Mastering help?

While I should be studying for exams, I started listening to some tunes and decided to explore the genre. I’m having mixing (I guess) and mastering problems; one of them being that I cannot get the “loudness” level up there with some of the other artists. (Dorincourt for example) I’m a little out of my element as a classical guitarist, so any help you can give me to get a better sound, I’m for it.

Because I can’t figure out the html5 code.

Actually, that seems, “incredibly loud to me,” and imho: You should consider rolling back on the loudness a bit. Its really clipped, bright, twangy, and over-digital sounding… Why don’t you give us a run down, of the processors, and steps you took to do that, and then maybe we can figure out a better game plan, for a more proper loud.

I hope my critique is not, “too harsh.” but… :slight_smile:

You are busy, I am busy, we are all busy… So I figured it would be ok for me to just, “cut to the chase.”


Edit = I just want to add, that the quality of these software processors that we use today, is so hi fidelity that hearing the artifacts in the digital clipping is very difficult. What gives this away, as being digitally clipped too much is the closed hi-hat… and also the bass… What sounds like a volume tremolo, is actually a crunch of extra distortion.

You really do not want to gain these things, “more than six decibals.” and it seems like you probably had a threshold of -30 or less. What you want is a big threshold… -2, -4… So that you are just tapping the gain reduction… A smaller number, “like -25, or -30, really compresses hard…” Taking all the space out of the audio, and you wind up with that sample that almost sounds, “pitched up,” its weird like that…

It’s 1 in the morning here, so might as well.

I rage-gained towards the end. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to warm up the mids of the main synth a bit to keep it from sounding like a blender. Here’s what I did.
Everthing is Renoise native except for Massive and my Reverb.

  • Been fooling with Kurtz’s Parallel Multiband Compression ideas. I’ve only ever used multi, not parallel MBC.
  • Came up with the idea of splitting the bass sound into 3 bands and compressing each individually.
  • Build structure around that.
  • I wanted to keep it so only one sound + drums would be playing at once, with embellishments as needed. (like the reggae stabs)
  • For the guitar/bass part, I created a high (1kH+), a mid (200-1.5kH), and a sub (30Hz-90Hz). Light compression to squeeze it together.
  • The lead that comes in after is the same principle, without the sub, and the mid is about 7 dB lower than the high part.
  • I usually mix everything low, with about 10 dB of headroom.
  • Then the PMBC. MBC and 3 bands, route, send, mute original tracks, and fix compressor parameters.
  • On Master: Exciter (all 3 side, some sharpness on high freq, none on low), mixer EQ to boost bass and highs about .7 dB, infra-cut filter, Bus Compressor: 20 dB knee, -7db threshold, 2:1 ratio, 4 dB makeup. High cut filter, and then default maximizer.

This is the end result, after about 2 hours slowly tinkering with different setups. I’m trying to get it close to this 18 year old kid, to use as a reference. He’s definitely worth checking out.

In regards to the high hat, I EQed this one really oddly, mainly so it was just clicks (sparkle, sparkle).

That is the culprit!! Quit that. It makes your hi-hat sound really clicky… and it also applies a serious treble boost to everything… What you are looking for on your master track is: Compression or multiband compression. 1 or the other. + Good eq + Brickwall limiter.

Exciter on a master goes against almost all, “great mixes, in the history of great mixes.” A lot of times, what you will find Mastering Engineers doing, ( especially those, that are about to transfer the audio to vinyl, ) is cutting the hi-frequencies out, around 15,000.

By exiting them, you are really creating a lot of brightness. Even worse? You are getting your ears use to listening to music through the sound of an exciter. IMHO, that is like putting sugar in water, and only drinking water with sugar, and then when you go to drink a glass of pure water, you are craving the sugar.

I liked the way your bass came out btw… It did not overpower on my monitors… It sounded pretty tight. I still think there is too much gain somewhere but!! It may be Renoise’s gainer. I never use that thing…

In your mastering chain… Use the gain on your compressor, and pump your volum into your brick wall limiter. Do you have a brick wall limiter? You really ought to have a good solid brick wall limiter.

Mastering is all about, “gental final balance.” ANd it should be done after you render your mix, and I have a good mind to think, in this case it was not. Render your mix, then master. When you render the mix, don’t put anything on the master track… *** That is lie btw, because I will sometimes use a model of an SSL for some MBC, but nobody should do that.

