Author Topic: Ambient music and Mastering  (Read 25883 times)

phobos

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #40 on: September 02, 2010, 05:37:44 AM »
I have heard that T-Racks 3 has been getting some good reviews.


I have found T Racks 3 to be excellent, I used various plug ins in Adobe Audition 3 for the mastering of Darkness Within and on my next one Monolith, I then got T Racks and Re mastered Monolith, it sounded so much better, I also used it on my recently posted track on the Drone Download Project.  It really is an excellent piece of software and would recommend it to anyone without hesitation. Available for Mac and PC you can download  a demo version here  http://www.ikmultimedia.com/t-racks/download/
 :)
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Numina

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2010, 06:30:32 AM »
I've found better results where I "master" individual tracks - be it with compression, limiting, eq, etc. And then mix down. Maybe this is obvious, I taught myself everything and none of my local ambient artist friends do much of any recording.

Which, brings me to something that has worried me and that is I've often thought about having my music mastered by a well-known ambient artist but I worry that a simple left+right mixdown couldn't possibly be mastered much better, if at all, than what I provide.

Thoughts?

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2010, 03:19:52 PM »
I love these years-long topics.  There are people taking part in the discussion who rarely/never come here any longer, and new people contributing who weren't on the forum when this started!
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APK

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #43 on: September 15, 2010, 06:29:32 AM »
I've found better results where I "master" individual tracks - be it with compression, limiting, eq, etc. And then mix down. Maybe this is obvious, I taught myself everything and none of my local ambient artist friends do much of any recording.

Which, brings me to something that has worried me and that is I've often thought about having my music mastered by a well-known ambient artist but I worry that a simple left+right mixdown couldn't possibly be mastered much better, if at all, than what I provide.

Thoughts?

As you know, something that is mixed down well will need less (or nothing) in terms of final mastering. Creating an excellent final mix of a track is essential for a quality finish. This where the real work of shaping the music is done. But of course, that final mix of a track is based on your ears and using your gear, so has those biases. Having another pair of good ears listening closely to that mix can be quite useful for noticing things you have a blind spot for. Could be a transition that is not quite right, a sound not sitting properly, or something going on too long, etc..

Mastering, on the other hand, is more about how the overall album hangs together. Making sure the flow of tracks is good, the tone of the tracks is consistent, the volumes from track to track are balanced. Its less about the individual mixes and more about the gestalt of the whole album. If your music is long-form ambient that already has a consistency among the tracks (as I'd say yours generally is) then the mastering part is probably less of a problem.

I'd say a primary reason for having a "well-known ambient artist" check out your album before release would be to have someone else you trust give it a very close and detailed technical listen and give feedback on the overall mix quality and flow. I say "technical" because what you want is not someone commenting on whether they like the music, instead you want objective comments on the mix, and that is what the average listener is not going to give you.
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ffcal

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #44 on: September 15, 2010, 07:40:24 AM »
Very well put, Anthony.  I think it can be especially difficult to find the "flow" of an album if you have been working on different pieces of the whole over an extended period of time.  Though I do my own mixing, I also relying a different pair of ears (in my case, Robert Rich) for the mastering.  Robert has an especially fine ear for detail and for artifacts that I might have missed. In some ways, I think it is more challenging to master than to mix, because there are fewer moving parts that can be readily separated.  If you decide to use a different pair of ears for mastering, I also recommend that you be present when the mastering is done, so that the mastering engineer will have a better idea of what you trying to achieve.

Forrest

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #45 on: September 15, 2010, 07:52:54 AM »
Good advice.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #46 on: December 06, 2010, 06:00:49 PM »
Hi......Ive done my best to refrain from bumping this thread up but I promise to be quick about, and so here is why no music should be released without this, especially ambient......The Mastering Room!











I know, I hear you......here's that guy again with the huge pictures. A picture is worth a 1000 words.  None of this stuff you can plug in to a Daw channel.  In the past i spent in mastering software probably close to what  mastering a project might cost in a room like those above and failed. Sure some of this is beyond our budget, but not all of it.  We do our best to mix the music we record. I for one want my music to be in the hands of an Mastering Engineer how can truly hear what I have put body, soul & tears into.  What's crucial here is not so much the racked gear but the love put in to those rooms, the major part of the money goes into the acoustical construction, then Speakers, power amps and cables.

