Audio Mixing for Electronic Music part 2: Mastering | Donny Yi George | Skillshare

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Audio Mixing for Electronic Music part 2: Mastering

teacher avatar Donny Yi George, artist, musician, designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      01 intro


    • 2.

      02 getting started


    • 3.

      03 compression


    • 4.

      04 drum compression


    • 5.

      05 bass and synth compression


    • 6.

      06 drums channel compression


    • 7.

      07 drums reverb


    • 8.

      08 keys reverb


    • 9.

      09 mastering


    • 10.

      10 outro


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About This Class

In this class, we will finish mixing our track. We will be covering concepts and practices including:

  • compression
  • limiting
  • reverb
  • mastering

The skills and concepts you learn will apply beyond electronic music to all forms of audio mixing, including audio for video and games.

This class is a continuation of the previous class on mixing and is also the fourth and final class in the series Electronic Music Production for Beginners:

  1. Electronic Music Production for Beginners
  2. Electronic Music Production II: Track Arrangement
  3. Electronic Music Audio Mixing for Beginners part 1: (channels, frequency and equalization)

This class is intended for beginners, though more advanced producers may find some techniques and ideas to be useful. All you really need is a computer, though a good pair of headphones or speakers is recommended.

Ideally you'll have completed the previous classes and have a track that has been arranged and mixed. If not that’s ok, because I have provided a file that you can follow along with.

By the end of this class you should have a completed mixed and mastered track!

Meet Your Teacher

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Donny Yi George

artist, musician, designer


Hi, I'm Donny.

Hope everyone is doing good.

I like to make art, comics, design and music. I have a masters degree in Illustration and studied mixing / mastering at Dubspot electronic music school. I've been making comics, zines and been involved in the underground music scene for almost 20 years now too.

I also worked professionally for many years as a graphic designer / artist mostly at newspapers, including the Wall St. Journal. 

I love being creative and making stuff. I love people. I love learning.


