Music & Entertainment

Mastering Case Study: Snowcone


Lesson time 12:03 min

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

Teaches Electronic Music Production
6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.
Get All-Access


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...

Make better music

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

i just jumped to the last video :) but i need to recheck all :)

Always be honest, just do your thing. I would highly recommend this course to anyone whos starting, or advanced, joel gives a great insight into a different way of approching producing music and also creating a career for yourself. legend

Haven't even started the class yet, 5 stars.

need more videos about mixing,mastering, tutorials about hide side of producing on abletone, and more about track balance, plugin choise,settings,


Emill S.

I’m currently redoing some of my tracks because of the videos I watched so far. I did Dead Mau5’ snare drum trick; it’s spot on what he said it would be! I’’m not doing it to all my snares but nudging them to the front a little is a huge difference in the energy.

Zak B.

After watching this I realized that I will have to go back and completely re-do my album. Watching him work has been priceless.


Mastering has always been a mystery to me. This class helped me understand how Joel approaches Mastering to his music and why. Should his approach and style apply to EVERY Mastering project...hell no! However, this is what works for him and millions in sales proves he's got it figured out pretty well.

David G.

Good wrap up to the 'hands on' music creation piece to the course. It would have been nice to see him actually mix and master the segment from scratch.

Rocky S.

Using some of these mixing and mastering concepts... Would love feedback.


Just a quick mention about the overview and homework. I feel like it should say "every 'SONG' needs a different master chain" rather than saying "every 'track' needs a different master chain". I feel that there could be a bit of confusion, considering that every instrument sits on it own "track" while also the entire song can be considered a "track". At first read, I thought the overview was trying to tell me to put a master chain on every instrument.... which didn't make any sense. lol. Just want to add my part in keeping this product great. Not sure if the admins read all this.... ;)

Eduard S.

Pointless... I would setup tutorials in a such manner that I'd make a track from the scratch..... in this way the audience is able to see and hear the real flow. This isn't master class for me..... Luckily, I don't need to learn basics stuffs; I was expecting this class to be showing more details in terms of ''sound sculpture, synthesis and studio tricks''..... disappointed .... several tutorials much valuable on Future Music ''in the studio with...''!

David A.

Dirt + seeds + water + tools + ingredients + knowledge + time = birthday cake. Something like that.

Jan R.

You guys rated my assignment song pretty good so in case you'd like to listen to it on SC here you have a link ;) Thanks!

Julian D.

It's really a shame that we're never able to hear the actual pure output of his playback, but rather always hear a ton of bleed from his speakers through his mic. It's still educational to find out what plugins he uses, but in terms of judging the sound on your own it's totally pointless. That's a huge bummer for me. A lot of other tutorials out there tackle this problem way better.