Bouncing stems with master effects active

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ThousandSunSky
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Post 18 Nov 2022

I've been looking around for an answer but haven't found anything so far.

Is it possible to bounce stems down that have the master rack effects applied? I'm trying to render stems of a mastered song, which includes effects on the master rack, but whenever I render stems for the track and combine them back together, it seems like the master effects are missing.

Granted, I am on Reason 9.5, and do plan to upgrade soon, but was wondering if this was possible even in my outdated build.

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selig
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Post 18 Nov 2022

Yes, easiest way is to solo the Bus Channel for the stem so you are hearing all the tracks in the stem plus the FX, then bounce what you’re hearing. The down side is you have to do each stem one at a time. Could be worse, you could be exporting each individual track with FX… ;)
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Vincent Vitellius
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Post 18 Nov 2022

selig wrote:
18 Nov 2022
Yes, easiest way is to solo the Bus Channel for the stem...
I disagree. In mastering, some channels will affect other channels in some cases. (Dynamic effects)
A simple test to demonstrate what I mean:

Track 1: Pure Sinewave, high-pitched, at low volume
Track 2: Pure Sinewave pulses, Low Pitched, At high volume.
Mastering effect: Compressor/limiter with slow decay time.

When exporting this marvel of a composition, the compressor will decrease the volume every time the pulse in track 2 plays, and recover over time.

If we solo track 1 to get a stem including the mastering effect, the compressor will never kick in because track 2 is muted.
If we mix those stems, we will not get the same result as a normal song export including all tracks and effects.

Here's the output of that test:
Screenshot_20221118_104312.png
Top stereo track is the full song exported with a slow acting compressor.
Notice how the quiet tone slowly recovers after each pulse of the loud tone.

Bottom track is the same song export, with Track 1 soloed.
Notice the missing compression.

In other words, Solo Track 1 does not contain compression because track 2 is not there to kick the compressor.

My conclusion: If any mastering effect is dynamic, you can't export stems with mastering effects and get the same result as when the entire song is exported.
You can export stems of your mix, not your master.

I would love to be proven wrong here.
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selig
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Post 19 Nov 2022

Vincent Vitellius wrote:
18 Nov 2022
selig wrote:
18 Nov 2022
Yes, easiest way is to solo the Bus Channel for the stem...
I disagree. In mastering, some channels will affect other channels in some cases. (Dynamic effects)
A simple test to demonstrate what I mean:
That’s not what I understood the question to be (mastering based), apologies if so because I would have written exactly what you wrote if I had assumed dynamics were involved. I had assumed (possibly mistakenly) the question was regarding send/return FX.
In re-reading the OP I realize it could be either/both.

The better question to ask IMO is probably “WHY”. What is the purpose/use case of the stems? If you print stems or even tracks with the mastering compressor the ONLY time the mix will be accurately reproduced is if you do NOTHING to the tracks/stems. But that’s not logical because why print with FX if you’re not planning on doing anything? And if you ARE planning on changing levels the you do not likely want your mastering imposed on the files because they are setup to sound best with the current balances.

But that’s me, I’m always confused by why folks even want tracks or stems with mastering type processing included, because the whole idea behind doing this is to be able to change balances - and once you change balances you want any overall mastering processors to respond to those changes, right? Or maybe it’s just me…
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Heigen5
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Post 19 Nov 2022

Isn't the bouncing tracks down for to render the track, without the master fx and the export WITH the master fx included?
So if one wants to have the master fx included, you'd solo each track and just export it to an audio then (and not 'bounce')?

By the way, if you also have device fx automation for the certain tracks, you'd need to solo these too when rendering.

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stillifegaijin
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Post 19 Nov 2022

I mean, technically, depending on what effects and processing you are using every single pass of the same mix you bounce could sound slightly different, But definitely bouncing 4 or 5 stems though any sort of master processing or effects and then putting them together (I do a variation of this for live shows) is going to sound different than the full mix bounced though master processing all at once. That's just how processing works as Vincent Vitellius points out.

As Selig said, it all depends on the end usage. Why are you doing this and what are you trying to accomplish? When I do it for live shows the backing tracks are not the full stems from the actual mix as parts are missing to be played by the live musicians and it's for a live show which will inherently sound different so I don't need them to sound exactly the same, just good. Over the years I have even changed my mind about bouncing the stems for live with to without master processing and either way it's never the final chain for actual Mastering, only the master bus processing for my pre-mastered mixes.

If I send tracks or stems to a client after mixing I do not include the master processing for the same reasons Selig expressed. If I send tracks to someone to do a remix, no master processing. In both cases they will be changing the overall sound for whatever they use the tracks/stems for.

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Vincent Vitellius
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Post 19 Nov 2022

selig wrote:
19 Nov 2022
That’s not what I understood the question to be
Rereading the original question, I realize that your interpretation is probably the right one. I didn't consider the possibility that OP meant send-effects.

