Hello all! I apologize in advance if this has already been asked/answered. I did a search and couldn’t find the answer I was looking for.
I’m just looking for a tutorial or any information available on mastering a track in Renoise (Mac version). I’m working on getting a final mix and would like to master the tracks myself. I’m not looking to get too fancy and technical. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hi, there are many variables… If you are not looking for anything, “too fancy and technical,” I am going to try and suggest a good way to approach it. I believe really in two different types of mastering, “home/project studio,” and Professional Mastering Engineer ( For example, what you get if you sent your track to the Capitol Records Studio. )
In the home/project studio environment, the process is more like, “loudness maximizing, and final eq balance.” The ideas are the same at Profession ME Studios but the ears, tools, and goals are different. For example, “An entire album worth of tracks, might be balanced together, and have their meta data written, and have crossfades made for the CD, or whatever.”
So for quick and easy home/project studio mastering, we like to have 1. Multiband compressor, 2. Eq ( Possibly linear phase ), 3. Look ahead brick-wall limiter. These are, “like to have,” because you can substitute depending on how, “flawless,” your mix is.
Essentially what you need:Compressor + Eq + Look ahead limiter + Dither
That is a little, tiny 82 kilobyte vst, and it works great in Renoise, and I think it might only be 32bit… But I have been using this dither on several tracks now, and it works great.
I used to render at 24 bit, and 4.41khz, and I did one track @ 32bit and 96 khz, but after reading the forum a bit more I’ve settled at rendering my mixes @ 32bit 88.2 khz, and because this by half is 16 bit and 4.41 khz. And that is what we are using the dither for.
( I really hope I am not confusing the situation, I know you asked for a non-technical explanation, I am trying my best to summarize. )
When you are about to master let us pretend that your mix is, “flawless,” its wav has been rendered @ 32bit and 88.2 khz. All you need now, are the essentials in bold, a few sentences up. Let’s pretend you have decided to leave permanently unchecked, “the Renoise dither function in your preferences.” Let’s pretend you are using only native Renoise DSP’s and the dither freeware.
Drop your audio wav into a Renoise instrument slot.
Trigger your wave in the pattern editor. ( usually by entering 1 note, on instrument 00, or C-400 )
Make enough patterns for your song to play through + 1 extra pattern, where you can shorten the lines per pattern, so that when you render your master, you do not have extra long audio tail.
Put in this order, on your master track: Renoise Compressor, Renoise EQ 10 or 5, Renoise Compressor, and Freeware RDR Dither.
Here is where the tricky part begins: Ideally on your first compressor you look for a longer attack, longer release, gentle knee, gentle ratio, and bringing the threshold down, and then turning the makeup gain up. You do not want more than 6 db of make up, and you do not want more than 4 db of gain reduction, and even for db is a lot imho.
On your eq, you are looking to make a classic mastering, “smiley face,” and you can google that, I am sure somewhere on the web is an article. ( Its beyond the scope of this response to explain that in true detail. )
On your second compressor you want the setting of Brick Wall Limit, followed by the Freeware RDR Dither, and finally, if you want to get a bit of extra gain… 1 or 2 db, you might want to try, the autoclip on the Renoise Master, and use the threshold/makeup controls, on the second compressor that is in brick wall limit mode!!
Remember, I am giving the Native Renoise Solution here. Not the one I would give if I: Knew what vst’s you had access to. Also, I have no idea, how the soft clip function would work, because it is after dithering on the chain, if you so choose to use that.
Somewhere on this forum, I am sure I have another example project file named, “mastering example,” but the one I linked above is brand new, from today, and different from the other. Notice how the last pattern has a few less lines? That is what I am talking about…
You may be interested in this video? Of me, “fake/recreating,” very quickly one of my mastering job…
I hope I have written, what you are asking for… I know I went in depth…
Edit = You are using the mac version, and I think I linked a windows only freeware vst… My bad… Just ignore that whole thing, and use the dither setting in Renoise. Have em on, when you master, off when you render tracks. You only want to dither a wave form once. There might be a freeware dither for mac, or you might have a dither vst/audio unit in your folders. Who knows… Worth a look
Compressor or Bus Compressor and why? I can’t quite remember the differences now…
Why a Compressor as third device and not Renoise’s Maximiser? (I use a Maximiser for Limiting action. Usually the only thing on my Master at as subtle settings as I can get away with and off during actual composing.)
Recommending “Smiley Face EQ” rather than suggesting to use ears, the Spectrum Analyser and compare to tracks you know very well within the genre/sound you are trying to produce seems far too much a blanket statement to me. Smiley faces are for playback at low levels/in poor conditions. Not to be used for generic mastering.
And if you wanted to go a bit more advanced:
Put a Multiband Send on the track with the audio.
Create three Sends called Low, Mid and High and route each band to them respectively.
Put a (Bus?)Compressor on each of these Send tracks.
