In today’s tutorial I’ll be sharing some audio Pre-Mastering Tips that you can use to finalize a mix and get it ready for mastering. This is the final step you’ll need to do once you’re happy with how your instrumentation and vocals sound.
You’ll need to do some Pre-Mastering if you feel like it can improve the overall mix and don’t want to necessarily rely on the mastering engineer to figure it out.
I’ve had some issues in the past where I thought my most trusted engineer will figure out some problem frequencies but they didn’t. So, whenever I feel like the mix could benefit with some minor adjustment, I always fix the problems myself.
I have to let you know that this process is not always necessary, especially if you can simply go back to a specific sound that’s causing the problem to fix the issue. Only do this if you believe it will benefit the entire mix.
The Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is perfect for this job since it’s specifically designed for mastering music. I also love the fact that it’s an all-in-one mastering chain and it adds a really nice flavor (sonic character) to a mix.
In some cases where I won’t use the plugin, I just keep it in the Mix Buss channel because it adds character and analogue warmth to the entire mix.
How to Finalize a Mix with Abbey Road TG Mastering
For the mix that I’m currently working on, I want to remove some harsh frequencies in the midrange before the song can be mastered.
So, I started with the EQ.
By sweeping around the high-mids I found some problem frequencies at 5.8kHz and created a cut in that area to reduce some sibilance and harshness.
Next up I found some nasalness at 1.45kHz and created a small cut to make sure that I don’t ruin the body and punch of the entire mix.
Finally, I removed some boxy and honky frequencies at 724Hz. A small cut was more than enough to make sure that I don’t mess up the presence of the bass guitar.
Once I was done with all that I switched the EQ from stereo to dual mono since the entire song was mixed in dual mono.
With all the harsh and honky frequencies removed, it was time to add some sonic character to the mix. I used the Tape Equalizer module to achieve this.
What I wanted to achieve is what’s known as the NAB tape equalization curve in the analogue world.
The Nab tape EQ curve creates a shelf-like boost in the low and high frequencies and then creates a dip in the midrange.
I also switched the tape from stereo to dual mono.
Finally, I added some parallel compression to glue the mix and still keep it punchy. I also switched the compression from stereo to dual mono compression.
I used parallel compression because the Abbey Road TG Mastering plugin uses a really high ratio so I didn’t want to choke the mix or ruin the dynamic range.
I still want the mix to sound as natural as possible.
As I was listening to the result, I realized that the mix could do with a small Pultec style boost above 12kHz to add some shine to it.
So, I pulled up the Waves Pultec EQ to create the boost and the results gave me the sound that I was going for.
And that’s how I do Pre Mastering and finalize a mix to get it ready for mastering. I trust that you found value in this tutorial and that this case study helps you improve your mixes.
Another question I get on a frequent bases is; “how do you know if a mix is done?” and the simple answer is “whenever you feel like there’s nothing else that you can improve to make the entire mix sound better” then you know the mix is done and you can send it for mastering.
Share this blog post, leave a comment below if you would like to add to the discussion or want to ask a question and I’ll definitely respond to you.
That’s it for today, we’ll speak again tomorrow.