Analysis, not the best way to describe something creative is it?

But, that said, it is really important to know your mix before you think about mastering. Why? If there’s something in your mix you aren’t sure of, or sticks out to you, then the mastering engineer will probably pick up on it.

There is nothing wrong with this, everyone wants to sometimes just finish what they have started, but sometimes it can be a really good idea to completely step away from your track and its mix for a few days.

I’ll be honest, I’m one to talk, I forever check mixes and how a song sounds in other places, but sometimes you need to give yourself a break from all of that.

So how do you get the best out of your mix?

  1. Take a break from it: Fatigue is a bitch, and so are bad mixes so give yourself some headspace.
  2. Surround yourself with other music, don’t just listen to your mix on repeat. It’s also good for the ideas pot, you could hear something that will just make your mix work.
  3. Turn the thing down. Once again, I can’t talk, I crank every mix up I do loud, and I know I shouldn’t, but your ears tire of this, so make sure you’re mixing at a reasonable volume.
  4. Hydrate yourself – Don’t lock yourself in a room, you still need to keep your body going. This is so important, keep yourself hydrated.
  5. Be time critical – If you’re working on someone else’s material, time is money. If you’re working on your on stuff, this then becomes harder. Set yourself targets, put the track to rest for an hour and come back to it. Don’t spend too long.

The online music streaming service SoundCloud has partnered with online digital mastering platform, Landr.

For a long time now, SoundCloud has been the go to place for musicians, producers and DJ’s to host their tracks, remixes and DJ sets.

Now, they have begun a partnership to bring a bit audio consistency to their platform.

Don’t SoundCloud use loudness normalisation?

You would think so given that Apple Music, Spotify, Beatport and other similar platforms do utilise some sort of loudness algorithm but SoundCloud currently don’t do this, although it is bound to happen at some point.

For many years, people uploading their music to SoundCloud will do so without mastering it, or mastering it in a very simplistic manner.

The new deal between the two companies will allow users to access a free ‘Optimised for SoundCloud’ mastering format. This new Landr option will ‘master and enhance the quality of songs streaming on the platform’.

Users will be able to upload their tracks using Landr and share it straight to their SoundCloud page. For users that have already mastered songs using the online mastering platform, they can still export these straight to their SoundCloud page.

What do we think, I hear you ask?

We aren’t here to judge an online mastering tool that uses algorithms, we’re here to make good records sound incredible which is something that Landr can’t do.

For producers or musicians wanting to just ‘bump up’ the overall level of track then this tool will suit them fine, but it doesn’t have the human intervention mastering engineers have, and no matter what, an algorithm can’t hear, engineers can.

The one benefit that this feature does have, in my personal opinion, is the ‘Optimised for Soundcloud’ feature. This can be seen as one of two things, this is SoundCloud’s alternative to a ‘loudness normalisation’ algorithm, or a genuine attempt to improve the quality and consistency of the audio on their platform.

dynamic range day logoIt’s upon us once again, Dynamic Range Day.

Friday 20th May sees the return of Ian Shepherd’s Dynamic Range Day, a day made to recognise the joy that dynamics bring to music.

Every year this gets bigger and bigger, and this year is no exception.

There is a challenge every year, and there is a big ol’ competition for you to get involved with.  The challenge is all about dynamics and what they bring to music, so it’s something that is very close to every mastering engineers heart! Want to find out more about the challenge?

What’s up for grabs this year?

$6000 worth of gear, that’s what.

Two SSL 500 format modules

CNX Network Streamer

Loudness Toolkit 2 plugin suite from Nugen Audio

10x 1-year passes to the Pro Tools Expert Premium Platform

2x MeterPlugs Dynameter & Perception bundles

TC ElectronicLM6n Loudness Radar Meter

Roswell Pro AudioMini K47 condenser mic

Lifetime membership of David Glenn & Warren Huart‘s Pro Mix Academy

Joe Gilder‘s Understanding EQ & Understanding Compression 2

2 mix consultancies with producer Russell Cottier

The complete AudioIssuesMusic Production Strategies, Recording & Mixing Strategies

Warren Huart‘s Produce Like A Pro community lifetime membership

FabFilterPro C 2 compressor

Mix consultation with Lij Shaw from the Recording Studio Rockstars podcast

Fancy entering the competition? Head over to the Dynamic Range Day competition page to enter the competition. 

Hafod Mastering Studio

There’s nothing better than finishing a mix. Nothing is more complicated than explaining mastering, except for mastering itself.

