Browsing Tag

mastering

Learn Seven Ways to Make Better Masters

Mastering is often perceived as the murkiest and most impenetrable stage of the music production process. But our with these tips and techniques to make better masters, hopefully we can get you off on the right track. Mastering forms an integral part of our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree, with a dedicated module and more tips and instruction as part of our Art of Mixing and Advanced Mixing modules too. For a taster of what there is to learn, we bring you seven helpful tips to get you on the way to making better masters for your tracks.

  1. Quality in, quality out

The first step on the road to a great master is a great mix, so if you approach the mixdown half-heartedly, thinking you can make up for it at the mastering stage, you’re coming at the whole thing from entirely the wrong direction. The mix should sound essentially ‘finished’ before you render it as a stereo audio file for mastering, with all the dynamics wrangling, EQ shaping and stereo spatialising of every track and bus done and dusted. And when it is time to hit the Export button, remember to remove any mix bus limiting and leave yourself around 6dB of headroom (ie, have the master output peaking at -6dBFS), to give your mastering plugins room for digital manoeuvre.

  1. Reference, reference, reference!

The importance of A/Bing your in-progress project with carefully chosen reference tracks when mastering simply can’t be overstated. You might think your ears are as golden as they come, but even the most experienced mastering engineers will constantly compare the mix they’re working on to other tracks in the same genre, ensuring consistency with proven artistic and commercial standards. It’s good practise to maintain an up-to-date (ie, refreshed over time as the sound of your genre of choice evolves) collection of reference tracks that you both love and know inside out, sonically speaking; and plugins like Sample Magic’s Magic AB and Mastering The Mix’s Reference can make the process of comparing them to your own masters effortless.

Magic AB from Sample Magic will dramtically help you reference tracks

  1. Welcome to the future

There are some incredible mastering-orientated software processors on the market these days, some of them using artificial intelligence and other such sorcery to actively assist you in your engineering. iZotope’s industry-leading Ozone 8 mastering suite, for example, introduced the Mastering Assistant feature, employing machine learning to apply automated EQ and dynamics sculpting to your master, based on genre-specific profiles or an imported reference track. Then there are various ‘matching EQ’ plugins, including IK Multimedia’s Master Match (available singly or as part of the superb T-RackS 5), FabFilter Pro-Q 2 and the one built into Ozone 8. These extract a representative frequency curve from one or more reference tracks, then impose it on your master using spectral processing and EQ. As long as these powerful tools are used as guides rather than definitive ‘set and forget’ solutions, the results they deliver can be truly spectacular.

iZotope Ozone 8’s Mastering Assistant feature uses machine learning to apply automated effects

  1. Don’t overdo it

The most frequently made mistake on the part of the novice mastering engineer is the over-application of compression; the second most frequent is the over-application of EQ. Mastering is mostly about these two particular processes, of course, and approaching either of them without knowing what you’re doing is more likely to damage your mixes than improve them. We can’t teach you everything you need to know here, but if you find yourself cranking the ratio control on your mastering compressor higher than 2:1, you’re probably going too far – head back to the mix and sort whatever dynamic issues you think you’re hearing there instead. Similarly, the need for EQ boosts of more than about 1dB anywhere in the frequency spectrum imply that the mix is unbalanced, so load up that DAW project and take another pass.

  1. Analogue or digital?

Whether to build your mastering chain using analogue-style plugins (or hardware) or the super-transparent processors that only software makes possible will depend on the colouration of the source mix, the amount of corrective compression and/or EQ it needs, and, of course, the kind of sound you’re looking to achieve at the end of the road. For example, if the track has been recorded and mixed using analogue gear or tube-emulating plugins, you might want to keep your mastering effects as unobtrusive as possible, in which case, transparency is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you’re dealing with a sterile, fully in-the-box production, the warmth added by a real or virtual analogue chain can prove transformative. You can, of course, combine the two as well: follow your flawlessy transparent linear phase EQ cuts with an analogue-style limiter, say.

T-RackS Vintage Compressor is one of hundreds of analogue-emulating VSTs that can give you that warm glow

  1. Mastering reverb – handle with care

If you’re really confident in your aural judgment and a particular track feels like it might significantly benefit from it, a very light touch of reverb at the mastering stage can add effective depth, space and air. Obviously, you’ll want to use the highest quality reverb unit or plugin you can get your hands on for this, and extreme caution must be taken in terms of setting the length, dynamics and frequency shaping of the tail. If at any point you get even a fleeting sense that your reverb is incongruous or just too much, dial it back or take it out altogether, and consider going back to the mix instead. And to be absolutely clear, reverb at the mastering stage should only be used to work in a little bit of ambience, never as a frequency or level balancing tool.

