Master EQing fail... (UPDATE: example song + mastering walkthrough)

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RobC
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Post 30 Jun 2022

UPDATE:

My example song (from 7 years ago - a Reason Limited file that most full users can open - R10 and R12 definitely worked for me!)



And a mastering walkthrough video by Benedict Roff-Marsh



THE ORIGINAL TOPIC/POST

Some days ago, I made a list on here, regarding how I'm going to master a song with a bit more effort than normal. Enthusiastically, I started experimenting, and while I was surprised how creative things can get, and understood why they call it an art and science, I quickly ran into something odd:

I've heard of this method of sweeping through the spectrum with a parametric equalizer, and I heard in my test song what I suspected, that the kick might be hitting a bit too hard. I quickly found the problem frequency at about 160 Hz, then set the steepness so it's in-between the sweet spot of staying focused on the problem frequency, and sounding more transparent. Then I closed my eyes and started dialing the gain back to what sounded like the perfect spot. And you gotta be f..... kidding me, each time I got back to 0 dB gain! x D

There could be the following problems:
1. There is no problem, and I'm just trying to find a problem
2. I know the song so well and simply have such precise hearing, that "undoing" the EQ makes thing sound "normal" or "right".
3. Hmm, I thought that maybe my hearing adapts quickly to the boost during finding the problem frequency, but that doesn't explain why I always get back exactly to 0 dB

I'll add a sample later ~ but I'm sure that others ran into similar weirdness. I'm the type of person that "could" but needs to be slapped in the right direction.
So... what could be going on?
Last edited by RobC on 09 Jul 2022, edited 1 time in total.

Popey
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Post 30 Jun 2022

RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
Some days ago, I made a list on here, regarding how I'm going to master a song with a bit more effort than normal. Enthusiastically, I started experimenting, and while I was surprised how creative things can get, and understood why they call it an art and science, I quickly ran into something odd:

I've heard of this method of sweeping through the spectrum with a parametric equalizer, and I heard in my test song what I suspected, that the kick might be hitting a bit too hard. I quickly found the problem frequency at about 160 Hz, then set the steepness so it's in-between the sweet spot of staying focused on the problem frequency, and sounding more transparent. Then I closed my eyes and started dialing the gain back to what sounded like the perfect spot. And you gotta be f..... kidding me, each time I got back to 0 dB gain! x D

There could be the following problems:
1. There is no problem, and I'm just trying to find a problem
2. I know the song so well and simply have such precise hearing, that "undoing" the EQ makes thing sound "normal" or "right".
3. Hmm, I thought that maybe my hearing adapts quickly to the boost during finding the problem frequency, but that doesn't explain why I always get back exactly to 0 dB

I'll add a sample later ~ but I'm sure that others ran into similar weirdness. I'm the type of person that "could" but needs to be slapped in the right direction.
So... what could be going on?
When you saying sweeping I assume you are adding gain and sweeping through. I find it easier to notch out some gain with a steepish q sweep but this is just what I find personally.

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Billy+
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Post 30 Jun 2022

Popey wrote:
30 Jun 2022
RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
Some days ago, I made a list on here, regarding how I'm going to master a song with a bit more effort than normal. Enthusiastically, I started experimenting, and while I was surprised how creative things can get, and understood why they call it an art and science, I quickly ran into something odd:

I've heard of this method of sweeping through the spectrum with a parametric equalizer, and I heard in my test song what I suspected, that the kick might be hitting a bit too hard. I quickly found the problem frequency at about 160 Hz, then set the steepness so it's in-between the sweet spot of staying focused on the problem frequency, and sounding more transparent. Then I closed my eyes and started dialing the gain back to what sounded like the perfect spot. And you gotta be f..... kidding me, each time I got back to 0 dB gain! x D

There could be the following problems:
1. There is no problem, and I'm just trying to find a problem
2. I know the song so well and simply have such precise hearing, that "undoing" the EQ makes thing sound "normal" or "right".
3. Hmm, I thought that maybe my hearing adapts quickly to the boost during finding the problem frequency, but that doesn't explain why I always get back exactly to 0 dB

I'll add a sample later ~ but I'm sure that others ran into similar weirdness. I'm the type of person that "could" but needs to be slapped in the right direction.
So... what could be going on?
When you saying sweeping I assume you are adding gain and sweeping through. I find it easier to notch out some gain with a steepish q sweep but this is just what I find personally.
I also prefer to lower rather than boost as boosting is always going to make harsh frequencies and I only search when I can actually hear something not sounding right/annoying.

