Better to master mix or export to audio / master that?

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Wobbleburger
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Post 15 Oct 2018

Basically, I've been mastering with my stack of devices connected to the master section. The problem is that my tracks slow down my system because I continue to work on them with the mixing devices connected. Is it better to work on your track unmastered and then export the audio and master THAT?
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brand
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Post 15 Oct 2018

No doubt others on the forum can address mastering questions better than me, but definitely rendering a single stereo file is step one before mastering.

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Timmy Crowne
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Post 15 Oct 2018

Traditionally, yes audio is usually exported to a stereo mix down before it is mastered for the very reason you’ve encountered. Running synths and sample instruments, effects, and mastering processors usually chokes a computer.

That said, because CPU power has improved over the years, it can be possible to master right in the mix. This allows us to hear exactly how the final product will sound.

However, some caution is still needed because it’s easy to make mistakes in the mix when mastering processors can obscure or distort details that would otherwise be clearly audible. Also, mastering usually takes into account the flow of all songs on an album or playlist. Mastering in isolation removes such context.


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Last edited by Timmy Crowne on 15 Oct 2018, edited 1 time in total.

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 15 Oct 2018

I bounce the single channels and then mix them in a separate project, then bounce a stereo file and then master that.
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EnochLight
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Post 15 Oct 2018

Wobbleburger wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Basically, I've been mastering with my stack of devices connected to the master section. The problem is that my tracks slow down my system because I continue to work on them with the mixing devices connected. Is it better to work on your track unmastered and then export the audio and master THAT?
Mixing and mastering are generally two different phases of production, and many of the more experienced "pro's" prefer to master separately from the mix. It's not so much even due to CPU/DSP issues; it's to keep you from going back and getting stuck constantly mixing your production. Also, in order to master, you need a good solid mix to start with, so if you can't get your mix right first, you've got issues you need to address before you even touch mastering, IMHO.

Bottom line: keep mastering separate from mixing. When you've mastered the art of your mix, then and only then export your project to a stereo file and begin mastering. Of course, YMMV...
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MannequinRaces
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Post 16 Oct 2018

As others have said it's normally better to keep the processes separate. It's really tempting to turn on the limiter and master buss compressor and crank things up but if you can get a really good sounding mix the less you'll have to do when mastering.

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Wobbleburger
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Timmy Crowne wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Traditionally, yes audio is usually exported to a stereo mix down before it is mastered for the very reason you’ve encountered. Running synths and sample instruments, effects, and mastering processors usually chokes a computer.

That said, because CPU power has improved over the years, it can be possible to master right in the mix. This allows us to hear exactly how the final product will sound.

However, some caution is still needed because it’s easy to make mistakes in the mix when mastering processors can obscure or distort details that would otherwise be clearly audible. Also, mastering usually takes into account the flow of all songs on an album or playlist. Mastering in isolation removes such context.


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Great advice... I've been running my master chain while still arranging. It's very, very slow. I'm going to try your technique. Also great point about mastering in regards to an entire album and how the track will fit into that piece.
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Wobbleburger
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Post 16 Oct 2018

EnochLight wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Wobbleburger wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Basically, I've been mastering with my stack of devices connected to the master section. The problem is that my tracks slow down my system because I continue to work on them with the mixing devices connected. Is it better to work on your track unmastered and then export the audio and master THAT?
Mixing and mastering are generally two different phases of production, and many of the more experienced "pro's" prefer to master separately from the mix. It's not so much even due to CPU/DSP issues; it's to keep you from going back and getting stuck constantly mixing your production. Also, in order to master, you need a good solid mix to start with, so if you can't get your mix right first, you've got issues you need to address before you even touch mastering, IMHO.

Bottom line: keep mastering separate from mixing. When you've mastered the art of your mix, then and only then export your project to a stereo file and begin mastering. Of course, YMMV...
This is very solid advice. I like the idea of having to commit before moving on. I use a similar technique in that I bounce tracks in place to 'finalize' them so that I can move forward and stop nitpicking.
:essentials: :re:
I like jungle.

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EnochLight
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Wobbleburger wrote:
16 Oct 2018
This is very solid advice. I like the idea of having to commit before moving on. I use a similar technique in that I bounce tracks in place to 'finalize' them so that I can move forward and stop nitpicking.
Indeed. You'll hear many in the industry say that this is what separates professionals that do production as a career from the amateur "hobbyists". You typically have 3 stages that are kept separate: writing, mixing, mastering. That said, YMMV - some pros can't walk away from touching those faders or adding a new synth lead when they're 3 seconds away from finishing their master stage. It just all depends on your workflow and how efficient you want to be.
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Kalm
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Ehh, I'll say its based on your genre ONLY because many EDM people I've talked to like keeping everything in one section and they "master" the track as they work. What it sounds like coming out of the session is how they want it heard. Of course this genre is really big on indie self-serving titles instead of industry pop music.

I personally recommend another software for mastering only because the environment may yield to a different atmosphere and the tools available might better suit your needs depending how far you want to go in master.

