Mastering Brochure

Since My Tracks Are Already Mixed To Stereo, How Can Any Major Changes Be Made?

If you have not witnessed some of the miracles that can happen in the mastering suite, it is important to understand that the final stereo mix is not necessarily final. Although all the individual elements of the multi-track recording have been blended into 2 tracks (stereo), every instrument still has its own fundamental frequency and overtones. We can usually alter the dominant frequency of a particular instrument that needs to be changed so that instrument's presence can be significantly boosted or cut, or made thinner or richer, within the stereo mix. Selected frequencies can be compressed, the stereo field can be widened and deepened, and the final volume of the program can be increased significantly without distortion. With the flexibility of digital editing, the transformation of multiple mixes into one have reached a level that is as precise as laser surgery.

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Digital Editing

Seamlessly edit parts of two or more mixes into one song. This can be done on a simple level just to replace a weak chorus or to minutely assemble words, phrases, fills, etc. from several stereo mixes into one song.

Stereo masters may be totally rearranged, lengthened (looped) or shortened by expanding or deleting existing material to create more than one version of a song, i.e., the "club mix" or "radio edit".

Hip hop tracks can be "censored" for radio or video using reverses or other more sophisticated techniques.

At Silverbirch, we understand written music so you can also communicate to us in measures and beats. Back to Top


Any or all sections of a track may be worked on to make various elements louder or softer, richer or thinner. Digital EQ can be so precise that sometimes the tone or the level of a kick drum can be changed without affecting the level of the bass guitar. Our digital eqs include the TC 6000, the Weiss EQ 1-Mk2 (with dynamically controlled eq) and the MDW Hi-Res EQ. With fine parametric equalization, one can usually isolate the dominant frequency of a particular instrument or voice so that its presence can be significantly altered in the stereo mix. Our new Digital Domain K-Processor also contains a high and low shelf filter by Z-systems and sounds really excellent for boosting or cutting either end of the frequency spectrum.

We use our Manley Massive Passive tube EQ for gently boosting or cutting wide bands of frequencies, providing a good contrast to the digital EQs. The Manley unit is a great sounding, expensive state-of-the-art analog tube 4 band equalizer only found in the best studios. Add the Nightpro EQ3-D with its subtle "airband" and powerful sub frequencies and you have an incredible variety of sonic choices available to suit each mastering scenario.

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Frequency-specific compression is one of the most important mastering tools. The Tube-Tech SMC-2B Vacuum Tube Multiband compressor is really excellent for this purpose. One example of frequency-specific use is to correct tracks with an indistinct or boomy bottom end. The Tube-Tech SMC-2B compresses, or tightens, the bass and/or kick drum and gives more definition to the low end instruments with out affecting the frequencies above it. Another example would be to use it on a specific frequency range to make a harsh, or edgy sounding vocal more pleasing to listen to. By zeroing in on just a certain area of the track, you can avoid changing other areas that do not need the same treatment.

De-essing, or reduction of sibilance in the vocal track of a mixed master can be accomplished by using a de-esser which is a type of narrow band frequency-specific compressor. De-essing stereo tracks without losing valuable high end information requires very specific tools. We use the TC 6000 De-Esser, the Weiss DS1-MK2 Compressor / Limiter / De-esser or the Weiss EQ-1 MK2 Dyamic & Linear Phase Equalizer. The Tube-Tech SMC-2B is also excellent for this purpose.

Overall compression is used to level out the dynamic range of a program in order to make it sound more homogenous and louder. If your tracks are played on the radio, they will be subject to the station's multi-band compressors therefore an album that is already properly compressed will react less to the radio station compressors and will sound on-air more like your production CD. Obviously, the type of music dictates how much overall compression is used, i.e., jazz and heavy metal will get a completely different treatment. We use the Manley Variable MU tube compressor/limiter and the Requisite L2M Tube Mastering Limiter/Expander (both are expensive state-of-the-art units only found in the best mastering suites), followed by Wave's L2 or the TC Electronic's Brickwall Limiter (see below).

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Adjusting The Levels of Different Sections of a Track

Any individual portion of a mix can have its volume raised or lowered, i.e., the acoustic guitar intro is too soft in comparison to the rest of the track.

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