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selig
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Post 30 Jun 2022

Popey wrote:
30 Jun 2022
When you saying sweeping I assume you are adding gain and sweeping through. I find it easier to notch out some gain with a steepish q sweep but this is just what I find personally.
I don't like either of those approaches, and built into ColoringEQ a different way where when you solo the band you hear ONLY the frequencies being affected which allows you to focus on them at the same level as they appear in the full spectrum. Benefit is that you do this while cutting EQ (yea, doesn't make sense until you see it), So that when you are done sweeping you can just pop out of solo mode and those frequencies are now cut!
Billy+ wrote:
30 Jun 2022
I also prefer to lower rather than boost as boosting is always going to make harsh frequencies and I only search when I can actually hear something not sounding right/annoying.
There is no sonic difference between boosting a cutting, neither one is more or less harsh than the other. For me it is simply a matter of using the fewest bands to achieve the desired result. If for example I want a slight boost around 1 kHz, I would NOT use two band to cut the area above and below 1 kHz! I would simply boost @ 1 kHz because among other things it's quicker to make adjustments on one band than two together, and also because I'm more of a required/desired guy: "use only as much processing as is required to achieve the desired results". ;)
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selig
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Post 30 Jun 2022

@Rob - try this, let your ears become accustom to the EQ'ed version for a few minutes, THEN repeat your test. For example, try the cut around -6 dB or so, then listen that way for a few times through the song if possible. NOW try your experiment with the EQ gain and see if anything has changed. The idea is to get rid of your sonic 'memory' of the original.
IF you end up back at 0 dB with no boost/cut again, you're done.
IF you end up with 6 dB cut you MAY be done, or you may have just reacclimatized yourself to the new 'reality'
Funny thing is, there is no way of knowing for sure which is happening unless you have used the same monitors in the same room for years or if you have a decent collect of reference tracks that you can use as the baseline.
In the case of reference tracks, listen to one or two ref tracks after making the EQ adjustment.listening above but BEFORE doing your test again. The idea being you want a 'reality check' on mixes you know, like, and trust.
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PhillipOrdonez
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Post 30 Jun 2022

I don't like that whole technique of searching for "resonant frequencies" or whatever 🙄. If I need to do any equalisation at the mastering stage, I'd rather go back to the mix and fix it there. Subtlety is key when using an eq for mastering, in my case at least. 🤷‍♂️
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RobC
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Post 30 Jun 2022

Thank you for all the information!

First, here's the song in question. I made it back in 2015, after Propellerhead made that Drum and Bass tutorial video. Back then I only had Reason Limited, and for compatibility, I'm sharing that one. R10 and R12 definitely opens it for me.
It's an old song of mine. If I remember right, I was kind of focused on preparing making music for vinyl. So the lacking low sub and treble will be the first thing you'll notice. But that's not what this topic is about. It's more focused on, that something about the kick bothered my ears.

When looking for the problem, for compatibility, I used the MClass EQ. On the parametric one, I landed at 162 Hz, with a Q of 9.9.
As you can read in my replies below, with every test, I always got back to 0 dB gain. Even a quick test lead to just 1 dB difference.

Here's the old song. Yes, it's a mess (in every sense), but much smaller file size, and you just have to hit start. It starts after a couple of bars. Reason Limited had no Blocks back then, hence every bit is at the start. : ) Oh and hey, it's kind of a good challenge for practicing correcting stuff during mastering.
Know that back then I worked with 44.100 Hz sample rate. Anything other than that will likely sound off!

Anyway, the compressor to the left in the rack, sidechain-compresses (kick drum) mostly non-drum sounds.
All in all, it may or may not be the side chain compression, that makes me feel that the kick hits too hard. It's funny how I both do and don't want this effect. Can't make up my mind. : )

The song title was "Euphoric Liquid" ~ a liquid dnb instrumental.


