That Sound

Hi everyone,

I’ve been wondering this for the longest time now and can’t seem to get it. My guess is that it’s “added” in the mastering stage. Anyway, I’d like to explain what I’m talking about so hopefully you guys will understand and be able to help out a bit.

Well, lately I’ve started to take my music much more seriously and it has become more than just something to do between film productions / editing. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music over the last four years(about two of those years just Richard D. James!) so I’ve learned to tune my ear a bit. But for some reason I can’t attain “that sound”. And what I mean by that is the sound that each and every CD I’ve ever listened to has. Doesn’t matter what’s being used in the mix or how bad the mix is, it’s like a glaze or a gloss that’s laid over the audio so that it doesn’t sound so live, you know? It seems that my music(which is all just software / hardware synths) has a bit of a raw or a too live sound to it. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong? A lot of stuff I heard from you guys has " that sound". What are you guys doing differently? Is there a certain plug-in added in the mastering stage or something?
It doesnt’ seem to me that it has to do with the mix as I listen to a lot of U-ziq / kid spatula and for those of you who listen to his stuff know it’s not the best mixed by any means(amazing stuff though) yet it still has “that sound” and same deal with BOC sometimes. Anyway, I don’t know if I’m being clear. It’s that refinement in any CD you can pick up.

Well, if you have any advice it’d be much appreciated because no matter what I try, I can’t seem to get “that sound”.

let me know if you’d like me to send you an .aif or .wav to help you better understand. Oh yeah actually, I have a track up in the songs forum, topic is titled “slow gabba’s long lost cousin”(track name), so you can get a sense of what I’m talking about and if you already know what I mean, then cool, save yourself the time from listening to the track as it’s 9:30mins long ; )

Thanks guys.

THAT sound, is very different from track to track really.

Dont you want hard rock to sound hard ?
Dont you want a real violin to sound real ??

Ok, so im no mastering engineer, yet. BUT
now i used 1 year every day, doing it, so i learned a lot.

  1. You should pan the sounds, so they dont fall over another
  2. you should make it so the sounds dont use the same frequencies
    (example: 2 guitars with same sound = FAIL)
  3. you should EQ every sound, so it sounds max good (use your ears)
  4. you should remove unused frequencies
    (example: bassdrum low rumble noise, below some db level…erh -45 -30 ???)
    (see i am not expert, i am not sure - i just know it helps!)
  5. use compressors - google “audio compressor”, its too much to write here.

A real good mastering plug is Ozone Isotope.

For proof you can do pro sound with that, ALONE,
listen music from Björn Fogelberg:

He uses ONLY that, and sounds GOOD!

And google for “mastering guide” - it has more technobabble than i prefer :)
But it helps!

Ozone is 1 plug, with all in 1.
Waves is very pro, but is 100 plugs :( (and very expensive)

Choose your destiny :)

I hope it helped a bit.

This is good read:

Hey nmioaon,

Thanks for the response. Yeah, I use compressors, EQ and panning as much as possible, but something just isn’t right, you know? I can get a decent mix with the above effects / tools but can’t find out how to get “that sound”. Izotope is good too, I’ve use it as a demo, good stuff!

This has really been bugging me. I have an album I want to get ready to finish up and send out but I feel like I can’t yet because they don’t have that “special” something. It’s like the difference between shooting prosumer video and color correcting at home and shooting on film and getting it to look like movies in the theater, I guess one looks too raw and the other has that perfect feel that makes you feel like you’re in another world.

I’ll check that link out!

I do this sort of “mastering” work as an obsessed semi-pro hobbyist. I can tell you straight up that YES that sound is certainly possible, but there are many ways.

I’ve spent years and years getting my skills and tools up to par for this task. A lot of academic listening. A lot mixing hours. I could write essays on a lot of aspects but it doesn’t do squat for another person compared to that person putting in the work themselves and asking for help along the way.

It depends on your priorities, but if you do want to do it all yourself be prepared for a lot of work over a long time with serious blows to your pocket. On the other hand, the industry norm for a long time has been to do the mix yourself the best you can, then pass the work onto a mastering service.

