today i've got a very special but different tutorial for this channel which is going to be a mastering start to finish video as you can probably tell from the title this should sit really well alongside my other mastering tips videos sort of like five steps to master a song quickly but this is going to be a look at the start to finish uninterrupted process many months ago i was in california helping my friend david the workday release record an album and now it's time to master it and i thought that we would take you along for one of the songs you can actually download part of the mix to sort of follow along with the same sort of settings i'm using but obviously with the plugins that you have all of the information about the song which should be released by the time i've published this video i'm filming this all in advance all of that information is in the description box as usual it's going to be quite a long video because you're going to see every single step of the process but let's just get right into it first thing i've been spending the last 10 15 minutes before turning the camera on just listening to music that i love streaming it off cobus or spotify it's really important to get into the mood for this because it's a creative process and just turning a camera on and doing this would be quite sort of robotic so i feel in the right space to do this i've loaded the project up i've saved it named it and just as we get a few more things set up i've got a folder with everything i need for this mastering job all the mix files folder for the renders references the project it's really important to stay organized with mastering i might be asked in two or three months to make a revision maybe david gets the song signed in a

tv commercial or something and i need to go back and export it at different levels with a different sort of you know eq or whatever it's just important that i can pull that up for the client it's very professional keeping everything clear anyway let's pull in the mix files that i need i've already listened through to the song from start to finish and we found a couple of little things that needed tweaked so this is mix b1 i also have an instrumental mix and a mix with the vocals i love having these because if i find issues i can then address where they came from and give david and the mix engineer some more feedback so let's pull in the mix that we need and i'll also pull in one of the reference tracks for this mix that we're going to use for the loudness and for the overall feel and then we'll get listening to the reference track first just while i set up name a few things in this project so let's get going [Music] now i'll just take a listen to the mix we're working on [Music] [Music] cause i've been holding [Music] so i can hear comparing the two um i don't need to do a whole lot of work to it but i do need to get a certain tone on the vocals needs to match that other track a little bit more i want to bring a little bit of sort of brightness into the vocals especially those harmonies on the side and i really need to be careful to preserve the low end of this track because the the low end really pushes this chorus through not in the way that you know some sort of hip hop or trap you know 808 feel would be in the low end but there's just a lot of power here let's take a listen [Music] i don't want this to get too sort of crispy or crunchy so let's open up some metering plugins while we listen to the reference again let's just go [Music] back so that's the sort of loudness i want to aim for and let's go back to our mix [Music] so this is just used as a reference i'm going to be pushing the track to its maximum

loudness potential but uh julian loudness meter just helps me out so much it it tells the absolute truth about how loud something actually is um not just how loud you perceive it to be and a lot of mastering is about perceived loudness as much as it is maximal peak loudness there's quite a few things you can do to push the to push how loud something feels especially uh adjusting the top end i also want to take a quick video uh just to show i'll just switch onto this one here this is my interface and it gives you lots of different sort of view modes so you've got to find something that works for you whether it's digital meters in your daw vu meters db meters scopes like this you find something that works for you and again just learn it so often through the tutorial i've just sort of been darting my eyes down here just to you know check the levels and whatnots something to do before loading any more plugins is i'm just going to select the master fader here and i like creating an automation clip for this this is for the fades at the start and the end you can add fades onto the audio clip but i like adding the fades after the limiter after all of the processing just to make sure that it absolutely cuts everything to zero and there's nothing trailing off at the start or end and once this is this is again sort of a boring thing but it's really important and at the end i will listen in very closely to make sure that this cuts away as i want because if you make it too steep like this it can sound very very unnatural let's take a listen [Music] that sounds really good to me no problem there the mix engineer cut it where it really should have been cut which is good sometimes you can get you know an extra 30 seconds and as a mastering engineer you have to choose where to cut it and that often depends on how the next song starts cool so let's go to a louder section and start loading some plugins and say a lot with lies [Music] i've loaded some of the plugins i'm going to use now it just turns out that they're all part of ozone 9 because i have been using ozone 9 for years i'm a customer i'm not like

sponsored by them or anything it's just what i've got used to but whether you're using your tokyo dawn labs stuff whether you're using fab filter waves whatever tools you have or stock plugins whatever you're using just use the stuff that you know best i'm going to use an equalizer and then two stages of limiting i really want to push this limiting transparently my main goal here is to pull the loudness up to a similar level as the reference without crushing this without adding a whole lot of extra saturation i was there when we recorded it it has a ton of compression on it loads of beautiful analog gear was mixed through a lovely api console it doesn't need a whole lot extra character and texture i want to preserve that without crushing it so the first thing i'm going to do is just an eq just as a little bit of sort of like housekeeping i suppose i always put it into mid-side mode and let's just get listening and i will explain what i'm doing with some titles so i can say you've got to be really careful i mean i can i can hear huge differences in the shape of the low end when i change that filter slope or slope type if you're just putting on a high pass and you can't your speaker system or headphones don't really let you hear the difference that makes um it would probably be best trying to you know listen in like a good pair of headphones or something um because this is so important uh to mix translation outside of the studio uh that you get this step right and i really can't cut much away from this or it just starts taking all of the the warmth and and sort of guts out of the low end i'm going to go to the side channels because i want to cut slightly more low end out of the side channels and i also want to boost the top because i can hear all these harmonies that i'd really like to pull up through using this eq [Music] this is just the sides all of those beautiful harmonies i just want to pull those up on the side channels a little bit and cut the low end now i might not cut it you know completely like this maybe just a little bit or just a little dip like this we'll see what sounds best i just don't need so much of that on the side channels but i don't like them getting too thin i think it's important to have you know a good amount of stereo bass information i think it sounds really cool just very very exciting and

