...do my mastering with Ardour?

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GodLikeCreature
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Hey, how do you do it?

I used to work with specific Mastering plugins in Sonar (Oxygen). The use of this plugin and its presets made life sooooo easy. A few tweaks to adapt it to my taste and that was it...

Is there anything open source that works with Ardour? If not, I suppose I will have to add tons of LADSPA FX on the Master pre bus...

thorgal
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Jamin comes to mind. It's a standlone app but is typically used as an insert in ardour's master bus. Works nicely together.

So you launch jamin by typing from the terminal

jamin -p

this will NOT connect jamin's jack ports to your system outputs. This is necessary as you will use it inside ardour (or via an insert to be precise).

In the master bus, create an insert (pre-fader or post, pre may be more convenient). Double click on it, connect its outputs to jamin's inputs and vice-versa (you cannot go wrong, it's easy). Activate the insert, tweak jamin, and voila :)

You can export ardour's session with jamin's effects in realtime. No wait, even better, in freewheeling :)

MatíasMac
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Hi GodlikeCreature!!!! For Mastering i recommend you to use Jamin (http://jamin.sourceforge.net/en/about.html) an excellent software :)

Good Bye!!!!!

MatíasMac
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:) Sorry Thorgal, Because we put the same almost at the same time. When i was writting the comment there was no reply. Again Sorry.

Bye!!!!!

thorgal
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no big deal, twice is better than none :)

qharley
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Let's make it three times

hogiewan
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jamin is THE mastering suite for linux. I like it better than Oxygen except for oxygen having 4 sections in the multiband comp and jamin only has 3. I like jamin's interface much better though

philip8888
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thorgal what do you mean by this statement.

"No wait, even better, in freewheeling "

Can you or someone explain this please.

Thanks

Philip

thorgal
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Hi Philip, sure. It means that exporting a session or bouncing a region takes a shorter time than its real time playback. I heard that some DAWs can only export in real time, which means that a 4mn song would take 4mn to export (or longer but then, it's slower than realtime). Jack allows to export or bounce quite fast! thank god for that! :)

GodLikeCreature
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Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the responses, it seems JAMin is a strong winner. Have downloaded it now and will give it a try tonight... It definitely looks great!!...

GodLikeCreature
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Hey!

I tried jamin and I have to say it looks very powerful. I could experience how painfully resource eating it can be, so I ended up exporting my session into a file, then importing that mix into a single stereo track and doing my mastering that way. End result is the same and it is more forgiving on the system (I am working on a standard, not specially powerful laptop).

Thanks all for your help once again!

calimerox
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can someone give me an advice where I can find info about Mastering in general? I tried myself with jamin and it sounded awful, and that was not jamins fault but was my lesson in mastering, realising that good mastering is an art....

GodLikeCreature
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Hey, calimerox,

You are right, Mastering is definitely not an easy task. The jamin site has an interesting tutorial with examples, pretty interesting.

Simply put, mastering is just about volume management. That means that if you are trying to get a poor sounding mix into a great sounding final product through mastering, you probably would be better off investing more time into properly mixing. In fact, I think the goal should be to have a very good mix, which can almost stand alone. Then you apply mastering to provide a bit more power and volume, but that should be it.

I know I am not giving you anything you didn´t know, but I really think mixing is the biggest part of the equation.

Having said so, these tips are pretty good.

http://www.harmony-central.com/articles/tips/10_essential_mastering_tips/

Good luck

calimerox
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Thx for the link, I´ll go through that! It´s true , mixing is the thing that counts,.. and there are quite view people in the world saying you need expensive analog or digital hardware for mastering, cause the analog master compressors sound somewhjat better and so on.. but i don´t really believe this so much , so I´ll try to master my next stuff on my own and will see if its ok, and wont give it to a mastering studio.. thx again :)

thorgal
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Calimerox, there's also one thing you need to be aware of :

your mixing system may use good speakers for mixing (neutral, etc) but for mastering, you will need to test the result on different situations so if you have otehr sound systems around (living-room, car, even crappy laptops!), don't hesitate. A good mastering work should in principle be "passe-partout" :)

Oh yeah, it also has to do with having a consistent level on all your songs. An album (if that's what you plan to produce) should really be consistent across the entire thing.

rtp405
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http://jamin.sourceforge.net/en/loudness.html

Mastering as a complex task is largely a farce. Without knowing the levels of your source, ignore everything in jamin except the boost and hard limiter. Push boost to +3 and hard limiter to +5, compare results with Bypass button. Don't touch any other buttons. If that didn't give you enough Loudness, push the levels more.

