The Producer's Forum

Production Talk => Mixing/Mastering => Topic started by: Bobie The 11th on March 09, 2017, 01:13:39 pm

Title: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: Bobie The 11th on March 09, 2017, 01:13:39 pm
Iv'e been having some issues recently with getting a decent sounding pre-master. I wanted to know where you usually set your drums/bass/synths at when you produce your sound before mastering (regarding to Dubstep or Bass Music). Where do your pre-master elements peak and how do I avoid having it sounding weak? Iv'e tried comparing my drums, basses and synths' levels to an example Cymatics Live project of the same musical style, the results were the elements in the Cymatics projects were a lot more dominant-sounding despite sitting on the same levels and frequencies on the spectrum.

Thank you  ;D
Title: Re: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: Gabe D on April 01, 2017, 03:12:28 pm
One tip I would give is to try some Parallel Compression on the drums. Certain plugins can help with that or you can search for some videos depending on what DAW you are using. You can actually use this method on more than drums. Play around with it a little bit and see what you come up with.
Title: Re: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: Mussar on April 01, 2017, 06:30:13 pm
There are two big things to consider when thinking about gain staging, particularly with regards to heavier genres like Dubstep, Trap, and Bass House -

First, a lot of these songs are mixed with a mastering chain already on, which influences how you level balance the various elements of your mix. Dubstep especially is a genre where Louder Is Better, and if you're mixing into an empty master channel you're just not getting the stylistic impression that can inform your decisions. If you just slap the Glue Compressor's "Mastering - Make It Loud" preset and a limiter with 3 to 6 dB of gain on your master channel before you do anything, you'll be able to get closer to that balance you're looking for. Then, when you're done you can just turn off your temporary mastering chain, use the Utility plugin's gain to adjust the master output so your highest peak is under 0 dB (or whatever reference level you wish to use; i use -3 to -6 but it's mostly irrelevant), and bounce your premaster for a more focused mastering job.

Second, a lot of these sounds are processed in such a way that they're already loud to begin with - both in terms of the samples used (Cymatics heavily saturates and compresses their samples, so there's less processing involved compared when you're using a more basic sample) and how they've distorted and compressed the synthesizers. There are a ton of different ways to go about it, but generally you want some form of compression (either on the individual sound or a group of sounds), some type of harmonic saturation (overdrive, saturation, distortion, etc), and a special place in the stereo field - through stereo imaging or simple panning.
Title: Re: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: Mrflannery on April 03, 2017, 12:55:42 am
Multiband limiting can be a really powerful tool. The L316 by waves or the MCDSP ML4000 are great for this. I concur about mixing with your Plugs already on the Master buss. My end chain is usually:

SSL Mix Buss
Slate Tape Emulator (depending)
Metering Plug with brick wall limiter.
Title: Re: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: LestarAsh on June 05, 2017, 01:58:14 am
First of all, you'd better try some Parallel Compression on the drums.
Title: Re: Pre-Master Leveling
Post by: FarleyCZ on June 08, 2017, 07:13:58 am
I'd say a balance is the key. Thing is that guys that make stuff for Cymatics are REALLY experienced people. So aside from knowing how to set up a compressor on a drum bus, they also know really well how to design that bass patch in a way that will feel heavy. Also there's a little catch. It is called "BASS" music, but ironically those basses and bass drums usually have huge amounts of cleverly designed overtones and harmonics that knocks you off the chair. So much actually that those bass and sub-bass frequencies tend to be almost on the quiet side. Cymatics guys have this thing always flawlessly figured out so whatever you compare to their stuff will show it's weak points kinda quickly. It'd say there lies the problem. Sound design and frequency balance.
Title: Pre Master Leveling
Post by: HanNeurf on July 14, 2017, 01:16:43 pm
I think Im going to get a lot more out of this book than I did a couple of years ago when I read it for a book group.
Thanks for the pre-tidbit, firefly