and it helps the speaker it helps the sound stage sort of engulf you a little bit so that the the sides are not just too fizzy and too bright but let's take a listen to this um and we will turn the eq on and off i'll go back to the mid channel and we'll bypass it like this just see which one we prefer [Music] say [Music] and some of these eq moves look quite big but you know this is just 0.8 of a db just on the top end just on the side channels it's not a huge move this eq maybe makes it look like i'm boosting 3 or 4 db it's not the case but for now it really doesn't need much more when i start mastering and you know have to start doing lots of bits and bats like this going up and down it starts getting a little bit sort of worrying because that would suggest that the mix had some big big issues in it but luckily the mixing engineer here has done a fantastic job so i don't have to hunt around finding loads of problems i do hear a little bit of congestion in the low mids that i might need to deal with but we'll just see how the limiter sounds with all of that in it anyway so the reason i'm using two limiters here the vintage limiter and the maximizer is because i don't like making one limiter do too much work uh if i i'm going for transparency and if i make one limiter do 10 dbs of gain reduction it is never going to sound transparent um all of those kick drums and snares are just gonna gonna disappear or they're gonna be very very highly crushed so let's open the loudness meter and let's go and i'll go to analog mode because i know i like this one true peaks and i'll just pull the

threshold down a little bit just to get a little bit of a little bit of gain reduction but not much [Music] with life [Music] [Music] i love the way that sounds it's really it's not crushing it yet just helping me get that volume up without killing it so let's just leave that one where it is and we'll go to the maximizer there's a lot more settings on this which are are much more important firstly it's very important that true peaks are on i'm going to set the ceiling to minus 0.3 or 0.4 db don't just copy exactly what i do i have a mastering tutorial where i show that oftentimes it's better to go to minus 1 or even -2 but for this particular project we've chosen what we want i like this limiting mode here it's very cpu intensive but it just sounds so much better i don't like running any of this stuff in demo mode it's better to have a computer or adjust your computer settings so that it can cope with playing this back in the highest quality because as a mastering engineer you need to hear the full quality however as a quick tip i would say i really like the modern mode here i'm i have to admit i don't particularly know exactly the differences between them i assume transient reacts to transient material better but i like the sound of the modern one and you'll hear you'll hear me adjusting the fast and slow parameter i like getting it as fast as possible because i find it releases very quickly but without distortions if you push it too too low here you will get lots of audible distortions so let's take a listen i'll stop talking and we'll try to get the loudness into the right kind of ballpark i'm using this short-term loudness integrated but mainly i'm trying to use my ears to see whether it's just sounding crushed and wrecked so let's get to it [Music] so right now it sounds loud and if i just bypass it it will

