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  • Mix Bus inserts?

    Posted by Jesse Lewis on at 9:45 am

    Hey MP heavyweights!

    Quick Question — In a professional mixing situation, one where you will be sending your final mix off to somebody else to master, is it correct to put any processing on your mix bus/master channel? Specifically something like some subtle glue compression? OR is it more standard practice to just send your final mix off with no processing at all on the master?

    Inquiring minds want to know?

    Thanks,

    JLew

    Christopher Dunston replied 1 month, 1 week ago 4 Members · 17 Replies
  • 17 Replies
  • Paul Tucci

    Member
    at 4:36 pm

    JLew, During my time in the live audio world an important lesson was learned that I believe is applicable to your question. The lesson Bob McCarthy, a world class system tuner taught was the concept of the ART / SCIENCE line. The band mixer’s responsibility was to create the best sounding presentation in terms of balance and especially, tonality. That is on the ART side of the ART / SCIENCE line. In this example, that line is an electrical signal handed to a PA system engineer. His responsibility is to accurately deliver that to the audience members. This arrangement put the onus on the mixer to get it right. There’s a very symbiotic relationship in play between the two. If the band mixer delivers a bright sounding (electrical) mix is it the responsibility of the PA system guy to tone it down to make it correct for the listening audience?? What if the opening act’s mixer has a different sensibility, and both his mind and preferred tonality leans dark? Mr. McCarthy say that Ii the speaker system is linear, neutral sounding, and accurate, a good and appropriate mix from the console should translate to the audience members. I’m in the weeds here, but the analogy I’m aiming for is this. The mixer is the artist that should make the ART as best he or she can. If master bus compression, tonal shaping, or intentional distortion of the electrical signal is part of the artist’s intent, it should be implemented before the mastering process. All that said, a professional mastering engineer who specializes in eeking out the last bit of level and super polish can make a huge difference and get your art noticed. FYI, I’ve been tinkering with the iZotope Ozone mastering product.

    • Jesse Lewis

      Member
      at 6:31 am

      Yo Paul! This is great and very helpful to hear your perspective and input! I can dig what you are saying!

      ps – I too just started tinkering with ozone 11, and I’m finding it to be such a cool tool, especially for some instructional value. I often find that when it’s master assistant AI renders my track it sounds really over the top and often not the direction I might go in/where my ear would lean, but it’s so cool to look under the hood and see all of the things it’s doing. I find myself often seeing things it does that I hadn’t thought of and going back and addressing them.

      I got the entire suite on a super sale about 6 months ago but am just finally getting into it now. The RX 10 is INSANE!!! Such a game changer for me, because my home studio has so many noises and sounds from my heater or noises from outside that often ruin takes. With that spectral repair module I can just take them out so easily! Magic haha

      All this learning is such fun indeed!

      Best,

      Jesse

  • Dana Nielsen

    Administrator
    at 11:51 pm

    The mixer is the artist that should make the ART as best he or she can. If master bus compression, tonal shaping, or intentional distortion of the electrical signal is part of the artist’s intent, it should be implemented before the mastering process. – @-PT

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Paul! Love this quote and also love the ART/SCIENCE line! Amazing stuff, man!

    • Jesse Lewis

      Member
      at 6:50 am

      Dana and Paul! Thank you guys for providing all of your insights on this.

      Dana – I read you response to Dewey in the Limiter thread and you addressed some of my questions there. It sounds like generally you try to get your mix to communicate everything without inserts on your master bus, and use the limiter to send a loud version to your clients (but take it off before sending to master engineer). It sounds like sometimes (but not always?) you add some subtle EQ, stereo imaging stuff (like bass mono) or saturation if you are hearing it as part of the finished sound of the track and don’t want to leave that up to mastering engineer?

      I guess the crux of my original question is kind of more based on curiosity about standard “pro” practice. Because I am just mixing and mastering my own tracks there’s never a consideration of the mastering engineer, in every case I mix my track first and then master it (usually some kind of subtle EQ, a gentle glue compression, possibly some color/saturation, and finally the limiter.

      I wasn’t sure if in the “pro” world you would typically leave ALL of the master channel processing to the mastering engineer? Or if you sometimes include your own eq, compression, etc BEFORE the mastering engineer gets it.

      I’m guessing it depends?

      JLew

      • Paul Tucci

        Member
        at 10:00 am

        Jesse, from my non-professional mixer perspective, I would ask the mastering guy what he or she would prefer in terms of peak and perceived loudness levels (True Peak and LUFS) and give said mastering engineer headroom to work with compared to my finalized version.

      • Dana Nielsen

        Administrator
        at 1:01 pm

        Yo! Glad you found the @Dewey thread response!

        To @-PT‘s point, I would leave everything “artistic” on the master fader, baked into the mix. When you send files to mastering, send two files:

        1. Mix w/ all your master bus plugins INCLUDING your final peak limiter (pro-l2 or similar). Call it something obvious like “Song Title_mix number_FOR REFERENCE”, and tell the mastering engineer that this loud reference is what has been approved by the artist and what you’ve been living with.
        2. Mix w/ all your master bus plugins EXCEPT FOR your final peak limiter. Call it “Song Title_mix number_ FOR MASTERING”, and tell the mastering engineer that this is the exact same mix but without your final limiter so there’s more headroom.