I may seem like Im some Audiophile champion.....but everything I say is what I aspire to do for my own work and what I have learned in my own short journey.

Thanks.....Julio

« Last Edit: December 06, 2010, 06:08:23 PM by Julio Di Benedetto »


Numina

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #48 on: December 25, 2010, 04:26:05 PM »
You complete me.

Numina

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #49 on: December 25, 2010, 04:26:43 PM »
By the way, what I meant about mastering individual tracks is mastering each track of a whole song. Then mixdown and master again.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #50 on: December 27, 2010, 05:53:51 PM »
Hey Jesse,

I like the essence of your idea/production technique, but I might be concerned about the "accumulative aspect" that has come up recently in other threads.  If I have understood you correctly.....lets say you have a piece of music that has say a total of 15 individual tracks and you master each one separately, then reconstruct the mastered tracks in your Daw, then Bounce the 15 tracks down to a stereo pair, and then re-master that  2 track once again.....not sure thats a good idea.....again Ive never tried it but, seems like a lot of xtra processing, which in turn denigrates the signal.  

Best thing to improve your music pre mastering is to run it through some hardware instead of bouncing the multitrack to a stereo 24 bit file within the Daw......send it out into the real world and recapture it back into your Daw as a 2 track.  It will sound better it you run it though a Mackie or a high end whatever you may have and back into your daw then hand the job over to the inadequacies of software, even though you go through some extra conversions

All the best & Happy New Year....Julio
« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 06:08:09 PM by Julio Di Benedetto »

IamBetaCloud

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #51 on: February 19, 2011, 04:25:06 PM »
i wouldn't master anything myself, i become too critical after the editing stage and would probably over think myself to shreds!
everything i do these days, i have james plotkin master; he's got amazing ears, always goes the extra mile, works really reasonably cash wise, and is a helluva guy to boot!

Numina

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #52 on: February 21, 2011, 09:30:50 PM »
Julio - hey there, I haven't checked in on this thread in awhile so I missed your last comment to me. 

Yeah, you understood correctly.  However, I am not sure what the difference between  "mastering" each individual track vs. applying one or more effect plug-ins per track would be and it seems like a lot of people use mastering plugins on a track by track basis... I think.  Perhaps I should clarify, though, that "mastering" each track means I apply eq touch-ups, volume levels, dynamic processing, and limiting/compression where necessary and it's very rare I use any comp/limiting.  For me, it's essential to apply these changes per track prior to bouncing down several tracks.

I work fairly archaic. I pretty much treat my DAW like analog tape machine.  I actually don't even have a powerful enough PC to run the audio out into an external box and back in... and to be honest, I am not sure I even understand how to get that signal path set up.  I know I must sound like I know nothing but I focus on sound design and a clean audio path in.  Heck, I still work at 16-44 a lot of the time (although I'm now recording at 24-48 with new material).

Jesse
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 09:32:24 PM by Numina »

jkn

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #53 on: February 22, 2011, 08:17:08 AM »
Have I mentioned this thread on rM about mastering?  Posted by Matt Hillier (Ishq, Elve, Ishvara, etc...) :

http://relaxedmachinery.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-idiocy-of-mastering-pt-1

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #54 on: February 22, 2011, 10:50:32 PM »
Hi Jesse,

Mastering treats the music/track in a holistic manner.......what you do to your music prior to summing your multi track song into a stereo 24bit @ 44.1 to 192 is part of the creative process.  Engineers love to slap compression and various rack gear across a mix to give a sort of glue to the mix.  So how you arrive at this point with a stereo  track is a your journey, but there are some hard fast rules that do apply.
The most important one being get it right in the mix...however you go about it with the best of your abilities, and I mean we are musicians, not engineers, though we try to wear both hats.

I like to think of the mix as though it was a beautiful carved piece of.....furniture, no, sculpture.  You toil away at your vision that is realized in the beautiful wood you are working on and when you finish, you send it out to be lacquered, stained & vanished to make all the textures and grain in the wood shimmer.  Thats what mastering does.  You can do it yourself, but do you have the craft?   

