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Thread: Comparison between my mix, a semi pro mastering, and my own mastering. Opinions?

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    Question Comparison between my mix, a semi pro mastering, and my own mastering. Opinions?

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    So heres the deal. Finished mixing and recording my own album/demo some weeks ago, took some time doing other works to freshen my ears, then i started looking for mastering options.

    Since budget is an important part of this (im a street musician, recorded, composed, played and mixed the whole thing myself) i tried two options: First, start looking for some semi pro mastering studios, and second (Heresy, i know) i tried mastering myself.

    Just yesterday i got a sample mastering from one studio, and i was comparing it to my own, and thought i could use some fresh and experienced ears on this. So here they are!

    My mastering, since i dont want to overprocess it, is fairly simple, just EQ, Limiting, and veeery mild Multiband compression, only in the bands needed.

    The main question is, honestly, do you think that this semi pro mastering is worth the money or should i go DIY? I could use the money to make the copies instead lol.

    Here we go:

    The mix:



    The semi pro mastering from the studio:



    My mastering:


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    I listened and the middle one sounds way, way better to me....but the only reason I can tell for that is because it's so much brighter, which should be easy enough to do yourself... That said - mastering is voodoo to me, and maybe massive or somebody will listen and recognize differences that aren't so obvious.

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    It would be cool if you could enable downloads on this

    On my setup at equal volume levels with a sub on:

    1. The semi-pro master has a lot more limiting going on - right off the bat you can hear much more room/effect on the kick. The average RMS is much higher
    2. The semi-pro master has much better low end/mid definition and balance going on - the low end on yours is pretty overwhelming/un-defined and there is something dulling mud in the low mids
    3. The semi-pro master has a much better eq-balance overall - it is much clearer - but the hi end is a little hyped and makes the vocal way more prominent

    Overall I think it sounds more 'ready' than yours - although I'm pretty sure that you could get a better master than this. I have several hundred commercial cds ripped to a NAS box that I can listen to on my setup for reference, but I don't have anything in the genre - maybe if you can recommend a commercial release from an artist in the genre I'd have more to say... I think that should be your benchmark anyway.

    I'm also curious why you are using a multi-band compressor.

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    The middle one doesn't sound "WAY WAY" better. You're just about right next to the pro studio master. You should leave it right where it's at (make a back up copy) and try to figure out what you need to do to get the same punch and highs. Because all that is really missing is some high end and you can heard some real punch in the snare on the pro master. So, use that as a reference and try to get that same sound. Then apply the same shit to the rest of your songs and you have an album :P
    Last edited by FoulPhil; 04-01-2012 at 10:53.
    So long home recording dot com. Kiss my ass!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoulPhil View Post
    The middle one doesn't not sound "WAY WAY" better.
    Oh dear... I suspect that double negative is a typo, and I don't really like to debate nonsense, but... yes it does. You even go on to advise using it as a reference and suggest how to get there, so I don't understand the disagreement at all. Your assertion really seems to be that "simple to achieve" and "better" are mutually exclusive. That's absurd. It's not hard to turn up a gain knob, but distorted guitars sound way, way better in metal than clean ones.

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    You shouldn't take other people's opinion offensively. If it was really WAY WAY better it would be a MUCH MUCH harder goal to achieve, but he's not too far off. So, we could just say yes the pro one is a little better, but you could easily reach that same level with little effort.
    So long home recording dot com. Kiss my ass!

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    I considered editing my post just to clarify I wasn't taking offense, I'm really not - I just felt like saying what I did about the "easy to achieve" and "better" thing. I'm kinda dry in my writing and I come off as being rude or defensive or something sometimes. It's all good with me, brother. I thought the rest of your post was solid and helpful, too, btw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoulPhil View Post
    You shouldn't take other people's opinion offensively. If it was really WAY WAY better it would be a MUCH MUCH harder goal to achieve, but he's not too far off. So, we could just say yes the pro one is a little better, but you could easily reach that same level with little effort.
    I'm not so sure that the 'pro' one is all that. It has better frequency balance, but the high end is more hyped and has a more obvious limiting stuff going on. It's def way louder - but louder is not inherently better :-) That's why I suggested the OP (heck-anyone) compare against commercially released cds in the genre instead of their own material and a (free?) sample test master . The benchmarks are there - why we don't use them more often is a mystery to me.

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    I agree as well. I don't think the 'semi pro' master is that complimentary to your mix. I honestly prefer the slightly darker tone of your own master though it does need to be lifted and opened up. I wouldn't concern myself with volume too much. Just focus on a great sonic result first. When listening back to back, the semi pro mastering job is brighter and louder which can give the illusion of 'better'. I do think it is a definite improvement over the original but if it were my project and I received that mastering job I would ask for a re-master.

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckduffy View Post

    I'm also curious why you are using a multi-band compressor.
    Multi-band compression gives you the option of frequency dependent compression. I gives you the opportunity to zero in and cut or boost specific areas of the sonic palette in a very precise way. Transparency in the mastering stage is often achieved more effectively this way. EQ tends to affect the entire mix and sometimes that isn't the most desirable.

    Much respect and many blessings!~

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    Wow, thanks a lot guys.

    Yes, that is exactly the reason for multiband compression. Anyway, in all areas of work, i tend to be a "less is more" type of guy, so i applied the multiband compression just in the bands that i needed and in a very subtle way, and also primarily to balance the tone of the entire album.

    About the benchmarks chuckduffy mentioned, as a matter of fact, the studio asked me for a reference track, to which i used the "Continuum" album by John Mayer. However, i did not use it for my own mastering, since i wanted to take another approach, and mainly lift up the mix without it losing its character.

    Im at a crossroad here, since i dont want to lose that kinda vintage-dark tone of my mastering. But the reaction of the common person listening might be more positive to a brighter, more radio-oriented mastering.

    Maybe try to improve my mastering with a little more hi end and improving the low end? How do you guys suggest i approach this? Compression? EQ?

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