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What's you Master or Pre-Master technique?

DARK Sounds

Administrator
Staff member
I've been mastering music for about 20 years now, semi-professional that is.

I was having a chat with a colleague recently over a pint (amazing that we can now) and we got on to the subject of mastering.

After a short while, we got on to mono/stereo, side, mid etc. I was surprised that she never splits her track out into a Mono & Stereo Bus, mixing both in for the stereo image.


I was taught this trick when I worked at Disney years back when the guys were dubbing the film Monsters Inc.

So I wonder, how many of you do this or even know about it as a process?
 

Laxa

Tier 2 Established
Producer / Artist
Tenebris Membrum
TBH I have gone lower tech. I produce all my instrumental music (Ambient, Post Classical, Post Rock) on an Android app, stereorize and level each track, level the master bus and shoot it off to Landr. That way I can spend my time creating tracks. 120 in the last 11 months.

I do have a fully featured DAW and studio but only use that for vocals and the odd bit of guitar work anymore.
 
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Modern Music for Funerals

Administrator
Producer / Artist
I love mastering, it's something I take as much enjoyment out of as the creative part..

For me, it's an essential part of the game. So many people fail on this..

I'd say the biggest misunderstanding of people is compression and how to use stage gaining effectively. Depending on the target source, it also amazes me how many people don't understand or even use LUFS to create the desired loudness and end up with their work sounding low or over-compressed as their work becomes forcibly limited by the provider.

I always master steaming for -14L using some of the Waves plugins, especially the WLM LOUDNESS METER, this is an absolutely essential tool and a must-have on the master, there are others of course but this nails it for us every time..

My advice for anyone has to be:


  1. Get in the right frame of mind
  2. Never Master a track from its working project space
  3. Create a MASTER + STEREO track of the mix and master from them
  4. EQ across workspace tracks (frequency hot spots)
  5. Stereo dynamics across the frequency mono (low) to stereo (high) - always gets messed up
  6. Compression if and when needed
  7. Limiting if and when needed (correctly)
  8. Understanding stage gaining and plugin chains - measure, measure, measure.
  9. Headroom on the master
  10. Long term LUFS measuring
  11. Listen through headphones, the car, your hifi, and everything else you can get to play with
  12. If you don't like, re adjust and repeat
My top tools are:

EQ
  1. Fabfilter Pro Q
  2. SPL Passeq
  3. Bettermaker EQ232D
Compression
  1. Fabfilter Proc C2
  2. CLA 2A
  3. CLA 76
  4. Shadow Hills Class A Mastering Comp
  5. Slate Digital - VBC Rack
  6. SPL Iron
Imaging
  1. MStereo Processor
Limiters
  1. Fabfilter Pro L2
  2. BX True Peak Limiter
  3. KClip3
Colour & Sat
  1. Black Box Analogue Design HG-2
  2. Lindell 50 Mix
  3. Lindell 80 Mix
  4. Fabfilter Saturn 2
Metering
  1. BX Meter
  2. WLM Meter Stereo
I stay well away from anything by Izotope for mastering 🤣
 
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