Mastering / Finalizing inside of DAW or...???

WERNER 1

Member
Hey guys,.. I haven't been on here in a long LONG time,... but I'm starting to get back into doing some recording lately and looking to update the way that I'm doing thing (which is probably wrong :( )

I had been using Sonar PE 8 for a long time, and when I was done with my "Mix" I would save that and then open it up in Adobe CS6 - Not sure why exactly, I was just very familiar with Adobe Audition and with it's "Simplicity" ....it sort of just made sense to me (?) But on the other hand I felt on the recording side that Sonar sounded better than Adobe (?) ...

Fast forward to present day - Sonar is no longer and I've been using Cakewalk which seems pretty decent (??), but I've still been "Mastering" in CS6 - BUT, as I've read here and other places it seems to change the "mix" a bit when I do that which drives me batty! :D


So my question is somewhat two part:

1 - Is Cakewalk up to the task of doing everything start to finish for me, or should I be looking for a different DAW?

2 - What is the best way to sort of Master inside of the DAW if I'm going to try and do everything in one application?


Sorry if those are newbie'ish questions and/or extremely loaded questions :D

My tracks/songs are not very involved, typically a couple of acoustic tracks, one or two vocal tracks, bass, a couple electric tracks, and some percussion.... haven't figured out an easy wasy for me to do drum tracks yet :(

Thanks in advance,
Rick
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
For most people doing it in one box, I always smile a bit when they talk about two processes. They traditional mastering after mixing route usually relies on going somewhere with different and maybe better acoustics with better and possibly bigger speakers, with an array of post production tools. If you intend to everything yourself - much of the mastering has already been done in the mix. Why would you do a mix, then change it in another stage? Just make it sound the best and most appropriate to the genre in the mix. If you are doing it yourself - then your time is free so your mixes will tend to be the umpteenth version, with tweak after tweak. Who do you tell the mix is finished and now you are going to master? You already know if it's not perfect. It's (in my humble opinion) now got like a chef whipping his hands on his top and breathing a sigh of relief, it's been put on a plate - then going over and adding some more seasoning? Two people, two different venues, two different equipment lists and the stages are separate - but is'mastering' different to mastering if you do it on the same gear?
 

subvibe

Member
Hi
Yes you can Master in a DAW but I think Cakewalk maybe somewhat Dated
I used Cubase 5 32Bit for many years But after moving to Cubase 11Pro
& now 12Pro it opened up a whole new world Also the plugins these days
are top notch
I think you should bare in mind if you are mastering to use gain staging before
you start . I usually do a Premix +- - 8DB so this will give you enough headroom
for when you do your Master If its for Streaming try to go for 14 Lufs
I nearly always monitor on earbuds & do some checking on near field monitors
No matter what you do someone will always say its wrong but its what you
get used to & what's comfortable to get your song how you like it
I have posted some of my songs on the forum so you can check on the
clarity & see if its upto the standard you have in mind

subvibe
 

WERNER 1

Member
For most people doing it in one box, I always smile a bit when they talk about two processes. They traditional mastering after mixing route usually relies on going somewhere with different and maybe better acoustics with better and possibly bigger speakers, with an array of post production tools. If you intend to everything yourself - much of the mastering has already been done in the mix. Why would you do a mix, then change it in another stage? Just make it sound the best and most appropriate to the genre in the mix. If you are doing it yourself - then your time is free so your mixes will tend to be the umpteenth version, with tweak after tweak. Who do you tell the mix is finished and now you are going to master? You already know if it's not perfect. It's (in my humble opinion) now got like a chef whipping his hands on his top and breathing a sigh of relief, it's been put on a plate - then going over and adding some more seasoning? Two people, two different venues, two different equipment lists and the stages are separate - but is'mastering' different to mastering if you do it on the same gear?
I hear ya forsure,.. hence me being here asking these questions - I've felt that my final mixes are pretty good for the most part but use to run it through iZotope Ozone and make some tweaks but it always seemed to mess with the dynamics of the mix .....grrr... :D
 

WERNER 1

Member
Hi
Yes you can Master in a DAW but I think Cakewalk maybe somewhat Dated
I used Cubase 5 32Bit for many years But after moving to Cubase 11Pro
& now 12Pro it opened up a whole new world Also the plugins these days
are top notch
I think you should bare in mind if you are mastering to use gain staging before
you start . I usually do a Premix +- - 8DB so this will give you enough headroom
for when you do your Master If its for Streaming try to go for 14 Lufs
I nearly always monitor on earbuds & do some checking on near field monitors
No matter what you do someone will always say its wrong but its what you
get used to & what's comfortable to get your song how you like it
I have posted some of my songs on the forum so you can check on the
clarity & see if its upto the standard you have in mind

