Mix: What advice about mastering would you give to students that they can put to use immediately?
Steve: First, make a distinction between hearing and listening. We hear all the time, but listening is a conscious event. Bring attention to your listening.
Second, work to get an accurate listening environment. Investigate speaker placement, especially, and work toward accurate frequency response from your system. Tuning your listening position sweet spot with a Real Time Analyzer and room EQ is a great start. You wouldn’t operate on someone without an X-Ray to see where the internal organs are, and you shouldn’t make critical changes to audio without knowing that what you are hearing out of your system is closely equivalent to what went in to it.
Third, work at a consistent level. You can check things softer or louder, but find a position for your volume control and only work there. Train your ear for a given output, and your decision making process will receive a consistent input.
Lastly, I’d make sure that the students have a clear view of the stage of music production they are working on at any given moment. There are generally four stages of production: Tracking, Mixing, Mastering and Distribution. These stages closely reflect the stages of baking a pie.
Tracking is like getting the ingredients together: the fresher and cleaner the source material is, the better the pie will be.
Mixing is like, well, mixing. This is where all the components are blended together and placed in the pan. It is important to realize that the freshly mixed and prepared pie is not yet ready to eat: it still needs baking.
Mastering is the baking phase. Among the most common errors mastering engineers see are half-baked pies. This is when compression, limiting, and high levels make the mastering job more about restoration than enhancement. If the mixed file sounds like it is ready to go on the radio, it is probably not in an appropriate pre-mastered state.
The last stage, distribution, is like the hot pie on the windowsill, drawing the audience and fans from far and wide.
It is important to know and work appropriately on the stage you are in.
Desktop Mastering is a conceptual guide, intertwining a broad range of knowledge regarding audio engineering principles and practical applications for those wishing to enhance their own as well as their clients’ work. In addition to providing a step-by-step in-depth survey of a successful mastering plug-in chain, Desktop Mastering covers real-world practical applications, the fundamentals of audio and electronics. Also included is a personal guide to the business of mastering, leveraging emerging social networks for positive personal and business results.
This is an on-going column on our blog where we will recommend people on Twitter in different categories. If you have other suggestions in these categories, please leave your ideas in comments, and we will give our favorite suggestions a shout out on Twitter.
Alan Parsons, author of The Art and Science of Sound Recording @ArtScienceSound
Follow if: you are a fan of Alan Parsons or want a glimpse into music and the industry
Recent tweet: I remember when dubstep was just called “LFO-Locked-Filter-On-Square-Wave-Bass-Synth” in the ’60s
Quincy Jones, author of Q on Producing @QuincyDJones
Follow if: you’re a fan of Q or want insight into the music business
Recent tweet: Had a blast w/
@BrunoMars @EmilyBearMusic @DAChesterFrench & everybody at @Spotify last night launching my new app.
Steve Turnidge, author of Desktop Mastering @arsdivina
Follow if: you’re interested in pro audio or behind-the-scenes of being an author
Recent tweet: is sequencing a Norrish Reaction CD with Winston Norrish and Geoff Ott…
DJ Shortee, author of Spin Now! @DJShortee
Follow if: you’re a fan of the “Queen of the Scratch World”
Recent tweet: Yay! Our latest Urban Assault [aka Faust & Shortee] single just dropped today on Beatport!! Hope you like!!
Hal Leonard has started a new video series of author video chats with MusicPro Guides and Quick Pro Guides authors, which you can view at MusicPro Guide’s YouTube channel. Today, we launch the first two with Jake Perrine, the author of Quick Pro Guides books Producing Music with Ableton Live and Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering with Ableton Live. Here, he is interviewed by Bill Gibson, Hal Leonard editor and author.
Learn to make electronic dance music with the innovative application that started – and is still leading – the revolution! Start producing your own music from the ground up! Ableton Live is a groundbreaking program whose unique nonlinear, incredibly flexible features set it far apart from all the other digital audio applications. It is equally at home with making beats, remixing, live recording, DJing, live looping, sound design, electronic music, hip-hop, and much more.
Go beyond the basics of Ableton Live with this book of audio making and mangling recipes, tips, and mixing/mastering techniques. Ableton Live is undoubtedly the most flexible audio application available today: Use it for sound design for music, film, theater, and games; composition; improvising with other musicians; live looping; DJing; and of course mixing and mastering music. Author, mastering engineer, certified Ableton trainer, and power-user Jake Perrine will inspire you to use Live in new ways, and to improve how you already use it. Striking a delicate balance of artistry and theory, he will expand your repertoire for both the studio and the stage.