I think we can agree that if OP means master-sends, your answer is the correct one, and If OP means master-inserts or both, then my answer would be the correct one.

However, I would add one important information to your answer: You will most likely also need to bypass the master-insert effects when exporting.

I'll chime in with the choir, and ask OP to clarify the use case scenario.
Heigen5 wrote:
19 Nov 2022
Isn't the bouncing tracks down for to render the track, without the master fx and the export WITH the master fx included?
So if one wants to have the master fx included, you'd solo each track and just export it to an audio then (and not 'bounce')?

By the way, if you also have device fx automation for the certain tracks, you'd need to solo these too when rendering.
Soloing tracks and soloing channels/busses for export are two very different things, but if we're purely talking about the processing of mastering sends/inserts, there's no difference that I can think of.

Generally speaking, I would not recommend soloing tracks for the purpose of stem exports, since (as you correctly state) some tracks are dependent on other tracks. Not just automation, but also CV, sidechaining and all sorts of cross-track cable connections possible on the back of the rack.
By soloing channels/busses, everything is rendered and processed, even if inaudible at the output.

The only upside of soloing tracks as opposed to channels/busses (in this context), that I can think of, is increased exporting speed compared to soloing channels/busses.
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Billy+
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Post 19 Nov 2022

ThousandSunSky wrote:
18 Nov 2022
I've been looking around for an answer but haven't found anything so far.

Is it possible to bounce stems down that have the master rack effects applied? I'm trying to render stems of a mastered song, which includes effects on the master rack, but whenever I render stems for the track and combine them back together, it seems like the master effects are missing.

Granted, I am on Reason 9.5, and do plan to upgrade soon, but was wondering if this was possible even in my outdated build.
Nice ;)

Reading the thread so far should provide enough evidence that this is yet another topic that is far beyond the obvious point :clap: and although it's interesting to discuss the question what I would suggest is the break down to the questions ;) .

I've always preferred to master as a dedicated stage after a mixdown which in it's self is a dedicated stage that has created the steam files if required which hasn't been very often as I have always mastered the sum rather than the parts.

I don't think there's anything different about R9.5 than R12 that should concern you with regard to the final output.

I would suggest that during the creative process that effects are placed inline then there effects are contained and would allow you to produce steam files. And the master buss is only there for the extra 5-10% of sparkle over the whole mixdown.
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deigm
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Post 20 Nov 2022

Vincent Vitellius wrote:
18 Nov 2022
selig wrote:
18 Nov 2022
Yes, easiest way is to solo the Bus Channel for the stem...
I disagree. In mastering, some channels will affect other channels in some cases. (Dynamic effects)
A simple test to demonstrate what I mean:

Track 1: Pure Sinewave, high-pitched, at low volume
Track 2: Pure Sinewave pulses, Low Pitched, At high volume.
Mastering effect: Compressor/limiter with slow decay time.

When exporting this marvel of a composition, the compressor will decrease the volume every time the pulse in track 2 plays, and recover over time.

If we solo track 1 to get a stem including the mastering effect, the compressor will never kick in because track 2 is muted.
If we mix those stems, we will not get the same result as a normal song export including all tracks and effects.

Here's the output of that test:
Screenshot_20221118_104312.png
Top stereo track is the full song exported with a slow acting compressor.
Notice how the quiet tone slowly recovers after each pulse of the loud tone.

Bottom track is the same song export, with Track 1 soloed.
Notice the missing compression.

In other words, Solo Track 1 does not contain compression because track 2 is not there to kick the compressor.

My conclusion: If any mastering effect is dynamic, you can't export stems with mastering effects and get the same result as when the entire song is exported.
You can export stems of your mix, not your master.

I would love to be proven wrong here.
Would bounce in place capture these dynamic effects from the master channel? Or does it calculate the resulting track as if it were solo'd?

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Vincent Vitellius
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Post 20 Nov 2022

deigm wrote:
20 Nov 2022
Would bounce in place capture these dynamic effects from the master channel? Or does it calculate the resulting track as if it were solo'd?
EDIT: Disregard my original answer. I was thinking of the Bounce Mixer Channels function from the File Menu with Copy Channel Settings checked.

From the User Manual: "The Bounce in Place function lets you bounce the sound generated from playing back note or audio clips, with any insert effects and channel strip coloration - but without Send FX and Master Section settings - to a new audio clip on a new audio track."

Bounce In Place will bake in all other effects, channel strip adjustments and automation.

Bounce in place does not include any master effects.
However, Reason will copy all the channel adjustments (send effects, EQ etc.) to the new audio track.

That means, that if you bounce from a track that has some master send-effect, the new track will have the same send effect enabled.
The resulting bounced clip and the copied adjustments should then sound the same as before.

