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  • How to Master Your Music in 5 Simple Steps

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    Watch at: 00:00 / 00:00:20mastering is an incredibly importantfinal last step for your song before yousend it out into the world but it'soften completely misunderstood bybeginners this is often oversimplifiedor it's over complicated but in thisvideo I'm gonna be sharing five stepsthat should help you get started withmastering your own music and set you inthe right direction I also want to sayWatch at: 00:20 / 00:40before I start that I mean no disrespectto professional mastering engineers alot of these people have been masteringfor longer than I've even been alive andI do believe that one of the best waysto get the best result for your song isto actually hand over control of thisfinal process to someone who's veryexperienced and cares a lot about thefinal result they're going to be up todate with the latest industryWatch at: 00:40 / 01:00requirements and they're also going tohave the right equipment the right earsand the right taste to finish your songin the best way possible but for thoseof us who don't have that as an optionthis video should help you I also haveto say that I'm gonna be masteringexclusively on headphones today butthat's just for this tutorial so that Ican record my voice I would recommendusing studio monitors and headphones inWatch at: 01:00 / 01:20the mastering process so that you canreally hear everything that's going on Iwill be covering the five steps indetail in this video but just a briefoverview the first one is making surethat you have an aim for the project thesecond one is a final check so I'm goingto be showing you some things you cancheck for to make sure that your mix isactually ready for mastering the thirdstep is going to be looking at the tonalbalance of your song we're going to beWatch at: 01:20 / 01:40using frequency analyzers and EQ to makesure that your song is fitting itsenergy in the right places the fourthstep is going to be looking at anysweetening or any extra creative effectswe can add to just add something extrato the mix and the fifth step is makingsure that your song is appropriatelyloud and it's this fifth step that canoften be most confusing to beginners soWatch at: 01:40 / 02:00I'm going to be focusing on that inquite a lot of detail so let's getstarted so in this session I have afinal mix of a song here which is one ofour songs called nothing to lose andit's important to see that it doesn'tclip so there's no Peaks that arehitting anywhere close to zero there's alot of headroom here and that's whatwe're going to need for mastering I haveit sent to the master channel on themixer and on the mixer I have a fewWatch at: 02:00 / 02:20plugins I have an equalizer plug-in Ihave a couple of different limiters thatI'll show you later I have a tool calledtonal balance control from iZotope Ihave a loudness meter which is a freeloudness meter which I'll leave a linkto in thescription down below and i also have afree frequency analyzer called spam nowthe first step was having an aim whenWatch at: 02:20 / 02:40you're mastering what is your visionwhere are you going to distribute itbecause the way you master will changein each situation in this case my aim isto have this song translate well acrossall systems so whether you're listeningin ipod earbuds or great big speakerslike these I want it to sound good onjust about anything I want to make surethat it's loud enough and I'll talkWatch at: 02:40 / 03:00about that more later because oftenpeople push it a bit too loud and I alsowant to just have a final sort of stampof approval to make sure that I'm happywith the song this is also a good timeto try and motivate yourself and get alittle bit inspired because mastering isnot just technical it's a very creativeand musical process and you need to makesure that you're in that creativemindset when you're mastering so thatWatch at: 03:00 / 03:20you really do get the best result foryour song making sure your mind is inthe right place for mastering my soundssimple but it's often overlooked steptwo is a final check for your song andadding fades at the start in the end soI'm just gonna start by adding thosefades in so on the master Channel I'mjust gonna copy the value create anautomation clip then what I'm going todo is decide where I want my song toWatch at: 03:20 / 03:40start which in this case is here beforethere's any noise I want to paste in thevalue so that it's at zero at the topand I'm just gonna gently fade up itmight to make sure there's no click orpop anywhere the same is true here I'mjust going to listen to the decay taleof the reverbs and whatnotsand I'm going to choose where I want itWatch at: 03:40 / 04:00to fade away[Music]awesome so