sound better because it's louder [Music] but if i turn it down [Music] it is sort of taking away those kicks a little bit i don't really like what it's doing so i'm going to push the character a little bit faster and see if that addresses that problem um there is a loudness sort of gain match here which could be quite useful so let's use that [Music] [Music] i like sort of bypassing without looking at the screen helps me decide whether i like what i'm seeing or like what i'm hearing but i do i do like this i think it's fine the one thing i might adjust is the stereo independence this makes the limiter react differently to transient and sustained material depending on whether it's center or side no not center or side left or right channel i believe um either way you push these you should be able to hear quite a big difference and you just decide whether you like what you with hear [Music] [Music] it's interesting how the transient emphasis brought a lot of that snare back let's just take a listen if i push this up and down really take a listen to that snare it's very interesting what it did to it i'm not sure if i like it but let's take a listen [Music] it's definitely doing something so i might push the amount of that up a bit again i might go back and change this later especially after taking a break um cool let's go to the dithering section i know for this one well usually i should say 44.1 16-bit dither that is going to be extraordinarily high quality going to a higher bit depth you know 24 and going to a higher sample rate say 96 or k or what not that's not going to give you an audible increase in quality in fact if you increase the sample rate it may actually decrease the audible quality for many reasons i'll explain all in the description down below but i'm going to go for 24 and the reason for this is because it's going to be this particular master will be used for music videos and i've found that the video editor the client is using sounds much better when i provide a dithered 24-bit output which is really weird but it's just a quirk of that software so again this is these are the sorts of things you learn when you've been in the industry for a little while you find out exactly what your client needs however for uploading to spotify or qobus or tidal or whatnots i may well provide just a 16 bit 44.1 k dithered wave file okay cool so this particular one needs 24 but don't copy this by any means i like the medium and i like the high or medium noise shaping it tries to push the dithered noise out of the out of where you can really hear it where your ears are most sensitive um there's no way a comparison turning this on and off will be able to be heard on youtube unfortunately but this is why you have the file yourself you can test these sorts of things for yourself so i'm going to close the loudness meter i'm going to take a quick listen to a quieter section of the master now just to hear that it hasn't killed it [Music] i say a lot with thunder but honestly it's smoke this might actually be all it needs so what i'm going to do is select everything and i'm going to do a quick export so let's just quickly export this wav file i'll export it into the renders now i'm just going to call it say a lot with light sometimes you use your own initials like mw master and then i always write 48k 24 bit artists and labels they they might find it a bit tricky to go in find all those file properties and find out exactly what the sample rates are for every single track you submit i find it's much easier and kinder to just write exactly what you've got uh there and then i usually go like 0 1 or i'll write like rev a or something revision a because this will never be final they'll always be something the artist will always come back and they'll want they'll just want to shape the low end a little different or maybe they've had a different idea than or they've asked the mix engineer to make a change and then i need to remaster it so give it some sort of tag so you can find out what it was and never ever label it final master because that is just you know preparing yourself for the worst it will definitely not be the final mastery if you name it final master cool let's save that 24 bit stereo i've gone over all of this in an export video for fl studio i actually made one with them um or for them uh so if you want to know exactly about fl studio exporting you can you can watch that video but your daw will be different to mine anyway so let's press start and i will not make you wait uh through all of this don't worry i'll skip ahead so that's now exported and as you can see it's called sail up with light it's got the right title the right artist name i hope i spelt that right um and let's just drag it back into the project so i'm going to turn off all the master effects and i'm going to send this to track let's say track 3. this is the master and now i can compare it to the reference in terms of overall loudness and just see what it sounds like so let's take a listen [Music] i mean their sound stages are completely different but i think if you were to switch between the two songs it's not going to be a massive difference in volume of any part this mastering process is usually very quick it's taken a little bit longer because i've talked through and explained some steps but the next thing to do is take a break i've been listening to this for probably about 10 or 15 minutes in a row that's that's enough that my ears have lost uh you know their freshness and their their good judgment on it so i'm going to take a small break and then i'm going to listen in my consumer headphones which is just a pair of like bose headphones and then i'm also going to do a quick car test and we'll see what it sounds like [Music] that probably sounds terrible on the the phone here but the point of a car test is just to hear the music where you normally listen to music so i listen to a lot of music in the car but if you don't and you only listen in you know

headphones or earbuds that's what you should be doing your sort of car test on it's just that a lot of us spend a lot of time listening to music when we're driving in the car so we know what it sounds like and this one this one sounds good i've always wanted to say this in a video so back to the studio that all went surprisingly well so the next step and final step is to really take a nice sort of quiet listen through to the whole thing i'm doing this on my speakers because my room is silent and it's pretty well treated but i'd recommend doing this in headphones as well this is your final check before you send it off to the client or the label you better catch everything so make sure you're listening on a system where you can hear the distortion you can do this inside your daw or inside your music player just whatever sounds best to you and when it starts to vanish i prefer to be alone i've been waiting on someone who's truly one million to one so i can say and say a lot with lies [Music] i've been waiting on someone who's truly one million to one so i can say it so i can say and say a lot with light i really like it i like the way that eq helped boost those vocals on the side as well you can really hear it on the harmonies at the end so for now i'm gonna just sit with that then what i would do is probably take a day away from it or at least a few hours then come back and listen to it just to make sure that i'm really happy with the way that lifts into the chorus and there might be something you miss but for now to send this file to the client or label i would put it in its own folder zip that folder it's really important that you compress it because if not sometimes things can go wrong with the file transfer and then i tend to use a service like dropbox or google drive or wii transfer to transfer the files i i tend to like dropbox because it seems to be really easy for me from that point you know they might ask for a revision you might have overdone it with some of the processing they may

want you to try and push it even louder um and also just a word for people something on maybe the business side of it um i i really trust david i've worked with him for a couple of years now so i've got no no worries about this but you might only want to give away half of your master or 75 percent of it cut it off at the end send them back make sure they're happy make sure you get paid your fee or this last half of your fee and then send them the whole file um you don't want to you don't necessarily want to send a whole mastered file across if you haven't been paid for the work uh make sure that you like stand up for yourself and don't uh don't deal with people that won't pay you okay but uh thank you very much for watching hope you enjoyed it i hope you download the files and and test these things out yourself uh it was a bit different doing a sort of start to finish video not skipping over any anything at all and thank you to david of course for providing the mixes for everyone to work on thank you very much bye for now