  1. You don’t have to do it yourself

Mastering is an art unto itself, requiring not only in-depth technical knowledge of the gear and specific engineering techniques involved, but also – ideally – years of experience. Although mastering suites like Ozone and T-RackS put the tools required to produce amazing masters in the hands of anyone with a few hundred quid to spare, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hiring an expert to do it for you, especially if the project is important and/or potentially money-making. Online mastering services from big-name studios such as Metropolis, Abbey Road and Real World are affordable, convenient and guaranteed to yield top notch results – and most even let you discuss the mastering process with your assigned engineer via Skype or phone, adding an invaluable educational element into the deal. Certainly worth considering while you’re learning the mastering ropes for yourself.

We hope you find this list helpful, but no article can compare to the proper instruction you will receive when studying the craft. As well as the aforementioned degree programmes (also available online), we teach two shorter courses that cover mastering in London, the Mixing and Mastering award, and Audio Mastering. If you have any questions about any of these courses, or would like to book in for a studio tour, please contact us on +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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Sample our Brand New BA (Hons) Online Degree Programme | Week 4: The Art of Mixing

If you’re looking to get a taste of what it’s like to learn on our innovative online platform, here’s your chance! We’ve now updated our sample courses to include a taster of our new Online BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering degree course. The course consists of eight modules included in the full online degree programme, designed to give you a taste of what you can expect when you study online with us. This is the fourth week of eight in which we’ll be giving you a taste of what each module entails, as well as showing you one of the videos from the corresponding module’s course materials. Don’t forget, we also have a host of online courses besides our BA (Hons) degree programme covering music production, sound design and much more – head here for our full range of online courses.

In week four we take a look at one of the most important aspects of making music of any kind: the mix. At the end of the module, students will gain knowledge of balancing, panning, EQ, aural perception, compression, limiting, gates and effects, plus a myriad of tricks and hints from working industry professionals. For the free sample course, you can take a look at three pages from the module using both Ableton & Logic. The first looks at corrective compression, which smooths peaks in volume leaving a much smoother sound. The second looks at convolution reverb – essentially sampling real or virtual spaces, for a more roomy reverberation. The third looks at using a high-pass filter: cutting the low end from instruments and components that pick up baggage from the room or effect manipulation. Take a look at the video above for a video introduction to the high-pass filter in Logic Pro.

To take the sample course yourself, head here, and get a flavour of the quality, style and content you can expect when studying online with Point Blank. Remember though, this is only a taster – to get the full experience complete with live interaction with tutors, forum interaction with fellow students and assignment feedback, you’ll have to enrol on a live course!

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Sample our Brand New BA (Hons) Online Degree Programme | Week 4: The Art of Mixing appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Join Us for the next PBLA Open House w/ Brian Markman: December 7

We’re back with another PBLA Open House event at our gorgeous location in the Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles. Point Blank Los Angeles will be open to the public on the evening of December 7, giving anyone curious about the school, or our courses, the chance to get the answers they need right from the mouths of those who teach them. PBLA expert instructor Brian Markman will be giving a special masterclass on how to have a powerful workflow with Ableton Live, from the studio to the stage. Also, take a tour of our home in the famous hundred-year-old studios and get a look at the state-of-the-art equipment we exclusively use. All you need to do is click attending on Eventbrite to book your place.

Join PBLA instructor Brian Markman for Powerful Workflow with Ableton Live: from the Studio to the Stage. Markman began his career over 12 years ago playing records in acid jazz clubs before becoming one of the US’ most notable champions of drum & bass, which he used to play at raves around the country. In 2011 he became an Ableton Certified Trainer and he now teaches engineering, production and performance. For this very special masterclass, he will be bringing hardware synthesizers to the table as well as demonstrating different racks and set-ups in Ableton Live, looking at both production and performance.

The full itinerary for the event is as follows:

7:00pm: Open House arrival, welcome and meet the instructors
7:30pm – 8:15pm: Powerful Workflow with Ableton Live Masterclass with Brian Markman.
8:15pm – Close: Prize giveaway / networking /  tour

Don’t forget, to grab a free place at the event you’ll need to RSVP to the Eventbrite page here.