my art


my music


graphic design

http... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. 01 intro: Hello and welcome to audio mixing for electronic music, part to mastering. This is the fourth and final class in my series, electronic music production for beginners. Where we take you through the entire process up producing attract from beginning to end, using free and open source software. In this class, we're going to finish mixing our track and also master it. And the process will be covering topics such as compression, limiting and reverb. So let's get started. 3. 03 compression: So here we have an illustration of waveform of a sound. You can see these louder parts, which are the high peaks. And you can see some inquiry reports which are the low peaks. Now what compression does it decreases this difference, decreases the dynamic range, which is the difference between the loud parts and the quiet parts. Here we have the threshold. Now this is the level where we start compressing. Basically when sounds are greater than this threshold level, they're going to be reduced. And they are reduced by a certain rate. This rate is called the ratio. And this is what the sound looks like after the compression at threshold level, you'll notice that the large pigs have been shrunken down. Here you'll see we've applied makeup gain, which increases the volume of the sounds. Overall. When we apply the makeup gain, the loud parts get louder too, but they still hit the threshold, which will still compress the sounds. And here's a comparison of the sound before and after compression. You'll notice that the high peaks had been reduced and the low peaks have been raised. So what this does is it makes the sound overall louder and usually it makes it clear. It also evens out the sound so you don't have parts that are too loud or too soft. There are many ways to approach compression though, and this is just one of them. Another important part of compression is attack time. So here is another waveform of a sound. In here we have the threshold level used for the compression. Notice how a big chunk of this sound is above the threshold. So what attack time is? It is the time before the compression starts to kick in. And this is measured in milliseconds. So here we have a small gap between when the sound starts braking above threshold and when the compression actually starts kicking in. And this is what the sound looks like after the compression kicks in, after the attack time. This is particularly useful for percussive sounds because you can emphasize the first hit where the beginning of the head, and then compress the rest of it to get a nice clear snap. Here's a comparison of the before and after. This is applying compression at the threshold level with attack time, most compressors have the standard settings. If this all doesn't quite make sense, That's okay. It took me a while to get my head around it too. In particular, attack time isn't really intuitive. It's kinda hard to perceive things on a millisecond basis. However, you'll be using compression a lot and it's probably one the most important skills in audio mixing. 4. 04 drum compression: Alright, now time to start compressing. The drums were working on the kick. And the first thing we wanna do is reset all the settings to one. You can turn the knobs all the way down. Or if you double-click on the knobs and you can input an exact value. Now here I'm going to start playing with the ratio and adjusting the value to see how it affects the sound of the kick. You'll notice as I increase the ratio, the kicker quieter. Now we can mess around the threshold a little bit. And the threshold is cranked all the way up. It basically doesn't do anything. But as you lower the threshold, you can see it start to, or you can hear it started to affect the sound. Here we're adjusting the makeup gain. And you want to toggle the bypass to see how the compressor actually affects the sound. There are playing with the attack little bit. For the kick, you don't want the attack to be a 0. You want to give it a little bit of space. So this first transients get through, especially with the kick lactose, which has a lot of high end. Now that we have basic settings we like, we can go in and start fine tuning things. You may notice that in the FX mixer, that kicked channel is peaking in the yellow, a lot of it. So that's one of the things you need to watch out for with compression and makeup gain is that you will often push it into the red and push it into the yellow. So I pulled down and makeup gain and I added this a little bit back. I'm gonna set it to 1.5. So it sounds nice. And it's just barely peaking in the yellow. So our predominant kick, you're basically going to apply compression to all the other junk channels. So what I'm going for is less clear, strong drum sound from each Trump channel. The techniques I'm using it basically to take each setting in, turn it all the way up and turn all the way down to see how it affects the sound at extremes. And then pull back. Good, good setting. The Santa max you're looking for. So the rest of this video is more or less meters fine tuning each drum channel. That anything really new. It's just repeating the same process over and over. So like I said, you're going to be using compressing a lot. So if you get the distance, you can probably skip the rest of this video and go onto the next one. If you'd like to see how I compressed each of the channels, continue to watch on. Hello. 5. 05 bass and synth compression: Yes. Hello. Good. 6. 06 drums channel compression: So after you place with depression through all the individual drunk channels and they're decent keyword channel. We want to apply some compression to the entire trunk channel as a whole. So all the drums coming into a drum channel will be compressed together. And it adds a little extra punching is to add dramas, but also adds a little bit of cohesiveness to drums also. So that the all are sorted normalize a no individual. Jiang channel is won't be too much louder than the other drum channels. Hi. 7. 07 drums reverb: So now we're going to add some reverb PDA drums. Now what reverb is, is it simulates the sound of the space. Similarly, it's the sound of reflections of the sound off the walls in the space in general. And what that does is it gives you the sound a little bit of presence. It makes it sound like it's in the space. Yeah, don't go on too much base in the reverb. That's pretty high. So I want the reverb on the drums. Clearly pretty subtle sound low live drums. So I'm trying to replicate live drums. Go studio setting. 8. 08 keys reverb: So here, before adding the reverb to the keys channel, I'm going to add a little bit of delay. And in particular, this reverbs delays kinda, kinda interesting, has his word it sound to it. So kinda like delay is very similar to reverb actually because of the way, sort of, uh, kinda like an echo bot and delay actually just repeats a sound a certain number of times. And you have the delay time, which is the time between each repetition of the sound. And there's also two channels, so you should get a different delay coming into each channel, which is actually the very left channel and the right and left sounds. And now we're going to add reverb to the keys. Want the base code pretty high. Reverb on keys is really nice because it gives a lot of stereo width that makes the, makes the key sound really wide. Which is really nice because the drums are kinda centered in the middle. You're kinda hitting in the middle of the stereo field. And to give a couple stereo field, it's good to have these sort of wide keys. And it goes really nicely with what the delay, a little echo. And then you have this sort of natural reverb echo on top of that is a really nice, obviously kind of softness to it. It creates a sense of air. So it's good to play with the reverb settings. Find out what works for you is how to find out was how nice. It's a fairly artistically thing. So here you see that the synth already has an effects chain. What we rewrote it, Plate Reverb, which is a type of emulation of an old-style of reverb, kinda from the seventies. And I'm adjusting the wet on the reverse and checking the effects on the Effect Chain. See how they sound and combination. So there's an adverse effect on the SEMP itself. Just like there is on the channel. I'm adding our stereo and answer effect onto the channel to give even more stereo effect. And the controls are pretty simple on there. Is one button here, just one now. Then you kind of want to hear how everything sounds together. And try to bring down just a little bit. So it's about thinking so much of it around. A little bit more. Here we go. And you notice that we didn't put reverb on the days January because it's so low in reverb, sometimes it can sound pretty cool. But for this, this kinda base, bases generally kinda mono anyways, it's kinda like kinda centered in the middle. So you don't have to everywhere. I'm just going to not even mess with it on this one for experiment. And sometimes you can, can use it if they sound pretty cool, actually. 