I'm just gonna start herepaste that value so that it never goesabove zero and then it's just gonna fadeaway so now that I've done that we'regonna start checking the song so whatyou need to do is listen from start tofinish without touching anything so youWatch at: 04:00 / 04:20want to press play at the start pause atthe end and you can't change your volumeyou can't tweak an EQ you can't doanything you need to listen from startto finish and be happy with the mix andthis is gonna take two things the firstis listening for any clicks pops hissconsonants on words s is anything thatgets in the way of this sounding reallygood this is your last chance to pick upWatch at: 04:20 / 04:40on any of those mistakesis there any clipping or any of myplugins distorting in in a bad wayanything like that is gonna require acouple of listens through so don'tlisten too loud and make sure thatyou're happy that there's no mistakes inthe song or any sloppy edits or anythinglike that the second thing is makingsure that you're happy like with thevolume and the balance of everything theWatch at: 04:40 / 05:00whole way through if when you're mixingyou were turning the volume up or downin the chorus you can't do that now youneed to be able to press play at thestart and listen the whole way throughand not feel like you really want toskip a part of the song or not feel likeyou want to turn the volume up or turnthe volume down it's really importantthat that sort of stuff is sorted out inthe mix and if you have a chorus that istoo loud it's best to take it down inWatch at: 05:00 / 05:20the mix before having to deal with it inthe mastering process now it's time forstep three which is adjusting the tonalbalance and this is going to be tryingto make sure that it works well on allsystems because sometimes if I mixsomething and it sounds great on thesebig speakers it doesn't mean it soundsgood on these or it sounds good in theheadphones I need to make sure that theWatch at: 05:20 / 05:40balance of frequencies is appropriate sothat it sounds good on all systems thiscan be a really good opportunity to usereference tracks which I talked aboutlast week so that you can listen tothose and really get a feel for theballpark of what frequencies there areand how much of them there are so yoursong might just have far too much bassit might just have far too littleWatch at: 05:40 / 06:00mid-range or something like that andlistening to other music and then a becomparing it to your music can help yourealize if there's a problem with yourmix and usually if that's the case it'sgood to go back to the mixing stage ifyour bass is super loud take it down inthefixing and that way when you do themastering it's going to make things alot easier but there are a few toolsWatch at: 06:00 / 06:20that can help us out here so the firstone is a tool called tonal balancecontrol from isotope and I really reallylike this tool even though I usuallytell people just to mix with their earsand not use visual tools too much thisone is particularly useful it gives youa broad and a fine representation of theenergies of each frequency in your mixI'll play a section of the song to showWatch at: 06:20 / 06:40you what's happening so what it'sshowing in each section is the relativeenergy in each of these frequency rangesso it's telling me that the low-end ispotentially a little bit too high butit's still within acceptable limits andthat the low mid high mid and high arealso sitting in the right place theseWatch at: 06:40 / 07:00lower and upper limits were set byanalyzing thousands of differentcommercial releases in categories suchas bass heavy modern or orchestral andseeing the sort of balance that theseprofessional mixing and masteringengineers were putting into their mixesif you are within the acceptable limitsit's more likely that your mix willtranslate across all systems if you haveWatch at: 07:00 / 07:20far too much bass it might sound reallycool on some systems but it might justfall to pieces on headphones or on adifferent system so it can be good touse this to get in the ballpark but ifyou don't have this what I wouldrecommend using is using span which isthe free frequency analyzer andcomparing it to as many differentprofessional mixes as you can becauseWatch at: 07:20 / 07:40while the tonal balance control tool isgreat it's not the be-all and end-all ofplugins it's really important to useyour ears compared to some real goodmusic you like it might have been a songyou mastered in the past it might befrom your favorite artist if you arehearing that there's a big differencebetween your mix and someone else'smixed this is where you want to takethat equalizer which was the first stepin the chain or the EQ and you want toWatch at: 07:40 / 08:00be doing very subtle boosts or cuts andI do mean subtle you don't