Balancing Volume Levels Of Tracks
At the mastering session, volume levels are adjusted by "ear" (within correct technical parameters), not necessarily by meters in order to make a sequence sound balanced. For example, a lush ballad usually sounds better when heard at a lower level in sequence with a heavy up-tempo song. Our goal is to create a sequence that can be listened to at one sitting without the listener feeling the urge to get up and adjust either the volume or tone controls on the stereo.
Sometimes we receive tracks that are not mixed with enough of a stereo spread. We use the Digital Domain K-Stereo Processor to widen and deepen the stereo sound stage. The M/S (Middle/Side) component of our TC Electronic 6000 also can fix vocals that are too low or too hot very easily. The S1 by Waves can also correct the centre channel, ie. off centre vocals, without affecting the left/right field too much and vice-versa.
Occasionally it is beneficial to add a light reverb program to an entire track or tracks where a dry track(s) stands out unfavourably when compared to a majority of more reverberant tracks on the album. Sometimes it is added to an entire album to give it a "sheen" or polish that was lacking in the original mixes. Altiverb, an impulse response type reverb simulator, is ideal for mastering as it allows us to place your recording inside a specific hall or famous studio tracking room. The TC 6000 reverbs are also useful for this purpose.
Hiss , hum and vinyl restoration can be effectively handled with the Waves Restoration Noise reduction Tool Kit. The broadband noise reduction module samples the actual noise and usually doesn't change the music content adversely (please try to leave a "solo" sample of noise (no music, just the noise) on your studio mix). The other modules handle hum, crackle and clicks.
Occasionally we receive mixes where the level is too low on one side. If the difference is audible, we can balance the two sides.
Sound effects, voice-overs or new tracks can be added to an already mixed stereo program by using Pro Tools' multi-track functions. The new tracks can be treated individually with EQ, compression and reverb, if necessary.