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Pro Tools 9 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz demonstrates concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in the industry-standard software for music and post-production. The course covers creating music with virtual instruments and plugins, editing with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing with effects loops. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this movie, I want to talk about all of the plug-ins that I've got on my master fader track in this mastering session. First, I've got the PhaseScope. The PhaseScope meter displays the relationship between the amplitude and the phase of a stereo signal, enabling you to monitor your stereo image graphically. I'm going to play back this track. (Music playing.) Now, that looks pretty good.
When the audio is panned just to one side, a diagonal line appears, and we don't want to see that, and we don't. In-phase material is displayed as a vertical line and we like in-phase material, and we saw a lot of in-phase material going on in there. Out-of-phase material shows up as a horizontal line, and we definitely don't want to see a lot of that. So as long as we don't see a diagonal line or a horizontal line here, then we're pretty good. Let's move on to the next one.
The Bomb Factory Essential Meter Bridge displays the output levels like you would see them appearing on an analog VU meter. Monitoring this way can help you see RMS, or peak metering, just like you would on a professional tape machine. I'm going to press play. (Music playing.) Now, you can see that we're kind of pushing the levels here with this -15 calibration and set to RMS, Root Mean Square.
It means we've got a pretty hot level, but we see that we're not peaking out on the meters down here, so we're probably pretty good. The TL MasterMeter is used to identify any signal clip events or oversampling clip events that might negatively affect the final master track. Fortunately, we don't see any events in here, so it looks like we're in the clear. Now, I use all three of these tools together to make sure that there are no phasing or clipping problems on the output signal. At the end of the mastering process, audio files often have to end up as 16-bit, 44.1 kHz tracks so that they can be burned onto an audio CD.
Bouncing audio from a higher bit depth to a lower one creates unwanted quantization noise that occurs at low volume levels, like on fade-ins or fade-outs. Dither and noise shaping reduce quantization noise. The funny thing is dither actually adds a small amount of noise to an audio signal. However, the noise helps to make the quantization noise less obvious. Noise shaping utilizes digital filtering to move the noise that dither adds from frequencies that our ears can hear the best, such as around 4 kHz, to frequencies that we're less sensitive to.
This makes the noise more difficult for us to hear. Quantization noise is pretty minimal, but it is noticeable if it's in a sensitive range for our hearing. We can use this Dither plug-in to help out with that. So we can set the resolution, and we can turn on noise shaping to help move the noise that dithering creates and push it into an area that's not sensitive for our hearing. There's another plug-in option for dithering, and it's the Power Dither, and most Pro Tools systems have both of these.
This gives us an option of three different noise shaping types. Note that when you bounce down to create an MP3 file, you don't actually need to use dither and noise shaping, as these parameters are built into the MP3 encoders. Together, dither and noise shaping should be your last processor on your master fader track for master bounces. Now it's time to bounce your final masters. So, let's go here, and we'll select the whole amount of time that we want to bounce.
We'll go to File > Bounce to > Disk, and yes, Pro Tools warns us that you can't do a bounce when a track is record-enabled. So we'll un-record-enable that, go back to the Bounce, and we can choose whatever parameters we want here. Stereo Interleaved file. This is what we would need to create a track for a CD. We could make higher res or low-res files, we could make an MP3, whatever you need to make, and then bounce down each one of your tracks.
The one thing that Pro Tools cannot do is burn CDs. So you'll need a third-party application, like iTunes, for that. After bouncing down your tracks, listen to them critically in many environments and through many playback systems to make sure they translate well to all systems. If they do, then you've succeeded in mastering your tracks using Pro Tools.
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