Mastering Tutorial Part 2: The Secret Notebook of a Mastering Engineer (Advanced)

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How to add depth and space to a mix using psychoacoustic manipulation

I'm about to show you an incredible way to add more depth to the mix at the mastering stages. This technique is really meant for the advanced section of the course, 'The Secret Notebook of a Mastering Engineer', but I'm sharing it with you now for free so you can get a flavour for the content. I'm not going to explain why this process gives more depth, I'll leave that for the advanced section. If you really want to understand this mysterious, yet beautiful effect, you really must read the first few chapters of the advanced section which delve into the subject of psychoacoustics.

This technique is like building your own plugin. It works by arranging a series of buses and some very simple plugins which you will probably have as part of your DAW. If you haven't, don't worry because I'll show you where you can download them for free.

What you're basically going to do is set up a matrix which splits your master chain signal in two. One signal will receive processing but the other will not. The two signals (one wet and one dry) will then be mixed back together. The new signal, comprised of both the wet and dry signal, will contain the Ultra Depth effect.

Wet signal: The wet signal will undergo a very short time delay, attenuation and EQ. It will also experience a left and right swap to become right and left, and finally a phase invert is applied to the right channel only. The signal is then routed to the output channel. I'll provide specific settings for the wet signal once I've explained how to set this up inside your DAW. 

Dry signal: The dry signal receives no processing. The signal is routed straight to the output channel (mixing in with the wet signal). 

The signal at the output channel will comprise of the original audio (dry signal), combined with a delayed and processed version of itself mixed in (wet signal). Almost like an echo.

Look at the three diagrams...

 

 

 

The way the process works is very simple, although building the effect inside your DAW may require a little patience as there's many different ways you could set this up.

Before I show you how I build it inside my DAW (Logic), I'll first show you a generic block diagram of how the signal is routed and processed. It's important that you understand the signal routing and processing. Once you grasp this part, you will probably be able to come up with your own way of creating the matrix inside your DAW. Here it is...

In this block diagram I suggest using a send to an auxiliary as a way to split the signal.

Each part of the wet signal processing is achieved using very basic plugins which I will show you once I've explained how to create the matrix inside your DAW.

This is how I create the Ultra Depth effect inside Logic... 

First of all, as with all the tutorials, I am using one stereo audio file dropped into track 1 in the arranger window like so... 

Beneath the arranger is the mixer. The first channel (Audio 1) relates to track 1 in the arranger window (where the audio source is located).

Now look more closely at the mixer below. See how I've created a matrix which splits the signal, sends one to an auxiliary for processing before mixing it back in with the original signal...

Pay particular attention to the bus send. The first channel strip, Audio 1 or 'MastChain 1' as I've named it, uses a bus send to split the signal. Bus 1 is sent to an auxiliary channel (Aux 1) for the Ultra Depth processing. The first channel's output is set to send to the main output, this is the dry signal. Aux 1 is also set to send to the main output. This means the main output channel will receive a mixture of the dry signal from the first channel strip and the processed (wet) signal from Aux 1.

Here's a break down of how the signal is routed inside my DAW...

The main output channel strip now includes the Ultra Depth effect (the original audio with a delayed and processed version of itself mixed in). If you wish to insert any plugins before the Ultra Depth effect, use MastChain 1. To insert plugins after the Ultra Depth effect, use the main output channel like so...

In this example I have inserted a linear phase EQ and a multi-band compressor (Multipressor) before the Ultra Depth effect. I've also inserted a compressor and limiter after the Ultra Depth effect.

The plugins and settings I have used to process the wet signal are as follows:

EQ: Low cut up to about 100Hz, possibly shelve out some highs or high cut the very highs (the settings on this EQ are for demonstration purposes, set your own parameters to taste).

Delay: Between around 15 and 30ms (set to taste).

If you don't have a delay plugin, download Voxengo's 'Sound Delay' here for free...

http://www.voxengo.com/product/sounddelay 

Left and right swap to become right and left. Phase invert right channel only.

If you don't have a plugin which switches left and right and can invert phase, use this one, it's free...

http://www.kellyindustries.com/stereo_tools.html

Effect level (Aux 1 fader level): Start at around -15dB (set to taste).

Tip: For dance music styles, stick to using short delay times.

Try it. As you bring up the effect level, listen to the extra depth suddenly appear in the mix. Don't forget that in mastering situations, we are only attempting to make very slight adjustments at a time. Ultra Depth's effect is impressive and subtle. There will not be a dramatic change to the way the mix sounds, as there never should be from a single mastering technique. The final sound comes from many different techniques all working together. When Ultra Depth is used as part of a working master chain, particularly with the techniques found in the advanced section, you will be more aware of its positive effect on the final sound.

