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August 5, 2017

Mixing Alive and Alone - Day 2: Mastering

Hmmmm ... not as bad as it could have been in the cold light of day. Pretty happy with most of the tracks. Suzie and I listened to the whole album at bedtime and I noticed three thigns I wanted to correct:

  1. The stomp box in "Forever Mine" is too loud and not deep and boomy enough.
  2. The stomp box in "Whikey and History" is too quiet.
  3. There's an awful guitar sound at teh start of "Home Free" that I wanna try to fix ... and not happy with the vocal tone on that one - perhaps too much reverb? It's not clear enough.

So, first hour or so of today remixing those. I would normally have spent a week listening to those mixes on heaps of different sound systems and making sure they are exactly what I want. This time, however, I just need to get on with it ... and the flaws that result are what is meant to emerge from the process ... <sigh> ... have to keep reminding myself of that ...

Anyhoo, once I'd fixed those small things I opened a new session and imported all of the raw dump files into Pro Tools - one stereo track per song. Across the Master fader I dropped Maxim, which is a mastering compression plugin (and about the only useful Mastering plugin I have) and a stereo analysis plugin. This one doesn't change anything, but tells me how wide the stereo field is on each track. Also re-imported the reference tracks so I could compare the stereo fields with my own work. Pleased to say I was pretty close to the Guitar and voice parts of the Springsteen track, but the Bangles one was wider on account of having some keyboard sounds panned wide and back in the mix. So far so good ...

Had a listen to each song individually and in various combinations ... wanted to make sure that the voice levels were all about the same - nothing sticks out and nothing goes missing compared to the others. Again, not bad. There were a couple that stuck out, so a slight reduction in level brought them back into line. A couple were right up front and harsh compared to the others, so I dropped a reverb on those to push them back slighty. Was prepared to add EQ but tought they were actually pretty consistent without it ... the limited instrumentation and template setup served me well.

Again, I don't have the toys to do this properly, and it's ALWAYS best to get a fresh set of ears (not just a new day) onto this process. This one is meant to be rushed and flawed ...

So, once I was happy with the consistency across all the tracks I bounced them all down again and named them what they needed to be for distribution purposes. Imported them into iTunes and listened again ... twice ... up close and while out in the kitchen cleaning up. Pretty happy with the results - here's the album on Spotify:

Now, better ears than mine will be able to tell us all what could be better ... please do in the comment below. This is about helping me and everyone who reads this to understad and improve, so let us know exactly what you think. And if you, dear reader, have any questions, please ask away below ... :-)

Posted by Hughie at August 5, 2017 6:23 PM

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