Mastering is a misunderstood and confusing art. When I first ended up at a mastering studio 4 years ago I probably couldn’t have told you exactly what mastering was, in fact, I definitely couldn’t have.

Mastering is all about making your tracks sound incredible, and as good as everyone else. The art is to finely smooth out, warm up, clean and add sparkle to your mixes.

Most people who send their tracks to a mastering studio are amazed at the transformation just from a stereo .wav file. In fairness, it is pretty cool what you can achieve with just the stereo mix file, you can completely change the feel of it, which is awesome.

How do we do it? 

Well, it’s a mixture of things really. Mastering engineers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to get you that sound you want. It’s usually done with a mixture of EQ, compression, stereo adjustment and limiting. What makes an album stick together is the mastering, it glues the tracks, and helps make everything sit well and be consistent.

Is it all analogue?

Not all of it. The majority of our work is done through the analogue chain, I’d say about 95% of the work is done here. Digital equipment has its uses. The great thing with digital is you can totally hone in on one frequency and tame it, you don’t have the same versatility with analogue solutions. So, using some cool tricks with digital equipment and a nice analogue chain, the masters have that refined and polished sound.

These days, is mastering important? 

Definitely.

At my desk right now, two of us write and record music at home or on location, and we’re pretty okay at it, but could we get a good master at home? No. Luckily, we have use of a studio.

Mastering, done properly will really make your mixes shine.

Mastering World Logo

Wales’s leading dedicated mastering studio have begun a partnership with Cardiff based record label Golden Boy Records.

Golden Boy Records consists of vocalists, songwriters, DJ’s and producers, Cardiff’s new hub for musical talent. Earlier in 2015 we spoke with record label MD Tej about mixing and mastering, and drafted in the mixing wisdom of Hafod’s good friend and client Adam Whittaker.

Adam lives in central Europe and does all his mixing projects from his mix room ‘Bald English’. Adam works with clients from all over the world on a wealth of different projects, one of these being Golden Boy Records.

Hafod’s mastering engineer, Gethin John is the engineer behind the projects through the partnership. Gethin has worked on some great projects and albums, he also works as a mix engineer, so this comes in handy when you’re working in a collaborative environment like this.

Check out some of the great tracks from Golden Boy Records when they are released later this year – twitter.com/gbr | twitter.com/hafodmastering

Golden Boy Records Logo
Hafod Mastering Logo

Record Store Day 20§6 Logo

Record Store Day 2016

Another year, another unfeasibly long list of records being released especially for the nostalgic, vinyl loving elite (which is now everybody), Record Store Day is almost here.

For a mastering engineer, anyone mentioning the word ‘vinyl’ will more than likely get a hug when they want an album mastering. Contrary to popular belief, vinyl records aren’t preferred because we are all super-hipsters, it’s because music just sounds that bit better on a record. How does it sound better? Essentially, in short, it’s just not as loud, which means that the dynamics and other bits of niceness shine through more.

If you want to find out more about mastering specifically for vinyl, and want to know what the difference is, check out this post on mastering for vinyl. If you’re not interested on the other hand, carry on reading to see what the guys at Mastering World have picked as their best buys for Record Store Day 2016.

For Record Store Day, we like to get a good mixture of possible releases to whet your appetite. After all, the Record Store Day list is quite extensive, this one’s a little easier to digest. Check out our top 20.

Here’s some of the staff picks for Record Store Day 2016.

Chase & Status – London Bars – heavyweight 12” vinyl
Doctor Who – Genesis Of The Daleks – Pressed on Blue Vinyl
Ian Brown – Solarized – Limited edition single heavyweight vinyl
Mungo’s Hi Fi – Jump in line – Black dinked vinyl
AIR – Casanova 70
Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove
Johnny Cash – All Aboard the Blue Train
Manics -A Design For Life
The Orb – Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Clutch – elephant riders
Deftones – B sides & raritiez
Glen Hansard – a season on the line
James Bay – Chaos and the Calm
Run The Jewels – VRTJ
Nirvana – Live on Kaos-FM Seattle 1987
Circa Waves – Something Like You
Foals – Rain/Daffodils
Motorhead – Bad Magic
NOFX – Sid & Nancy
The Weeknd – The Remixes

PROTECT_YOUR_EARSEars are important, you find many musicians these days suffering from tinnitus – an irritating ringing in the ears, that affects around 10-15% of the population.

We all wear sun glasses when the sun is out, right? We need to do the same for our ears, especially in the industry we work in, your ears are important.