usually wantto be doing more than a DB or so this isyou know subtle broad strokes you don'twant it to be making lots of littlenarrow cuts and boosts like this ifyou're doing stuff like this in themastering if you're having to do thatsort of thing during the mastering stageit's probably because there areWatch at: 08:00 / 08:20imbalances or resonances in your mixthat you could better deal with in themixing process but sometimes themastering process can highlightand the next step is to add a high-passfilter so the reason we're adding thisis because there's an awful lot ofRumble that builds up in the low endthat can't even be heard on most devicesmy headphones go all the way down tofive Hertz but most consumer audioWatch at: 08:20 / 08:40equipment doesn't go anywhere below 20some doesn't even go below 30 or 40 sowhat you can do is take a gentle highpass and just high pass everything belowabout 20 Hertz or so I'm going to showyou the difference this makes by usingspan so on span I'm sort of gonnahighlight the low frequenciesWatch at: 08:40 / 09:00so this is showing me the low end what'sgoing on this is showing me the lowestbass note which is at about 27 Hertz orso and all of this stuff here is justcompletely unnecessary I'm just gonnaplay the song and I'll engage the EQ andyou'll see those frequencies start to besuppressed a little bitWatch at: 09:00 / 09:20now depending on which EQ you use thisis going to react differently but tryingto clean up those frequencies is goingto give you just a little bit moreHeadroom later on it's going to allowyou to put some more energy into somemore exciting frequencies and it alsoWatch at: 09:20 / 09:40means that if your mix was played backin a system that went all the way downto five Hertz there wouldn't be anystrange or unusual resonances or sort ofpatterning or rumbling down in the lowend which could ultimately be quiteembarrassing because you didn't evenknow it was there when you were mixingthese speakers for instance these fiveinch monitors they do not go down allWatch at: 09:40 / 10:00the way to five Hertz so if I wasproducing on them there's no way that Iwould have been able to hear that stuffanyway step four is about trying to addsomething to the mix and I stress theword trying because a lot of beginnerswhen looking at mastering they load upsaturation they load up harmonic exciterstereo imaging all sorts of stuff to tryand make the mix sound better and IWatch at: 10:00 / 10:20would say just test out these things andreally try to see whether you you dofeel that it makes things better forinstance one might be trying to add alittle bit of harmonic excitement ortube saturation so I'm going to startwithtube saturation here and you know Imight I might want to add a little bitof saturation now my mix is already veryvery saturated I've got loads ofWatch at: 10:20 / 10:40distortions going on on all sorts ofstuff or I might want to add a littlebit of sort of harmonic excitement usinga plug-in like this[Applause]and this sort of stuff really should besubtle so I'm going to play it aroundI'll start with it on and then I'll turnit off and you might hear that you likeWatch at: 10:40 / 11:00the sound of it with or without[Music]now depending on the device you'relistening on whether it's headphones orspeakers you might have liked the soundwith or without and really tried to becritical here just because you've addedplugins doesn't mean it's gonna soundWatch at: 11:00 / 11:20better so try to be honest with yourselfand if you don't like the resultafterwards just don't bother with itit's fine remember that your mix has tosound good on its own and this stuff isjust trying to give it that extra of oneor two percent the next thing would betrying things like compressions sowhether this is multiband compression orjust using a buss compressor like thisyou might want to try using compressionWatch at: 11:20 / 11:40either to control the dynamic range orjust to add some sort of warmth orflavor to the sound in this case I'mjust going to start with a classic mixpreset and then I'm going to adjust thethreshold and ratio until I think itsounds goodWatch at: 11:40 / 12:00[Music][Music]the only problem with doing this is thatit's really difficult to gain match itwhen I turn it on and off gain is addedwhen it's on so I'll show you I'll startWatch at: 12:00 / 12:20with it onI would definitely have said it soundedbetter with it on but it also made itlouder so you have to try and adjust thegain on the output until it really isthe same volume and then you can hearwhether it's adding anything you likeand remember just be honest withWatch at: 12:20 / 12:40yourself no one listening to your musicwill know that you've run it through anysort of VST or analog equipment so youneed to make sure that you're listeningto it and liking what