subvibe
You may be right on Cakewalk,.. but I think that Cakewalk has rebranded itself or something and replaced Sonar(?)... that's how I found out about Cakewalk when I went to do the new Sonar version and it was no longer there... and it had been replaced with this new Cakewalk(???) ... I get updates for it all the time too - But either way, I'm not opposed to getting something new/better that I can seemingly do "everything" on... but it yet fairly simplistic to use(?) -----> I still love the old Adobe Audition 3 or what ever... seemed so intuitive to use for me :(
 

keith.rogers

Well-known member
I do what I call "pseudo-mastering" in the same DAW. I have gone through the steps of bouncing the mix and then creating a project with just that stereo track and working on it, but, honestly, I like to keep it in the same project, and create what Logic calls an "alternative" to the mix I think is final. I do this because in my pseudo-mastering, I may discover something that is just plain easier to address in the mix. If I want to be test myself, I freeze all the tracks in the new alternative to try and keep from kidding myself about how done the mix really wasn't...

I use Ozone but I don't find it does anything peculiar to the dynamics. But, the only things I use, typically, are the Maximizer and the EQ. I don't use the "assistant" for this step because, really, all I'm doing is getting the LUFS where I want it (somewhere between -16 and -14db LUFS). I do watch what is happening to the dynamics, and that's when I may see that my mix maybe wasn't very dynamic at all, or feeding it directly in the limiter ("Maximizer") is going to create problems, so that's when I go back and start by fiddling with the compressor I have on the stereo-out of the mix. (This is not frozen.) Usually it's just a matter of massaging the thresholds (and maybe ratio) there and the limiter threshold. Might bump the true peak setting up a half dB (e.g., -1 to -0.5) if it lets me keep a half dB of dynamics. That sort of thing. I will look at Total Balance Control and may do an EQ tweak in Ozone if I hear or see something. Then I bounce it out again, put it in the cloud and go listen on a couple other devices and headphones. That's when the wheels might come off, and I decide to go back to the mix, but for the simple stuff I do, it's pretty rare. Next is dropping it on unsuspecting folks, friends, and maybe a place like this. Again, it's usually something I might be able to deal with in Ozone, but overall balance issues I just fine easier to go back to the mix, and start the process over.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Sonar was dumped by Gibson during their restructuring a few years back, and Bandlab Technologies bought it and has revived it as Cakewalk by Bandlab. Its been updated and should be a very current product. Had I not already gone to Reaper years ago, I might have given that a shot. The price is certainly right. From what I have read, it's a very complete and capable system.

As for the mastering process changing the dynamics, that seems to be one of the main things that mastering does these days. With the way streaming services work, everyone wants a loud track that fits in the target LUFS, so the signal gets compressed, limited and pushed until it fits the numbers. Then the EQ gets tweaked to make it stand out.

I got a version of Ozone Elements a while back, but in all honesty, I've only tried to use it a couple of times. It really didn't seem to fit what I was doing, so I go back to putting compression and limiting on my master track in Reaper, and setting the EQ the way I wanted.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I've got Ozone Elements, too, but never tried it when mastering. Like Rich and Keith, I do pseudo-mastering myself, in Reaper - but I do it on the stereo-rendered mix, add a little limiting and compression to get the LUFS in the right place. I 'master' to get the levels similar for all the songs on the 'album', I've already addressed the overall EQ in the mix so seldom have to do anything with that at the mastering stage.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Yep, my thoughts are the same. I think my ears might not be up to it anyway - I convinced myself that the tiny adjustments and tweaks I'd made were making the mix better and the rarely used plugins were doing a great job till I discovered that they weren't in circuit - I thought I could hear the tiny tweaks I was making, but clearly, I just thought I could. It shocked me that I'd fooled myself. I could hear the things the knobs were labelled with, but plainly - I was deluded into imagining them? Now - it's usually just sorting out the actual level at the very end stage, or using a stereo scope, spotting odd weird things in the stereo field and fixing these. Only one of my tracks uploaded in the past year failed validation because the levels were too far astray and Spotify didn't like it.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
When I master my own mixes, I do it in the same project as the mix. That's because I can go back into the mix and make adjustments at the track level to address problems I may have at the main bus level. The usual result is that I have less processing at the main bus. Also, I'm mostly releasing singles, so I don't need to bring a bunch of different track together into a cohesive album.

When I master someone else's mix, obviously it's going to be a separate project. I tend to use more processing, especially if it's a collection of songs that need to work together.
 

Gtoboy

Well-known member
I get where it's "mastered" in my DAW but I do final MP3 rendering in Ozone. I just like the algo's for checking the frequency plot and bit reduction from 24 to 320 kbs mp3. The only real "advantage" that I can think of if you are doing it all your self is if doing it separately is letting enough time lapse to rebalance your hearing and it sometimes helps you back off and get a different view that may help when deciding on minor tweaks
 
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