Hearing loss is preventable, and the risk of damaging your hearing depends on certain factors:

-the intensity of the sound

-the loudness of the music or sounds

– where you are in relation to the sound source

– how long you are exposed to the sound

– other music exposure, for example listening to your iPod to loudly.

– other hearing conditions

 

High frequency sounds are the most damaging, at around 2-4 kHz.

 

So, what can you do to stop your ears from breaking?

– Turn down your mp3 player, turn down your TV, or any other music or video device.

– monitor the sound levels at rehearsals/performances and in the studio 

– Limit the time you are exposed to these sounds 

– taking a break from the loud sound source

– wear earplugs!

It’s not always that easy to just stop what you’re doing and going out and taking a break from the music, but it is worth it. If you’re working solidly for a couple of hours, you probably won’t be working at your best. We spend tens of hours a week in the studio, and one thing we do on a daily basis is take breaks, and time for ours to recover. This isn’t only good for our ears, but it means that you get to have a break from the music, which means you’ll be able to work better, for longer periods.

Don’t mix too loudly

There are good reasons for turning a mix up at points, and to be honest, we all love blasting our mixes, right? But, it’s better for you, and your beloved ears to mix at a quieter level. Mixing at a level where you can still chat and hear other people talking to you is a good idea, anything too loud and you will start to damage your ears, especially if you’re mixing constantly. Also, mixing at a loud level isn’t good for your mix, so your mix and your ears will thank you for turning it down!

It can happen at any time…

So, your ears can deteriorate over time, or you could have one bad experience at a live show that gives you tinnitus that you suffer with for life. Remember to use ear plugs, if you go to a lot of gigs, or do live sound.

 

Protect your ears, they’re your biggest asset in this industry.

 













professional music masteringGood mixing goes a long way, but without mastering, your mix can sound quiet and untidy.

Mastering is the final stage for any musician or producer, it will give your music that edge and allow it to stand up against commercial music releases.

These days everyone can produce music at home and has the ability to create great sounding tracks from the comfort of their bedroom, but for most musicians or bedroom producers they won’t have the necessary mastering equipment to give it the competitive edge.

So what do you get by professionally mastering your tracks?

Getting your tracks professionally mastered is a great way to get your tracks to stand up to the most popular releases. Professional mastering gives your tracks clarity, presence, punch and more volume. Sending your tracks off to a mastering engineer or online mastering service is a good way to get a new perspective on your tracks as well. The mastering engineer will be able to look at the track with fresh ears, which is a great thing for home producers. Getting another person to listen to your mixes objectively is another great reason why professional mastering can really help.

Once your tracks have been mastered they will sound great on any device, whether that’s on an iPod, or in your car, on your home stereo and on your studio monitors.

 

Mastering is one of the elements of music production that is often left out or overlooked, but mastering can really help your tracks sound amazing, and make albums flow and sound together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD audio and Hi Res AudioWhy do my audio files need to be hi-res when CD’s are 44.1/16bit?

When you get your tracks mastered, the mastering studio will need the highest resolution files to get the most out of your mixes. If you get your tracks mastered at this hi res rate (usually 96k/24bit), the mastering engineer will then dither down the tracks and resample them to whichever sample rate you need, most likely 44.1/16bit, which is C.D. quality.

 

 

How Should My Masters Sound?

How Should My Masters Sound?

How Should My Masters sound? Mastering World Blog

 

This is completely up to you, but the mastering engineer will be able to gauge what kind of thing you want. It’s important to remember when mastering that this process is the refining process, it’s the tidying up and clarity element of your mixes.

So, usually just by listening to your tracks, the mastering engineer will have a good idea of how he or she should go about mastering the tracks.

With mastering, there is no one-size fits all preset, so every single job is different, the key thing you need to have post-mastering is a brilliant sounding track, that you are super happy with.

If you are particular and have some great reference ideas of what you want the end result to be, that’s great. With online mastering it’s important that there is great communication between you and your mastering engineer, this way you get your tracks back sounding exactly how you wanted them too.

So how should they sound when you get your tracks back?

They should sound crisp, detailed, cleaner and the overall level of the track will also be louder. The whole point of mastering is to refine the mixes of a track, to tidy up the loose ends and tighten up the overall sound. Does your track tick all of the boxes I just mentioned? Great, your track will sound perfect.

 

What if I’m not sure on how the mastered track sounds? 

That’s fine, you can get back in touch with your engineer through the Mastering World email tool and let them know what you would like to hear different. We also suggest that you give the mastered tracks a few plays on different sets of speakers, and over a couple of days to a week or so. This way you know exactly what you like and don’t like, it also lets you hear the tracks as your listeners would.