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Practical Mastering

Book Description

Guiding you through the history and emergence of modern mastering techniques, then providing practical hints and tips on how to use them in your set up, Practical Mastering is the book for anyone interested in tackling this elusive art form. Providing you with sold mastering theory underpinned by years of professional experience and hands-on advice for getting the most out of your set up while honing your ears to efficiently and effectively listen to your mixes in order to create perfectly polished master tracks.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Table of Contents
  6. About the Authors
  7. Dedication
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. 1.1 An Introduction to Mastering
    2. 1.2 The Role of this Book
    3. 1.3 Can I Master in [Insert your DAW Name Here]?
      1. Knowledgebase
    4. 1.4 The History and Development of Mastering
    5. 1.5 The Early Days
    6. 1.6 Cutting and the Need for Control
    7. 1.7 Creative Mastering
    8. 1.8 The CD Age
  10. Chapter 2 Mastering Tools
    1. 2.1 Introduction
    2. 2.2 The Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
    3. 2.3 A/D and D/A Converters and the Importance of Detail
    4. 2.4 Monitoring
    5. 2.5 Mastering Consoles
      1. A – Series of Input Sources
      2. B – Input and Output Level Controls
      3. C – Signal Processing – Including Cut Filters, M/S and Stereo Adjustment
      4. D – Switchable Insert Processing
      5. E – Monitoring Sources
    6. 2.6 Project Studio Mastering
    7. 2.7 Project Studio Mastering Software
      1. Apple WaveBurner
      2. SoundBlade LE
      3. Steinberg Wavelab
    8. 2.8 Mastering Plug-Ins
      1. iZotope Ozone
      2. Universal Audio Precision Series
      3. IK Multimedia T-RackS 3
      4. Waves L-316
    9. 2.9 An Introduction to M/S Processing
    10. 2.10 M/S Tools
      1. Using Stereo Plug-Ins in M/S Format
      2. Dedicated M/S Plug-Ins
    11. 2.11 Essential Improvements for Project Studio Mastering
      1. Acoustic Treatment
      2. Monitoring
      3. Conversion
  11. Chapter 3 Mastering Objectives
    1. 3.1 Introductory Concepts
    2. 3.2 Flow
    3. 3.3 Shaping
    4. 3.4 Listening
      1. Listening Interface and Quality Benchmark
      2. Knowledgebase
      3. Listening Subjectivity Versus Objectivity
      4. Holistic, Micro and Macro Foci in Listening
      5. Listening Switches
    5. 3.5 Confidence
    6. 3.6 Making an Assessment and Planning Action
    7. 3.7 Assessing Frequency
    8. 3.8 Assessing Dynamics
    9. 3.9 Assessing Stereo Width
    10. 3.10 Assessing Perceived Quality
    11. 3.11 The Mastering Process
    12. 3.12 Capture
    13. 3.13 Processing
    14. 3.14 Sequencing
    15. 3.15 Delivery
  12. Chapter 4 Controlling Dynamics
    1. 4.1 Introduction
    2. 4.2 Basics of Compression
      1. Threshold
      2. Ratio
      3. Attack and Release
      4. ‘Auto’ Settings
      5. Knee
      6. Gain Makeup
      7. Beyond the Basics
    3. 4.3 Types of Compressor
      1. Optical
      2. Variable-MU
      3. FET
      4. VCA
    4. 4.4 Compression Techniques
      1. Gentle Mastering Compression
      2. Over-Easy
      3. Heavy Compression
      4. Peak Slicing
      5. Glue
      6. Classical Parallel Compression
      7. New York Parallel Compression
      8. Multiple Stages
    5. 4.5 Using Side-Chain Filtering
    6. 4.6 From Broadband to Multiband
    7. 4.7 Setting up a Multiband Compressor
      1. Step 1: Setting the Crossover Points and the Amount of Bands
      2. Step 2: Apply Compression on All Bands to See What Happens
      3. Step 3: Controlling Bass
      4. Step 4: Controlling Highs
      5. Step 5: Controlling Mids
      6. Step 6: Gain Makeup
    8. 4.8 Compression in the M/S Dimension
      1. Compressing the Mid Signal
      2. Compressing the Sides of the Mix
    9. 4.9 Other Dynamic Tools – Expansion
      1. Downwards Expansion
      2. Upwards Expansion
  13. Chapter 5 Refining Timbre
    1. 5.1 An Introduction to Timbre
    2. 5.2 Decoding Frequency Problems
      1. Broad Colours – The Balance of LF, MF and HF
      2. Balance of Instruments
      3. Unwanted Resonances
      4. Technical Problems
    3. 5.3 Notions of Balance – Every Action having an Equal and Opposite Reaction
    4. 5.4 Types of Equalizer
      1. Shelving Equalization
      2. Parametric Equalization
      3. Filtering
      4. Graphic Equalization
      5. Phase-Linear Equalizers
      6. Non-Symmetrical EQ
    5. 5.5 A Journey Through the Audio Spectrum
      1. 10–60 Hertz – The Subsonic Region