But sometimes they don’t, because there’s a huge pitfall here. If you have automated the send level of the effect (or any other mix channel adjustment), the automation will not be copied to the bounced clips channel.
Last edited by Vincent Vitellius on 20 Nov 2022, edited 3 times in total.
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jam-s
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Post 20 Nov 2022

Vincent Vitellius wrote:
20 Nov 2022
But sometimes they don’t, because there’s a huge pitfall here. If you have automated the send level of the effect (or any other mix channel adjustment), the automation will not be copied to the bounced clips channel.
Oh, have you reported that bug?

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Vincent Vitellius
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Post 20 Nov 2022

jam-s wrote:
20 Nov 2022
Oh, have you reported that bug?
Note to self: Don't give technical advice after 28 hours of insomnia.

Bounce In Place works as advertised. I was thinking of the Bounce Mixer Channels from the File Menu.
If you bounce to new tracks, with Copy Original Channel Settings checked, the automation will not be copied. Not sure if that is a bug. I'll think about it when I'm properly rested.

I'll edit my previous post, to avoid confusing people.
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ThousandSunSky
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Joined: 18 Nov 2022

Post 20 Nov 2022

Thanks for all the responses. I have a multiband compressor on the master rack as well as the factory master compressor active, several stereo imagers, and other general mastering stuff

I should clarify the reason I want stems where the combination of those rendered stems matches the final mix master is because the track is going to be used in a rhythm game where some of the instruments need to be muted if the player misses a note.

So because of this I need the final master of the track in stems, where the guitar or drums or piano could muted upon a missed note

I'll probably just end up rendering everything that doesn't need to be muted upon a miss and then just render stems of the instruments that will be muted, and then just make a new master specifically for the game

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selig
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Post 21 Nov 2022

ThousandSunSky wrote:
20 Nov 2022
Thanks for all the responses. I have a multiband compressor on the master rack as well as the factory master compressor active, several stereo imagers, and other general mastering stuff

I should clarify the reason I want stems where the combination of those rendered stems matches the final mix master is because the track is going to be used in a rhythm game where some of the instruments need to be muted if the player misses a note.

So because of this I need the final master of the track in stems, where the guitar or drums or piano could muted upon a missed note

I'll probably just end up rendering everything that doesn't need to be muted upon a miss and then just render stems of the instruments that will be muted, and then just make a new master specifically for the game
OK, now we have something tangible to work with. I would not keep the master FX in this case (or any, really) for two reasons.
One, if you just solo the track to export as I initially mentioned, you won’t get the same exact mix when all are re-combined (because of the master effects you mention above).
*Two, if you use ‘tricks’ (see below) to recreate the full mix accurately when all elements are recombined, when you mute something like the drums the rest of the instruments will still ‘ghost pump’ from the missing elements.
Neither approach is 100% desirable, but I should add the amount of processing you’re using on the master will affect these things. If you’re doing very minimal processing on the master you are more likely to get away with either approach, so definitely a YMMV situation for sure.

If I was hired to provide these elements I would use a different approach all together. First I should say I’m a ‘get it in the mix’ guy, and my mastering is typically minimal to achieve the desired results. As such, my approach would be to nail the mix without ANY mastering FX inserted, which avoids both issue 1 and issue 2. And then I would do as I initially suggested, solo each track and export. The reason to solo would be to include any/all send/return FX on each element. If no send/return FX you could simply choose “Bounce Mixer Channels” and export all tracks (and/or stems) in one go.

Depending on what was possible within the game (a BIG “if”), another approach would be to make multiple mixes with all of the possible combinations you need: full mix, muted drums, muted vocal, etc. Then run all of the tracks and dynamically switch between them as dictated by the game logic. Compare that to what you are intending to do. Let’s say you had 5 stems total. In your scenario all stems are playing together, and one gets muted when a certain condition is met. In my alternative scenario you having 5 mixes all playing and one gets soloed when a certain condition is met. BUT it would allow you to make sure each ‘version’ sounded exactly how you wanted it to sound because everything a player would hear would be a mix you made in your studio rather than a mix made in the game engine. It would be no more CPU load to play 5 stems as 5 mixes, so there is no higher load placed on the engine. BUT, this would require the game engine to be able to work this way which may be totally out of the question - just sharing random thoughts that come to mind to possibly address the issue!

*Technique for bouncing stems with mastering:
I’ve never needed to do this, but in theory if your mastering FX have side chain inputs it’s easy enough to set things up so that each individual stem (drums, synths, vocals) has ALL the tracks affecting the compression etc. exactly as they would when combined.
I’m not sure how easy it is to do in Reason because I’ve never done it, but the idea is that with this approach your combined results sounds exactly like the original. Again, the down side is ‘ghost pumping’ if you mute a channel, so obviously this is better suited to being used in situations where one is making very minor changes to the balances rather than hard muting any element.
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jam-s
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Post 21 Nov 2022

You could also possibly add some free open source mastering FX (like a limiter) into the game engine and do the final touches there. Of course having a good mix like selig suggests is the best foundation for this.

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