Sunday, 17 April 2011

Mastering - initial CRUCIAL advice.

Last night was the first night I didn't drink a drop of alcohol this year.
I KNOW! a) that's ridiculous and b) well done me.
(Note, I did accidentally gulp down the swallee of mouthwash before bed - woops. Just habit, I will let that slide - probably fuck all alcohol content in it anyway, it's usually a placebo effect to help me sleep tbh).

Amyhoo. On with the show:

When your mix is nicey soundy double check that your master peak level (your STEREO OUTPUT LEVEL - it most likely has a red 'light' or some indicator flashing like crazy because you DIDN'T WATCH YOUR LEVELS! and bumped up that synth like I told you not to. 
If the SIGNAL (your 'song') is too HOT (clipping/distorted) it will sound like Nirvana but not in a good - Steve Albini (renowned sound guy , look him up you clueless dickwad) way.

Ideally it should be peaking in or around -3db
Lash down your master fader until it's usually always green.
If you have to pull it WAY down, you did something wrong DUMMY!

This always happens me. I just normalise it in Soundforge. Kerblammo.

(Oh fucketty fuck bollox oh crap).

(Also, I just realised 'mastering' is a shitty term. It looks like it's a verb in the headings below [edit: these posts are pulled from a complete guide what I wrote ages ago]. 'mastering e.q.' I suppose I could put the two little dots on their side - that might make a bit of freaking sense right there).

Your tune should ideally sound very similar across a wide variety of equipment. Like a successful record will sound great on a transistor radio as well as in a club with 20,000 WATTS of boom boom shake the room power.

Even BEFORE your track gets to mastering phase you should be burning a CD and playing it ALL OVER THE SHOP. (HAHA FUCK YOU! I didn't mention that back then did I? pfft. That's because I forgot because I never do it.) 

But LITERALLY go down your local shop and demand they put it on ("customer is always right!") so you can hear it there. Then go to the omgkewwl scenester Phunky Clotheeng Store in town and get them to play it (man, that bass is poppin' - iKr?!). Sit in your friend's beat up banger of a vintage automobile and play the 8-track  copy you just made. You can't output to 8-track? Oh for fuck's SAKE! You NEED EVERY FORMAT AVAILABLE TO TEST THIS SHIT!

...phonograph cylinder, 78's all that shit. Just test it anywhere and everywhere. You will surprise the fuck out of yourself how varied your mix will sound. Of course it won't have bass on tinny laptop speakers, but you shouldn't notice the guitar more than the shit sounding cheesy strings you decided to put in there to make the mid section all 'poignant' (you fucking pussy), when you play it on your Dad's 26 year old Panasonic  hi-fi vs. your CDJ 1000 / Numark DXM06 / TurboSound Impacts setup. (His rig kicks yourse's ASS by the way).

But anyway, you were saying... 

Yay. Mah mix is all kindsa orrsum and I made it mahself an put hourz of time into it and I luvs an I can't wait ta put it on dem intornotz an every1 doonloud it an me get fayyymus an all like THe Skrllix their da best wub wub ;) dirty knickers lol.

<b><i><u><font size="9000" color="#FF0000">WROOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!</b></i></u></font>
Fucking wrong wrong wrong.

NEVER! NEVER! @EVER EVER!@!!"!11!... 
Just never master your own work.
If you can't afford to get it done professionally (and there *are* decent reasonably priced services out there), at least get a competent fellow music head to do it.

Fresh ears are ESSENTIAL in the mastering process.

The very fact that you are so close to the tune means you have NO objectivity and haven't a breeze as to how it will sound to your audience when you do put it up on your shitty youtube channel, or worse yet, myspace (use soundcloud, numbskull).

:( But I can't afford to get it mastered and my friends are all either too busy and superdupercool or stupider than me at muziks perdukshun and anyway I don't trust anyone with MY PRRRESHSHUUUUSSS.

Yeah, me too. That's why I always master me own choons. 


Next up we'll get down to mastering proper.


  1. I love your blog. Following this. Just started with sound design. This blog can be useful. thanks a gain!

  2. Congratz on the not drinking alcohol thing. I know how you feel, I've been trying to smoke less weed recently.
    I didn't know that about not mastering your own tracks, noted!

  3. this always get me when you post HTML code :D wrooong anyway great mastering experience

  4. cant wait for the mastering bit. instead of playing music through differnt outputs, wouldnt decent studio monitors save you the trouble?

  5. EdWORD - you aint listenin!

    'Decent speakers' aren't worth shit if your song only ever sounds good on YOUR speakers with YOUR set up.
    You need to hear it sounding pretty good in a fisher price tape recorder as well as in da club and on granny's mono reel-to-reel contraption.

  6. ehh? i mean something like this -

    but of course ill go the extra step and listen to it through everything

  7. weed really fucks with you man

  8. I partly take it back Ed.
    The reason NS-10's remained the industry standard for so long was because they give a really flat boring sound.
    As speakers (for the enjoyment of music) they were shit, so if it sounded good through NS-10's you knew it would probably sound AMAZING on the radio.

  9. I was not familiar with those mastering technics, i do it difrently.

  10. dude why you giving up alcohol - didn't you know it's good for you...?
    Nice tips on mastering...I once made the error of not keeping an eye on my master out volume and the best mix I ever trashed...sad times



    And nah man, I 'found' two six packs of cheap-o-lager this evening.
    No bother.

  12. I tried giving up alcohol...not a pretty sight. But honestly, everyone would you tell you that I'm better off drinking. I just smile and make small talk when I'm drunk. haha

  13. I don't there is a size=9000 font.

    If there was, it would be as big as THE INTERNET!!!!!!! muahahahaha

    You need to get drinking again, darling....