When getting a mix mastered...

lomky

New member
Hello all, this is a post/question regarding mixing for mastering. Of course I realize that when mixing one should put out the best mix possible. And I am fairly confident in my mixing abilities. That being said, I find that my mixes end up with too much mud for my liking. I find the low end the hardest to mix, and sometimes I take out too much mud and kill the low end of the piece. Now if the mastering engineer needs more low end it won't be there. In this situation would it be best to leave the low end to the ME? I know that I should not really be mixing for the master, but I have to admit I'm a little nervous.

This is the first project I'm to get mastered by a pro. Of course I know I need to talk to the ME about this, but I just want to educate myself on the subject so I'm not wasting too much of their time.
 

chazba

terminally hip
I have found that sometimes the "mud" will come from sources you might not expect, like a hot rhythm guitar for example , can have a lot of LoFreq energy thet may interact w/ Bass and Kick to generate unwanted mud. Try EQ'ing some tracks to see if that will fix it. Another possible source...acoustic guitar.


chazba
 

iqi616

Yet another Mike
Good points chazba.

Lomky, Mud is usually in the upper bass - lower midrange frequencies. Use a parametric EQ rather than a low-cut to deal with it.

If you can't find what's causing the mud. I'd leave it as it is and discuss it with the ME. If they need you to make any changes, they'll let you know. They might have some tips for curing the mud without killing the bottom end.
 

lomky

New member
I agree, and alot of the times I end up hi passing alot of stuff like distorted guitar and the like. But I alos find myself cutting too much, and I'm concerned that the ME won't have enough low end to work with, and the final master will be thin.

Just looking for other peeps experience here.
 

bigtoe

New member
that's a rough one. i experience the same challenges with the low end. i have found that the ME can reduce the low end more than he can make it appear...but i've also had a reduced low end mix have a boomin' bass post ME.

i'd go for the middle ground. don't give too much don't wipe it all away.

works for me 99% of the time.
 

gtrman_66

New member
Is the "mud" showing up on your studio monitors or just other playback systems?

If that's the case, you might want to look at your room treatment and monitor placement.

Good luck!!
 

Twitch

New member
The mastering Engineer will be fine.. The ME can do this fine either by beefing up the 2nd fundementals or the 3 and so on.. I can't stress enough to have at least 3 copies of your mix, if it doesn't contain voxs then have a mix with the bass up, down, compress heavy, med and so on, you get the point..
 

lomky

New member
gtrman_66 said:
Is the "mud" showing up on your studio monitors or just other playback systems?

If that's the case, you might want to look at your room treatment and monitor placement.

Good luck!!

I hear this! I'm not mixing in the best environment, but I have built some rockwool traps and they help alot. I am mixing on bm5a's which are not the most bass heavy monitors in the world. But you are correct, when I listen back on my car stereo (w/a 10" sub) it does have mud. But it isn't nearly as bad as it used to be sans treatment.
 

ecktronic

Mixing and Mastering.
I have the exact same problem with the mud biuld up and trying to keep my lo end tight and controlled.
In my music (heavy rock) I find that cutting the lo mids around the 200-300 area (roughly) can clean up a mix well. Usually this is done in the kick, bass guitar and guitars.

My plan is to come to a happy medium with the mud by not taking too much out and also maybe having the lo end a little loose, and hope that the mastering engineer can tighten up the lo end and clean up the lo mids.

Eck
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Looking where you can roll off is a good thing for sure... As far as where to settle, I'd almost rather have a slightly anemic mix than a muddy one. Clarity and focus are harder to "find" in a muddy mix than simply trying to tailor in some low end.

Realistically, the volume of the entire thing is going to go up to some extent - It's a simple operation to shelf the entire thing above 300Hz or something to make up for a little less low end during that phase.
 

lomky

New member
ecktronic said:
I have the exact same problem with the mud biuld up and trying to keep my lo end tight and controlled.
In my music (heavy rock) I find that cutting the lo mids around the 200-300 area (roughly) can clean up a mix well. Usually this is done in the kick, bass guitar and guitars.

My plan is to come to a happy medium with the mud by not taking too much out and also maybe having the lo end a little loose, and hope that the mastering engineer can tighten up the lo end and clean up the lo mids.

Eck

This is kinda what I was thinking (also the same type of music). I also notice that alot of mastering websites that have before and after samples, the best masters (IMO) are the ones that start pretty flat, the tend to turn out nice and "sparkly/punchy" But these may be the ones that show the most difference for marketing purposes.
 

ecktronic

Mixing and Mastering.
lomky said:
This is kinda what I was thinking (also the same type of music). I also notice that alot of mastering websites that have before and after samples, the best masters (IMO) are the ones that start pretty flat, the tend to turn out nice and "sparkly/punchy" But these may be the ones that show the most difference for marketing purposes.
Yeah Its easy to think that a master with a big difference from the original mix is a better mastering job, but thats not really the case.
 

ecktronic

Mixing and Mastering.
Massive Master said:
Looking where you can roll off is a good thing for sure... As far as where to settle, I'd almost rather have a slightly anemic mix than a muddy one. Clarity and focus are harder to "find" in a muddy mix than simply trying to tailor in some low end.

Realistically, the volume of the entire thing is going to go up to some extent - It's a simple operation to shelf the entire thing above 300Hz or something to make up for a little less low end during that phase.
Cheers man.

Eck
 

lomky

New member
Massive Master said:
Looking where you can roll off is a good thing for sure... As far as where to settle, I'd almost rather have a slightly anemic mix than a muddy one. Clarity and focus are harder to "find" in a muddy mix than simply trying to tailor in some low end.

Realistically, the volume of the entire thing is going to go up to some extent - It's a simple operation to shelf the entire thing above 300Hz or something to make up for a little less low end during that phase.

