How we master our music for DyAD – Part 1
Hope you’re all good?
We just wanted to say thanks for checking out our last blog post. We were surprised at how many of you enjoyed reading it and got something out of it, which is great. We had some further questions from a few of you, so it was cool to continue the conversation further.
Anyway, we thought we’d do another production post, only this time it’s gonna be about how we master our own tunes. It’s extensive, so this one will be in 3 parts in order to stop our brains from melting.
Please note: Again, we’re not trying to be some expert mastering guru’s or the final word on these things, we just like to share the knowledge and talk about things that interest us (music production being one of em)
FYI – we only master our tracks in order to play out or send to labels to make the best first impression. Basically any music that is being charged for or finalised, we always have an external engineer master it for us (you can’t beat a fresh first impression from another set of ears) .
Setting up the project:
We like to work in 24bit – 48khz audio this is for the added resolution and extra headroom that is available. Instead of waffling on for 20 pages about this, here’s a link that goes in depth on the subject 16 bit Vs 24 bit
We’ll import 3 copies of our premaster (highest resolution wav with no master processing)
Line up all 3 tracks and then insert a high quality EQ with linear phase functionality on each channel. Here’s more info on Linear phase EQ and will help explain why we use it
1st track – low pass to 150hz
2nd track – hi-pass to 150hz and low pass to 1800khz
3rd track – hi-pass to 1800khz
We now have 3 tracks split into LOW | MID | HIGH – thanks to the linear phase EQ you won’t get any phase issues with this method 😉
Then we’ll group the 3 tracks together and label accordingly.
Now we’ll find a load of tunes that have been pro-mastered that we really like, preferably tonally / dynamically similar, at least 3 or 4 different tunes. Then import these tracks into their own channels and line them up so they’re in time with our tune (it makes it easier when switching to have everything in time)
Then you can group these ‘comparison tracks’ to make them easier to manage.
On the comparison group – insert 3 linear phase EQ’s at the same frequency ranges as before. Then you can switch between these EQ’s to hear just the bass, just the mid, just the highs or bypass all 3 and hear the full tune.
We’ll then set up 2 send channels (one for Mids one for highs) and apply a high pass linear phase EQ at about 400hz to the mid Send and about 4000khz to the high send. – this allows you to keep things tidy in the frequency ranges for the sends.
Then finally we have a channel with the original premaster as a standalone channel just for reference. There will be no processing or anything on this channel, it’s just to check original against master.
Because the ears naturally compress at loud volumes and react differently at quiet volumes, it is important to set the levels of your comparison tracks to the same output level as your premaster (I repeat, set you’re a/B tracks to the same level as your premaster, not the other way around) This is important as you won’t have wild level fluctuations when switching between tracks a lot, you’ll get a consistent volume, which stops your ears getting fatigued.
We use Izotope’s Insight to use the K-System for metering (here’s a useful write up on the system and why you should use it for electronic music/modern music)
The meters on this Analyser are insane (and expensive) so we use the LUFS meter to get a really accurate reading of the overall volume of a tune., set the channel volume for each of the A/B tracks to match the premaster group – We can now switch between each of the A/B tracks and the premaster without any level changes at all.
We’re now ready to start applying processing to each band independently.
In the next post, we’ll go over how we apply EQ and compression to get things sounding niiiice!
Any questions, thoughts or ideas, share em in the comments 😉
Thanks for reading
Danny & Matt