Popey wrote:
30 Jun 2022
When you saying sweeping I assume you are adding gain and sweeping through. I find it easier to notch out some gain with a steepish q sweep but this is just what I find personally.
Yes, and the boost kind of resonates/rings, although it can get loud, so not the most fun neither for ears, neither to turn the audio up and down. I haven't really tried with notching yet.
selig wrote:
30 Jun 2022
@Rob - try this, let your ears become accustom to the EQ'ed version for a few minutes, THEN repeat your test. For example, try the cut around -6 dB or so, then listen that way for a few times through the song if possible. NOW try your experiment with the EQ gain and see if anything has changed. The idea is to get rid of your sonic 'memory' of the original.
IF you end up back at 0 dB with no boost/cut again, you're done.
IF you end up with 6 dB cut you MAY be done, or you may have just reacclimatized yourself to the new 'reality'
Funny thing is, there is no way of knowing for sure which is happening unless you have used the same monitors in the same room for years or if you have a decent collect of reference tracks that you can use as the baseline.
In the case of reference tracks, listen to one or two ref tracks after making the EQ adjustment.listening above but BEFORE doing your test again. The idea being you want a 'reality check' on mixes you know, like, and trust.
I tried it, and the only time I "messed up" was when I got distracted by other frequencies and didn't focus what I was supposed to focus on. As soon as I properly paid attention, I got exactly to 0 dB. No matter if I started from a boost, or a cut, or from the center. And I just tried again. I added a cut. Then duplicated the device, and started going up/ down (you know, emphasis & de-emphasis test). Now, I went just approximate, so pretty much only gave myself a few seconds to set the gain. Even so, I was only 1 dB off (again, half-assed). The random cut was about -10 dB ~ my correction/test boost was +9 dB.

As for references, there's a bit of a problem with that, because I'm confused what I can trust with the work of the loudness war. Modern music changed a lot, as we know. It's not all bad, but it's hard for me to find dynamic modern music. I have to confess, I didn't listen that much as of late. Maybe some Dan Worrall stuff.
PhillipOrdonez wrote:
30 Jun 2022
I don't like that whole technique of searching for "resonant frequencies" or whatever 🙄. If I need to do any equalisation at the mastering stage, I'd rather go back to the mix and fix it there. Subtlety is key when using an eq for mastering, in my case at least. 🤷‍♂️
True, but I meant for cases, where there is no possibility to go back to the mix. (Heck, in one Dan Worrall video, he quoted a youtuber that encouraged people to fire a mastering engineer whom asks for stems.)

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guitfnky
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Post 30 Jun 2022

sweeping boosted frequencies like that will allow you to hear problems where there are none. it can be useful if you’re careful and have a good understanding what to listen for, but it’s generally not a great approach to go looking for problems you aren’t aware of.

if you know there’s something honky going on in the upper midrange, the technique is great to help you find it, for example. if on the other hand you just think “I haven’t done the sweep trick on this track yet”, and pull up an EQ, you’re going to create all sorts of bad sounds when boosting that much of any specific frequency (especially with a very narrow band). of course that same problem is there whether you’re talking about a track within a song, or even the song itself (as in mastering).
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moofi
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Post 30 Jun 2022

Posted this somewhere else already, yet I feel it fits here aswell, even though it´s on a piano, not a master:


RobC
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Post 01 Jul 2022

guitfnky wrote:
30 Jun 2022
sweeping boosted frequencies like that will allow you to hear problems where there are none. it can be useful if you’re careful and have a good understanding what to listen for, but it’s generally not a great approach to go looking for problems you aren’t aware of.

if you know there’s something honky going on in the upper midrange, the technique is great to help you find it, for example. if on the other hand you just think “I haven’t done the sweep trick on this track yet”, and pull up an EQ, you’re going to create all sorts of bad sounds when boosting that much of any specific frequency (especially with a very narrow band). of course that same problem is there whether you’re talking about a track within a song, or even the song itself (as in mastering).
I yet again made another test, this time I wanted to set up the sub frequencies of a bass synth, thinking it needs it. I listened very carefully and made sure it doesn't get boomy, neither lacking and that it has a nice balance with other frequencies/harmonics. And what do you know, the perfect amount was 0 dB again, lol.

I went further, and thought, maybe it's the volume of the bass synth that just isn't right. So I started going up and down, searching for the perfect spot - with closed eyes as always. I got back 100% to the same value as 7 years ago (yes, another old song of mine).

It seems that what really screws with my head, is the side chain compression, or "pumping" or whatever. When turned on, it certainly is an interesting effect, but it also breaks the mix.