You should be done mastering your song in six or seven seconds--seven if you've been drinking. OK, I'm being a little facetious.

A prospective client asked me to demonstrate mastering yesterday. I had to explain jackd, 'ssh -X' and a bunch of other happy crap until his eyes glazed over so he wouldn't notice me using the incredibly simple techniques I outlined for you. He is very impressed with my skillz--I don't like people touching me and he hugged me. Whatever!

Of course I'm not explaining how to write the TOC and have a redbook compliant product but that's not what your asking about. And there's opportunity to gain even more loudness but that can be learned later.

allank
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you must be taking the piss rtp.... what about nasty spikes in particular frequencies.. what about issues with mastering for vinyl... I wish it was as easy as you said...

rtp405
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what nasty spikes?

i don't have nasty spikes that cause problems during mastering. if you have "nasty spikes" fix your mixes; stick a limiter behind your inserted snare reverbs, use compression in the snare channel and again on the drum buss or teach your client how to EQ and mix.

mastering for vinyl is a novelty exception not unlike a two headed baby in the traveling circus. i haven't produced for vinyl once in the last ten years. and i've done a lot of albums during that stretch. i'm happy the days of vinyl and analog tape are dead. even with good masters the vinyl shops couldn't get it right. how often did you have to request a new pressing from the same master before it sounded acceptable? three times! maybe you have a niche market where some level of complexity remains. how many albums for vinyl are you producing?

in examining the experiences that i base my claims on, i have to admit that most of what i master is my own work. there mostly isn't any problems in my work so i don't have to confuse mastering with fixing mix problems. i don't except just any job and i'm willing to explain and demonstrate why i can't help without rerecording, mixing or whatever it takes.

a client recently called to inform me that he's delivering an album for mastering. i won't review his product because i know there's nothing wrong with it. maybe mastering is easy for me because i only except high quality product to work on.

i have an album to mix on Friday that was recorded at the clients studio. i've never listened to their work. if the recordings suck, i'll encourage him to fix the problems and come back later or hire me to rerecord. why are they coming to me? because something is wrong. i'll see or hear the problem on friday.

everybody, ignore my claims for simplicity and ease. mastering is a nightmare. it should be left to people like me. of course i won't except the job because only my work is good enough for me to deal with. i'm so awesome, i can't talk to myself anymore.

and your right, i did just take a piss. later today, i'll take another one. if your having urinary issues maybe someone stretched your abductor longis, no? :)

peder
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So, rtp405, what you're saying is that the art of mastering consists of

  • Tell the client to re-record/mix if there is a problem somewhere
  • Slam a brickwall limiter to their final result and push the gain until everybody's happy
  • ???
  • Profit

If that works for you and your clients, fine. But boy do I hope I don't accidently hire you to master anything of mine.

Item one disregards (among other things) the fact that what you can fix in a couple of hours by carefully manipulating waveforms, balancing EQ's and/or selectivly applying compression might force them to rehire that dead expensive Hammond B3 (which btw is already booked for the next 14 years by Axl Rose for making Nigerian Democracy) and spend a couple of weeks in studio to recapture that perfect take (minus the glitch that made it unacceptable to you).

Item two indicates you might be victim of the louder-is-better campaign that seems to be proliferating. And, sure, if your client demands a square wave output (hi, Metallica/Rick Rubin) you might have to suck up to it, but please don't suggest it to readers of this forum.

thorgal
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useless debate. Trust your ears in all circumstances and you'll find out that you need more than 7 seconds on average. If that was that easy, I would then set up a batch job for my mastering, come back after an hour or so and burn my CD. Hehe, if life was so, how boring would it be! :D

pleasebeus
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I have no experience of mastering yet, and look forwards to experimenting with JAMin. But some of the advice here http://jamin.sourceforge.net/en/loudness.html scares me.

I tried to play Radiohead's In Rainbows on my vintage Quad / Rogers hifi a while back and it was unlistenable. It was ugly. The thing had obviously been mastered for iPod and car stereo use and not for quality listening.

