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Thread: what effects are not to be put on the mix

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    what effects are not to be put on the mix

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    I put this in the mastering question because the mastering houses would answer this better.

    When you're mixing and planning on giving the mixes to a separate mastering house, what effects can you put on the mix bus and what effects should you avoid?

    I always thought you try to get the sound as best you can, whether that means putting on eq, compression, multiband stereo width, saturation,... I can see avoiding the limiter, and keeping about 6 dB of head room from the highest peaks, but are all the rest ok to include?

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    I would generally advise against putting anything on the master bus except as a scratch to give your ME an idea of what sound you're going for.

    Anything you could do the mix is something that they could also do but they cannot undo after you've done it.

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    I'd say it's optional, but the more you put on there the more you restrict the mastering engineer's options. Gentle eq isn't so bad. Compression and limiting can be a problem.

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    Hi,
    I suppose the idea is that anything you're adding, or changing, is because the track is meant to sound that way.
    If you have some eq on the master, or reverb, or anything else, because the track is supposed to sound like that then that's how it should be.

    The difficulty, I guess, is when you're putting eq on the master trying to fix something that should really be addressed properly a few steps back, in the mix.
    At that point I could see a mastering engineer thanking for you not bothering; If it's a tough job don't tie my hands even tighter!

    If you have a damn good reason for everything you've done, that's the bottom line.
    If your reason is that X sucked so you added Y + Z... maybe re-think.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    I send mastering engineers both my home master as well as the raw mix most times. But there has also been a time where the client didn't want that so he could see what the difference was. It ended up very close.

    That being said, if the effects on the master out are part of your mix, then that should not be the master out you are sending. If you are confident in your mix with whatever you have there, then that should be a subgroup. Leave the final output to a pro to master the project.

    It is the unbiased/trained ear in an environment that is best for the final goal that you are paying an ME to make decisions that you are likely not able to do yourself. That to me means a bunch.

    Once your head is wrapped in a project for the time it took to record, we tend to lose the ability to listen from an outside perspective.

    That is why I always suggest a quality ME. It is always a better result. Unless they suck. lol
    PC Win7-64-24G i7-4790k/Cubase 9 Pro 64-bit/2-Steinberg UR824's/ADAM A7x/Event TR8/SS Trigger Plat Deluxe/Melodyne 4 Studio/Other things that don't mean anything if a client shows up not knowing what it wants.

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    A little buss compression is perfectly fine (but I'd highly suggest that it's on the buss very early in the process). Maul-the-band (multi-band) anything is typically a no-no. Rather, if the mix needs such radical processing, there's probably something that should've been done differently in the mix. And that sort of processing is usually "non-fixable" later. Ozone for example -- Lots of (interesting...?) tools in that plug, but I've never seen anything that can completely wreck an otherwise perfectly decent mix in so few clicks. Especially the stereo widener... Strapped across overheads to simulate a larger space, maybe. Strapped across an entire mix, usually wrecks it.

    Sure, no limiter (although I'm a big fan of crushing the hell out of a mix occasionally to see what sticks out - It's usually very revealing of potential weaknesses - too much reverb, to much compression on individual elements, vocals not up enough or getting crowded by guitars, etc.).

    And peaks - Anything that "naturally" doesn't clip. 1dB, 3dB, 6dB, 12 db, 20dB - in 24-bit, it really doesn't matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    And peaks - Anything that "naturally" doesn't clip. 1dB, 3dB, 6dB, 12 db, 20dB - in 24-bit, it really doesn't matter.
    Interesting, I've always thought that if an ME received a mix at -20dB that bringing it louder would also "amplify" the noise that was present, making it hiss to some extent. How do you go about bringing a -20dB mix to, say, -0.1?

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by YellowDwarf View Post
    Interesting, I've always thought that if an ME received a mix at -20dB that bringing it louder would also "amplify" the noise that was present, making it hiss to some extent. How do you go about bringing a -20dB mix to, say, -0.1?

    Tim
    Adding gain doesn't change the noise relative to the signal, just relative to 0dBFS. As long as you didn't really mess up during recording and get your noise floor up too close to the signal there should be no problem with noise.

    If you're tracking inputs with average levels around -18dBFS you've got something like 130dB between your average levels and the digital noise floor. The analog noise floor of a given track is likely going to be less than 100dB down from the signal. Given a certain amount of adjustments during mixing the cumulative analog noise might creep up to perhaps -80dB below your average signal level. Increasing the gain of the mix after that won't change the ratio of signal to noise, it will just bring it all up in proportion. At 80dB below the signal it's pretty much inaudible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    (a bunch of stuff)
    True story.

    Long story short, this is digital. Digital has no inherent noise. No doubt - If your front end is sitting at -80 (let's just go with dBFS for all this stuff at the moment) and you're recording at -40, you're going to have more noise. But if you're recording at something more normal (I'm a fan of peaking at around -12 or -10dBFS with the meat of the signal riding around -18dBFS -- Basically just as BSG just mentioned), you're right where you should be.

    I wouldn't expect a mix under those conditions to be topping off at -20dBFS. But if it did, your SNR is going to be the same as if you mixed topping out at -1dBFS. So when summing, it IS important not to clip - But it's NOT important to have a "hot" signal.

    Now on a "realistic, every-day" note -- I get a decent bunch of projects in where everything is at relative volume (the mixes are at a volume that is "proper" to the mix engineer to the other mixes - especially if he has a properly calibrated monitoring chain). So if most of the mixes are peaking in the -10-ish range and there's an acoustic piece in there somewhere, it's not unusual to see a mix or two that peak below -20dBFS.

    And in any case, I'd much rather have to add a bunch of gain than have to remove a little gain because it was too hot.

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    Thanks for clearing that up, gentlemen.

    Timbo

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