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How to start learning to master your music as an amateur?

Make some music, have some musical tips or questions ? Well, why not bung them in here !
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Concept

 

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Jelly Legs

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How to start learning to master your music as an amateur?

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 5:58 am

Hey all.

As you know, I've been a busy bee. Producing and seeing what sticks and seeing what doesn't. I still have a lot to learn and am in the early infancy of making music, but going forward I'd like to learn at the very least the basics of mastering and knowing the general principles of how to compress and eq are properly. At the moment my sound lacks weight and punch and sounds flat. This is because I'm basically using the line-in on my pc and when I look at the more advanced eq offerings in audacity (which I'm currently using to record and sample) I don't have the knowledge to know what I'm doing properly. My question to you is it possible to remaster using such a program, or do you need something more advanced?

Any tips from people further ahead would be welcome hugely. : )
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Ross

 

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 10:19 am

At a basic level, I'd get Reaper and use the built-in plug-ins in that rather than Audacity, there's a lot more in the way of flexibility and options there. A clever bit of EQ can rescue a flat sounding track. I'm shit at it myself, mind you.

That said, there's a big difference between applying some effects to your mix and actual mastering - one of the key aspects of mastering is approaching the piece with a fresh pair of ears, which is why even the likes of Autechre and Aphex, both notoriously picky about their sound, get other people to master their own material (Aphex mastered a couple of tracks from his Soundcloud dump and they didn't sound very good, haha). So if you do research mastering, don't expect it to be a skill you feel you have to master (pardon the pun). Certainly some of the techniques can tidy up a lifeless mix if you're recording live to 2-track, but most of it is a separate skill in itself.
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Jelly Legs

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 1:02 pm

Cheers for reply. : )

Yeah, I've been researching DAWs and Reaper was definitely under consideration due to being way less expensive than the others that I've looked into. I do need to get away from Audacity, because while I'll still use it for cutting up waveforms, it's not really well suited to having loads of them open in several tracks at once as the interface isn't really built for it. That and no MIDI or instrumental VSTs.

I've downloaded MXXX, which has around 80 plug-ins and loaded the lot into Audacity for the time because it seems to offer a no-restrictions 14 day trial. I've been downloading free VSTs as well and not looking so much into the paid for ones (I got side-tracked to Melda Productions by someone recommending their free frequency shifter and downloaded the complete pack by mistake), so was quite taken aback by it all being $999 (though there is a lot there to be fair). Y'ouch though.

I did look into online algorithmic mastering and tried Landr's free offering of mastering an MP3 but wasn't particularly impressed tbh. That could be the MP3 though as it was well over -0dbl (something I need to do better at avoiding). Maybe the tech will mature, but I feel using an AI to master lacks the much needed human element.
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Ross

 

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 1:51 pm

You can use Reaper for free for an unlimited amount of time, the only restriction being a purchase notice that comes up when you open the software. I will be purchasing it myself one day down the line there I've got money to spare, because it's a lovely little programme that I've done all my DAW-based material in for about five years now. I still pop over to my cracked copy of Ableton for the occasional effect it's really good at, but Reaper is excellent and has that benefit of not demanding money from you until you're capable of affording it (and, as you say, even then the license isn't dear at all).

Yeah, Audacity is just a wave editor really, its multi-tracking options are limited and the visual interface doubly so. It's a great thing to have out there for free, I've never looked for any other wave editors because it does everything I need it to. But if you're moving to anything more complex then you'll definitely need a proper DAW.
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Jelly Legs

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 4:25 pm

That's awesome. I think I'll be moving over there sooner than I was intending (I was going to leave it until 6 months in before I made the move to a proper DAW). Especially as the problem with some of these VSTs in Audacity that I'm currently experiencing is that you can't get a wav to loop or replay so you have to exit in and out of the program if you want to make adjustments, which I assume isn't the case with Reaper?

Audacity can't record VST effect manipulation in real-time, but there is a way around this that saves having to stare at a percentage bar delivering a static effect for dozens of minutes (my laptop is old). Soundpad can be used to record the stream coming out of audacity which I can reinsert as a wav. I've just been playing around with an on-screen touchpad (you move the mouse around) distorting beats in all sorts of funny shapes and directions. My mind is blown. It's almost as though I have too many options though now. Gonna have to focus on a few and create some limits otherwise I can see myself becoming too fx-heavy.
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Jelly Legs

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 4:59 pm

Just been playing with a VST Equaliser that offers a spectrograph and coded areas which are best for which drums. Yes. : D
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Ross

 

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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 10:54 pm

Concept wrote:Especially as the problem with some of these VSTs in Audacity that I'm currently experiencing is that you can't get a wav to loop or replay so you have to exit in and out of the program if you want to make adjustments, which I assume isn't the case with Reaper?

Nah, with Reaper you can loop and tweak as much or little as you like.
Audacity can't record VST effect manipulation in real-time, but there is a way around this that saves having to stare at a percentage bar delivering a static effect for dozens of minutes (my laptop is old).

With Reaper you can record your effect manipulation live, or you can use envelopes to automate the effects as the track goes along, allowing you to go back and tweak very subtle changes as much as you like.
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Re: How to start learning to master your music as an amateur

PostWed Apr 18, 2018 10:29 am

I would suggest ableton 10

it is just perfect for everything and is never ending with the things you can do and tutorials available for any given aspect
bets money I've ever spent on music equipment

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