mixing and mastering touchdown
yes yes... its been a while... so let me give you the run down. i don't know if half the cats that used to worship this site even remember this site or not. but i've learned alot and i am about to teach yall some of my new tricks of the trades.
first off i am assuming you already know what mixing an mastering is and where everything is, so i'm not going to get detailed on the details... i'm gonna keep it pretty blunt. so if you = a newbie, then your gonna have a hard time reading and understanding, so i suggest you peep my other articles, then come back to this one.
in the past like what [?] half a year since i last posted i have been through alot of shit in my music and poked my head around alot of places i'm not sure it belonged. i've learned so much and when i read all my old tutorials on mixing i wanna shoot the computer screen and deficate in my cd rom drive. but i'll spare you my insignificant opinions on my old thoughts. lol.
next i am gonna teach yall a little something about head room. head room in my definition is either the amount of decibles from the sound wave and 0db. this is very imp.... what was that??? my second definition of headroom?... right.. your mom's bathroom. now, head room is very important through out the whole process of making a track. from testing your mic all the way to the final button click in the mastering stage. you have to keep head room throughout the WHOLE shit - or else you may end up distorting your track, with muddy noise and such. plus it makes it easier to master.
now, while mixing the track in cool edit's multitrack veiw, if i notice that the db meter is peaking out past 0db, which it most likely will, i will turn every track down -3db, if it is still peaking, then i turn it down to -4db, and so on. untill it no longer peaks. but remember, only do this when your vocals are completly the volume you want with the beat. now that you have done this your final mix down won't peak, but it will sound a little quiet. that is where mastering takes hand.
when mastering i listen to the track once. if i notice any inconsistancy in the volume of the lyrics, beat, or anything that doesn't match up right, i go back and re-edit it. mastering is called mastering because you want everything to be perfect. how in the fuck are you going to master something if your not satisfied with it?
equalizing (the final mixdown)
now i will open a track i like the mixing on, outkast and eminem have NICE mixing and mastering. i usually use them for my personal examples. now, the kind of mixing and mastering should reflect the feeling you get from the track. what the lyrics talk about, how much reverb is in the beat and your lyics? what kind of feeling do you get from it? if it is a grimey track obiviously you won't want the high's at a ear piercing cash money sound. if it has alot of bass, and it sounds like it is taking over the track, then turn down the bass, and up on the highs. another equalizing must is the mids. with a cut on the mids, it can really bring out the bright and punchy side of a track without even touching the highs or lows. with a boost it will bring out the presence alot more on such stereos as headphones, little personal cd players, or home entertainment system. basically what i'm trying to get at, is the song should be universally nice sounding on every speaker it comes out of. of course you can't hear what it sounds like out of every speaker. but the little enviornment you may have can be a huge help in mastering.
now i recommend when equalizing the final mix down that you give it a day or two. just so that you ears don't become tired and you start messing up the track more then doing good for it. and when listening to it keep it at a sensible volume. enuff to where you can hear everything but don't leave your ears ringing, but loud enuff to hear everything your touching.
there are presets i can give you but i want you to walk out of here knowing exactly what a final mixdown equalizing should sound like and how to edit it.
and i still stick to my word that raising your highs will bring out alot more in a track than what you expected. just make sure your highs aren't already ear peircing. now, raising your lows is mostly why i explained headroom. because lows can be the defining point between a peaked out peice of shit, and a bassy clear track. head room alows you to edit with barely, or never exceeding 0 db.
there is a million things i could state about equalization, but honestly the way i figured out how to eq is just fiddling with the buttons and knobs. and it is really not that tough to mess with because it is all right in front of you.
compressing (the final mixdown)
the compressor is a very versatile tool. it can be used for alot of things. but mainly it is an essential in the final mix. the compressor can be the deciding factor between a loud thumpin track (which you want) or a bland, dull mix of shit that sounds like it was stuffed in a plastic bag, squeezed to death, blended in a blender, and vacuum sealed.
the compressor can squeeze the life out of a track literally. i already explained everything about the compressor so i will not get into it. but a compressor can do you alot of good with your dynamics like your equalizer. it can make the bass alot more punchier, give the track warmth, and the highs more snappy. also it will raise the loudness of a track without going past a specified threshold (or decible amount). which is what is desired in every mix you should do.
now people who don't know how to compress or don't really understand it there are a few telltale signs you can listen for to tell you if you aren't compressing the track correctly. one of them is the track will increase and decrease in volume with every frequency. making it have a wavey type sound. listen for it, because this will hit your outcome on a track. to correct this problem you can give the compressor a little longer attack and release, raise the threshold up and the output down. also turn the ratio down.
another common problem with compressors is that they are being used to heavily. cats think it is a toy because sometimes they can barely hear the compression. this is what i mean by squeezing the life out of a track. you will notice if you listen to the un-compressed version of the song and the compressed (too heavily) verson of a song, you will hear the bass isn't half as punchy, your highs are bogged down, and the overall openeness will start to diminish.
on a final mix compressing is essential for mastering. you can't get around it. because sometimes frequencies will be to overbearing for your track and can mud out alot of things when played at a louder volume. also you will want to have your mix louder. ever wonder how big names get their shit sounding so loud but don't even hit top volume? it is the compressor working the magic.
if you want a good compressor i'd say go buy (or download if you are chumpsauce) waves native gold plug-in pack. this has AWESOME compressors with gates, pre-eqs, and so on. cool edit's compressor just doesn't match up to the mighty power of waves.
limiting (the final mixdown)
limiting should be your final mix. now by now i hope you have plenty of head room left to edit, because this beast is like the F-350 of the ford series trucks. it is specifically made to raise volume without going past a specified threshold. sound familar?? that is because the compressor and limiter are the same type of effect, but the limiter is specifically mad for raising volume, and not meant for much else.
this is like an easy version of a compressor, but much more hardcore. this will beat the living shit out of your track and strangle it with its binary intestines if abused. this basically squashes your track and raises what isn't close enuff to the ceiling (threshold). now don't ever get carried away and listen for the same tell tale signs i mentioned about the compressor.
if it is waving in and out just let up on the threshold and lower the output, and do so untill it sounds like all you did was raise the volume of the track, and that is it.
there isn't much to be said about limiting, other than be gentle with it. t-racks and waves both have an AWESOME limiter. waves can be alot more harsh though.
and there you have it for the mastering aspect of engineering. it is overal pretty basic, and to explain it fully i would much rather say it than type it... damn... thats a good idea! look out for the audio explaination of shit and shit. PATEND PENDING TRICK! have fun and take your time with mastering. it took me almost 4 years to get to the point i am now, and even so i have a hard time with shit.
and as always you can contact me with the contact link on the bottom of the page with inquiries such as questions, tips, type-o's, what time you sister gets off of work, or feedback on my music or this page!!!