Btw, it's funny how it always shocks me when I see that I get back 100% to the original value.
And even weirder was a test that I once made with mixing. I tried speakers, headphones, in-ears, and always mixed to the exact same values.
moofi wrote:
30 Jun 2022
Posted this somewhere else already, yet I feel it fits here aswell, even though it´s on a piano, not a master:

I tried for example setting the Q amount while cutting the given frequency ~ I got the same value as when boosting. Just an interesting thought.

I gotta watch it again though, cause I watched on phone, and that's obviously less than ideal. x D

Popey
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Post 01 Jul 2022

Do you have a dynamic eq or volume shaper (eg shaperbox or similar). Just thinking you could try that to duck the bass other than sidechain compression.

RobC
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Post 01 Jul 2022

Popey wrote:
01 Jul 2022
Do you have a dynamic eq or volume shaper (eg shaperbox or similar). Just thinking you could try that to duck the bass other than sidechain compression.
The point of sidechain compression was to create an effect. Heck, if I'd still want that pumping these days, I'd just automate the volume and do more creative stuff with it.

That said, when it comes to EQing a specific sound, yes, I'd use dynamic EQing. Or band compression.

Popey
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Post 01 Jul 2022

RobC wrote:
01 Jul 2022
Popey wrote:
01 Jul 2022
Do you have a dynamic eq or volume shaper (eg shaperbox or similar). Just thinking you could try that to duck the bass other than sidechain compression.
The point of sidechain compression was to create an effect. Heck, if I'd still want that pumping these days, I'd just automate the volume and do more creative stuff with it.

That said, when it comes to EQing a specific sound, yes, I'd use dynamic EQing. Or band compression.
That's cool. I just mentioned it as sometimes just using dynamic eq works better for me than sidechaining a compressor so I only duck certain parts.

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selig
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Post 01 Jul 2022

RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
As for references, there's a bit of a problem with that, because I'm confused what I can trust with the work of the loudness war. Modern music changed a lot, as we know. It's not all bad, but it's hard for me to find dynamic modern music. I have to confess, I didn't listen that much as of late. Maybe some Dan Worrall stuff.
Dude, don’t be confused. You KNOW what you love, don’t you? What songs have ALWAYS sounded good to you on any system? What songs have stood the test of time for you? What mixes inspired you to go into audio in the first place?
I don’t understand you thinking it has to be “modern”. You can trust yourself over time, and if none of the modern mixes are moving you then simply set those aside. YOU are the one that gets to choose what you sound like, and you don’t have to be defined by ONLY the latest mixes when choosing your sound.

Maybe you are different, but for me having a collection of mixes I loved and trusted was essential to working in unfamiliar rooms. You likely have it easier than I did, in that you are probably not working in a totally different room almost every project as I did when I was getting started. You are likely working in the same exact room day after day, able to learn that room and make adjustments to suite only you!
In that sense, I would have KILLED to have my own space that I personally controlled and setup just the way I wanted it when I was learning the ropes. I would have progressed SO much faster! In fact, I can add that by having the same main monitors for almost 20 years now, even moving around to many different spaces over the years, has also helped me gain confidence in what I was hearing. Reference mixes, if nothing else, let you know when something is NOT working as expected so you can work around the issue - kinda like having better headlights on your car so you can more easily avoid the inevitable obstacles in the road. :)
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moofi
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Post 01 Jul 2022

Opened the song. Taming the kick is easily done by using a transient designer/shaper.
I quickly put kilohearts´ Transient Shaper (free RE) onto the kick, et voilá :-)

I noticed your EQ´s Qs being quite broad in comparison to what I use for dipping resonances. I bascially dip resonances with a notch Q setting. The Qs I see in there I would more likely use to shape the sound, not dipping resonances. Not saying either is better (still learning in that regard), just noticed the difference.
RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
[...]

Here's the old song. Yes, it's a mess (in every sense), but much smaller file size, and you just have to hit start. It starts after a couple of bars. Reason Limited had no Blocks back then, hence every bit is at the start. : ) Oh and hey, it's kind of a good challenge for practicing correcting stuff during mastering.
Know that back then I worked with 44.100 Hz sample rate. Anything other than that will likely sound off!

Anyway, the compressor to the left in the rack, sidechain-compresses (kick drum) mostly non-drum sounds.
All in all, it may or may not be the side chain compression, that makes me feel that the kick hits too hard. It's funny how I both do and don't want this effect. Can't make up my mind. : )

The song title was "Euphoric Liquid" ~ a liquid dnb instrumental.



