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Red Mastering Studio

{Red Mastering Studio}{se218hp London}{London}{se218hp}{London}{UK}{ 44 (0) 207 193 3307}
se218hp London, United Kingdom se218hp London London
Phone: 44 (0) 207 193 3307 $$$ Red Mastering Studio

Filip Pietrzykowski

Filip has extensive experience in all aspects of Music Production. Starting with creating/writing songs, making arrangements, then recording it, editing, mixing and finally mastering. This Blog here is for anyone interested in technical and less technical aspects of Music Production, Sound Engineering, Audio Mixing and Mastering Music.

dancing song

Dance Music Mastering

Do you master Dance Music ?

This is the one of the most often asked questions, we receive from our Clients.

The answer is YES we do!. It is actually our plat du jour:)

Let me start with a little introduction to the subject of Dance Music. The definition is very wide.

I remember when I was a youngster, falling in love with the sound and music of  the Massive Attack, the Bristol’s famous artist. In music magazine, the review of their acclaimed album Protection, was under Dance Music section. Well, I found it a bit weird, because back then my definition of dance music was different. So let’s establish without going to much into the details, what really is dance music ?

Dance Songs

The logic is suggesting, that any kind of music allowing you to dance can be classified as a dance song, wright ?
Therefore, wouldn’t you say that groovy reggae song with classical Caribbean rhythm isn’t a dance song ?
We are not talking about typical genres considered as a DANCE MUSIC, namely  – disco music, techno music, house music, drum and bass, trans music, goa, psy-trance, break beat, jungle, EDM (electronic dance music) etc.
The focus here in this article is on the genres off the borders of the ‘classical dance music’:)

So let’s get back to initial topic of this article – Mastering Dance Music.

Considering our work through last 8 years,  Red Mastering Studio, provided music mastering for more than 1000’s clients, and 80% of that work was a wide define dance music. By wide define I mean genres like reggae, soul, funk, rnb and hip hop.

We could loudly say that we do specialise in mastering dance music!

The thing about music is, the music needs to be heard/listen, so below are prepared chosen audio examples of a dance tracks, audio mastered by our mastering studio.

Starting with sweet Jamaican vibes:

If your feet and your body still not getting the groove, another great reggae song:

Ok, we are moving on with adding another spice in the music, different rhythm, and groove, and how could you miss Donna Summer when we talking about dance music ?;)

Not so far from the Disco, and actually chronologically, just before we got Funk Music, oh yeah, who doesn’t like the funk? and the one below is a funk with a twist.

We need to slow our dance mode a little bit, to save energy for later:), so here we are with beautiful soul music, great to dance with beautiful girls too

As you noticed we are actually moving back in time after the jump from Reggae Music to Disco Music, and following with Funk and Soul, so now here we go with real Blues with some cool funky attitude

We got back almost to the roots of dance music, which certainly is blues, now we time-jump-forward to our modern times, and here we go with Hip Hop track, unconventional, because it’s not in English language, as most of the hip hop is:)

Let’s be honest about the fact that Hip Hop Music mastering is our main job, just check our hip hop songs playlist here. So we can move on with just one Hip Hop track, can’t we ?:)

and Bristol’s made genre – Trip Hop

It’s time to get to the core of Dance Music, so here we go with some beautiful electronic dance music:

moving further we cannot avoid House Music, from Chicago, Detroit, NY, London, Berlin…all around the world, house music took over

and let’s be honest here again… we master a hell of a lot of house, deep house, techno, tech house music, so we cannot just stop on one example, here is another chosen song :

and now we moving from Chicago and House Music tradition, into Detroit and Techno Music capitol!, below –  Techno Track mastering sample :

and one more, more minimalist, more groovy and dark techno

and finally, we go some good old drum and bass

 

 

 

Music Mastering Studio

-6dB mixing and mastering magic number

Headroom in the Mix for a Mastering Engineer

Why do most studios ask for -6dB FS?