        I always tell the mastering engineer to feel free to use either file for mastering (knowing that they’ll 95% of the time prefer to use the “for mastering” version).

        Lastly, to answer your original question of whether the “pros” disable all their master buss plugins before sending their mix to mastering ….

        • Paul Tucci

          Member
          at 8:02 pm

          So I’m curious. In your experience, what’s the politics of who chooses the mastering engineer? Logically, that task should fall in the producer’s realm. But if the producer is much more musical than technical, who’s opinion matters most?

          • Dana Nielsen

            Administrator
            at 10:23 pm

            Hahaha – love the “Thinker” with laptop 💻😂. Yeah, in general that’s a producer and/or artist choice. Though in my experience it’s often a discussion that includes producer, mix engineer, artist, and artist management. If there’s budget to try out a few different mastering engineers on the same song, that’s always an eye opening (ear opening?) and fun experience. As a mixer, I’m often relied upon for mastering engineer suggestions since I’m usually the person interfacing the most with that person.

            • Paul Tucci

              Member
              at 9:59 am

              I was hopeful that the mixer’s opinion was in play. It only makes sense to me that if the band chooses the producer who hires the mixer, the producer ought to “let the mixer cook” as the kids say. Each level of mgt finding the right people who in turn, find the right peep for that intended flavor of presentation. If everyone is aligned, the magic might could happen more easily. I’ve only experienced that on the live audio side of the world and it’s a pleasure to work with those that ask for you (me), provide the tools, and clear the path for you (me) to do your thing. Cool, I crossed three generation in wordplay. PT (me/he/him)

          • Christopher Dunston

            Member
            at 12:05 am

            Hey Paul,

            As a producer, I found your question interesting and felt compelled to answer it, because I had struggled with this before in a previous life.

            To me, there is not really any politics to it, it’s about who can make your mix sound the best or enhance it without destroying your hard work. I used to have a hard time with this until I performed a little “social experiment”. I performed a search of mastering engineers who offered a free sample of a mastered mix. I then sent 2 of my mixes out to about 15 mastering engineers/houses and then sat with my team to pick out which mastering engineer did the best job and ranked. The top 3 were awesome, while the bottom 3 were awful. It also helps when a mastering engineer identifies with your specific genre of music.

            After I discovered my mastering engineer of choice during this experiment, I set out to forge a relationship with him and really get to know him. It turns out he loved my genres and was a keyboard player/musician like myself. The rest is history. Hope this helps!

            His name is Mark Hammond of Planet Sound Mastering in the UK! If you decide to use him, let him know Big Chrizzle sent you! 😎

            • Paul Tucci

              Member
              at 8:46 pm

              Very informative reply. I should have used the word “egos” instead of politics in my question. That would have conveyed my hopes of a group think to determine the best mastering choice. PT

            • Dana Nielsen

              Administrator
              at 11:34 pm

              What an amazing mastering experiment! I bet that was super fun to hear all those options. The variety of “flavors” or styles you get back from different mastering engineers who’ve all been given the same stereo file is always so fun to hear — especially when you as producer or artist or mixer, etc, are so deeply connected to- and invested in- the current sound of that source file.

              And then on top of the obvious sonic differences from each mastering engineer, you must also consider the workflow, communications, etiquette, deliverables, quality control, and personality of those you’re considering.

              I always remind myself that there are many people who do what I do and do it reeeeally well, especially in a competitive, creative, entertainment-hub like L.A. So I do my best to ensure that the operations and personal interactions side of my business is as good as can be. Cause sometimes (read: often!) that can be one more benefit that tips the scale in your favor. (i.e. “well, engineers A and B both delivered incredible sounding work I’d be happy with forever. But engineer B was a lot more fun to work with and communicated everything clearly. Let’s go with B!”)

            • Christopher Dunston

              Member
              at 11:51 pm

              It was pretty incredible and eye opening. Like you said, it’s just like producing and mixing, a lot of people are great, but that doesn’t mean they are a match and will be great for what you’re doing. Some of those mastering engineers totally destroyed my mix, while others made them sound more 3D. It was a lot of fun!

        • Jesse Lewis

          Member
          at 12:21 pm

          Yo! Thanks so much brother for thoroughly answering all of my questions about this. I feel confident now that I understand this concept!

          ps – I got a pair of the audio technica 50x’s and also a pair of the beyerdynamic 880 Pros. I like having both a closed back option for recording and an open back option for extended listening. Very glad I didn’t blow my entire savings on some ultra fancy headphones. Still need more guitars haha

          JLew

          • Paul Tucci

            Member
            at 12:46 pm

            Don’t forget the Sonarworks headphone correction software.

          • Dana Nielsen

            Administrator
            at 3:17 pm

            Wooo! Fantastic, homey! Happy headphone-ing! 🎧

          • Christopher Dunston

            Member
            at 12:02 am

            Anytime! It certainly has helped me a lot!

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