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Mix Rescue | Media

Spektakulatius - The mastering stage By Mike Senior

Spektakulatius: With last month’s mixes in the bag, our engineer was tasked with finding and working with a mastering engineer to put the finishing touches to both albums.

These files accompany the Mix Rescue article in the August 2015 issue of SOS

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Audio Examples

The audio files available on this page accompany my Mix Rescue article in SOS August 2015 about the mastering of two albums by the band Spektakulatius (www.spektakulatius.de) with Ian Shepherd of Mastering Media (www.mastering-media.com). Here are some notes to describe exactly what you’re hearing in each case.

I’ve provided the files as 24–bit WAVs with the gain of all the mastered 16–bit files reduced to allow more meaningful comparison between them and the unmastered mixes. For more information about the recording and mixing of this project, check out SOS June 2015’s ‘Session Notes’ article, July 2015’s ‘Mix Rescue’, and my extra resources page at http://www.cambridge-mt.com/rs-ch10-case1.htm.

  • FluteRemix1_MixDraft1

Here’s a section of my original mix of ‘Weihnachtsumtausch’, one of the more obviously retro–sounding cuts from the Spektakulatius Christmas album. Because I’d been concentrating on getting the electric piano and flute to blend with the bass and drums, I hadn’t noticed properly that the flute timbre was a bit thin. When Ian had a preliminary listen to the songs prior to mastering, he immediately pointed this out, and suggested I remedy it with a quick mix tweak.

  • FluteRemix2_MixDraft2

In response to Ian’s feedback on my original mix of ‘Weihnachtsumtausch’, I returned to my mix project and noticed that I’d high–pass filtered the flute with a cut–off frequency at 320Hz. Backing this off to 230Hz gave the instrument more body in the mix, as you can hear by comparing this audio example to the FluteRemix1_MixDraft1 audio file.

  • FluteRemix3_Master

This is what the same section of ‘Weihnachtsumtausch’ sounded like in its final mastered version.

  • EndFadeRemix1_MixDraft1

This is the end of my original mix of the Spektakulatius song ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’. As you can hear, the piano and bass hold their final chord for rather a long time, with the piano dampers only closing down at around 0:25.

  • EndFadeRemix2_MasterDraft1

The final chord you can hear in the EndFadeRemix1_MixDraft1 audio file was clearly too long within the context of the final master, so Ian initially tried curtailing it using a fade–out and by editing the piano damper noise so that it appears earlier, at around 0:20.

  • EndFadeRemix3_MixDraft2

Listening back to Ian’s first–draft master, I felt it sounded too short and abrupt. However, I also realised that the nature of my original submitted mix had made it pretty tricky for Ian to achieve anything smoother, so I returned to my mix project and generated a new version with a less hurried–sounding ending, which was only possible by re–editing each instrument’s recorded track separately.

  • EndFadeRemix4_MasterDraft2

Here’s the ending of ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’ in its final mastered version, based on my updated mix with its revised fade–out. Compare it to the EndFadeRemix2_MasterDraft1 audio file and decide for yourself if you prefer the more relaxed fade.

  • VoxEQRemix1_MixDraft1

The vocal sound in my original mix of Spektakulatius’s ‘Come On–a My House’ was a bit congested in the lower mid-range compared with the other songs on the album, although this wasn’t that obvious during the mixing process.

  • VoxEQRemix2_MasterDraft1

In the first–draft master of ‘Come On–a My House’ the clouded vocal tone became much more obviously incongruous within the context of the final CD running order, and was also emphasised a little by some low boost Ian had applied to this track with his mastering EQ.

  • VoxEQRemix3_MixDraft2

To clarify the vocal timbre in response to Ian’s first–draft master of ‘Come On–a My House’, I returned to my mix project and bounced out a new mix version with an additional vocal–EQ cut at 200Hz.

  • VoxEQRemix4_MasterDraft2

Here’s how my re–equalised vocal sound came across in Ian’s final mastered version of the song.

  • ReverbRemix1_MixDraft1

In my original mix of Spektakulatius’s ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t’, a section of which you can hear in this audio example, I’d overplayed the reverb levels a touch. Listen in particular to the way the reverb hangs around between the sax stabs.

  • ReverbRemix2_MasterDraft1

While generating this first–draft master of ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t’, Ian used an MS processor to increase the level of the stereo Sides signal by a decibel or so, which only increased my impression that I’d applied my reverb over-enthusiastically in the original mix.

  • ReverbRemix3_MixDraft2

Realising that Ian wouldn’t easily be able to remedy the over–reverberant sound of my original mix simply by processing the stereo file, I decided to return to my mix project and bounce out a new version of the mix with a couple of the reverb returns turned down a decibel or so, as you can hear in this audio example.

  • ReverbRemix4_MasterDraft2

This is the final mastered audio of ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t’, and if you compare it to the ReverbRemix2_MasterDraft1 audio file you can hear that the reverb now feels significantly more controlled.

Published August 2015