[...]

RobC
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Post 02 Jul 2022

Popey wrote:
01 Jul 2022
That's cool. I just mentioned it as sometimes just using dynamic eq works better for me than sidechaining a compressor so I only duck certain parts.
All true, and any tips and tricks are welcome and appreciated!
selig wrote:
01 Jul 2022
Dude, don’t be confused. You KNOW what you love, don’t you? What songs have ALWAYS sounded good to you on any system? What songs have stood the test of time for you? What mixes inspired you to go into audio in the first place?
I don’t understand you thinking it has to be “modern”. You can trust yourself over time, and if none of the modern mixes are moving you then simply set those aside. YOU are the one that gets to choose what you sound like, and you don’t have to be defined by ONLY the latest mixes when choosing your sound.

Maybe you are different, but for me having a collection of mixes I loved and trusted was essential to working in unfamiliar rooms. You likely have it easier than I did, in that you are probably not working in a totally different room almost every project as I did when I was getting started. You are likely working in the same exact room day after day, able to learn that room and make adjustments to suite only you!
In that sense, I would have KILLED to have my own space that I personally controlled and setup just the way I wanted it when I was learning the ropes. I would have progressed SO much faster! In fact, I can add that by having the same main monitors for almost 20 years now, even moving around to many different spaces over the years, has also helped me gain confidence in what I was hearing. Reference mixes, if nothing else, let you know when something is NOT working as expected so you can work around the issue - kinda like having better headlights on your car so you can more easily avoid the inevitable obstacles in the road. :)
I do have all kinds of favorites from all kinds of eras. I was just worried about how the sound of different eras might affect me. When I made the song in this topic for example, I was mostly inspired by vinyl mixes, and the sound of modern drums. But I had my own (perhaps stupid) vision, too and wanted some of the drums to knock me out.
Today I want everything to be nicely balanced. In other words, what would be truly and expert mix and master (not what record labels order engineers to do).
But I guess a variety of commercial mixes can nudge me in the right direction when I get too much off road. I understand that they are just a guide and not something to try to copy the sound of 1:1.
Older songs are dynamic, but have rather filtered lower end and limited higher end on the frequency spectrum. And I noticed how the side channel (in M/S stereo) is saturated/peak limited, to prevent needle jumping. That said, when I tested that, I noticed that it actually made the music have better punch to it.
Modern songs have poor dynamics, but at least fill out the whole frequency spectrum.
But in general, if I understand correctly, any quality commercial mix can be a good starting point for finding most of the problems.
moofi wrote:
01 Jul 2022
Opened the song. Taming the kick is easily done by using a transient designer/shaper.
I quickly put kilohearts´ Transient Shaper (free RE) onto the kick, et voilá :-)

I noticed your EQ´s Qs being quite broad in comparison to what I use for dipping resonances. I bascially dip resonances with a notch Q setting. The Qs I see in there I would more likely use to shape the sound, not dipping resonances. Not saying either is better (still learning in that regard), just noticed the difference.
You found the output of the kick in that mess? x D (although it does have an ordering logic to it, hence I never named any device for personal projects)
Yep, 7 years later, I'd definitely do some extra processing, too. But bare in mind, that I challenge myself to master a mixdown.

Correct on the sound shaping EQing ~ I still remember, that I randomly clicked drum samples, and challenged myself to make the most of them using mostly just EQ. And while they kind of worked for the song, again, they could have used some extra dynamic shaping (not just tonal). So yeah, bringing out clicks, knocks and whatnots with just EQ, was a bit of a bad idea. : ) But hey, at least it's a mix that is a bit shitty enough to give me challenges. : D

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moofi
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Post 02 Jul 2022

Yet I´m curious why you choose relatively broad Q settings for filtering out resonances.
RobC wrote:
02 Jul 2022
[...]

Correct on the sound shaping EQing ~ I still remember, that I randomly clicked drum samples, and challenged myself to make the most of them using mostly just EQ. And while they kind of worked for the song, again, they could have used some extra dynamic shaping (not just tonal). So yeah, bringing out clicks, knocks and whatnots with just EQ, was a bit of a bad idea. : ) But hey, at least it's a mix that is a bit shitty enough to give me challenges. : D

RobC
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Post 02 Jul 2022

moofi wrote:
02 Jul 2022
Yet I´m curious why you choose relatively broad Q settings for filtering out resonances.
I usually listened and set the Q until it sounded "transparent" to me. In other words, until it covered the frequency range I want to cut or boost, and also sounded more musical.

