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Thread: Master Fader and final output goals

  1. #1
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    Master Fader and final output goals

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    I'm doing a lot of self-taught and trial and error on learning how to master so that everybody will be happy. I understand the mix needs to have an average RMS between -30 dB and -18 dB, with a peak signal below -4 dB or so. So I import that HRA file into WaveLab, do some simple processing like removing any DC Offset, normalization to "EBU R-128" specs, I resample as a process instead of during the chain because my computer doesn't like switching from sample rate to sample rate, then I start applying my effect chain. (I don't do a lot of editing, I'm not that smart or talented). I record a lot of bluegrass and acoustic music. So there's got to be a large dynamic range in the master (and in the mix). No compression or limiters on the mix buss.

    I apply a Waves SSL G Mastering Compressor, a Softube EQ100, a Klanghelm saturator, sometimes a PSP Vintage Warmer, which is useful just to give it a little more punch and EQ, and finally a Waves L1 limiter. Then you have the Master Faders, and then the dither.

    My question is about the Master Faders. I set my limiter ceiling to about -0.9 dB. What is the normal goal of nudging up the master faders? Are we trying to get to just under 0 dB? As close as we can? What's acceptable and what is not here?

    Thanks ahead of time for any input on this.

    Here are some dB numbers from analyzing the rendered master:

    Digital Peak: -1.000 dB
    Loudness Avg: -15.5 dB
    Maximum RMS: -8 dB

    From the meter:
    Peaked out at -0.42 dB
    RMS max at -6.4 dB

    I guess the meter readings are more accurate than a small snippet of audio from the analyzer.

    Here is the song I mixed and mastered:

    Traveling Soldier - Banjo Hangout Jukebox
    Last edited by banjo71; 01-28-2019 at 04:37.

  2. #2
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    Answering would take more time than I have --

    Master fader -- Put it at unity and ignore it.

    Peak -- Less than clipping. If you're working in PCM and going to go to something lossy and goofy (MP3, etc.) somewhere in the -1dBFS area is a pretty decent place to be usually.

    Numbers -- Calibrate your chain and ignore them (except for that digital peak - even though once you get that set in your limiter, you can usually ignore that too). Use meters to calibrate and then use your ears for everything else.

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    About master levels it also depend on where you are gonna upload the music, beacuse soundcloud want one thing as youtube wants another
    but i see people most go for the -0.1 so just under 0

  5. #4
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    SoundCloud actually has no spec last I heard (but I haven't searched lately). iTunes is different from YouTube, but we're talking LUFS (aka "loudness" which is what I think @banjo71 is referring to). Your peaks can be wherever you want and still hit loudness targets, but of course, if they're -3dB you've left dynamic range on the floor (or wherever you put the life you squeezed out of your mix).

    At this point, I target everything for potential YT distribution, i.e., -14dB LUFS. If I ever get someone that wants to push something to iTunes, I'll give them a mix and let them find a real mastering engineer.

    I never mix & pseudo-master to anything higher than -0.5, usually closer to -1. Then run it through Orban to confirm reconstructed peaks don't exceed 0dBFS. I assume different DAC or transform might vary from their calculation so like to make sure the highest reconstructed peak is still below 0dBFS.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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