      2. 60–150 Hz – The ‘Root Notes’ of Bass
      3. 200–500 Hz – Low Mids
      4. 500 Hz–1 kHz – Mids: Tone
      5. 2–6 khz – Hi Mids: Bite, Definition and the Beginning of Treble
      6. 7–12 kHz – Treble
      7. 12–20 kHz – Air
    6. 5.6 Strategies for Equalization
      1. High-Pass Filtering
      2. Using Shelving Equalization
      3. Understanding the Curve of EQ
      4. Combined Boost and Attenuation
      5. Controlled Mids using Parametric EQ
      6. Cut Narrow, Boost Wide
      7. Fundamental V. Second Harmonic
      8. Removing Sibilance
    7. 5.7 Selective Equalization – The Left/Right and M/S Dimension
      1. Equalizing the Side Channel
      2. Equalizing the Mid Channel
    8. 5.8 Subtle Colouration Tools
      1. Non-Linearity
      2. The ‘Sound’ of Components
      3. Phase Shifts
      4. Converters
    9. 5.9 Extreme Colour – The Multiband Compressor
    10. 5.10 Exciters and Enhancers
      1. Aphex Aural Exciter
      2. Waves Maxx Bass
  14. Chapter 6 Creating and Managing Loudness
    1. 6.1 Introduction: A lust for Loudness
    2. 6.2 Dynamic Range in the Real World
    3. 6.3 All Things Equal? The Principles of Loudness Perception
    4. 6.4 Loudness, Duration and Transients
    5. 6.5 Loudness and Frequency
    6. 6.6 The Excitement Theory
    7. 6.7 The Law of Diminishing Returns
    8. 6.8 Practical Loudness Part 1: What you can do Before Mastering
      1. Simple, Strong Productions always Master Louder
      2. Don’t Kill the Dynamics – Shape Them!
      3. Understand the Power of Mono
      4. Control your Bass
    9. 6.9 Practical Loudness Part 2: Controlling Dynamics Before you Limit Them
      1. Classic Mastering mistakes No. 1: The ‘Over-Limited’ Chorus
      2. Moderating the Overall Song Dynamic
      3. Moderating Transients with Analogue Peak Limiting
      4. Controlling the Frequency Balance with Multiband Compression
    10. 6.10 Practical Loudness Part 3: Equalizing for Loudness
      1. Rolling Off the Sub
      2. The ‘Smiling’ EQ
      3. Controlling Excessive Mids
      4. Harmonic Balancing
    11. 6.11 Practical Loudness Part 4: Stereo Width and Loudness
      1. Compress the Mid Channel
      2. Attenuate Bass in the Side Channel
    12. 6.12 Practical Loudness Part 5: The brick-Wall Limiter
      1. How much Limiting can I Add?
      2. Knowledgebase
      3. Setting the Output Levels
      4. Multiband Limiting
    13. 6.13 The Secret Tools of Loudness – Inflation, Excitement and Distortion
      1. Sonnox Inflator
      2. Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machines
      3. Universal Audio Precision Maximizer
  15. Chapter 7 Controlling Width and Depth
    1. 7.1 Introduction
    2. 7.2 Width
    3. 7.3 Surround or No Surround? That is the Question
      1. Surround-Sound Formats and Current Mastering Practices
    4. 7.4 Stereo Width
    5. 7.5 Phase
    6. 7.6 M/S Manipulation for Width
    7. 7.7 Other Techniques for Width
    8. 7.8 Depth
    9. 7.9 Mastering Reverb
  16. Chapter 8 Crafting a Product
    1. 8.1 Introduction
    2. 8.2 Sequencing
    3. 8.3 Topping and Tailing
    4. 8.4 Gaps Between Tracks and ‘Sonic Memory’
    5. 8.5 Fades on Tracks
    6. 8.6 Types of Fades
    7. 8.7 Segues
    8. 8.8 Level Automation
      1. Knowledgebase
    9. 8.9 Other Automation and Snapshots
    10. 8.10 Stem Mastering
    11. 8.11 Markers, Track iDs and Finishing the Audio Product
    12. 8.12 Hidden Tracks
  17. Chapter 9 Delivering a Product
    1. 9.1 Introduction
    2. 9.2 Preparation
    3. 9.3 International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)
      1. Knowledgebase
    4. 9.4 The PQ Sheet
    5. 9.5 Barcodes (UPC/Ean)
    6. 9.6 Catalog Numbers
    7. 9.7 Other Encoded Information
    8. 9.8 CD-Text
    9. 9.9 Pre-Emphasis
    10. 9.10 SCMS
    11. 9.11 Delivery File Formats
    12. 9.12 DDPi and MD5 Checksums
    13. 9.13 CDA as Master? Duplication V. Replication
    14. 9.14 Mastering for MP3 and AAC
    15. 9.15 Delivery
    16. 9.16 Final Checks
  18. Chapter 10 DAW Workflow
    1. 10.1 Introduction
    2. 10.2 Method 1: Track-Based Mastering in a Conventional DAW
      1. Importing Audio
      2. Songs to Tracks
      3. Instantiating Mastering Plug-Ins
      4. Rendering Pre-Master Files and Applying Fades
      5. Final Delivery
    3. 10.3 Method 2: Stereo Buss Mastering in an Unconventional DAW
      1. MClass Equalizer
      2. MClass Compressor
      3. MClass Stereo Imager
      4. MClass Maximizer
      5. A Word of Caution
  19. Chapter 11 Conclusions
    1. 11.1 The Art of Mastering
    2. 11.2 Technology as a Conduit
    3. 11.3 Head and Heart
    4. 11.4 An Evolving Art Form
  20. Index