That said, it might be better if I had a hand on the frequency knob, and the other on the Q, so I set both more quickly and perhaps more accurately.

But I didn't just filter resonances - sometimes I reduced harshness; or shaped the tone for saturation.

Could it be absolute BS what I did? Absolutely. I did prefer my reshaped kick to the original sample though, so the end result isn't all that bad.

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Jagwah
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Post 07 Jul 2022

I passed this on to Benedict who made it into one of his mix / master walk through videos. You can probably learn a lot from what he explains, I certainly have from this series! :)

:reason: Props gonna prop

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Post 07 Jul 2022

Jagwah wrote:
07 Jul 2022
I passed this on to Benedict who made it into one of his mix / master walk through videos. You can probably learn a lot from what he explains, I certainly have from this series! :)

From the look of it (the thumbnail) that guy's really into subs. :lol:
Last edited by jam-s on 09 Jul 2022, edited 1 time in total.
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RobC
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Post 09 Jul 2022

Jagwah wrote:
07 Jul 2022
I passed this on to Benedict who made it into one of his mix / master walk through videos. You can probably learn a lot from what he explains, I certainly have from this series! :)

I watched it twice, although you should have told him that it's a 7 years old song, and made in Reason Limited back then, so he doesn't wonder all the time whether it's made with Reason Cracked. x D I simply didn't edit it whatsoever, so I don't upload a Reason 12 file, that not everyone can open. It seemed a more compatible solution for sharing.

Another thing is, I shared an imperfect mix, since I wanted to know how or if we can "restore" (I use that word instead of mastering) more problematic mixes from less experienced, but talented people.

I took notes while watching, and I'm gonna give some insight on what/why I did (as much as I can remember after 7 years, lol). I'll reply to your comment with them, soon. After that, you can let him know that I revealed some info. I think he used to be on here, too.

RobC
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Post 09 Jul 2022

Jagwah wrote:
07 Jul 2022
I passed this on to Benedict who made it into one of his mix / master walk through videos. You can probably learn a lot from what he explains, I certainly have from this series! :)

Here are the notes I made (which might be a mess like my old song's rack, but there's still some logic to it x D):

Who's track it is

Mine. (Obviously x D) Made after Propellerhead's DnB tutorial. You know, the Super Neat.. Beat.. Cheat Shit.. whatever.

Regarding sharing and people getting over themselves. The insecurity, the "I'm not good enough", I probably suck, etc. I think that's pretty much the impostor syndrome. Tough to overcome, but people should understand: nobody is gonna bite your head off; nor think less of you.

Wondering about Reason version

(I'm on Reason 12 by now.)
Reason Limited.
There was SSL, but was limited to 8 mix channels - had to get around that.

Was the mix what I wanted?

I made the song in 2015. I was "okay" with the result. However, it was only leveled (literally just mixed, nothing else) and panned. Every sound was individually designed and shaped (not listening to the whole mix - yep that was a mistake). Basically, whatever elements go to the mixer, are ready to be engineered (EQ, sidechain compression trickery, super separation, etc.), instead of just the leveling I did.

The focus on the kick

It (sidechain) compressed everything that's not a drum, to get a bit of that modern "pumping" (ducking) effect. I both like and hate it; the latter because it kind of ruins the mix's dynamics. When turned off, it's sad to hear what gets smeared, and how well the kick and bass "chomped" together. : )

Unless we talk about that the kick popped out to me as a problem and I focused on that ~ well, yeah that's true, too, since it's the first problem that we can identify in this mix.

Kick compressed, then clipped

I "expanded" the kick's transient, then saturated it. It adds a little extra to the sound. So it's a sound design thing. Not trying to create dynamics, just to destroy it.

The maximizer as gain boost

I haven't thought of the compressor's boost; though they say, no matter how little, or even zero work the compressor is doing, it constantly changes the sound. I didn't do a null test. So I was only 100% sure and safe with the Maximizer and the limiter button off.

Subtractor use

Definitely a favorite of mine, especially since it has a few unique features to it. Especially the phase area with the multiplication/subtraction possibility AND using that with FM. I can't help but wonder, why is this not a thing with other synthesizers... (Yeah, I'm terrible with explaining - especially since I slept terribly these days, but at least I can properly design sounds!)
That said, Subtractor isn't perfect either.