To be personal, I work with both of the situations above lol. I export my music to "master", but I go back in the mix to make changes if somethings not right. The only tools I agree to live with on my master is an imager, DeEsser, and a Limiter usually. There are things you will only be able to achieve on a macro level regardless what any mixing engineer says.
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EnochLight
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Kalm wrote:
16 Oct 2018
The only tools I agree to live with on my master is an imager, DeEsser, and a Limiter usually.
Serious question: how do you DeEss vocals when it's buried in a stereo mix of the entire song?
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Kalm
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Post 16 Oct 2018

EnochLight wrote:
16 Oct 2018
Kalm wrote:
16 Oct 2018
The only tools I agree to live with on my master is an imager, DeEsser, and a Limiter usually.
Serious question: how do you DeEss vocals when it's buried in a stereo mix of the entire song?
Simple answer. . . Mid/Side

But on a serious answer lol, I don't DeEss for vocals. I DeEss the sharp High-Mid-High Frequency transients to smoothen out any aggressive texture of the entire mix.
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EnochLight
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Kalm wrote:
16 Oct 2018
EnochLight wrote:
16 Oct 2018


Serious question: how do you DeEss vocals when it's buried in a stereo mix of the entire song?
Simple answer. . . Mid/Side

But on a serious answer lol, I don't DeEss for vocals. I DeEss the sharp High-Mid-High Frequency transients to smoothen out any aggressive texture of the entire mix.
On a serious note, mid/side wouldn't allow you accurate control over your vocal track if it were buried in the mix without affecting other instruments in the same frequency range. For this reason, I specifically de-ess (my vocal takes) during the mix phase. Taming High-Mid-High frequency transients is a cool use, though (I still prefer to tackle most of this in the mix phase).

Interesting to see how others work; thanks for sharing!
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Kalm
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Post 16 Oct 2018

It gets tackled in the mix-phase, but if you don't have that option in the mix-phase, you must remember frequencies still add whether you adjust things on a micro level. Let's say you add saturation, excitement, compression, EQ changes on the 2Mix, you will always change the macro balance of your frequency spectrum. It's not set in stone. You could use RX Dress just to highlight certain points where it gets really heavy due to processing. It's all about how things add up at this point.

Also in mastering, you wouldn't be concerned with super isolation. Anytime you master its about compromise for the greater good, but how many elements are 80-100% strong in the middle? Top end of a snare, vocals . . . and usually some lead synth. Other than that, what else would the De-Esser work on? Thats why its a doable process. Think about the Weiss mastering system and why they include a DeEsser. DeEssing isn't about vocals,

it's about upper harmonic texture
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selig
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Mastering a single is different for me than mastering an album.

I prefer to master a single in the mix, because I don’t “master” to change the mix. I basically only do a little brick wall limiting to the master if it’s a single song. Nothing more is needed because if I feel I need EQ, I fix the mix. If I feel I need more punch I fix the mix. If I feel I need more “glue” I fix the mix.

BUT, for an “album” of songs, the I always master the songs as a whole since it’s important to me they all flow together and work as a “whole”, so I need to master as a whole.

Of course, if you’re able to have someone who’s better at mastering do your single, then definitely export and let them at it.
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Zac
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Post 19 Oct 2018

Wobbleburger wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Basically, I've been mastering with my stack of devices connected to the master section. The problem is that my tracks slow down my system because I continue to work on them with the mixing devices connected. Is it better to work on your track unmastered and then export the audio and master THAT?
One advantage of exporting your mix to a stereo file is that you will always have that unmastered export.

I've been looking at reworking some of my tracks and a surprising number i can't reopen as I've deleted the refill (trying to save space thinking i never used it) or have used trial REs or old version/deleted vsts.

Therefore all i have is a mastered wav file which is pretty useless.

Whereas where i have exported to a separate reason file even if some of the mastering devices used are 'broken' i still have an unmastered export which given the delights of things like neutron 2 and ozone 8 can still be useful.

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Kalm
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Post 19 Oct 2018

selig wrote:
16 Oct 2018

Mastering a single is different for me than mastering an album.

I prefer to master a single in the mix, because I don’t “master” to change the mix. I basically only do a little brick wall limiting to the master if it’s a single song. Nothing more is needed because if I feel I need EQ, I fix the mix. If I feel I need more punch I fix the mix. If I feel I need more “glue” I fix the mix.
+1.1
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Wobbleburger
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Post 19 Oct 2018

Zac wrote:
19 Oct 2018
Wobbleburger wrote:
15 Oct 2018
Basically, I've been mastering with my stack of devices connected to the master section. The problem is that my tracks slow down my system because I continue to work on them with the mixing devices connected. Is it better to work on your track unmastered and then export the audio and master THAT?
One advantage of exporting your mix to a stereo file is that you will always have that unmastered export.

I've been looking at reworking some of my tracks and a surprising number i can't reopen as I've deleted the refill (trying to save space thinking i never used it) or have used trial REs or old version/deleted vsts.

Therefore all i have is a mastered wav file which is pretty useless.

Whereas where i have exported to a separate reason file even if some of the mastering devices used are 'broken' i still have an unmastered export which given the delights of things like neutron 2 and ozone 8 can still be useful.
Very good call. I'm going to export all of my tracks (un mastered) to Google Drive tonight! I have so many old tunes with crappy mixdowns... and I can't unring that bell :D
:essentials: :re:
I like jungle.

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