Arts & Entertainment, Music

Mastering Case Study: Snowcone


Lesson time 12:07 min

Go plugin by plugin through Snowcone's master chain and hear how each piece is affecting and honing the track's sound.

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Topics include: Comparing Different Master Chains • Parametric EQing • Keep an Eye on Signal Path


I mentioned before, I kind of write tracks like, oh, here's the full track right here, and the rest is all just breakdowns of that song. No, if I mastered just this little section of audio, it should pretty much translate well across the rest. And sometimes, I do that, so that, that way, I could work on it and have it sounding close to kind of what I want, do the arrangement. And then, once the arrangement's done and all my audio sources are in there and effects and everything, and I've got it the way I want, then I'll go back to this master chain and I'll start playing around with that. And that'll be the last thing I do before I render the track out to stereo. [MUSIC - DEADMAU5, "SNOWCONE"] So what you're hearing is with my master on. And now what you're hearing is with it off. Now the first difference you're going to obviously notice is that the volume has decreased significantly, because there's a lot of gain staging going on in here. But I can walk through these one by one. Let me just disable all these. I'm going to turn it back on. OK, so the first thing that you're hearing here is that-- [MUSIC - DEADMAU5, "SNOWCONE"] The snare's sticking out a lot more than it should. And that was because I adjusted it after the mastering process. So the first thing here is just strip the low end. And as I bypass that, you're not really going to hear much of a difference, because there's not really a whole lot going on down there. That's why I just strip it out completely, if perchance there was. This is just a stereo expander thing that I think I used on this track, which is just like a slight delay with a low pass and a high pass on either side, and then expanding out the signal for a better stereo image of the overall. But again, it's super subtle. Now the OTT does a little bit of lifting. And what OTT stands for is Over The Top. And this is a compressor written by Steve Duda, which is basically a three-band compressor. So you have your low, your mid, and your high. I'm not exactly sure where he put those crossovers at, but I would imagine mid is around 800 to 1k, and then high is like 1k plus, and then everything low is like everything below 800 hertz. Anyway, so there's upward and downward compression on this. And then here, these are kind of the thresholds of this. So if I took the mids and the highs, that's like how a multiband works, basically, is you're only compressing the low right here by a certain amount, and you're controlling the mid by a certain amount, and you're controlling the high by a certain amount. So here is just a good-- and the depth, being the threshold, is only like 20%. So it's subtly affecting it. If I crank that up, it's going to slam the hell out of it, which could be cool for a channel strip if you want some really snappy, crunchy drums, but it's not necessarily what I wanted in this project. I just wanted a little bit of lift on the lo...

About the Instructor

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.

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6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.

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