Join Jeff Sengstack for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting the all-in-one effect: Mastering, part of Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training.
The final effect that I wanted to discuss in this chapter is sort of an all-in-one effect called Mastering, and you typically apply Mastering when you are done. Now if you are doing a multi-track mix, you will have applied effects to individual tracks or portions of clips inside of a track, and then you are going to mix that all down to a stereo file probably. And then you can apply Mastering to that stereo file, which will affect everything overall, not individual tracks anymore. Or you maybe have just done some editing on a single file, and when you are done, you wanted to just take one last pass at it with Mastering.
You can also apply some other effects at the very end, like Hard limiting, or Maximizing, or Compressing or Dynamics. But in this case, we will just focus on the Mastering effect, and I have appled it here just to the single narration. It is just a monaural track just of me talking, but we can still use Mastering at the end. Now you see that Mastering has got all kinds of stuff going on here. And a lot of them, all of them I think, will be familiar to you, at this point, because there is the Equalizer. You have seen the parametric equalizer before. And it has 6 options when you use the parametric, but here it has only 3 different frequencies that you can select, so it is kind of a larger tool.
It does not really have the refinement of the typical parametric EQ, but you could see there are three places where you can adjust the frequencies, boosting them or decreasing them in those ranges, the Q range so called. I will just leave that at the default level right now by resetting it. Then there is a Reverb. Now this is a Reverb. If you are going to apply a Reverb to something like one clip in a multitrack session or to a clip earlier, you probably want to use the Convolution Reverb effect rather than use this Reverb, because this is a specific Reverb that you may not actually want to use.
Let me show you how it works. I will play this clip, and I will start gradually applying a Reverb, and you will see the sort of sounds. I do not know, kind of cave-like. (Male Speaker: We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.) Now is that the Reverb you want? Maybe it is, but if it is not, you really should stick with the Convolution Reverb rather than apply this guy at the end. But it is a good thing for just adding a little bit of extra presence to the overall mix. Let me kind of knock it down just to add a little bit, and you can see that can be helpful. (Male Speaker: We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,) (Male Speaker: that they are endowed by their) Somewhere around there, it gets it just a little bit of thickness, if you want to apply little bit of Reverb when you are all done.
Let me slide this guy over so we can see the whole clip. Down here, there is something called the Exciter, which is not something you have seen. This exaggerates high frequency harmonics. It makes it a little bit crisper, maybe a little bit clearer. There are 3 different options here: Retro, Tape and Tube. Retro is just kind of a light distortion. Tape is a little bit for a brighter tone, and Tube is a faster, more dynamic response, but the differences are subtle, I'm here to tell you. Let's just apply a lot, so you can hear the differences. I will go back to Retro here, which, again, is that's sort of light distortion.
(Male Speaker: We hold this truth to be self-evident.) Now here is Tape. (Male Speaker: That all men are created equal.) Now here is Tube. (Male Speaker: That they are endowed by their Creator.) Again, this just kind of exaggerates the high frequency harmonics. The Widener is not available here because Widener works only with Stereo. I will show you that in a moment. Loudness Maximizer is a lot like the Louder button down here. The louder button works incrementally, though. You click it, and it increases it by a certain amount, like 3 Decibels or so, each time you click on it. But here the Loudness Maximizer is a slider, which gives you much more control, so this is really a very nice feature of Mastering versus click-click-click down here.
You've got a very specific control with Loudness Maximizer. What this does is that, again, this decreases the dynamic range. It brings up the lower dynamic range tones in a piece and without increasing the high dynamic part of the range too much, and it sort of compresses those dynamics without ever exceeding that sort of magic -0.3 dBFS level. So, I will just increase the loudness here, as we go along. You will see that it will get louder, but it will never get into the red zone up here. (Male Speaker: We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,) (Male Speaker: That they are endowed by their Creator with) It popped there for a second because I was moving so fast, but we will just try that again so you can see that it - (Male Speaker: We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,) It just kind of hovers right below that, even though we have cranked it way up there.
And then the Output Gain is basically this overall volume level. If you do change this, you can bust into the red zone there, when you change the overall output, and you can also use this control to increase the overall output. So, you do not really need to have this guy down here, in there. So, that is Mastering for just a single narration, a monaural track. Let us go over to a Stereo Track. This is the full mix of the song we have been working with, "The Things You Said," and it has all the parts, the vibes, the orchestra, the keyboard, and the vocalist. Let us just take a quick look here.
(Music playing.) (Woman singing: On the shore, I think of times we've had before.) So, what I want to do here, and the last step before we finally export this to some format like to a CD or mp3, is do a Final Mastering effect on it. And there is this one effect called Mastering, which allows you to do several things at once. It is kind of the all-in-one. So, let us take a look at that. This is the default setting, where it basically it is all set to neutral. Zero, zero here. The Width is set in the middle. This is your basic neutral setting. It won't change it at all. But I want to try a little preset so I will go over here and we will select the preset Warm Concert Hall, which is probably something you might want to have for a large vocal like this with some instruments.
Let us try that and see how that sounds. (Music playing.) It might be a little too, let's say, soft. It just needs a little bit more sparkle to it, but you can see the preset that has applied. A little bit of the trouble is taken out at the high end there, a little bit of bass boost, a fair amount of Reverb, a little bit of the Exciter turned on and some extra stereo width, and a little bit of extra loudness applied to expand the dynamics a little bit higher up. So, let's just play with that little bit and see what difference it makes. I am going to reduce the Reverb, first of all, just make it a less muddy, a little sharper.
(Music playing.) (Woman singing: I'll think of the things you said.) Knock that out a little bit more, and the Exciter kind of gives it a little bit more of a treble-y sound. You can hear the Cymbals a little bit more here now. (Music playing.) See how the Cymbals are just a little more obvious? (Music playing.) We don't want them to be so obvious. I will knock the Exciter down a little bit. (Music playing.) It is nice to get a stereo width to it. That is usually a good thing. Let me just expand that a bit. (Music playing.) Take a look at the loudness. Now you never want to get past this -0.3 dBFS.
And the thing about the loudness is that it never it takes it past there. It just pushes the upper range of your audio to that point without ever distorting it. So, let us just try to raise the loudness a bit. (Music playing.) Notice that one little moment it got there, but if I keep on playing it, it never gets to -0.3. (Music playing.) So, it does expand the dynamic level such that we get this sort of wall of sound, the kind of thing that Phil Spector created back in the 60s when he had lots of instruments, lots of unison playing.
It kind of filled the entire space with sound, which has become the norm now for pop music, is to try to fill that whole thing. So, you've got this constant, relatively full volume for music. And so if you are doing pop music like this, you probably do want to knock the loudness up a bit. And finally, there is the Output Gain, and this is the thing you really need to be careful with because if you raise this, you will get too loud, and will distort it, like this. (Music playing.) So you do not want to go here or that little red line comes out all the time, so, basically this is the final step in your process, the Mastering effect.
- Setting up recording hardware
- Recording vocals and instruments
- Viewing audio waveforms and spectral frequency displays
- Copying, cutting and pasting audio
- Stretching time and shifting pitch
- Looping tracks
- Identifying and removing noise
- Enhancing audio with Soundbooth effects
- Mixing audio in multitrack mode
- Customizing prebuilt scores
- Working with Soundbooth files in Premiere Pro projects