Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dubstep Music Mastering – Part 1

I’m going to give you a ‘ground up’ teaching of mastering techniques that can be applied to dubstep, and then a real world example in the final part. This way is better than giving you lots of real world examples because you will end up with a true understanding of why you need to EQ and compress things in a certain way, not just copy a formula that will fail you.

Perfect your mix.

Don’t presume mastering will be a magic remedy that will cure all your imperfections. You should get your dubstep mix sounding as close to perfect as you can before even thinking about mastering. Making sure you have your sounds well separated, with good subtle EQ and 3D sound stage placement (using pan, and reverb etc). Once you feel you can’t do anymore using the tools available you should then turn to the tricks of mastering such as multi-band compression, linear phase EQ and brick wall limiting.

Don’t master ‘in the mix’.

Even thought it is very tempting to add some nice EQ and compression on the master output while you are still making / mixing the track, it is strongly advisable that you wait until you have finished until applying these processes. You will nearly always get a better final dubstep track at the end. Of course its OK to test rough mixes with some master EQ / comp, but always bounce the finished track down ‘dry’ and make a backup copy before you start mastering.

Get some body else to do it.

One of the most important things a professional dubstep mastering engineer can bring, is a fresh set of ears. You may have listened to your track a few hundred times and have become accustomed to its flaws, its therefor recommended to outsource this final part of the process. There are plenty of on line service that offer tracks for around 30.00 (2009). If that is not an option, you could always ask a friend.

Less is more.

Every time you apply a dubstep mastering process you are risking degrading the quality of the audio, even simply adding ‘normalization’ or gain change can add small unwanted artifacts to the file. So always plan your processes and try and use as few as possible. So instead of normalizing at the start and at the end, just do it once at the end etc.


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