“Leave headroom for mastering” is a term that is quite often used in the world of music. Nowadays there are a lot of amateurs in the music industry without sound knowledge of basic concepts around sound engineering. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet regarding headroom, which causes a lot of confusion especially for those who don’t have years of experience in the subject. Here, we aim at clearing some of the common doubts regarding this concept.
Peak Vs Root Mean Square (RMS)
Audio waveforms have the highest point, a midpoint or average and the lowest point. The highest point or maximum is referred to as the “peak”. The maximum peak that is allowed in digital audio is 0 dBFS (Decibels Relative to Full Scale). Similarly, the average point is called “Root Mean Square” or more commonly, “RMS”. RMS lies between the loudest and the quietest portion of the audio.
The importance of RMS is that it measures how loud we perceive the sound to be. As the sound gets louder, RMS draws closer to 0 dBFS. However, the perfect amount of “loudness” for mastering is not solely based on RMS. The difference between the maximum and minimum RMS, known as dynamics, is the best way to measure loudness in digital audio.

What is a Headroom in the mix? Peak vs RMS?

 

Headroom in digital audio refers to the difference in decibels between highest level “peak” and 0 dBFS. Although very commonly confused, headroom is not between the RMS (average level) of the mix and 0 dBFS. Headroom is a “safety zone”, and it is often advised to leave headroom for mastering. This implies that a finished audio file should peak at some decibels below 0 dBFS, else the task of mastering music becomes very difficult for the Mastering Engineer.

Digital and analog clipping? What is the difference ?

When a signal recorded in the digital domain goes above 0dBFS (the loudest recordable signal) it results in a “clipped” waveform.
Clipping is a distortion in the amplitude that occurs when the incoming signal cannot be handled properly by the electronics. Distortion across a whole mix is undesirable. It indicates a loss of exactness or “fidelity” of the original recording when it is reproduced.

 

audio clipping
Almost all audio was recorded and released using analog tapes before the 1980s. Analog clipping occurs when the incoming signal goes above the headroom in an analog tape. Analog electronics can still output the signal, but there will be significant distortion. However, these analog output waveforms are still rounded and sometimes even used on purpose to create a particular effect by musicians. Analog clipping is termed “soft” as it has almost a musical sound.
In digital clipping, the transition to distortion is not smooth and you cannot go past the ceiling. The output after digital clipping is a flat line. Hard digital clipping results in the highest level of loudness, maximum distortion and the greatest loss of bass.

What are inter-sample peaks?

All digitally created music has to be converted to analog before we can hear it. In order to smoother out our listening experience, reconstruction filters are used to round off the digital audio signal. However the drawback is that, these filters can cause differences in audio levels, resulting in clipping of signals close to 0 dBFS. A good quality digital-to-audio converter can handle these inter-sample peaks, but cheap speakers would not have sufficient headroom for it.

How do you avoid intersample peaks?

The best possible way to avoid intersample peaks is to incorporate a good amount of headroom between the peak levels and 0 dBFS. Intersample peaks can also be avoided by improving metering.
The aim should be for every mix sent for mastering to have minimum distortion.

How do you leave enough headroom for mastering?

A mix that is sent for mastering generally lacks headroom because it was mixed “hot” (by setting the meter level too close to 0 dbFS) or if plug-ins were used on the master bus just for loudness.
In order to leave enough headroom for mixing, you must keep in mind the following basics.
As mentioned previously, 0.0 dBFS is the point where clipping starts to occur(in digital domain). Keep the peaks in the mix below -0.0 dBFS.  A good buffer and safe zone is -6dB FS.

Aim for a “fishbone” shape for the waveform so that the transients and dynamics are intact and even transients do not go above -6dB FS.

 

Orban processing

mastering audio clipping audio

 

Do not eliminate headroom by automating volume too early. The best way to start is by adjusting individual faders to achieve a good balance in the mix and then move on to automation.
Keep the volume levels conservative when mixing audio. Mixing Music at loud volumes can result in misinterpretation of the actual loudness of the mix.
The bottom line is, if you steer clear of peaks at 0 dBFS and aim for a dynamic production, a good mix isn’t far away.
One of the most crucial points in leaving enough headroom is to always work in 24 bit (record, mix). Let us discuss the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit files.