you hear when itcomes to compression it can be reallydifficult to hear what's going on as abeginner so just because it makes itlouder doesn't mean that it is actuallybetter and often compression can reallyWatch at: 12:40 / 13:00kill a mix there's this dial herehigh-pass filter and I had it set quitehigh when it set low what was happeningwas that my kick was being compressedand that was really killing the punchand energy of the low end but because itmade it louder it still sounded good butwith that high pass filter turned up thekick was getting through and not beingcompressed which sounded a lot betternow when the release was on auto it wasWatch at: 13:00 / 13:20really slow and it wasn't recovering himbetween the compressions so thecompression was acting and then it wasjust staying on so what I did was turnthe automatic off and set the release tofast so that it had a chance to recoverit because what was happening was thatthe snare would hit the compressionwould act it would stay on the nextWatch at: 13:20 / 13:40snare would hit then it would compressmore and the song was just gettingquieter and quieter so I had to turnthat off and set a fast release so thatthe song had a chance to recover fromthe compression and this is why I saidtry these effects as a beginner it'sreally important that you try thesethings try experimenting withcompression saturation harmonicexcitement but don't feel that you haveWatch at: 13:40 / 14:00to use it it's good to just test it messup all the dials find out what they'redoing then maybe reset the plug-in trythrough a few more presets and try tofigure out what's going on if you dothis sort of process song after songbefore you knew it you will startgetting the hang of plugins like thisand you'll start finding where the sweetspots are you'll start hearing what allWatch at: 14:00 / 14:20the different dials do to effect thesound and while you might not haveactually used it in mastering you'llslowly start becoming really good atusing this plug-in to the point whereone day you can use this plug-in inmastering to help improve your masterthe fifth and final step is going to begetting the song appropriately loud andthis is where we're going to be usingthis free plugin here which is the YulinWatch at: 14:20 / 14:40loudness meter andcan also use any other loudness metersyou have to compare against this don'trely only on one in this tutorial we'regoing to be using this one I've alreadydecided that this mastering is foronline streaming and the thing aboutonline streaming is that all of yoursongs on most platforms will be loudnessnormalized so that they will be playingback at around minus 14 l u FS the exactWatch at: 14:40 / 15:00values do change every now and again butright now most of the platforms are atminus 14 L u FS so you need an L u FSloudness meter to be able to hear thisthere's not a lot of point using rms orpeak loudness anymore you're gonna haveto use a meter that's calibrated to theindustry standard now this doesn't meanWatch at: 15:00 / 15:20that we have to make our songs at minus14 L u FS but what it means is thatpushing your song louder only for thesake of loudness isn't necessary anymorebecause if you push it louder they willjust take it down if you want to pushyour song super loud because you likethe sound of it then that is perfectlyokaybut if you're trying to if you'reWatch at: 15:20 / 15:40stressing about pushing your song reallyloud so that it sounds louder thansomeone else's song it's simply notgonna work for us anymore there areother tutorials on how to use theloudness meter such as this but we'relooking for the integrated loudness tomake sure that it's not much more than-14 l u FS so let's take a listen tothis[Music]Watch at: 15:40 / 16:00now I can see that my loudness ispotentially too quiet it is a verydynamic mix and what I can do now is getthe limiter to try and increase that soyou can use any limiter but there areones that are specifically made formastering for instance I have the ozoneWatch at: 16:00 / 16:198 limiter here and I also have thestealth limiter for the purpose of thisvideo I'm going to be using the ozone 8limiter the most important setting onthe limiter is to make sure that youdon't have the ceiling any higher thanminus 1 DB this is for various reasonsbut mainly for the conversions that thesites do if you have it louder thanWatch at: 16:19 / 16:40minus 1 DB it's going to induce moreartifacts and problems in your song andthen I'm going to lower the thresholduntil I'm sitting at around about minus14 L ufs[Music]Watch at: 16:40 / 17:00now the important thing is that there'sintegrated in short terms so the shortterm is the instantaneous but theintegrated is going to be across thewhole song or across a specific lengthWatch at: 17:00 / 17:20of time so it's okay to have the