally, it’s simpler to verify once you simply have a metering device that tells you. In the warmth of the moment, you may overcompress your mix.
- Frequency Metering – I use Voxengo’s Span for all my frequency evaluation needs. It helps you discover inconsistencies within the frequency spectrum and helps you find areas that could be causing issues.
Secure genre-appropriate references
Your next move is to find tunes similar in tempo, style, and arrangement. Attempt to get hold of a lossless file for those who can, such as .WAV. Lower res file types like .AAC or .MP3 will provide you with an image of how a track should sound, however when you’re getting granular, you’ll discover the draining quality of lossy codecs, and the comparability shall be tougher to achieve as a result. Attempt to keep away from them until it’s the only choice.
Your personal mixes additionally make nice references, as you’re already aware of the material. The reason you need a reference track is that your master’s must compete on an industrial platform. It doesn’t need to match a reference completely, however, the two should meet for a game in an identical ballpark. Their total level, frequency content, and dynamic heft should gel. Suppose, “would this work on the same playlist?”
By offering something aside from a mixed-down stereo file, you open up a complete world of possibilities throughout mastering. If you happen to only present a stereo mix, then they will need to dig into the mix with instruments like multiband compression, which makes the task so much tougher and the outcome much less polished.
Even for those who’re mastering your individual music, these are steps you should comply with, however particularly for those who’ll be using an outside studio. Ensuring you get the very best outcomes means being desirous about mastering during mixing.
Mastering philosophies and mindset
Before you do something, you might want to bear in mind the core philosophy in mixing and mastering: Less is more. It is all the time tempting to make your work tremendously apparent, however, subtlety is best. No matter the adjustments you make should not be obvious or extraordinarily noticeable.
The rule of thumb I comply with is to do whatever you are doing up till the point you are happy with it after which back off 3 dB. Relying on what it is, perhaps you may only back off 1 dB or 2 dB, but you get the point. All the time dial it back only a notch.
Keep it simple
Alongside the same lines, don’t fall into the entice of attempting to make use of all 56 plugins you own all at once. (I do know, it may be very tempting)
It’s simple to assume that if every plugin is enhancing the sound a bit, then including more plugins should be the answer to life. However, after all, simply since you’re adding one thing doesn’t imply that it’s getting better!
Keep it simple. Attempt as many things as you want, however, don’t feel like you might want to keep all of them. I prefer to put on a bunch of various plugins after which bypass them one by one to listen to whether or not they’re really making an actual enhancement or not.
If you’re undecided about where to start out, strive to ask yourself questions concerning the sound. How to master your song only matters how you feel about it and the decision you will bring what to do next to improve it.
e.g. ‘What is that this track missing?’ – Possibly it sounds a bit thin – so you try for some valve emulation or a bass enhancer. Or, maybe it sounds a bit boring – try an exciter plugin; or a high-shelf boost in your EQ.
Don’t Make It All About The Volume
Volume! Or fairly, limiting your volume. Don’t let volume take over in any sense. By this, we imply don’t master to make your tunes louder, and whilst you’re at it, don’t listen to excessive points of view within the loudness wars, either.
On a (maybe too) simplistic level, mastering is about making your music carry more of an impression. This doesn’t imply making it louder, though we do advocate brick-wall limiting on the end of the method so as to add a small quantity of level and to regulate the peaks of a mix.
You might discover that we didn’t touch a lot upon stereo-width processing, multiband compression, expansion, or other such instruments.
Why did we save these subjects for different articles? For one factor, we don’t have space, and for another, you almost certainly can get a great-sounding master without these instruments.
I, for one, consider you can—in spite of everything, you’re a reader, so you’re enthusiastic about making knowledgeable decisions all alongside the chain, from the mixing to the mastering process. It’s our hope that this text will present another helpful perspective in your journey to audio mastery.