Meanwhile… It does seem like you are off to a pretty good start. I don’t want to sound all bad here. You’ve got some nice ideas, and a pretty good volume balance I though… Your panning seems ok too.

Avoid the exciters on the master…


Edit = clarity, typos

I’m bumping this thread, because that is a massive typo, and I wanted to make sure the op would see the edit. Sorry about that, I would never be that critical of somebody else’s attempts, or artwork. That should have said, “it does seem like you are off to a pretty good start.”


I guess I’m a bit guilty about the exciter idea on the master track, , because I thought (and still think) that it can help to improve the overall mix clarity in some situations. But this clarity anyway has a price : reduction of the dynamic range. I see the *exciter like a beast, it can improve the sound but WARNING when you use a lot for example the *lofimat device or the *distortion device on your previous chains, the exciter is badly sharpening higher frequencies : the musical experience becomes very irritating… And most of all, if you put an exciter before the *Maximizer, you’ll often see that the *Maximizer won’t be as efficient as it can be without it. That’s why I recomended to use it, but “slightly”, with very subtle params. Original article : here.

Get over the mastering fad. Heavy mastering with exciters and heavy multibands is only really necessary when the guy who mixed the song is an idiot and did everything wrong. In case the mastering and mixing guy are the same, I don’t see any point of declaring yourself idiot. Just fix the issues in the mix. Only thing you might need on master is some limiter and maybe some very light compressor if you are not using many sidechains or similar means to keep the instruments from clashing eachother.

Main idea of mastering nowadays is that you give your song to a mastering expert who gives his fresh ear to detect and fix the issues in the final mix you might have missed yourself. Also to balance the sound levels and energy between songs on album so they wouldn’t all sound different.

Exciter on master when you have stems is the worst idea ever. Same goes to any or all of the mix wideners and such.

OMG, I just found the Renoise Maximizer… This processor must have been added sometime between the day I started with the program, and now…

@ Hyaenaboy

You’ve got everything you need, right here in Renoise… You can make a great master… Here is an example…

  1. That kick drum is number 004 ( in your Renoise Sample folder )
  2. Pretend the kick drum sample is a completed render of your track ie pre-mastering process.
  3. Check out the really simple mastering chains and setting in the example below…

Notice that even though the threshold’s are really small numbers and what not, that is where the processors are just about kicking in, ergo, “louder, but not overgained, and not overly distorted.”


@Kurtz: I should’ve anticipated the Brauner Tube distortion found in Massive that I love so much would have interacted badly with the exciter. But that makes sense why the mix is so crystal-y, especially on lower-fi systems where the sub doesn’t warm it up. I have that article saved on my computer.

@Suva: Thanks for your input.

@2 daze j: That’s what I usually use for mastering. In this case, I just felt pressured to push it up to Dorincourt levels. (Never thought I’d hear of Lord of the Rings dubstep…)

If you are a hobbyist ,than all you can do for mastering is to check levels right and then bring it up with compression and limiting. Also, what I notice, if you EQ cleverly and leave everything its space, you can bring it all up much higher without getting distortion. Notice in which moments the Renoise meters go the highest and then try different EQ settings and see if you can bring the meters down a little.
You can never compete with the pro mastering engineers who have decades of experience and super-sensitive ears. I also never EQ on the master, for me chnaging the character of whole song in the slightest cuts/boosts is too unfair. Also I’d recommend to use Renoise groups and bus compression on them BEFORE you even touch the master track. Never do more than 2:1 ratio with little threshold. Mostly, bring DOWN the highs, not UP (especially when using distortion). And, most important, you are only making a very very good mix a perfect mix in mastering, not fixing a bad sounding mix. Always listen to the track unmastered - it should be as perfect as it can be even at this stage!

Mastering is to music as what code compliance is to architecture. Life is too short.

A simple master in renoise, is on this track. Paradox Uncreated - Chill Pill (renoise only).

Just make sure you play your track loud enough, with decent DA and speakers, to get a good impression of bass, mid, highs. And then adjust EQ, limiter etc, accordingly. And usually a highpass before, is good.

Peace Be With You.

Unless you’ve got quality analogue gear and pro converters, don’t bother. Get someone who has the gear, experience and customer service quality to do it for you.

In other news… I noticed you had a problem with your sig Hyeanaboy.

When editing your sig, just use the link to the soundcloud tune you want, remove the S after https, highlight the text and press the ‘insert media’ button.

I had problems and found I had to remove the S from https in the link for it to work.