The first advice I say now is to post your tunes on the forums here: ask for feedback! There are many experienced sets of ears in this place who give good advice.

also, Mr. Mark Dollin wrote an excellent article here about using compression with Blockfish:…c=18609&hl=

Thanks guys for the responses. I will take a look at that link. Foo, you mentioned that it would take a lot of money to help get me to this level. What kinds of things?

It just makes me crazy to hear that people like Luke Vibert are mastering their own stuff. He has some of the cleanest sounding tracks out there(vibert and simmonds Rodulate aside).

Could you guys take a listen to my track in the Renoise Song forum(Slow gabba’s long lost cousin) and post some feedback? I’m not trying to turn this into something about my tracks but just taking Foo’s advice and asking for feedback. It would be much appreciated to hear what you guys think is wrong with it and why it might be lacking “that sound.”

Any other advice on getting “that sound”?

yeh man listen to Syflom you need filters on really everything you have there, maybe not the doppler space effect.

what you could do is go through this site and grab as many xrns modules and go through each one till you find many with the sound you are after. take those and save the dsp chains, see which works for you the best and tweak to your liking.

i’ve done it. :)

40WPM: You only need training, that’s all :slight_smile:

The real good ones, they use analog gear man, that costs a fortune!

I tell you, this is not needed!
Practise practise practise…

With f.ex Ozone, you dont really know whats possible, until you have run through
all menus, and tweaked all settings to your liking.
It can take a few hours, but gives you many XP.

On other hand, i have seen smart people do all with renoise built in stuff.

There are so many tips and ‘rules’ about mastering, but in the end its up to your own ears.

If you say the hell with it, and want to buy mastering: has a cheap pro service.
He takes $50 pr track, and work until you are satisfied with it.

1: Drop your noise floor
2: Kill excess sustain
3: Cut Reverb down to an absolute minimum
4: Filter bass from everything that isn’t bass
5: Gate the bass
6: Excite treble where needed (I often just use EQ -> Lofimat for this)

Of course, all of this is useless if your source material is low quality, or mixed extremely poorly. Also, make sure you choose and use effects wisely. Too much stereo separation in the low end WILL kill your bass. Phaser, flanger, and chorus degrade sound quality and take away punch. But then, it all depends on what you want your music to sound like ;)

You need studio monitors! Else you’ll never know when you’ve found “that sound”

You can use a spectrum analyzer to compare your mix to commercial mixes in the same genre.

The spectrum analyzer can also be used to ballance your mix. It’s easier to see what type of sounds that suit each other with this methode.

I use it all the time!

This is actually pretty useless as every song has its own unique dynamics. That would be like comparing the colour palettes of paintings in different styles in hopes of coming up with similar paintings. Surrealism doesn’t sway more toward blue or red than any other style of painting :rolleyes:

“That sound” is attained through knowing your tools and how to use them. Plain and simple. There’s no easy way of going about attaining it… it’s quite a long learning process.

That being said, if you want “easy”… the EASIEST way do get “that sound” is to dump your songs as .flac multitracks to a DVD, and sending it off to a production company that specializes in mixing + mastering. Good luck learning anything that way though ;)

Some good info about sidechain compressor:…-is-it-used-for

Audiomasterclass is a good read!

Here is a free auto gate expander:…ft/

Here is a free sidechain compressor:…/

yah. you’re pretty much telling all of this advice to get fucked if you don’t get monitors. monitors are the single best investment of my musical history next to the laptop i’m using now.

if you’re using a regular speaker, you wont find the sound you’re looking for, since you really wont be able to hear it. if you think you’ve got it, it’ll sound like total shit on any other speakers.

all the mastering is an issue of taste past good monitors. well, not all :)


Thanks guys.

I’ve got a decent set of studio monitors, a little older but they get the job done. I forget the model but they are Yamaha and have a seperate subwoofer.
Anyway, I don’t really mind sending my tracks off to a proper mastering studio, as it’s always a good idea to have someone else listen to the mixes and master them, at least for me that might be the answer. It’s not a money issue, it’s really just getting a good master out of it, so I might just want to focus on composing and mixing my stuff as opposed to worrying about getting that sound myself. But I appreciate the tips on helping me get there!

Nmioaon, I love anologue gear too. I’m fortunate enough to have a Yamaha CS5 that I use by itself and also to run audio through it to get me that warm anologue sound and it always helps me get that much closer to “that sound”!