Of course, you can produce whatever you like. But please; if you're interested in creating quality music, especially if you play acoustic or mechanical instruments, give due regard to preserving dynamics. http://www.turnmeup.org/

I guess mastering sthg that is compressed, normalised and limited to death is probably child's play. The great skill in mastering is all about preserving dynamics. Am I right?

thorgal
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yes, pleasebeus. Nothing's worse than to listen to a piece of flat sound pushed to the highest level possible. Prepare the aspirin :)

Dynamics is the key, especially with real instruments. You want to reproduce an nice image (level and space) and well balanced so that listening to it is a comfortable experience (even with aggressive music).

calimerox
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Hey rtp, thanks for your ideas, I was reading the loudness article on sourceforge the other day and it opened up my mind... so I´ll try next time mastering in six seconds (it´s I give up drinkin...) and tell you more..;) also listening on crappy systems is a good advice... although this for me is always necessary but also like to feel one´s way in the dark..: when it sounds bad on my kitchen radio.. well , what to do? it´s quite time intense to work like this.. but necessary, you´re right. lets see whats going to happen... :)

calimerox
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AND: I forgot the thx to thorgal ;)

like I can see in the discussion here is that a lot of people are interested in mastering issues... and allenk: my question was not the recipe for a perfect mastering but just for some advices, so theres no need to be harsh to people that just tell their ways of doing things... every situation needs a different mastering, of course I ´d master a piece of morton feldman different than a piece of a crustpunk band , but I just wanted to heart some general things I had no clue of... and although I ´m not sure, I think people sometimes make a big miracle out of mastering and like its a good sounding word people and bands and producers talk more about mastering than recording/mixing, although this is much more important... one general question: I always thought for mastering you need that hardware that costs a fortune like mastering compressors and stuff.. but thats a myth? Can I just use algorithms doing the job similar....? (i hope $$$) :)

rtp: yeah, go for it

rtp405
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until now you couldn't do a batch job because you didn't know, hehe. try my suggestion and see what an eye opener it is. i don't claim it's the final product. you can create more head room with EQ and multiband compression, but do what i say and see what a simple perspective is created. especially for those who don't have experience.

rtp405
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give it a shot calimerox. i guess i've put myself in a position to write a new document titled Mastering in Six Seconds. i haven't looked at Loudness in a long time. i knew if i opened my big mouth it would force myself into doing more work. i never learn.

rtp405
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calimerox, if you have something that needs to be mastered, put it onto a server and I'll use it to demonstrate the six second master. :) they say it can't be done. that's all they have to say. I'll post the .jam with two adjusted variables. and we'll see if the algos work.

rtp405@yahoo.com

if you want to watch a video of an ardour produced album from the pre 1 stable days, try http://artspreservation.org/vidMix03-MPEG-4%20300Kbps.mp4 audio is jammin and ardour. unfortunately compression has made a mess of the quality

peder
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Think of mastering as baking a cake: assembling the ingredients equals recording, stirring it together and shoving it in the oven is mixing and putting the frosting on top is mastering. Sure the cake can be good in itself, but it's the frosting that really makes it excellent.

To achieve top notch mastering you need great gear (which often equals expensive stuff), a really good room and an engineer with great expertise, knowledge and ears. An alogrithm can not beat that. Ever.

That said, in the end it's up to the material. A crappy, uninterresting song mastered by Bernie Grundman will probably sell much less and sound much worse than a catchy tune with perfect melody and inspired perfomance mastered by you with a decent set of speakers and a basic knowledge of Jamin.

But then again, imagine what Bernie could've done with that song...

rtp405
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i've never shown this video to anyone but someone mentioned hammond and heck i've worked with those. i put together a five person audio and video crew for this production and never charged a penny. there's not many of the old school boys left and i needed to do something for them. i love these guys. i've video footage of my make shift control room running ardour surrounded by gallon jugs of pickled pig's feet.

calimerox
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that would be great! Now I work on a acustic guitar project.. so its maybe not the most interesting thing to master, but anyway would be great to see what happen.. I´ll talk to the artist and contact you afterwards...!

peder
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calimerox, may I also suggest you do a blind test with rtp405's mastered file and your original with the volume knob raised to match his level.

That's the purpose of that big round knob you see on your stereo, you know; to make a recording sound louder. And I bet there is a device like that on every listening equipment you'd come across.

Yes, louder often sounds better but you don't need mastering to achieve that.