I recently requested a quote from a very respected mastering engineer for a 34 min long play ep I wanted mastered......it didnt work out because Im at odds with the music but I was astonished to find that one of this countries top mastering engineers is not beyond my reach   http://www.collinsaudio.com/index.htm  $300 - $400 to master the track, $50 reference cd & $200 production master.  That is really very reasonable in the scheme of things and I said nothing about being an independent artist etc..... I do intend to use him for a bigger project coming up soon.

You know it would be so special if we could get Robert Rich to come on over with his perspective on this.  I believe this is such an important thread and Im really stoked by the recent Rich interview posted recently here.  Anyone has his ear here?


Numina

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #55 on: February 23, 2011, 08:04:54 AM »
I was actually planning to have Robert Rich master my forthcoming release(s) but after A/B'ing my final mix against a handful of fellow electronic musicians and doing my own little personal survey I've found my mix to be right in line with what I'd want it to be and most of the fellow artists who have used some big names for mastering all say the basic thing and that is "the mastering was so subtle you can barely hear the difference". Now, I suppose the question is the subtl changes make or break the album? IMO, no. I'd still love to work with Robert in the future though.

I'm in no way am against a third party mastering session and I think a lot of artists benefit from it  and I am still open to the idea myself, but I am personally content with my mixes enough to forgo the process. 

Premonition Factory

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #56 on: April 01, 2011, 02:57:16 AM »
Interesting topic...and a controversial topic. Some background info regarding my ambient project Premonition Factory: I record all my songs live in the studio as 2-track stereo, 24/96. The reason for this is that I want to capture all the "live sound" elements and to keep the recordings as organic and unpolished as possible. Post-production and mastering has been done by Markus Reuter/Lee Fletcher and Dirk Serries in the past. This gives me the opportunity to have a second opinion from a technical point of view, and, although the options are limited with 2-track recordings, to change a few things (EQ, compression, stereo image).

This formula has worked well so far for me but there are a couple of mastering related questions left I want to hear your opinion about. One of them is how to deal with low volume levels you often get during when recording ambient music. So far, I've avoided to use compression/limiting to "fix" this issue because I wanted to leave that to the mastering phase. This sometimes resulted in recordings with a little noise in certain passages of songs. Another problem is how to avoid clipping during the loud passages.

Anyway, I've been experimenting a lot recently with different compression/limiting settings on my input channels and on the master channels to add some glue to the recording. I must say, it's certainly possible to significantly improve your recordings but you have to be very careful not to ruin them. I personally think I should keep the compression/limiting on input channels to avoid noise and clipping issues, but I'm wondering if I should continue using it on my master channels and leave that for the post-production and mastering phase. What are your opinions about this?

Sjaak
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 02:59:26 AM by Premonition Factory »
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #57 on: April 02, 2011, 06:44:39 PM »
Hi Sjaak,

For me its always hard not to want to do something when I stem my stereo mix out of my daw and and back in again......but if you dont have some good hardware gear to do it with I would not bother.  I dont believe software plugins across a master channel really do anything to benefit a mix compared to what the mastering engineer will run your stereo mix through.   

Regarding ambient music and low level recordings......not sure that the actual recording itself needs to be that low.   I record anyway between -6dbs & -12dbs depending on the source and as far as going low, that would be a matter of taste determined by your fader settings.

As far as clipping during the loud passages......you should take a look at the mix.  Rather than lower certain tracks in the mix that might be causing the clipping you can often eq the track and remove the frequencies that cause the clipping.  I would always use the faders before using compression/ Limiting on individual tracks to avoid clipping.

I realize your talking about doing this as "live" recording and as such makes it evan more complexed.......perhaps have a friend/fellow musician you are confident with run the mixer and deal with all of these engineering aspects while you get on with the performance!

atb


Premonition Factory

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Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2011, 03:02:05 PM »
...
I realize your talking about doing this as "live" recording and as such makes it evan more complexed.......perhaps have a friend/fellow musician you are confident with run the mixer and deal with all of these engineering aspects while you get on with the performance!

Thanks for yor reply. And this is exactly my challenge.

Anyway, I want to continue with the current way to record everything as live as possible. Regarding the engineer, that's certainly possible for real live performances but not practicle in a studio situation. To give you an idea of how I work: with the last album "The Sense of Time", I had about 15-20 hours of live recorded music over a period of 9 months, and 1 hour of these recordings ended up on the album as and excerpt. I think the engineer would go crazy! ;-) Still a good idea though
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