Advice needed for attempting my own mix/mastering

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Bobo, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    I haven't really done any recording in a loooong time, I'm out of the loop. Well I wasn't very far into the loop in the 1st place lol.

    My goal is to make my little metal songs and mix/master everything myself fairly competently. It seems like it's a good time to learn this, info is all over the net and affordable software is everywhere. I've spent some time reading and watching vids for basics and tips, and would love to be pointed to any source of info.

    I have Reaper, GGD Invasion for drums, most likely EZ Bass for bass since my bass and my skills suck, and Neural DSP Nolly for amp and cab sims. The big question I have is where to go with mixing and mastering plugins. Maybe the stock Reaper ones are up to the task? Or maybe some free ones worth checking out? I guess I need to figure this out before spending any more money.

    I've looked at some Waves stuff and am looking just now looking into iZoptope stuff. I feel a little clueless as to what is generally necessary in a loud metal mix. I thought maybe something like the Waves SSL G Master Buss Compressor could be essential. Or maybe the Scheps Omni Channel. The F6 Dynamic EQ looks good too. I will say I may be putting the horse before the cart...I may need to know a bit more about mixing and mastering first. Again, I've done some basic research, but it's not like school....I was never given a test to see if I get a passing grade or not :cond:

    One more thing, I wonder if it matters what computer I record with. I have a fairly new laptop with an i5-8265U, SSD, and 8gb ram. My old gaming pc has an i5-4790k @4.2ghz, SSD, and 16 gb ram. The laptop is more useful, but I wonder how much the ram difference and base clock speed difference will matter.

    Thanks for any input!
     
  2. asopala

    asopala SS.org Regular

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    When you're starting out, use your stock plugins and train your ears to what they do. I'd argue until you get to know the ins and outs of EQ, Compression, etc, you shouldn't buy anything extra. When you realize you're missing something in the toolkit is when you get plugins, I'd argue. The top mixers can make a killer mix with stock plugins, I guarantee it. The reason they don't is because certain plugins get them their desired result faster, but until you have a clear vision for how to accomplish said result, it's kinda moot.

    When starting out, compare your tracks to songs that you want to get the sound of as you mix; reference tracks. That'll get you to a point where you can figure out what's needed in the sound and whatnot. I use reference tracks for all my stuff, and it's incredibly useful to get everything right. And don't be afraid to start over if nothing's working, sometimes it sheds light on what wasn't working.

    I'd also say that a good 90% of mixing is getting good sounds to begin with, and it seems like the amp/drum choices you have should get you that.

    Finally, your computers are plenty good for tracking, though you generally want at least 16GB RAM for most daw stuff (at least with Pro Tools, I don't know how well-optimized Reaper is). The only reason you'd want to upgrade any further is if the computer stops being able to keep up with your sessions. Clock speed and core count (in that level of importance) tends to affect how much your computer can handle large sessions, but unless you're working with 60+ tracks with a boatload of plugin instances on a good number of the tracks, it doesn't tend to matter so much until you push that limit, which you may or may not.
     
  3. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    I didn’t have a lot of luck with the stock Reaper ones. Izotope was a game changer, it’s worth it.
     
  4. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    I think even basic plugins can beused for mastering honestly. The reality, imo, is that mastering is dependent on the mixing stage and only so much can be done to the tracks once mixed, and only so much can be mixed once recorded. The best thing is to focus on the initial track. If you get that right then the plugins aren't as important for taming levels and flattening/finalizinng a mix/master. Basic stuff like Izotope, Waves etc will al lget you there if you have good tracks.
    - Think about it. Thousands of great recordings were made before computer daws, but they had incredible outboar analog gear. That being said, that gear still performed basic functions such as EQ, compression etc. None of it did these crazy algorithms stuff does nowadays.

    - TLDR; quality over quantity & Keepit simple.
     
  5. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    With knowledge you can get professional results with stock plugins. It’s a very steep learning curve however. Plugins with a better GUI make that learning process easier.

