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How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby Zukan » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:21 am

Is it you rapping on those tracks?

Maybe it's me, and that wouldn't surprise me, but I hear a low end that is not defined. To me it is a little muddy and woolly, much what Sam has noted. The mids to highs are okayish but it's the low end that's letting you down.

Loved that first song even though I'm not into mumble rap.

Send it to Sam. Let him work his magic. Or, grab the Elf for a day. He'll enlighten you in ways others cannot.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:01 pm

Zukan wrote:Send it to Sam. Let him work his magic. Or, grab the Elf for a day. He'll enlighten you in ways others cannot.

Or send it to Zukan - he's being too modest here but he'll do a great job too.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby samwashere » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:33 pm

Hey guys, just woke up. Thank you for all your great feedback, a couple things I was wondering:

- can someone explain headroom?

Also I'm new to the forum, so I'm not sure how everything works here in terms of sharing work, can i just directly message wave files and mp3's? If so, let me know what parts you would like me to send. I could either send individual stems of a particular instrument (so for instance the muddy 808 with no plugins on it, and hear what its like before/after someone treated it).

I also could send the entire mix, prior to mastering it. I'll start sending some personal messages to find out exactly. Thank you so much again though, everybody on here has been very helpful :clap: :thumbup:
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:50 pm

samwashere wrote:- can someone explain headroom?
The bottom line - what is the maximum level your recorded tracks (e.g. vocals) peak at?

Your DAW will tell you peak levels, either as a 'properties/information' option, or as a 'peak hold' number by each track's fader.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby Kwackman » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:50 pm

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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:51 pm

samwashere wrote:Also I'm new to the forum, so I'm not sure how everything works here in terms of sharing work, can i just directly message wave files and mp3's?

You'll need to put them up somewhere like Dropbox/One Drive/Google Drive and then send a link to the file to whoever wants it. Some people use Soundcloud but that only allows you to share mp3's so won't be so good for uncompressed original mixes.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:02 pm

James Perrett wrote:
samwashere wrote: Some people use Soundcloud but that only allows you to share mp3's so won't be so good for uncompressed original mixes.

Not 100% true. The standard playback is a 128 kbps mp3 file (which SoundCloud always create themselves, regardless of the uploaded file quality. But if you allow downloading of the track by others, (Edit> Permissions> Enable Direct Downloads) then the download option is for the original quality file. Also make sure the track has public access.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby samwashere » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:44 pm

The Elf wrote:
samwashere wrote:- can someone explain headroom?
The bottom line - what is the maximum level your recorded tracks (e.g. vocals) peak at?

Your DAW will tell you peak levels, either as a 'properties/information' option, or as a 'peak hold' number by each track's fader.

I'm not sure of exact levels however I make sure its never clipping or hitting the red zone so to speak. I have never attempted to hit a certain peak, usually when recording vocals I will run them through a CLA-76 compressor to add a slight bit of tightness and tame any super let loud words or phrases as well. Also to add some makeup gain.

I am by no means a professional producer or recording engineer so I've just experimented with several recording techniques and found this one to be the easiest method.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:04 pm

That compressor in the recording chain is ringing alarm bells with me. Time, I would say, to acquaint yourself with the basics of gain management and reading volume meters. There's no point in trying to guide you with peak level targets if those levels mean nothing to you.

Where are you based? As others have said, this could all be sorted by a couple of hours with someone like myself or Zukan.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:51 pm

To be clear - there is absolutely no value in recording through a software compressor. I suspect you are recording too hot.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby samwashere » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:19 pm

I'm based in Nova Scotia, Canada. I'm actually set to meet with a local producer at a studio here on Thursday to talk about mixing etc. but I wanted to post here in the meantime in hopes of working through it myself.

I've heard not to use compression when recording however the style of music i'm recording is mainly rap and autotuned rap or pop style vocals so I find a bit of compression helps, there is never any peaking I've noticed. Maybe I should go back and revisit things, and read up more on recording hip hop/rap vocals..
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:00 pm

It's not about not using compression - it's about not using *software* compression. To do anything meaningful you need a hardware compressor ahead of the audio interface.

I would forget about reading up about 'rap vocals' and just read up on recording and audio basics. Without the fundamentals you don't have a solid foundation to work from. A basic understanding of gain-staging, digital audio and basic levels will help massively and stop the guesswork that I believe is probably tripping you up right now.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:56 pm

Actually nothing about the mix that the OP has posted suggests any problems with gain structure to my ear. It isn't wildly out of kilter and nothing is obviously clipping.
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:40 pm

But, as an aside, if you do want to delve a little deeper into vocal production, I definitely recommend this tutorial set from Eddie Bazil (aka Zukan): https://samplecraze.com/product/vocal-p ... sterclass/
And it's got £5 off at the moment! :thumbup:
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Re: How do I get that professional sounding high end on my master?

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:58 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:Actually nothing about the mix that the OP has posted suggests any problems with gain structure to my ear. It isn't wildly out of kilter and nothing is obviously clipping.
I'm not saying it's the one and only problem, but you need to start at the beginning! Some fundamentals need to be in place if this guy is going to help himself out of the problems he's hearing. Without the fundamentals that's not easy.

Straining the audio chain on the way in may be skewing the recording from the very start - it doesn't need to have obvious clipping to make a difference. Faders get raised, plug-ins are pushed hard, other stuff is added louder to compensate, faders get raised, D/A is strained and mix choices are made based on all of this, faders are raised... I've seen it happen many times. It's hard to know, obviously, but to sort this out you have to start from the very beginning of the chain. If we can be sure we have clean recordings then we can move to other options.

And I'd second the vote for Eddie's guidance!
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