What is difference between 16 bit and 24 bit files?

Earlier, all digital audio generators and recorders were 16 bit. Through gradual change, now, almost all digital products are in 24 bit.

Recording music at 24 bit increases audio resolution by 250 times compared to 16 bit.

It may not make your music sound much better, but it makes it possible to record dynamic music with both very soft and extremely loud parts. Recording in 24 bit gives your audio more room to breathe. This means you can record at low levels with greater headroom. Bandwidth limits are not exceeded, which results in better clarity of instruments and vocals.

Another important difference between 24 bit and 16 bit in digital audio recording is the variance in signal noise ratio (SNR). Signal noise ratio is the level of noise in relation to the signal. For music that is quantized at 16 bit, SNR is low, with the quantization noise just below the hearing threshold. However, with 24 bit audio, SNR is almost double that in 16 bit which is preferred for mixing and recording as it provides a good reserve to work with.
Thus, it is highly recommended that recording is always done with 24 bit as it gives the recording engineer adequate noise floor and headroom.

 

There are many varied opinions regarding how much headroom to leave after mixing for audio mastering. To add to the confusion, especially for budding sound engineers, there is quite a lot of wrong information being circulated regarding the “ideal” headroom.

In reality, more than sticking to a particular value for headroom, it is integral to always try and record with 24 bit in order to allow for sufficient signal to noise ratio.

It is also important to avoid peaking close to 0 dBFS.

In order to keep a safe zone, –6 dB FS can be considered as an adequate value for headroom though it is not a magic number or gold standard by any means.

Radio Ready Master

Audio Mastering for Radio (Part 2)

In the first part of our writing, we discussed what happens with our song when it plays on the radio. Professional Music Mastering for broadcasting industries plays a vital role to create our song radio ready. However, the quality of the output device is also responsible for how good your audio sounds on a device like a home speaker, car speaker, boom box or headphones. In the below segment, a brief discussion will take place about the 7 components of a radio broadcasting processor that plays the main role to create your song ready to play for the radio broadcasting.

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Red Mastering Studio, London UK

Radio Ready Audio Master (Part 1)

Radio broadcasting

 

Technology is meant to change. Even radio broadcasting is not out of this trend. Like all the technologies, radio technology is developing and changing constantly. With the invention of a digital radio system, our way of working has changed and that reflects on how we record a sound and struggle with the infidel internet radio. It is important for us to reproduce most of our recorded audio for quality analogue FM radio. Have you ever give it a thought what exactly happen to your songs when it broadcasts on a radio channel or did you ever made a strategy to make the most of your radio play?

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audio mastering process

Audio Mastering for iTunes. MFiT

There are many consumers and pro-audio press, who are well aware of the introduction of Mastered for iTunes technique. But there are some music producers, who do not know about the details of this procedure, as well as its advantages and utilization in the real world. This article will help you to know about Mastering for iTunes program and importance in the music industry.

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Mastering for iTunes

Mastering for iTunes. Preparing the master

The mastering for iTunes from Apple is creating the latest buzz in the recent years. Even, there are lots of confusion regarding this matter among the musicians and the music composers. Mastering music for the iTunes is a common process yet it is gaining importance due to its wide acceptance among the music lovers. There are four ways through which the mastered iTunes can be discussed. Have a look on them in brief-

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Audio Mastering Music

What is Audio Mastering?

Audio mastering is the final and last step in the process of creating that perfect sound that we so often hear everywhere. While to us mere mortals, it may only be seen as a complex audio post-production behind-the-scenes step, the actual process of mastering audio is a lot more interesting and intriguing than it sounds. Simply put, audio mastering is the process of taking a mixed song and preparing it for a distribution, but as we all know, nothing is as simple as it seems and there are many factors that feature in audio mastering process.

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Music Production from writing to mastering

Mixing, Mastering And Music Creation

Whether it is commercial music or audio for other purposes such as movies, you can be sure that the audio has been through quite a long process of being created, recorded, edited, mixed and finally, mastered. While the creation of music by artists still remains the most important element of the process, the music would not exist on record without the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to release this music in many different formats which can be played on modern technology.

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