    My favorite stock Reaper plugins (JS) are the 1073 eq, the 1175 compressor, and Event Horizon clipper/limiter. The Fairly Childish compressor is also good. Free downloads I’d recommend are ReEQ, which is heavily inspired by FabFilter ProQ3; and ADHD Leveler, which is a super colorful, grindy, full featured opto compressor based on a Teletronix LA2A.

    The Scheps Omni is probably the single greatest plugin ever made. You could make a killer record with just that thing alone. Isotope Ozone is an excellent tool for learning about mastering. It’ll take time to fully understand just how flexible and capable it is, but the AI learning stuff is a good starting place when you know nothing.

    I’d say go to YT and sub to Produce Like A Pro, MixbusTv, PureMix and The Reaper Blog. It’ll give you a blend of technical info, quick tips, showcase plugins, and solid mix philosophy.
     
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  6. Sylim

    Sylim SS.org Regular

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    THIS. all of it. i´d also add, don´t go into mastering before you get the mixing down. when you don´t know what you´re doing in the mastering stage, you´ll do more damage than good. a loud metal track also isn´t really about mastering, but the mix. if the mix is weak, no amount of processing in mastering will help it.
     
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  7. Lozek

    Lozek Desk Magnetic Contributor

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    What everyone else has said, only buy new plug-ins once you have your basic techniques down and you're reaching the limitations of what you have stock.

    Also bear in mind, it's better to work on the sound of your sources instead of trying to fix them with EQ. A great guitar sound normally only needs hp/lp and maybe a 500hz dip to fit a well balanced mix, if you're having to do a ton of post EQ then the source sound needs work. Cabinet choice and mic choice/placement/balance is everything.
     
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  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Your PCs are easily good enough. Reaper is good enough. The stock plugins are good enough. The only thing you need to add to the mix is practice and whatever knowledge you can sponge up. If you absolutely feel a need to spend money to improve your workflow or results - then focus that money on your listening environment: monitors and room treatment.

    I'm not a pro by any stretch but the best advice I can give is:
    - Practice. Mix your song, then throw it out and do it again. Over and over. Every time you try again, you'll do something a little better.
    - Don't be afraid of the JS plugins. They've got no fancy UI to them, so you're forced to use your ears to figure out what they're good for, but that's kind of a good thing.
     
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  9. slan

    slan Fallen Shrines

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    If you do decide to look at buying more plugins, I'd recommend checking out the Slate All Access Pass. I can't imagine a better bang for your buck.
     
  10. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    Ok I'm definitely going to do more research from some of the sources listed. Produce Like A Pro seems like a great resource, already seen a bit of his stuff. Glenn Fricker is who've I've watched the most of. I may look at something like Guitar Tone Mastery by Chernobyl Studios.

    I know my responsibility in all this isn't up to par, but I have had the question lingering in my head about how limited (or if) I'll be with stock Reaper plugins. But I guess trying to see how far I can go is something I probably haven't done yet, for example I'm still fuzzy on some features in some compressors.

    Thanks for all the advice yall! Time to play and tinker ;)

    Edit : Any recommendations on some budgety monitors?
     
  11. asopala

    asopala SS.org Regular

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    Begs the question: what's your max budget?
     
  12. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    Maybe around $300 US.
     
  13. asopala

    asopala SS.org Regular

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    You could do JBL's 5 inch speakers for that price, or go used and get 8 inch speakers. If possibly, try before you buy by comparing the speakers to each other using a song you know the sound of well.
     
  14. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    Cool. I may not have luck hearing things local...I mean unless Best Buy has something flat enough to be considered monitor worthy (I thought of a lot of the typical commercial stuff as being more colored to appeal to more people, like with exaggerated bass and treble).

    I'm not sure if a subwoofer is a worthwhile option here, but I do have a sub in the car to reference with.
     
  15. asopala

    asopala SS.org Regular

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    That's why I'd recommend a Guitar Center or something like that to test out pro audio speakers if possible. Best Buy doesn't have much of a selection.

    They do different things. For mixing stuff, a sub is meant to extend the low end (to cover low frequencies your speakers potentially can't because you need a bigger speaker to reproduce lower notes). Depending on the size of your speakers, not always necessary.
     

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