Master metering questions

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supanorton
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Master metering questions

Post by supanorton » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:10 am

I've imported a few track from professionally mixed and mastered recordings to compare master meter levels with my own stuff. I've noticed that the professionally done stuff will have high peaks (right up to zero) in the center of the master meter but much lower peaks on the right and left sides of the master meter, almost never peaking into the yellow.

My music is often into the yellow on the left and right sides of the master meter (obviously part of the reason it doesn't sound as good as it could). How do I tame those left and right levels? What are they actually measuring?

Thanks in advance for any help with understanding this.

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by Anthony Alves » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:09 am

Hi Supernorton, the master meter is showing you both peak and RMS meter values. The reason that mastered comercial cd's peak and RMS values will be made to have no digital overs and you can use the Mastered for iTunes plugin to correct these values. You need to control your gain staging durring your tracking and mixing and you cannot bring in a heavely Limited mix to be mastered as it has no headroom and will force you to use even more limiting which will put you into digital overs. Keep your mix track down -10 to -20db and keep the master meter well below -6db for your mastering headroom. More even if the music is acoustical or classical. Cheers and hope that helps.~~_/)~~~*

supanorton
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by supanorton » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:59 pm

Thanks, Anthony. That makes sense. Never really paid much attention to the discussions about headroom; I'm excited to get to work on the new mixes.

Bob Amser
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by Bob Amser » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:03 am

I have a terrible habit of maxing out my levels. Comes from a background of noisy analogue recording (at least that's my excuse) and I always end up having to reduce levels and struggling with going into the red, or over compressing.

Next project will be under strict rules of no maxing out levels during tracking :lol:
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Johow
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by Johow » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:18 pm

Bob Amser wrote:I have a terrible habit of maxing out my levels. Comes from a background of noisy analogue recording (at least that's my excuse) and I always end up having to reduce levels and struggling with going into the red, or over compressing.

Next project will be under strict rules of no maxing out levels during tracking :lol:

In Auria, you can always go into the edit menu and reduce the gain on tracks to add headroom in your mix.
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Tourniquet
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by Tourniquet » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:12 am

This is some very helpful stuff. Good thread!

wigglelights
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Re: Master metering questions

Post by wigglelights » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:54 am

Supanorton
I don't mean to presume your experience level, so I apologize if this is old hat to you.

I think mastering is best thought of as optimizing a mix for it's intended delivery medium. In the pro world, mastering has traditionally been done by an engineer that specializes in it, and not by the band or engineer that did the mix. From what I've read, when LPs were mastered the tracks required different EQ based on the location on the LP, as the inner tracks could not support low end as well as the outer tracks - yikes!
Once digital recording became the norm, and CD as delivery medium, mastering began coming much more extreme. Google "the loudness wars" for background on this.
But the result is that as listeners we have become used to having every mix in our face, and we as one man composer/musicians are faced with understanding a very technical process to get our recordings into a place where our listeners can judge our music on it merits rather than "it's dull sounding".

Understanding that mastering is the final step - as Anthony mentioned, it is super critical to MIX at conservative levels, just kissing the yellow at the loudest parts of your song.
When you are at that point, inside a DAW mastering is done on the master fader by adding plugins. Usually this is EQ, compression, expansion, multiband compression, sometimes a bit of reverb. There are all the tools you need in Auria if you have built up your Auria plugin stash.
Indeed, since mastering is such a specialized step, there are dedicated apps for this process that have the aforementioned processing in one place. On iOS I've had good luck with FinalTouch, and there are others. And certainly in the desktop world there are a plethora of plugins dedicated to the mastering task, (I bought into Izotope Ozone, and it was a good piece more than the $20 I spent on FinalTouch!).
Keep in mind though, there is no easier way to screw up a mix than mastering! Be subtle, compare a lot....
There are a couple of channels on youtube I found really helpful for getting my head around mastering - recordingrevolution and modermixing. These are using desktop systems, but the concepts of how it works are the same regardless of equipment or software.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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Re: Master metering questions

Post by supanorton » Sat Jul 11, 2015 7:17 pm

@wigglelights
Thanks for taking the time and effort to be so thorough. I appreciate it.

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