Mastering on a Budget and Free

The point of this post is to go through a cheap way of mastering , for those with a low budget that want to get a demo mastered before sending it to labels or for net labels looking for a way to master artists music at a reasonable cost.
The term Mastering is given to the process of taking an already mixed down audio file and preparing it for distribution for multiple formats such as CD, Vinyl and Streaming. During this process tools such as limiting, compression and equalisation are used to ensure the consistency between multiple tracks on an album, where your music will sound good on all platforms such as headphones, monitors and a sound system in a venue.
A thing to remember is that Mastering wont fix a bad Mix , its essential to work on your mix down while creating a good stereo image. I have a post on some mixing tips , which can be read here.

Mastering on a Budget

There are many ways to get your music mastered with a mastering engineer being the best option available , generally expensive ( around $50 a track ) but being able to communicate with an engineer during the process is invaluable along with the results achieved.
One of these methods is the use of online mastering services, where a website will allow you to drag and drop your music and get your audio file ready for distribution within minutes.
CloudBounce is one of these services that uses a mastering engine to both analyse and apply several processing tools, such as a compressor , limiter and stereo imaging to your music , which also allows you to tweak your music several times before finalising.
24 bit Wav and 320kbps MP3 will then be available to you for distribution, although I personally dont see any point in mastering down to MP3 as it is not a lossless format.
With this service , your first track will be free then you can get 5 tracks mastered for under $10 or an infinite amount mastered for under $30 a month or $199 for the year (these options would be ideal for Net Labels on a budget).
Online services wont replace an actual mastering engineer but CloudBounce gives great results on a budget, its worth signing up and getting your first track mastered for free , id you are happy with the results then you can get an additional five tracks done for under $10.

Free Mastering Plug in

A simple master can be achieved in Ableton using an effects chain, which contains tools which are used by mastering engineers , this Ableton mastering tool is available for a free download , its ideal for mastering stems in preparation for a live set or getting your tracks as close to being mastered as possible. The To master in Ableton , simply drag and drop the effect into you master channel.

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I can send this effects rack to anyone for free if they want, just leave a comment below.
My next post will be a tutorial and free download on another Audio Visual device for Ableton Live.

The new mastering engine is here. Get that crystal clear & airy sound for your tracks.

Mixing Basics & Tips

Ive decided to write a quick post on some basics and tips aimed at people just beginning to write music that have helped me with mixing down music , I intend to cover this topic more extensively soon along with some tutorials on electronic music production , mostly concentrating one specifics such as side chaining , reverb , programming  electronica/IDM beats and many more. For now Im just going to go through some tips which I found useful over the years , this were both learnt in college and things I generally have done in the studio for years.

1. Trust your ears

When using music recording software , it is so easy to rely on our eyes rather than our ears when mixing down. What I usually do is start the project file from the 4th bar , giving me a few seconds of silence before for play back and to also quickly ensure that new elements or changes are happening every 4th, 8th, 16th, 32nd, or 64th bar. Closing the laptop screen slightly , I sit in the sweet spot and listen to the mix , I find that errors are quickly found this way , it could be a timing issue of something or that something is not sitting well in the mix well due to a clash of frequencies which leads me to the next topic EQ.

2. Equalization

The correct use of EQ can be the difference between a muddy sounding mix and a great sounding one. There are several charts available displaying the ideal frequency ranges of instruments but generally I would use my ears for this while sometimes referring to the chart below.

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The point of the chart is to show what frequency range each instrument lays and where a sound can be enhanced depending on what is required. For example with a hi hat/cymbal , to make the sound bright you would boost the frequency between 8-12kHz. Below I have included two screenshots of how I EQ a Kick Drum and Hats , generally I would have two kick drums in my mix .

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Kick Drum
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Hi Hat

The reason the kick drum is cut off at around 2kHz is because from there to 20kHz is generally un-used for this instrument , it also allows room for another instrument which would be in this frequency range. Putting it simply the Kick drum is predominantly in the bass range and the Hi Hat is in the treble , by EQ-ing both accordingly will create a nice clean mix , each instrument would be given space to breathe.

3. Structure

This is something that some musicians have an issue with and I was one of them. To fix this carefully listen to a genre which you are trying to create (house, electronica, techno) and break down the track , then by placing a track from an artist of your required genre into your session file, copy their exact structure while you are mixing down. I found this really helpful , I intend on doing a full post on structure within the next week or so.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and learnt something that you can take with you to the studio, thank you for reading and feel free to comment and follow the blog.
The next post will be a tutorial and another free download of a Max for live Jitter device for Ableton Live.

The new mastering engine is here. Get that crystal clear & airy sound for your tracks.

An Introduction

Im an electronic musician who has recently graduated from Limerick Institute of Technology . Over the years I`ve developed an interest in digital art and in the relationship between electronic music and video.
An avid user of Ableton Live , Cubase 8 , Max MSP Jitter/ Max for Live and Processing. I Intend to post screenshots, videos and audio clips of my work and blog about Music Production , Mixing and Mastering Techniques, digital art and the odd tutorial.

Feel free to follow and comment on posts , thank you for reading

The new mastering engine is here. Get that crystal clear & airy sound for your tracks.