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5 tips for getting the most out of Professional Audio Mastering

September 12, 2012

Over the last decade-plus, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects with varying levels of sonic quality, as well as deadlines. Here are five things I recommend having in place to maximize your investment of getting something professionally mastered:

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Computers for Audio: iQuit

May 25, 2012

This is (hopefully) the last Motherboard I will buy. The ASUS P5K which has just about everything I need (and maybe a couple extra slots should I decide to invest in 1-2 more PCIe DSP cards).

Don’t let the title of this post mislead you – it can imply that I’m tired of computers in general and that I’m quitting the use of them for audio work. Quite the opposite in fact; I love my current computer setup so much that I was motivated to write this to perhaps inspire anyone who might read it to work towards feeling how I feel right now about my current configuration: At Peace, with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

First, let me begin by saying that I’m currently on my fourth PC DAW build and that somewhere in the back of my mind, the reason why I’ve set aside weekends in the past to do nothing but assemble and configure a system has been to work towards an optimal setup (for me, that means having one that I can work with for as long as I want, without any problems).

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Soldering the Cardas 580/600/650 Plugs

March 9, 2012

First, an introduction on why I think it’s worth going through the trouble of soldering these nearly impossible little plugs:

I love the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. It’s one of the three pairs I use for Mastering audio and trust them to give me an accurate low frequency response. When I check my masters over my Bowers & Wilkins 2.1 system, there’s never a surprise when it comes to the low end. I can’t say I trust these headphones completely for the entire frequency spectrum, but from everything that matters in the lows and low mids, these are money.

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Redsecta 10th Year Anniversary: Free 6 song EP Mastering

March 2, 2012

10 years ago this year, I launched to the world with a simple idea: Provide the most professional mixing and mastering services to the Hip Hop community, and give this genre of music the same kind of “audiophiliac” attention to quality and detail that is given to any other genre of music.

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The Sonic Excellence Guide for Rappers Pt. III: Mastering

February 22, 2012


The purpose of mastering is to prepare your project for its final medium, whether it’s going to be released on CD, Vinyl, Digital Distribution or all three. The Mastering Engineer should have the means to deliver files and materials of the highest quality for this purpose. If you will be having your project professionally replicated by a CD pressing plant, vinyl record plant or online distribution service, your Mastering Engineer should have enough experience to work with these services and act as your liaison at this step. Read more…

The Sonic Excellence Guide for Rappers Pt. II: Mixing

February 21, 2012


This is where all the elements of the song are combined and then placed in (hopefully) their own “space” in the stereo field; it’s where you give each element of the song its own treatment and work towards cohesion. A great mix is dependent on the quality of the recordings and the recordings should give you the necessary range to try different creative effects. For example, the “tightness” of the drums and bass line can be managed at this step. Read more…

The Sonic Excellence Guide for Rappers Part I: Recording

February 16, 2012

Listen, it’s completely okay for MCs to not know (or care) too much about the technical aspects of creating a record (if you’re one of those DIY rappers who loves to be involved with all stages of recording, mixing and mastering, this is not for you – you might find yourself more at home arguing about tube gear and how many limiters you use on your mixes on a message board).

This help guide was written for the MC who may be starting a project soon, who is about to spend some good money on Recording, Mixing and then Mastering a project, who expects the final product to be something professional, and someone who could use some tips to hopefully avoid spending more time and money going back to re-do something that could have been done right in the first place. Read more…

The “I Really Like How These Vinyl Transfers Came Out” Mixtape Volume 1

October 21, 2011

Remastering Vinyl for personal enjoyment is a hobby that I unfortunately don’t have enough time for. Many people (especially those who are die-hard vinyl enthusiasts but don’t have a technical background in audio) believe that vinyl is “superior” to the digital format and that it has “more range” than digital. In fact, the opposite is true; vinyl has a lower dynamic range than digital, so it’s just not physically possible to push audio on vinyl to the same levels that you can push digital, but then pushing digital past its optimal point usually results in a somewhat lifeless listening experience. Once you understand this limitation, you can then find an optimal range in the digital format where vinyl transfers can sound great. Read more…

The Importance of Headroom: A Before and After Example of Mastering Audio

August 20, 2011

I often get emails from new clients who ask what levels I prefer mixes to be at prior to mastering and my answer is somewhat the same all the time. It’s all about making the mix sound good to you first; getting the feel of all the elements of the mix sounding right to your ears while keeping enough headroom so that when it comes to mastering the mix (for the sake of translation to all systems) you’ll have plenty of room to explore different options when you decide to maximize the output later on, whether you are doing it yourself or will have someone else master it for you. This article will give you an example of what I consider an optimal mix ready for mastering, and then what I was able to do with it, which I consider an optimal master Read more…

Flatline Studios in Portland, OR

May 13, 2011

I have mastered a lot of the albums that Terminill, owner and operator of Flatline Studios in Portland has recorded and mixed, most recently Luck-One’s “True Theory”, Amsterdam’s “It’s Not You, It’s Me”, Shao Sosa’s “Gateway Drug”, Kenny Mack’s “The Streets Ain’t Safe” and a few others over the years. He’s currently working with many of Portland’s Hip Hop and R&B artists, and it’s apparent that local artists are going to him for their recording and mixing needs for good reason. Read more…