In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.
WHAT IS HEADROOM? Headroom is the distance between an audio tracks peak level (when the meter is at its highest) and 0 level on the output meter.
As a song plays, the output meter on the stereo/main out bounces up and down with the music.You can see how high (loud) an audio track peaks by looking at this meter.Anything peaking over 0 level usually means distortion, so at all costs stay below 0 level.
How far is your peak loudness below 0 level?That's the simple definition of what headroom is.So, if your meter is peaking -3dbs below 0 level, you have 3dbs of headroom.If your meter is peaking right at 0 level, you have NO headroom.
Note - +3dbs to +6dbs of headroom is the standard recommended amount, but many times a song with more or a little less headroom can still be mastered with no problems.Although it really makes no sense to give a mastering engineer a mix with 0dbs of headroom and risk the chance that it's slightly distorted.There's no reason to do it because overall song volume is done in the mastering process, not in mixing.
WHAT IS DYNAMIC RANGE? As a song plays, the output meter constantly goes up and down.
Dynamic rangeis the area between the peak level (when the meter is up) and the low level (when the meter is down). Roughly, 3dbs to 6dbs of movement between the high and low meter level is a typical amount of dynamic range, but this does depend on the genre of music.
Note - One problem you want to watch out for (if you're mixing your own music) is dynamic range between song sections.You don't want a +10db or more difference between the verses and choruses.This creates a mastering problem because the verses will never be loud enough compared to the rest of the song.Roughly a 6db difference is as high as you want to go. Read more....
The Music Production Secrets Series by John Rogers
I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.And also before they started making very high quality plugins.
Would you like to know how to master a song or how to master your own music? So many people think just making the volumes the same level for every song is "mastering" their CD. Well, mastering is a lot more than just that!
Here are a few great stereo widening techniques and how to use them in music. When you listen to music on a car radio, you want that wide stereo sound that extends from the left door to the right. Not just two feet wide right above the stereo!
The vibrato and tremolo effects both have their differences. But the vibrato and tremolo effects also sound very similar; both slightly wave and pulsate the pitch of an audio track. You have to hear it for yourself to understand the sound.
I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!Ha!
Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS. Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes. During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released. It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!
What does mastering do to a song? Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.
Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999. In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them. In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.
So, what is the best room size for audio mastering in your DAW home recording studio? Technically, you can properly mix or master in any room size.But, I believe a smaller room is better than a very large one for someone who's just starting out. And when I say smaller I mean closer to 12'x15' than to 20'x30'.I've mixed and mastered songs for a number of years in a 20'x30' room.It took me a few days to get used to it, but after that I could do it.
This article discusses what is the chorus effect in music and how to use it? The chorus effect makes a single audio track sound like a group. It achieves this by taking a single instrument or vocal track, multiplying it, and then slightly detunes each newly created track. The result is a fuller lush sounding audio track.
This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.
I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training.He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it.And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn!Ha!
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs. In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.