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Thread: A mastering question for someone that knows something....

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    A mastering question for someone that knows something....

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    ....because I don't.

    I've noticed something recently with my "masters" (read: making a mix louder).

    I've noticed that my snare loses some definition and crack when pushed through a series of limiters. My pre-master mix seems fine. The snare is tight and cracky and everything seems to sit well....but the mix is way too quiet. When I go to "master" it, the snare's level seems unchanged, but the sound gets fatter. It's not terrible, but I'd like it to keep more of the clean crack it has in the pre-master mix. It seems that the process of mashing it through a series of limiters is bringing out more snare body at the expense of definition. Everything else seems unchanged. Or maybe the drum track reverb is getting enhanced too much? I don't know.

    Is this common? I listen to commercial masters and the snare is tight and crisp while the mix is loud. I know I'm not using pro equipment, but surely there's something I'm doing wrong. Any ideas?

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    Maybe the initial "crack" of the snare is one of the loudest things in the mix, and by pushing it through a limiter and clamping down on the peaks, its taking away some attack. I'm guessing it sounds fatter because the fatness is in the decay of the drum and that's being made louder in comparison to the attack.

    Just a guess.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_L View Post
    A mastering question for someone that knows something....
    Are you asking for FREE mastering info...





    I found with my own "mastering" trials that as you push up your levels with some sort of maximizer/compression processing...you also end up screwing up your EQ balance.

    I would guess that the main reason that is happening is because the loudness processing is "pulling up" frequencies that otherwise might have been at a lower level...which also makes any "untouched" frequency levels seem quieter.
    So then your EQ color changes with the increased level/compression.

    That's the main reason I went with a "quieter" master, so I could better preserve the pre-mastered EQ balance. I did 3-4 different "mastering" passes, each time varying the degree of loudness. Then I compared them and found that the loudest ones didn't have the same EQ balance as my pre-masters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by philbagg View Post
    Maybe the initial "crack" of the snare is one of the loudest things in the mix, and by pushing it through a limiter and clamping down on the peaks, its taking away some attack. I'm guessing it sounds fatter because the fatness is in the decay of the drum and that's being made louder in comparison to the attack.

    Just a guess.
    Well yeah, obviously. My question is how do you get around that and still have a tight, loud snare?

    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Are you asking for FREE mastering info...







    I found with my own "mastering" trials that as you push up your levels with some sort of maximizer/compression processing...you also end up screwing up your EQ balance.

    I would guess that the main reason that is happening is because the loudness processing is "pulling up" frequencies that otherwise might have been at a lower level...which also makes any "untouched" frequency levels seem quieter.
    So then your EQ color changes with the increased level/compression.

    That's the main reasoin I went with a "quieter" master, so I could better preserve the pre-mastered EQ balance. I did 3-4 different "mastering" passes, each time varyimng the degree of loudness. Then I compared them and found that the loudest ones didn't have the same EQ balance as my pre-masters.
    It doesn't seem to be an EQ thing. I can EQ the hell out of it and the problem will still be there. The snare is basically being compressed to death. The limiting is squashing down the snare to make the mix loud. The inital crack is being hammered down and the body is being brought up to match it. There's gotta be some way to keep this from happening - even with modest home recording gear. If I mix the drums quieter, then the guitars and vocals stomp all over everything.

    I can live with the fatter snare sound. It's not terrible, but it's not how the pre-master mix sounds....which is the sound I want.....just not loud enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_L View Post
    Well yeah, obviously. My question is how do you get around that and still have a tight, loud snare?
    Well, this is a trick used a lot for dance music w/ the kick, but it could very well work out for you.

    Bus everything in your mix (ie. everything that goes to the master L+R) through an aux, except for the snare. Set up a compressor on the aux track, and have it triggered by the snare. But, obviously, do it lightly so that it doesnt sound too pumpy.

    Or, if you have a multiband compressor plugin that allows this, this might work better. Find the band of frequencies where the snare cracks most. Set up the multiband on the "Mix" aux and set the barriers over that band of frequencies, and have that sidechained to the snare. So, the rest of the spectrum goes untouched, but that band clamps down, allowing the smack of the snare to cut through even better, so you can turn the snare down and still have it there.

    Lower peaks in the mix, less limiter action affecting the snare, more crack

    I don't know how successful you will be with this if you try it but it's worth a go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_L View Post

    It doesn't seem to be an EQ thing. I can EQ the hell out of it and the problem will still be there. The snare is basically being compressed to death. The limiting is squashing down the snare to make the mix loud. The inital crack is being hammered down and the body is being brought up to match it. There's gotta be some way to keep this from happening - even with modest home recording gear. If I mix the drums quieter, then the guitars and vocals stomp all over everything.
    Have you tried just taking a small section of the song...and only adjusting the snare peaks (manually)...then applying the mastering.
    See if that allows the snare to stay balanced but without getting so squashed.

    AFA the EQ thing...listen to your overall mix when it's totally nuked for max volume...VS when you just nudge up the level a couple of dB.
    I think you WILL hear some EQ difference...but there is a "mid point" where you can get a good amount of slam, without mangling the EQ.

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    I can live with the fatter snare sound. It's not terrible, but it's not how the pre-master mix sounds....which is the sound I want.....just not loud enough.
    This is another typical example of what "normal" means at any given moment.

    Your mixes are plenty loud - Everyone else's are *too* loud.

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    Or, if you don't have a multiband with sidechain capabilities, you could always bus the "Mix" out to three separate aux's and filter them so you have three separate bands (Bands lower than the "crack band", the "crack band", and the band higher than the crack band), and just apply the compressor (standard comp) to the crack band.

    Sorry if it's coming out like gibberish, but just shutup and understand
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    Quote Originally Posted by legionserial View Post
    People don't need Macs, they need educating.

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    Sorry. Multiple posts I know but I'm just lashing out ideas here.

    What about parallel compression? Master your mix the way you did, and then put the snare track on its own over the track itself. You can add some light compression (not limiting, so you have attack times to play with) to the snare on its own.

    So with the snare track solo you have your crack, and then added to the rest of the mix it should come up louder.

    Just a guess

    Edit: From my experience, parallel compression w/limiters normally induces delay, causing phasing so you might have to nudge your tracks to keep the phase coherent.
    Quote Originally Posted by Supercreep View Post
    It's a kid throwing rocks at cops... Generally speaking I think cops shoot way too many people... That said, I have managed to live my entire life without ever throwing a rock at a cop.
    Quote Originally Posted by legionserial View Post
    People don't need Macs, they need educating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    This is another typical example of what "normal" means at any given moment.

    Your mixes are plenty loud - Everyone else's are *too* loud.
    Okay, so you've heard my mixes? What would you do in my situation? Leave it alone? How do you as an ME get around snare squashing?

    I'm not trying to compete with commercial masters. I'm just trying to make better home "masters".

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