theloudest sections of your song pushing alittle bit louder as long as you do havequieter sections the average needs to bearound about minus 14 or so theimportant thing to know here is that youdon't need to slam your master supersuper loud if you're putting it onstreaming sites unless you like doingthat for the sound of it so in this caseWatch at: 17:20 / 17:40what I've done is I've prepared a fewexamples where I have different versionsof this mix and they're all goingthrough ozone at different loudness isso one is minus 14 all the way to minus7 which would be incredibly loud and I'mgonna play through them and at firstit's gonna be a little bit difficult topick which one might be your favoriteand it will probably sound like -7Watch at: 17:40 / 18:00sounds better because things startgetting a lot louder[Music]this is what scares people into wantingto make a really loud master but theWatch at: 18:00 / 18:20thing is your music is not going to beplayed back like this online so what I'mgoing to do now is lower the value ofthese ones until they are all at thesame Lu FS value so I've just spent afew minutes sort of painstakingly tryingto match those and hopefully YouTubewon't mess up this audio when I postthis and we're going to listen to thisnow and we're going to compare theversionsWatch at: 18:20 / 18:40[Music]you see now how it's not as easy to pickthe one that's your favorite becauseyou're not fooled by the loudness ofthis version this has been brought downWatch at: 18:40 / 19:00like it would be on a streaming site andnow what I actually hear in this versionis loads of distortion and really washymid-range and the snare the actual punchand dynamic of the snare just seems tobe completely gonetake a little listen between thisversion and this version really listenfor the the sort of distortions andlisten for the snareWatch at: 19:00 / 19:20[Music]now from my taste I really like thismore open version with the sort ofWatch at: 19:20 / 19:40dynamic snare everything feels punchythere is distortion from the mix butit's not over-the-top in my opinion andnow this version at the bottom I justthink it sounds really distorted everykick drum sounds blown out the snare haslost all of its dynamics and punch in myopinion you can still hear it but it'snot you know hitting you and theWatch at: 19:40 / 20:00mid-range just has this weird washing usto it and if I had to pick I woulddefinitely pick the one on the top thisis sort of why I think it's great thatthe streaming sites online have theloudness normalisation because it meansthat this sort of more natural dynamicsounding music gets a chance to liveagain and you're not fooled by thestupidly loud stuff down here if youWatch at: 20:00 / 20:20really like the sound of the distortedone and that's what your song needs thenyou can still go for that because itwill just be taken down on Spotify youknow sound just as loud as anything elseand although they have the same value FSvalue I feel that this one at the topactually has like a higher perceivedloudness[Music]Watch at: 20:20 / 20:40so long story short pick the amount oflimiting that sounds best for your songtry to find a compromise between superloud and sort of good breathing dynamicsand the last thing to do is to actuallyexport the song so once you've seteverything right you want to select theregion of your song to be exported whichI have just here you want to make sureWatch at: 20:40 / 21:00that your master effects are turned ongo to file export as a WAV file and thenwhen the dialog box opens you'll justwant to set the quality nice and high Iusually have the WAV bit depth 424 butcheck what the streaming sites areasking for it because sometimes thesethings change they might want 24-bitthey might want 16-bit and then you cansimply press Start to begin your exportWatch at: 21:00 / 21:20and that file will be the one thatyou'll want to distribute it's thenimportant to listen to the finalmastered file make sure that you'reactually happy with how it sounds andalso check the loudness meter again inthis new project to make sure thatnothing does peak above minus 0.1 justbecause your limiter said it was doingsomething doesn't mean that it alwaysbehaves well and also take the chance toWatch at: 21:20 / 21:40check for any problems that may haveoccurred during the export it's veryrare that sometimes little distortionartifacts occur there might be a popperclick it might not have started exactlywhere you wanted it to things like thatbut for now I hope those five steps aresetting you in the right direction tostart mastering your own music and youhave a little bit more confidence tostart this mastering process thank youWatch at: 21:40 / 22:00very much for watching and I hope to seeyou in the next video bye for now[Music]always way to and[Music]who should be on[Music]