Mastering (and about the mix)

The dynamics weren't glued together or similar, cause back then, I kind of aimed a bit for a raw vinyl master type sound, which to me personally, seemed a bit flat, a bit simple. The dynamics didn't sound like they have that 'groove' to them.

Stereo Depth

Again, I rather simplified, because I actually wanted to prepare my music for vinyl. It's not a bad thing, because reading a lot of info about "making music for vinyl" taught me to stay away from the loudness war. But then again, I didn't dare to create psychoacoustic effects, because I read that it's not compatible with vinyl. (Though later I realized that they might have compressed or saturated the side channel, or stereo differences; so it can be cut into vinyl. But that's a different topic.)
Another thing is, that I prefer dry sound. I'm not a reverb kind of person, hence I didn't use it to create depth.

Why did I post this old song though?

I wanted to see what we can do with an "okay" mix, when it comes to mastering.

EQ/Mastering not being about fixing a poor mix

Yeah, originally, I was hoping that I could help friends out whom did a bit problematic mix. There might be a few tricks to improve them; but then again I don't expect to make it perfect with the help of mastering.

Why I clipped a lot of sounds with the maximizer?

Unless it was for saturation reasons - I probably still was affected by the loudness war, and avoiding making a spikey mix. These days, I would tops saturate/clip what doesn't make any audible difference, just uses up headroom otherwise.

The strong (M shaped) EQ on the kick

The left one (on the graph) simply sounded interesting, so it just added a bit of flavor.
The right one added a sharper click to it.

Basically, I just loaded a random kick, and started shaping it until I got a sound that was good on its own. Now, in the mix, and after the sidechain compression/ducking - that's another question. When compared to mastered/released songs, I admit that I actually still like the hardness, but I also noticed that it's a bit off like that.

Again, by now I have better tools. It's all in the past, from 7 years ago.

One thing I start noticing: if I turn the music up, but have to stop because an element seems way too loud, compared to the rest, then it might need some work. Or if something is too quiet, yet shouldn't necessarily be.

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selig
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Post 10 Jul 2022

Rob, with regards to mix refs you wondered how the mixes of different eras would affect you.
I’m not sure what you mean, so allow me to explain what I mean.
Over the years I’ve had ref mixes for things like “modern punchy drums” and “huge bass”, “bright but not brittle”, as well as things like “well balanced” “nice and clean” “super distorted but still clean” etc.
So you don’t have one ref mix that is “the perfect mix”, you have mixes that represent certain things YOU like to do in your songs. Could be super specific like above, or just something like “great vibe” mix or a mix that just makes you happy and you have no idea why.
Trick is to have references for things YOU need to reference, especially the things you can loose perspective of over time (like brightness) or have struggled with in the past (like low end balances). Make sense?
Selig Audio, LLC

RobC
Posts: 1335
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 14 Jul 2022

selig wrote:
10 Jul 2022
Rob, with regards to mix refs you wondered how the mixes of different eras would affect you.
I’m not sure what you mean, so allow me to explain what I mean.
Over the years I’ve had ref mixes for things like “modern punchy drums” and “huge bass”, “bright but not brittle”, as well as things like “well balanced” “nice and clean” “super distorted but still clean” etc.
So you don’t have one ref mix that is “the perfect mix”, you have mixes that represent certain things YOU like to do in your songs. Could be super specific like above, or just something like “great vibe” mix or a mix that just makes you happy and you have no idea why.
Trick is to have references for things YOU need to reference, especially the things you can loose perspective of over time (like brightness) or have struggled with in the past (like low end balances). Make sense?
So, basically, there is no right or wrong mix. (Just good and bad, considering engineering.) It's up to us what elements we want to be more prominent than others, etc.
If the mix engineering / mastering is well done, then the music won't sound off. As such, most commercially released songs will be suitable.
Hopefully I got it right this time.

RobC
Posts: 1335
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 16 Jul 2022

Jagwah wrote:
07 Jul 2022
I passed this on to Benedict who made it into one of his mix / master walk through videos. You can probably learn a lot from what he explains, I certainly have from this series! :)
Still nothing?
You guys don't come on here, huh? : P

Guess I gotta make a youtube thingy so I can comment on videos...

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