Finding idea settings will take a lot longer but this will give you a multiband compression stage.
only because my answer was specific to the op. It was not meant to be any sort of, “written in stone guide,” to what is a complex process. I oversimplified, and did so on purpose because how the question was asked. You bring up some great points. I was just trying to stay here:
Masikus, kazakore is right… I gave a very simplified approach, and its not one that will work for all situations. For example, “Compressor vs Bus Compressor.” I answered with Renoise Compressor, because you did not specify a tool in your arsenal, and at the time it seemed more logical to me to take that approach.
kazakore also mentions the Maximiser… Definitely something you should look into.
Both Compressor and Bus Compressor are Renoise native DSPs. You actually mention Knee at one point, which I believe only features in the Bus Compressor unit. Other than that there are a few obvious differences in the ranges for the parameters but as to the actual operation or sound of them I’m not too sure.
All great information, guys and I do appreciate it. I’m still pulling out my beard hairs (no hairs left to pull on my head) but I really do wish there was a video tutorial for us mastering noobs. I’m more of a visual person. But all great information and again, I do appreciate the help.
I’ve been floating around the forums just taking in information and this seems like a great forum full of very helpful and knowledgable people. You guys proved me right.
I mention knee!! That is true. That is totally my mistake, as there is no knee on the regular compressor. I think this mistake is because I am not using these compressors. But I tried to answer with tools, I knew Masikus had access too.
As for what is best, and what would sound best, I really have no idea. I believe what I have been mastering with, “PSPMixpressor,” is a special collage of many compressor types. This is my most used compressor and can do the job of track, bus, maximize, limit, de’sss, sidechain…
Not the OP but I just wanted to say that this is an exceptionally useful thread. 2 daze j, you give a hell of a lot of good advice for simple mastering - made me a little more confident about mastering myself now too I’ve got a decent range of plugins so I’m going to stop chickening out when it comes to seriously tackling mastering and stick to a lot of the advice given by people in this thread. Cheers guys!
Mastering is usually pretty basic stuff with electronic music, usually just a bit of eq/reverb and limiter on the master channel. The most important thing imho is to get your mix right before even mastering.
In the end, what’s important to know is that you can’t master well a song if you didin’t mixed it well at first.
When you mix a song just try to mix eveything in a mono mode at first, so that you can control perfectly your levels, and avoid some surprises.
And globally you should mix it so that the average volume that goes in the Final Master Track do not exceed -12dB (I speak about the average volume).
Why ? Because the *Maximizer doesn’t work well when it has to deal with too high incoming sounds.
I’ve tested this scheme and I approoved it, it works
You can even improve it, and create a “parallel multiband compressor”.
For example :
When using the #multiband send : KEEP ALL the original signals.
When you do it, the incoming sound is then mixed with the multiband compression result, when routed back to the master track.
Mixing a compressed sound with the original sound, gives you a quite good compromise between sound power and dynamic range preservation.
And then, you can also add the stereo expander in the first stage (the low frequencies) and turn this send track into a mono track, sometimes it fixes a bit some problems.
However, I think that when you’ve used this parallel multiband compression scheme, while the sound goes in your Master Track, and especially if you added an *Exciter at the begining of your Master Track sound processings, one should always check the dB level just before the *Maximizer, and see if it shows something that generally goes between -12 and -14dB.
As I previously said, if the incoming sound in the *Maximizer is too high, i.e. for example 0dB… the *Maximizer doesn’t work, and when you use boost a bit the volume, it generates too much saturation/distortion and the overall efficiency of the *Maximizer is finally lowered. You just then get a result that is the opposite of what you sould expect from any kind of final Maximization.
The Multiband Send, as with the majority of digital filters, does add some non-linear phase changes to the signal. Therefore I would probably be a little wary about using it with parallel chains. Obviously your ears are the best tool at the end of the day but it is something to be aware of if experimenting with this.
I often select the LR8 filtering model in the multiband send device, because this LR8 option seems to avoid the LR2’s phase shift inversion encountered in the middle band. The LR8 model adds some usefull punch and clarity to the resulting signal. I’ve tested all the other options in a parallel multiband compressor and it seems that only the LR8 provided satisfying results.
It avoids the inversion of the middle band but still is not linear. In many cases you may not notice a thing. Sometimes it might sound the same to your ears (and look the same on a sprectrum analyser) but if you check the waveform you might find it looks completely different and now has some nasty peaks.
In fact you will get this to an extent whether you are mixing back in the original feed (for parallel multiband compression in your example) or not so might not be worth worrying about at all. But again it’s something to be wary of if you suddenly find you’re attempting this kind of processing and you suddenly seem to have a peak level which wasn’t there before.
Indeed the sound is clearly more or less “altered” in the spectrum, because of the cross filters technique in the multiband send device, and because of the makeup/saturation, in some compression stages, so when I add this to my mixes : I don’t expect something truely linear and truely “transparent”. My problem is to get a sound that has more presence, but that is not too uniform, and when we go on this ground, we have to make compromises.