Today I embark in teaching you how to master Big Room House. Mastering is a very tricky portion of producing music as many people believe it's the secret to a loud and fat mix.
While mastering does play a huge role in this I do recommend that you make sure your MIXDOWN sounds adequate or else your Master won't be as effective as it could be.
As we begin with this tutorial please keep a few things in mind.
Every Master Will Be Different
This chain while good can be replaced with Third Party Plugins or your other favorite plugins
This is one way of doing it, there are other ways as well
Mastering will only help if your track has a good mixdown if it's bad we won't be able to fix it.
I have not done any stereo imaging in this master as I did all that in the mixing stage.
We will be working with this track
Step 1 Compression
Compression is a very very simple audio effect but very difficult to grasp due to the nature of our music.
I recommend that if you do not understand compression you watch this video from my good friend Julian Gray.
In our master compression will help in BRINGING the whole track together.
This will make your track sound more TIGHT and less Loose.
In your track you are going to have various elements like drums, leads, basslines, and many more other elements that will have their own dynamic range.
Compression will help glue it together by lowering the dynamic range on the whole track to bring every element to a common dynamic range.
Ofcourse we don't want to over do it as overdoing it will cause your track to sound flat and lifeless. (lose a lot of low end as well)
The first thing we will be adding is going to be an OTT Multiband Compressor that can be found in the audio effects section of Ableton
We will be reducing the DRY/WET down to 10% and pulling back on the high MID and LOW green box.
It should look like this at the end.
WHAT IS THIS DOING?
The reason I decided to use the OTT preset from the Multi-band Compressor inside of Ableton is because it will be compressing Downward and Upward.
Downward compression will be making loud sounds quieter.
Upwards Compression will be making quiet sounds louder.
I find OTT helps add a nice lift to the whole mix of the track and also helps our track stay loud without overdoing the compression.
OTT if used at 100% will be too much so stick to ranges between 5%-20% and play around with the Downwards Compression (DARK GREEN/BLUE BOXES).
OTT is also an amazing compressor to add color and that's why we use it here.
If you are looking for a more "analog mix" then I would suggest you avoid this step altogether as this is a very digital sounding compression. You can use the SSL by Waves compressor or even just use the standard normal compress from Ableton however you won't get the same lift as I have just shown you from it.
2ND STAGE OF COMPRESSION
Thought we were done with compression ?
In this track I will be applying another stage of compression using the Glue Compressor from Ableton this time.
Every compressor you run across will have a different algorithm and some will give a different vibe to your track.
The OTT while an amazing compressor is used more for adding color to the track.
In this stage of compression we will be lowering dynamics on the whole track to get it sound a little bit more tight.
We will be using the Glue Compressor from Ableton to do this.
For the glue we want to set the attack (how fast the compressor reacts to the threshold being reached) to around 3-10 MS and the release (How long it takes for the compressor to stop compressing after threshold has stopped being hit) to around .2MS.
You will use the Threshold until your Glue compressor hits around -2-7DB Gain reduction. (Measured by the needle you see on the Glue Compressor)
You will makeup however much gain reduction you do.
So if you compress and lose 3db you will make up for 3DB .
What is this doing?
The Glue compressor will be reducing dynamics downwardly and glueing everything together similar to the OTT but this one isn't used for color and gives a tight feeling.
You can use any other compressor or skip this stage if you think your track is compressed enough.
Step 3 SATURATION
Saturation is the act of adding Harmonic frequencies to whatever signal you are applying it too.
Instead of boosting the high end of your track it's better to sature to add that high end as the frequencies you will be boosting will be harmonic to your track.
For this tutorial we will be using the A Bit Warmer Preset from Abletons Saturation
We will just be using it between 5-12% WET depending on your track.
You can add more if you think it needs it but be careful as too much will result in a distorted and overly bright mix.
What Is This Doing?
The a bit warmer preset uses a Sinoid Fold type of Saturation to add harmonic frequencies to our tracks. You will notice the track will not change much but it gives extra excitement by providing alot of needed frequencies for your track to sound full.
This is meant to be done very slightly but you can push it harder if you didn't saturate as much in the mixing stages of your track.
If you have Fabfilter Saturn you can also use that to add harmonic frequencies to your music.
STEP 3 EQ Corrections/Removing
One of the last steps will be to add EQ Corrections and remove some unwanted frequencies from your track.
Why did we save the EQ for this step?
The reason we save the EQ for this step is because if our EQ is put at the beginning of our chain we will be adding back frequencies we removed during the saturation stage(boost harmonic frequencies).
For our EQ we will be removing all the low end frequencies from 30HZ DOWN
Remove all the HIGH Frequencies we can't hear for this track it's gonna be around 18.7 KHZ
Remove at 250hz which usually produces a very muddy resonance.
What is this DOING?
We are removing all frequencies below 30HZ because from my experience this produces a very unwanted rumble on big club speakers. Anything Below 30HZ is also not hearable by many monitors so if we can't monitor it then we remove it.
The high frequencies will be removed as we can't hear frequencies that high so we just remove them (You can see this done a lot in EDM MUSIC).
The 250HZ Removal is just somethjing I do on all the Masters as it's a very dirty frequency range.
IMPORTANT: NOTE HOW I'M NOT REDUCING LIKE CRAZY or boosting like crazy. ALSO RIGHT CLICK ON THE EQ EIGHT AND USE OVERSAMPLING MODE.
Yes you can use the Engineerings LOW PASS filter if you believe that the low cut will cause phase issues in your track. You can also use FABFILTER PRO Q2
STEP 4 GETTING IT HELLA LOUD
Our last step in this journey will be to finally LIMIT our track to the desired loudness. For this track I'm gonna aim for around -5 LUFS which is LOUD!
Now this is where I'm gonna give you guys one of my most kept Ableton Secrets. (BECAUSE YOU READ THIS FAR) (I also only teach stuff like this to my Patreon Apprentices)
As we know the Ableton Limiter is really shitty on getting a track loud. It may be good at preventing clipping but when boosting it distorts your song too easily.
So How do we bypass this?
We will be using the Ableton GLUE Compressor for this step with a fast attack and a fast release to act as a limiter.
We will also activate softclipping turning it into a BRICKWALL Compressor. ( Means it won't clip).
We will boost the loudness of our track with the makeup gain until we reach our desired loudness (or until it distorts).
What is this doing?
This will be limiting the track preventing it from clipping and at the same time getting it to our desired LOUDNESS. The SOFTCLIP Features at the top right is the secret to this little limiter as it prevents the clipping you would otherwise see. Make sure the RATIO IS SET TO 4-10
Ofcourse you can use the AOM INVISIBLE LIMITER, FABFILTER PRO L ETC....
First off let me state a few things about this Master. The master i have just shown you is one that works for this track because all my stereo imaging was done in the mixing stage. All my saturation was also done in the mixing stage so all we did was compacted the track to sound well and tight together to produce a good result.
I also want you guys to keep in mind that all this was done using Stock Plugins from Ableton. You don't need third party plugins to get a good master.
Think of third party plugins as a luxury in our world that gives you extra choices of getting different sounding masters.
In the end they all get you to a correct result ;).
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