So, I’m at work on an album to be released this year, and I have begun delving into the mastering process. I decided exporting the stereo .wav to a Master session in ardour is a good option. I’ve done a lot of research into pre- and post- mixing and mastering, finding many recommendations for -6db to -4db peaks on a mix before applying mastering. I loaded a couple commercial songs into my mastering session for reference, and am finding that they all ride up around +1db to +3db according to my peak monitor in Ardour. How does this equate to a 0db limit? How should I adjust limits to compare with other professionally mixed and mastered material? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
“they all ride up around +1db to +3db according to my peak monitor”
A full explanation would require filling in a lot of sampling and signal processing theory. I’m not sure what your background in those areas is, if you have at least some knowledge already then “inter-sample peak” and “true peak meter” would be some good search terms to start with.
The short version is those recordings were attempting to maximize perceived loudness and were willing to tolerate considerable distortion in pursuit of that goal. That approach is not recommended, and with recent trends in automatically reducing playback amplitude to normalize perceived loudness by things like television broadcasters and YouTube and Internet streaming services it may not even provide a benefit in perceived loudness, so you just end up with more distortion for no real benefit.
“How should I adjust limits to compare with other professionally mixed and mastered material?”
That can be a tricky question. My first response is do it right rather than compare to professionally mastered material, because the pursuit of loudness at all costs that was the trend from early 1990’s through early 2010’s has run its course. Depending on use and expected audience you may be forced into some compromises, but as a starting point I would suggest mixing for high dynamic range at first, and only compromise when you have to.
For background info you can get a lot of good information here. Start with the two Level Practices articles, and the Loudness War: Peace is Almost Here article:
All the tabs across this page:
Many of the documents mentioned on the “Standards” tab at the TC Electronic page can be downloaded here:
If you just want some guidelines on how to mix, read the Level Practices part 1 and 2 articles at digido.com, put a K meter on your master bus and follow the guidelines in Level Practices part 2.
Hi folks. A silly question: did anybody use a online service like emastered or sorta? I know there’s a quite little control on it compared to mastering by ourselves
Another question. I’ve read some stuff about mastering and referring to programs like Master Mix and/or the plugins by Mike of overtonedsp, and what I understood is I should import in Ardour the mixed .wav of the final song, and place the vst in the Master track below the fader. Is it right? But I saw some videos and they use both Ardour and Qjack to connect Master Mix (or JAMin). Since the latest Ardour don’t need to start Qjack in advance, can I grab the plugin directly from inside Ardour?
Thank you and sorry if I made a mess. I’ve learned quite some about Ardour but mastering is new.
@telover: You can use plug-ins inserted onto the master track - you can arrange them pre / post fader depending upon your processing requirements and you shouldn’t really need to go outside of Ardour (unless you need to e.g. route to external hardware processing).
and it’s probably best to avoid using JAMin.
Thanks alot for the explanation Mike. I’ll probably give it a try. So, just to pick one, if I get the AF2-10/M Graphical EQ Plug-in I load it in Ardour in the master track and adjust the parameters I need to.
In the meatime I’ve downloaded a bundle for trying. One thing: inside the PTC-2A and FC70 amd64 folders, there are two files: JACK and VST. I imagine I have to install the VST, right? Is the JACK file used to make it work as standalone?
Thank you again
Just in case the timezone differences make it difficult for Mike to respond quickly, yes, the VST is what you want for use as a plugin, the JACK version is a stand alone application that you can connect with Jack to whatever else you want (could be useful for example if you have some audio path you want to equalize from an app that doesn’t support plugins).
Thank you cc, I’ve checked in the folders and I understood it’s a standalone version. I’ve tried them and they’re quite good. Though (I hope I’m not swearing) the PTC-2A and the FC70 can substitute each other, can’t them? I’d inclined to use these plugins in the recorded tracks, for example in the bass track, drums track, and so on.
Then, once mastering, maybe using the AF2-10/M Graphical EQ. Any comment and/or help it’s well accepted.
Obviously I wanted to write “I’d be more inclined” above. Dyslexia at its max
I imagine I have to install the VST, right? Is the JACK file used to make it work as standalone?Yes - as ccaudle also mentioned, the VST is the one you need to use in Ardour, the JACK versions are standalone applications.
the PTC-2A and the FC70 can substitute each other, can't them?The PTC-2A emulates a classic Pultec style vintage EQ, while the FC70 is based on the Fairchild 670 Limiter, so, they're not really functionally interchangeable (if I understand you correctly).
I'd inclined to use these plugins in the recorded tracks, for example in the bass track, drums track, and so on.You can certainly use them on individual tracks - the manual describes some signature settings for the PTC-2A which work well to give the low-end some punch, without sacrificing detail, which would be ideal on e.g. a kick drum - though the PTC-2A / FC70 is also a great mastering combination (I'm aware of at least one professional recording engineer who uses them this way)