Thinking of joining us at PBLA? We offer more introductory courses in production and DJing, plus more advanced courses in audio mastering and the art of mixing. You can mix and match any of the three-month classes we offer and take up to three at the same time. For more information, contact a course advisor or, if you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660. If you’re calling internationally, use the number +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Join Us for the next PBLA Open House w/ Brian Markman: December 7 appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Watch Live Point Blank Masterclasses From Sonopro in Barcelona

Earlier today, Point Blank Creative Director JC Concato kicked off the Future Music Forum (FMF) international music conference with two masterclasses, one in mixing and one in mastering. This series of masterclasses was free to attend for all Future Music Forum Delegates as a three way partnership between Point Blank, Sonopro and FMF.  This is just one of many events Point Blank has been a part of this year, with our instructors holding workshops and masterclasses all over the world at events including Sonar +D, Seazone, Palm Expo & IMS Colllege Malta.
For the first masterclass, JC discussed mixing, drawing on his extensive industry experience to share his essential tips and tricks. Using seminal Trip-Hop group Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ as an example, JC detailed how he uses effects and employs classic mixing techniques to ensure he gets the best blend out of the stems, which were recorded in an exclusive session at our London School as part of our BA (Hons) Music Production and Sound Engineering degree.
For the second masterclass, JC shifted the focus to mastering, using recent Point Blank Music release ‘Hold On’ by Revilo as the demo track. Discussing his typical approach to mastering and listing some his favourite plugins, JC answered questions from the audience as the masterclass progressed, giving them a 360 view of the mastering process.

Want to learn more about mixing, mastering and other production techniques? Our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree is one of the most comprehensive music courses out there, on which you can also learn everything you need to know about music production. We also offer an online alternative, in the form of our new online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree, on which we are offering a 25% discount plus a free copy of Ableton Suite/Logic Pro X until September 30th. For more information, contact our course advisors on +44 20 7729 4884. If you are a resident of the USA, you can reach us on 323 282 7660.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Watch Live Point Blank Masterclasses From Sonopro in Barcelona appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

Music production software & gear – Spring selection

Between innovation and synergy! Our most wanted newly released music production software and hardware.

2016 has begun with innovation and creativity in mind. The music production industry is constantly energized by new products and technologies that combine the core concepts of music with new and immersive strategies. And as spring is already knocking at our door with a fresh breath of inspiration and energy, we have selected 3 new products that have impressed us. Just take a look.

Lurssen Mastering Console

Our favorite product so far this year is the new and revigorating Lurssen Mastering Console. Created with experience and usability in mind, the software is all about offering you the best sounds and inspiration regardless  of where you are.

iOS Lurssen Mastering Console - Music production gear

The collaboration between renowned Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen proved to be a revelation. Combining both experience and a clear and unique specific Lurssen sound, the console brings a new approach to the concept of digital audio mastering.

The software is the perfect combination of tube equalizers, limiters, solid state equalizers and solid state compressors. As a plus, it comes with 25 unique templates called “Styles” so you can test different musical themes and layers in your music production techniques.

And what’s best is that it comes in two versions, based on your needs: an iPad app (ready to be used whenever inspiration hits) and as a Mac or PC software. You don’t even have to worry about the devices that you will use after your mix is ready. Thanks to a 88.2/96kHz DSP processing, your finished track will sound perfect in any format (AAC, WAV, FLAC).

We were so convinced that we tried the free trial just to take a glimpse of what the Console holds in store. For more information about features and pricing please visit:

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/lurssen/index.php?pp=lurssen-versions

 

MEL9 Tape Replay Machine

Vintage sounds are back in business! Taking roots in the unmistakable and unique sound of vintage analogue keyboards, MEL9 was just released and aroused our interest.

Emulating the classic Mellotron sounds, the device offers 9 unique inputs. From Orchestra to Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Low or High Choir, Saxophone and Brass the MEL9 was designed with sound in mind.

Created for guitarists and musicians in general as a portable and practical device, the MEL9 combines the classical sound of polyphonic tapes with the modern world. After all it’s demo video speaks by itself:

 

BioTek Organic Synthesizer

Organic is also a trend in 2016. And what better way to combine the core concept of nature and its musicality than a unique synthesizer. BioTek Organic was just released and introduces a new platform (Acktion) that we are eager to test.

Combining sounds taken from nature or even urban places, the device offers a unique and memorable range of opportunities. Although it seems a bit futuristic, the synthesizer is actually easy to use and intuitive. Gravitating around a single-screen user interface the synthesizer is dominated by soft controls and an XY controller.

Already regarded as the perfect synergy between nature and technology the device has really impressed us. You can get a better feeling about this impressive concept below: