Mastering Service

Not entirely off-topic, but I have a proposal that I’ve already made elsewhere and am now bringing to the Renoise community (couldn’t find an appropriate SPAM forum so posted it here).

I’ve been producing for 7 years now, while during the last 3 of those I became more and more critical of the quality of my sound rather than the content, and eventually spent half, or sometimes even more than half of my production time on mastering. So I finally decided to drop composing altogether and have since moved on to mastering only, and am now on my way to becoming a professional mastering engineer.

While I initially set out to master all music styles, I’ve since learnt it’s best to focus on a small selection of genres only, which is why I’ve decided to stick to progressive house, tech-house, and progressive trance music only (my favourite and thus the ones I’m most familiar with). So if you’re a composer of any music that matches those genres that you’d like professionally mastered, drop me a line.

For the moment I’d like to get a collection of sample work out there in order to build up a repertiore as an engineer, so essentially I will only except serious works that you intend to use in the hope of getting a record deal or similar. And that’s basically the deal - I master your track for free so that I can build up a portfolio to show mastering studios in the near future when I intend to apply for work there, while at the same time I should be able to bring the level of your track up to a professional level so that you can send it off in the hope of getting a record deal.

I use only high quality digital processors and currently have over three years experience in mastering, so I can assure you the quality will be good, if not exceptional. So if you have any progressive house music made in Renoise, either leave a reply here or contact me on ICQ or MSN Messenger so that we can arrange something. :)

Just a few rules and guidelines though:

Obviously your track should essentially be made in Renoise, although I can practically render from within any software application too.

After recently spending more than a week and hours upon hours of time and using 3 times more RAM than I have mastering a 30-track project, your song will have to contain a maximum of 20 separate tracks as my computer setup just doesn’t allow for anything more. That includes the breaking down of drum tracks, so that I master the kick separately from the snare, for example.

Your track shouldn’t already have any compressors and EQs enabled on the tracks, and you should set each track volume to maximum and the global volume to as high as possible without causing distortion before sending me the file so that I can simply render without having to worry about getting the best signal to noise ratio.

You can use delay and reverb processors if you really want to, as I can always copy the settings across to the plugins I use to obtain a similar sound, but it’s really compressors and EQ plugins that should be bypassed for best results.

I think that’s it for now. I’ve currently almost finished my first master since starting up this service a few weeks ago as well as being in progress of an album and a couple of other tracks as well (will be posting links here as they become available). But it’s progressive house music that I’m really looking to master so I’m willing to give priority to you if that’s what you have. :)

Yo Atlantis, have you seen this thread?…ab1ced10cb29652

I’ve been ‘seriously’ mastering other people’s stuff for about 3 years now, and it’s a thing you get slowly better at. Though, I really love it - you can take a very sludgy track and make it crystal clean and have a wallop of a punch to it.

Interesting that you say you want to master songs using a pre-post-production method (seperate all the tracks, you’re almost doing the mixer’s job). I’ve only ever mastered on the post mix. Using this way if you’re patient enough with EQs and Compressors you can get a result that outshines any mix you can put together with individual tracks. But I guess I haven’t tried the other way…

I was curious about your methods, but then again I spose I’m just coming at it from my perspective… :) Good luck with the business!

Have just read it and replied in it. :)

Interesting, didn’t know there was someone else in the scene into this sort of thing. I’ve been doing it for about three years myself now, but only just started for others.

The reason I do this pre-post-production stuff as well is because the quality improves tenfold. I can then ‘master’ each track individually for optimum results, applying just the right of multi-band compression on the snare, a differing amount on the kick, the leads etc. Also when it comes to EQing, I can set exactly the right amount for each sound. Doing this on the whole mix just doesn’t give you that amount of precision.

So yeah, I guess you could say I’m also doing the mixer’s job, but it’s impossible to volume balance properly without using compression first, which is why to me mixing and mastering really belong in the same boat.

I can’t agree that you can get results that outshine a mix put together with individual tracks though. You just don’t have the same precision as doing it the other way, and I’m all about quality. :D

I posted my method in that mastering topic, and thanks, the same to you if you’re going to persue in the same field. :)

Anyway, to keep this topic a little more updated, Bantai, have checked out those clips, but you’re right, I don’t think it’s really my thing. I’m all about progression really, and house music more than anything else. This is more electronica/techno - in some ways like BotB’s album, which I probably wouldn’t have done had I not considered only mastering the styles I’m really familiar with first. But since I started a while ago I’m going to finish it anyway.

“Kagotr” actually sounds quite nice to master though. I definitely like this one of the bunch, but I guess if you get me to master one, you want me to do all of them? If you don’t mind me just doing one for now though I’d certainly like to do that one. Very nice progressive-like bass groove with that synth pad soaring in the background. :walkman: I’ll contact you in case you don’t read this. :)

And to keep the ball rolling even more, Xcalibur has uploaded the first kind of ‘official’ master I’ve done now, made using all the new Waves tools I now use. Even the incredible IR1 convolving reverb, featuring reverbs from the Stanford Memorial Church in the US and the Rome Santa Cecilia Auditorium in Italy.

It’s a Club-Trance (or Melodic Trance if you prefer that) track made in Reason, and the RPS source is included as well in case you want to compare the two. Encoded only as a 128 kbps MP3 file for all you sucky Windows Media Player users and because the song is just so damn long though, but I suppose the quality is just bareable.

I admit I’m not perfect yet, so in case you have any comments or suggestions on the mastering, either leave them here or in the song’s “Comments” section.

Xcalibur - Moments

I did suggest it was perhaps a little too bright sounding, but Xcalibur was happy with it. :walkman:

Very useful post. Many thanks ‘guest’. :)

I can understand where it’s expensive, and employing a second set of ears sounds beneficial indeed, as I’ve already discovered the hard way.

But, one of the first things I also learnt is that I can’t mix without using compression. Some of the audio tracks will be extrmely unbalanced in volume, and so, with a snare, for example, I’d only hear the attack of the sound if the volume was set too low, or the attack part is simply too loud if I want to hear the decay of it. In that case I simply need to compress it for an even volume.

And another thing: I often get songs that already have compressors and equalisers intact to shape certain sounds a certain way, but if I rendered the entire track with these processors bypassed and then mastered it using conventional techniques, I might not be able to retain the specific way it was meant to sound. In other words, I need full control over the sound and I don’t see how I could get that the conventional way.

So a mixing engineer just sets the volumes of each audio track as good as possible without using any EQ or compression? Where’s the fun and challenge in that though? I think I would still like to be a mastering engineer then, but I just don’t feel I’d be able to do as much the conventional way as the stem mastering I’m doing now.

Another thing is that if you, say, wanted to remove the rumble or unwanted bass freqs present on a hihat that may be ‘fighting’ with the kick drum, how would you go about fixing this when mastering the conventional way? This is essentially why I follow this stem mastering approach, because of the greater flexibility and control I have over everything. Or does a mixing engineer apply only such corrective EQing? But that sounds useless, because master compression will no doubt boost those low levels again.

Anyway, I’m not sure if you’ll be back to read this but thanks again for the info and advice. :)

Fascinating thread guys… learning heaps :)

And my final two bob: mastering on the postmix can give a great ‘mesh’, which some audiences for particular genres are looking for: rock for example. Horses for courses.

And renoise for me.

Yes, thank you guest. I feel like I’m attending an engineering course here rather than spending all that time learning things myself. :)

I’ve given it all some thought, and Bantai, yes, I’m hoping to become a mixing engineer now, knowing that that’s what it’s called what I’ve been doing all this time. I have heard of Bob Katz’s book, and I’ll keep it in mind to check it out some time when I can.

I’m not sure I can agree with you on the producer having proficient knowledge of mixing though. I think the artist should be the composer, focusing all his talent on that only, and really leave the mixing and engineering to the engineers. That would ensure the best quality possible from both perspectives, as I doubt anyone can really be both exceptionally good at composing and mixing.

I hope a MOTU 828mkII convertor would be acceptable? :unsure: At least I’m really happy with it, and more importantly, used to it as well. I’m also really accustomed to mixing with headphones so I’m using AKG K240 Studios just because I can’t afford monitor speakers. But as I said, I know how to use them after all these years.

I don’t use any anlogue equipment nor do intend to really. It’s all just far too expensive and I really like the benefits of digital. Perhaps in due time I guess, but for now the Waves linear phase processors will have to do.

I guess I have a better than average knowledge of all those things though, so I’ll take the time to read up more about it. Thanks again. :)

The Motu’s not really what you’d call mastering quality tbh - Apogee Rossetta 800 is real bottom of the barrel for what’s acceptable in a mastering studio - RME are getting a lot of hype at the moment too…

Motu’s fine for your regular dance music studio though - And if you’re not using any analogue gear then it would make no difference to you anyway.

Here’s a new analogue summing bus:

These kinds of things are really part of the reason why a computer based artist might want to use a stem mastering service… Certainly you wouldn’t be stem mastering in-the-box (software summing is still a long way behind what you’d find in even your cheapest digital project desks).

When a DJ goes to make a dance/club tune, it would be quite common to have an engineer in to get things sounding right - But most serious dance/electronic producers have to include writing and engineering as a part of their profession… Otherwise we’d have a lot of records that sound exactly the same (maybe we already do!?)…

When you look at guys like Richard James, Jeff Mills, Nookie, etc… their trade-mark sound is as much a part of their art as the melodies and sounds they choose to use… To hear Aphex Twin or Autechre mixed by some long-time industry professional would probably rob the music of 90% of its character… It’s why a mastering engineer only has control over a 2-channel, stereo mixdown, and not every individual element…

(Also, an artist like Richard James will already have 20-odd years experience with his gear… It would take an outside engineer such a long time to learn his way around a setup like that - Especially as it’s so likely to change so often… Engineering an EMS Synthi or Studio 440 might be a completely alien subject for your typical industry pro engineer…)

It’s important that the artists’ original vision and ideas are maintained perfectly, and it’s up to the mastering engineer just to present it in its best possible light.

Also, in electronic/independant music, there’s so little money to be made releasing records… If you had to pay an engineer/producer aswell as a mastering engineer and a label, you’d see very little back.

Bob Katz book would be a good place to start, if you want to go down the mastering route… Mix engineering ain’t the best career prospect at the moment to be honest!

There’s around 20,000 kids a year going to college to learn this at the moment, and actually no jobs whatsoever… In fact, many successful, long-time studios are having to close down at the moment, leaving many experienced engineers out of work, or having to get by doing live engineering in pubs/bars!

It’s actually easier to get into acting these days.