3 Steps To Get A Killer Mastering

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Third episode of my production tips and a very important and rich subject: Mastering…

Mastering and mixing are some of the most important skills a producer has to master… The question is how to get your averall track sounds:

  • Clear
  • Powerful
  • Wide

Samson Rubicon 5AStep 1: Do I Have The Right Speakers?

Ask yourself the question: do I have the right headphone or speaker?

I can assure you one thing, as long as I plugged my PC to a Hi Fi I’ve not been able to master anything. The bass boost was completely falsing the overall mix and when I sent some demos at this time I got feedback such as « Your music is cool, but, damn! Your sound sucks!« . Ask Joachim Garraud when I sent him some track in early 2004…

If you have to invest in something for your studio, it’s in the speakers. It’s like when you recover your sight when putting on your glasses…

For me, there’re two options:

  1. You got people around you who don’t care about your beloved but noisy boom boom boom music and you need to work with a headphone: I use you this one: Sony MDR-V700DJ. Excellent and precise sound.
  2. You don’t care about other people! You want to work with a speakers, then here are the monitors I use: Samson Rubicon R5A.

What you have to retain of this step is: Speakers are the most important part of the studio.

Step 2: Never Touch To The Master Channel

I never touch the master out. I used to and I never got any good result. I tried to compress, I tried to EQ but nothing clean and powerful came out.

What I advise you to do is to work on the sound of buses separatly. Work the equalization, the compression, or whatever of each buses instead of applying a compression to the general channel.

This needs more work but you will definitely make your mix more clearer, more powerful and easier to modify.

Step 3: Cherish The EQ

Sonitus EQThe basis of all good mix is a clever management of frequencies. You know that, right?

  • A bassline, kicks, etc… by definition will deliver bass frequencies
  • Cymbals will deliver high frequencies.
  • Pads will mainly deliver medium/high frequencies.

The idea is to try to isolate each instrument in its range of frequencies. Results will be immediat.

If you cut a little bit of bass of your pad and add a little more high frequencies you’ll see your pad will be clearer and the overall mix cleaner.

Anyway, the secret of a good mastering is every instruments used can be precisely heard… Work on frequencies of each instrument until you hear everything clearly.

But be careful to go easy on adding or cutting dB for frenquencies. It’s a matter of precision.