Ultra Depth, as amazing as it is, will simply not work on all material first time. In the advanced section there is a dedicated chapter all about Ultra Depth and how to modify it to make it more versatile and even more powerful.

The fascinating subject of psychoacoustics plays a significant role in the audio mastering process. I have become very involved in the idea of using psychoacoustic processes to improve the quality of the final master, particularly in the area of creating extra depth and space in the mix. I have read many studies on how this can be done. There are variations of the process I've described in this article, some can be found in papers that date back as far as 1983. From all my findings, I have simplified some quite complicated processes and come up with this simple technique you can do to instantly add extra depth and space to your mix at the final mastering stages. 

In the advanced section, I have condensed down all the most important things you need to know about psychoacoustics to get your masters in line with the quality of the professionals.

So to better understand why this technique adds depth, how best to use it, the origins of how I came to using this simple technique and how psychoacoustics relate to audio mastering, get your hands on 'The Secret Notebook of a Mastering Engineer'. You will also discover another new technique which can enhance the effect of Ultra Depth. In fact I promise you there are many fantastic techniques to discover, some are powerful techniques which all the top mastering engineers are using and some are incredible things I've discovered on my own.

audio mastering information eBook download link

 

Is this book for you?

 

  1. 26,500 printable words containing hot topics like how to get it REALLY loud and still sound spacious and dynamic.
  2. Reveals how a mix should sound to produce a commercial volume and radio quality master.
  3. Written by an experienced mastering engineer who has made a living by using these clever mastering techniques.
  4. Provides you with everything you need to know to get your final sound as big as your fattest tune in your iTunes library - never have to pay for mastering again.
  5. Presents you with a whole new tool kit, different to all the techniques found on this website.

30 day money back guarantee... 

 

  • If you're not satisfied I have taught you how to master audio like the pros, I'll refund your money, no questions asked. That's a promise.
  • Secure payment method - use credit/debit card or PayPal. Downloads straight to your device.
  • Readable formats on any device, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPhone, iPad, even just a PC or Mac - anything. Printable too.

 

 

 

 

Top mastering engineer's review... 

Feedback via email from Earle Holder, award winning Chief Mastering Engineer at HDQTRZ Mastering Studios, Mastering Engineer for Public Enemy, and creator of the 'Har-Bal' Harmonic Equaliser.

"Hello David

I have always believed that one is never too old to learn something new. I purchased your material because it appeared that you have a real passion for your craft as do I.

I thought your tutorials were well written and easily understood. The area that I read where you stated that you were mastering a project for an individual over a three year period was priceless. I was easily able to relate to your dilemma of constantly improving your craft and the need to go back and redo the previous masters because you were constantly learning and becoming more proficient.

There is plenty of business to go around so I support my fellow mastering engineers who appear to be honorable.

Both of your books were a breath of fresh air and I will be sure to tell others who are getting started in this wonderful field to purchase your books.

Cheers"

Earle Holder
Chief Mastering Engineer
HDQTRZ Mastering Studios
www.hdqtrz.com

 

More readers reviews...

 

Christos Baimpakis (Greece)

Fantastic book for both the beginner and anyone whose been mastering for a while. The proof's in the pudding and my masters are now sounding better than I ever expected. Very easy to read yet packed full of information. This book takes you through the whole process from start to finish, even covering things like how to acoustically treat your home studio. Every explanation is detailed yet easy to digest. Anyone operating from a home studio must read this book.Yes definitely i would recommend that to a friend!
I am very happy with my purchase! THANKS!!!

Duwayne K (United Kingdom)

I found this to be a great resource while trying to get my head around the mysterious subject that is Audio Mastering. David’s clear and concise explanations of processing techniques, that are also supported by videos on TGMaudio’s Mastering Tuition website is great for demystifying the dark art of the subject. I can hear the difference in my mastering projects and will continue to use the guidance given by David, but practice makes perfect. I would recommend this book to both new both new starters in the world of audio as well as seasoned engineers as you are sure too learn new techniques or understand the reasons why you get certain results.

Steven Bury (United Kingdom)

Absolutely brilliant book. The techniques in this book are priceless. I like the way the book is laid out and written, really easy to read and understand. Anyone who just wants to know pure technique on how to get their masters sounding professional should read this book.

Suzi (United States)

I absolutely love this book. Any one interested in advancing their mastering and mixing skills should read this book. Next book to read is Mastering audio the science and art of mastering by Bob Katz.

 

 

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