OK, this is very interesting. And you may actually be seeing these mixes, the band and I definitly have you on our short list.
 

masteringhouse

www.masteringhouse.com
lomky said:
I find that my mixes end up with too much mud for my liking. I find the low end the hardest to mix, and sometimes I take out too much mud and kill the low end of the piece...

There are two things that I find consistent among the mixes of younger engineers, one is issues in bass management, the other is depth in their recordings (front to back).

When eqing tracks consider what the track is going to donate to the mix. In the case of guitars it's going to be mostly mids. As a result it's not a bad idea to filter out freqs around 85Hz and below, sometimes even carving space around 100 Hz due to proximity effect of miking a guitar cab too close.

Also consider the space between the kick and bass. Kicks often sound cleaner when you carve out the area around 200-300 Hz. This may be a good spot to boost in the bass so that the area does "build up" elsewhere. That's the idea behind complimentary eqing, cutting an area in one instrument and boosting it in another. Don't worry if when you solo out the track it sounds like ass, it's the blend of the two (unless there's a solo somewhere). Most fundamentals of the instruments are in the lower mid range where they are all going to compete. That's where the "gestalt of eqing" comes in, the sum is greater than the parts.

As far as mastering it's harder to generate something that isn't there than it is to remove it. Personally I would rather have something to work with than have nothing and try to create it.
 

ecktronic

Mixing and Mastering.
masteringhouse said:
As far as mastering it's harder to generate something that isn't there than it is to remove it. Personally I would rather have something to work with than have nothing and try to create it.
Hmm, so 2 oposite opinions on the matter.
I conclude there is no real answer to this. It all depends on the circumstance of the mix. Say the mix had a booming lo mid from the bass guitar, and the guitars were really thin sounding from too much lo mids missing, then the mastering engineer would be screwed! :D

Ihave always heard the expresion less is more in terms of EQ. Cutting is better than adding. But at the same time.... a fek it im confused. :P

Eck
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
ecktronic said:
Hmm, so 2 oposite opinions on the matter.
I conclude there is no real answer to this. It all depends on the circumstance of the mix. Say the mix had a booming lo mid from the bass guitar, and the guitars were really thin sounding from too much lo mids missing, then the mastering engineer would be screwed! :D
It seems to me that the answer is rather simple: mix to make the mix sound as good as possible and as close to finished as possible. The ME will take it from there.

If there's too much or too little of something in the mix, then fix it. It's not the ME's job to fix problems in the mix, that's your job to do that before it gets to them. They are there to polish what you give them, not fix it.

If you just can't get it right yourself for whatever reason, then you need to communicate with the ME when you send him your mix and be honest about what you think is wrong with it.

G.
 

masteringhouse

www.masteringhouse.com
ecktronic said:
Hmm, so 2 oposite opinions on the matter.
I conclude there is no real answer to this. It all depends on the circumstance of the mix. Say the mix had a booming lo mid from the bass guitar, and the guitars were really thin sounding from too much lo mids missing, then the mastering engineer would be screwed! :D

Ihave always heard the expresion less is more in terms of EQ. Cutting is better than adding. But at the same time.... a fek it im confused. :P

Eck

There may be one way to attack that particular problem assuming the bass was in the middle and the guitars panned hard (as is often the case).

One could separate the mix into it's mono and stereo components. For the mono component EQ out the low mid in the bass without affecting the kick and vocals as much as possible. For the stereo component try to add the low mid or bottom to the guitar. The question here is what are you going to grab if it has been filtered out? Back to my original point.
 

ermghoti

New member
masteringhouse said:
Also consider the space between the kick and bass. Kicks often sound cleaner when you carve out the area around 200-300 Hz. This may be a good spot to boost in the bass so that the area does "build up" elsewhere.

Funny you mention that, I cut a few dB of 250 out of the kick, and everything else, except the bass. I do it even without listening carefully, it's part of basic, set the faders to 0, premixing preparation, right after I high pass everything until I can hear the cut, and back off until I can't. I'll fiddle with it later on, to target the exact sweet spot.
 

xstatic

New member
Here is a couple of things that has helped me a lot with battling the low muck that can so easily happen in a mix.

First, I like mixing with an analyzer running on my control room output so that the analyzer is always showing me what I am hearing (steroe mix, solo's, aux cue's etc...) I do not rely on the analyzer, but helps me to visually confirm things that I may already suspect. It also becomes more and more useful on longer sessions when you start getting a little more tired and your ears may be starting to fatigue a bit. Sometimes it will show you how to battle the "stacking" issue of multiple tracks as well. The analyzer I use also has phase correlation meters and shows both peak and RMS levels as well as stereo imaging. All of those tools can be used to ASSIST in making a wider, smoother, deeper mix that has a better overall spectral balance.

The second trick I have learned that has not yet been mentioned is panning. There is absolutely no reason why the bass and kick have to bothe be panned dead center. Often times the only thing in my whole mix that is panned dead center is the lead vocal. Generally, I like my kick and snare a touch to the left side (like even just 2%), and my bass to oppose it on the right, along with the hi hat mic which often helps to center the snare back up. This slight bit of panning does not seem to drop any of the power of the low end punch, but really seems to clarify both the kick and bass to where they are easier to comp and EQ to get to fit each other a little better. It may sound a little odd, but try it sometime. Try panning a little further even just to see how it changes things so you know when to use and when not to use this type of trick.

One other thing I have learned from some really good engineers is how to use just a touch of reverb on the kick drum. Using a good short verb (1.2 or something) can really add realism, clarity and volume to the kick without it "poking out the front" of a mix so badly. You will find that this trick also allows your peak values of your mix to be a little less determined by the drums so you can focus on keeping a powerful vocal.
 
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