9. 09 mastering: So here we're going to start adding a limiter, which is a special case of a compressor. It's basically a compressor where the ratio is infinity, which means that the threshold is, is a hard limit to how high the volume will go. See, as you notice, when we pull the threshold all the way down, it cut all the volume. And we also have the attack envelope to 0, which mean nothing. And since we're in the later stages of mixing, we're going to start fine-tuning do levels to get it just perfect. So you want to have the mix, how everything sounds together. You don't want to have everything balanced the way you'd like it to be. So now we're going to add a hard limiter to the mix bus cannot. And the hard limiter is pretty much like the limiter we just saw, the simple limiter except there is no attack. Setting. The attack is all the way down to 0 to begin with. And what we do have is dB limit, which is essentially the same thing as the threshold annual notice when we bring it all the way down and cause all the sound out. So what we're trying to do with the limiter now is just to prevent some clipping. Can to give the volume a sort of hard limit, the level of little reach so that we can adjust it some more later without a clipping. So here we are finally on the master channel and we're going to add a calf compressors today. So this is where I would consider the beginning of the mastering stage. On this cap compressor will we try and do is to add just a little bit of compression at the top of the channel, because everything is coming in here. And we want a little bit compressed to kind of give it a little hug to kinda bring all the sounds together. Well, you know, if we play with the threshold MTC, how much effect it has. So normally in mastering what you would do is you would have, you could mix, you'd print that out to a WAV file and then you add master separately. And since we have everything in the die anyways, and it's not too much or file bruschetta mastered all the same track. There where you can ask, also go back and fix the mix as you do the master. And the master is really is just like the final polish. Bringing the loudness up of the entire track, adding a little compression. And just making it louder basically, and just making sure it doesn't click. So now we're going to add our loaner. I'm going to set that to just negative 0.5. And that's just so we don't get any thinner artifacts. Sometimes if you push a level is too high, then it is 0 or it's an even to the point 1, point 2, you will get some, some distortion, especially when you create an MP3 or with a file. So here we're jacking up the makeup gain on the compressor. This is just to show you what the inhibitor does and what it does it decrease that hard limit that that ceiling on the sound. So you can keep cranking. Keep cranking again. And I'll get louder, louder, but he won't. Pq ongoing the red to the sound and it's going to sound if stored it as best because you're kind of crunching everything and you're making everything really loud. So the DAG with the dynamic range is disappearing. So you want to make a ping to stand out. So it's louder than that, so would store it. And you'll notice here on this compressor that I have the attack all the way down. And I've been adjusting the ratio and then make up gain. And what that's for is just, so this four is, it's just to sort of compress all this out just a little bit away. Alerts, hits. As opposed to the compression we're using on the drums when we let the train z as n first and then press the rest of it is tied reason compressor to compress the entire sound. As you may recall in the drunk compressor we had a little bit of attack time. Then. Now we're have no attack time when this compression. So what we're doing now is returning off all the effects on all the channels. So you can kinda see what effect the mastering and an M60 head on the track. Basically here, the before and after. So this is the track without anything on it. This is basically for mastering before mixing. And as we add back in all the effects you're going to hear here kinda come alive. Okay? And as I mentioned before, one of the benefits of mastering and see everything together as you can go back and edit the mix even after you set up the master. Now what I'm doing here is just adding a limiter to the base channel. So I can push it a little bit more. We've got a clipping. May notice that the channel goes red, but if you look at a Nixon, a master sigma values. And do you export the file? File Export? We're going to export as a wave and set it to 16-bit 44 k hertz is fine, everything else is fine. Go ahead and start. If you want. You can also export to MP3. Just change the file format. And now you can play it on your desktop. What I'd suggest also doing is playing their before and after. If you printed out the before, compared the two, but also compare your master to the master of professionally mastered tracks. And then if you need to go back and adjust the mastering to make it louder or softer. If you wanted to match. What you would call the reference tracks. Usually like to skip around and listening to tracks instead the beginning and the end. No problem. But you should offer, just give it a nice listen all the way through. 10. 10 outro: And we're done. And that was quite a process. So let's review what happened. So what we did basically is we apply compression to all the tracks, and then we apply compression to the mix bus channel. And then we applied limiting and reverb to certain tracks. And then what we did is we worked on the mix bus channel, setting the levels, setting the effects. And then we started working on the final channel, the master channel, applying compression and limiting to that. And during the mastering, it was mostly about getting the volume loud and making sure it didn't distort. Whereas during the mixing process we want to balance everything and get every, get everything sounding nice and crisp and clean. So I want to compare the workflow in this class versus a typical workflow. Now normally what you would do is you would do the mixing process separately from the mastering process. You would export out of the mixing process and then take that file and do mastering separately or have a separate person master that. And then so what you do in the mastering is work on the overall, the overall sound because everything would be mixed down into one channel. So you'll be doing a compression and limiting reverb and EQ on the entire track as a whole. But the way we worked is we had everything in the same file. And that way you can work back and forth between the mastering and the mixing. Find that a convenient and simplified and streamlined way to work. And if your CPU can handle it, then definitely it's a very flexible way to go. Other suggestions for mixing would be to include an EQ on the mix bus channel or maybe on the master channel. You can also add other effects such as saturation. You could add reverb to the mix bus channel or master channel. The only thing you really need to make sure you do is have the very last effect on the master channel. Have that be the limiter set to negative 0.5. So you don't get any distortion on your final export. So what I'm saying is the very last affected, everything goes to is this final limiter on your master. And so after you finish this mixed process and mastering pastas, you should have a commercially viable product now. You should be able to listen to it and it should sound good compared to commercial release. As you see are commercial releases, you hear. Good luck with your music and you're always going to be learning new things. And as a technology changes, you're also going to have to keep up with that. So I look forward to hearing your tunes. And thank you for taking this class.