By Producer Spot
Many people assume that to master tracks you either need to send them to be done professionally or you need thousands of pounds of gear for master your tracks with. This is 100% incorrect. You can master your track within your DAW and even with the stock plugins. (Also see: Best DAW for music production).
Whether is about FL Studio, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, BitWig, Reaper or other music software, you can apply the following steps to easily master your music and get very good results in a simple and fast way.
From the beginning, I want to establish that this article applies to my preferences. Surely you know other ways to master your tracks, so do not expect an exact recipe.
For this article, I will illustrate these mastering steps using my FL Studio 12 app. Read on.
Export your finished track, make sure you export it in Wav format. This way it will be higher quality than mp3.
Open an empty project and import your Wav file here.
Add an EQ to cut the lows. 20Kz is the threshold of human hearing so cutting around here would be sensible, it would remove any of the rumble from your tracks.
Add a Compressor. This is to improve the dynamics of the whole track. You want to keep the track as natural sounding as you can so stay away from long attack and release times and low ratios.
You will need to test the settings of the compressor because every track will be different. Try with -20db threshold, ratio 2:1, Attack 50ms, Release 100ms, Gain 3db.
Add a multiband compressor. A multiband compressor is exactly like a compressor but you can apply the compressor to specific frequency ranges. Again, every track is different so you want to test it out.
I would usually have a threshold around 20db on the low band with a ratio of 1.5:1, very short attack and a short release time and a gain of around -1db.
On the “MID” band, I would have a threshold around 10db, a ratio about 2:1, short attack and release times and gain the same value as the low band but a positive gain instead of a negative like in the low band.
For the high band. I will use a threshold of around -10db, a ratio of 2:1, very short attack time (below 10ms), short release time (below 50ms) and gain around 4db (depending on how loud your mix is already)
Now add an EQ to boost certain frequencies. Now I would boost the high-end frequencies around 10-15kHz, but try it out on your mix and see what sounds the best. We use an EQ to add a bit of brightness to the whole mix.
Finally, we add a limiter, this is for maximizing the volume of the track without causing distortion. The settings of your limiter relies on your mix up to now.
I will explain to you what I do and what I found got me best results. Raise the gain so the output level is around 0db. A very short release (5ms), a release in between 200-300ms. No saturation, attack and release curve both set at 3.
The last step, once you are happy how your track sounds, export the track to Wav (just as you saw at Step 1).
I can’t stress enough the importance that these are just some of the methods that work best for me in the audio mastering process for my tracks. Every track is different so feel free to experiment with all the settings. The best way to get a clean professional sounding track is to start from a good mix!
If you liked this article feel free to share it with your fellow producers. Also, any comments are welcome, so you can share your knowledge with us – perhaps we can discover interesting mastering techniques together.