Mastering is the ultimate step in music manufacturing. It’s the method of enhancing the sound high quality and perceived quantity of your track (if attainable and/or wanted) with assistance from such instruments as an equalizer, compressor, limiter, stereo enhancer, and many others.

It’s additionally making ready a track for the right medium (i.e. “mastered for iTunes”). After mastering, your track ought to be able to go public.

Earlier than and After

Right here’s an instance track that’s been mastered with the FL Studio mixer state file from this tutorial (obtain hyperlink under). It’s considered one of my very own songs. That is an instance of one thing that you possibly can simply do with the identical setup.

First, the unmastered model:

And right here’s the mastered model. It could be a barely an excessive amount of squashed, however anyway, evaluate the distinction:

Nice. Now that we’ve set some expectations, let’s go over a number of home cleansing particulars earlier than we get into the tutorial. Or in case you’d would fairly skip all the data and get proper into the detailed steps, simply click on right here.

What Mastering Isn’t

Understand that mastering goes hand-in-hand with mixing. The reality is, in case your track will not be blended correctly, novice stage mastering isn’t going to do you any favors – in truth, it’ll in all probability make it worse.

Mastering isn’t a solution to repair main mixing points and in addition it isn’t “magic” that can flip an unbalanced combine into a cultured, business track. It is advisable to obtain the “commercialism” as a lot as attainable in the course of the mixing stage.

So, earlier than you take into account experimenting with mastering, it’s important to learn to combine first. Your track must sound balanced and nearly as good as attainable earlier than transferring into to the mastering stage. So if all that sounds slightly too acquainted, I like to recommend trying out a few of my tips for mixing digital music. And regardless that I’m don’t take into account myself to be knowledgeable, they may assist you to.

Do I must Rent a Mastering Engineer?

Numerous producers and professionals say that mastering ought to be left to the professionals. They are saying that you simply shouldn’t grasp your songs by your self in case you don’t know what you’re doing.

I wouldn’t disagree as a result of mastering engineers have the abilities, skilled gear, correct listening setting, and educated ears on high of years of expertise. So they stunning a lot know what might be executed (or shouldn’t be executed) to boost the standard of your combine.

However, we’re additionally dwelling within the new age of recent music manufacturing the place artists and producers are selecting to do much more on their very own – this contains the mastering section. There are numerous causes to need to tackle the mastering your self together with (however not restricted to): restricted finances, referencing your tracks at a “mastering level”, making music for enjoyable (not revenue) and don’t want to rent anybody, and the record goes on.

No matter your cause, I feel it’s good to study the fundamentals and get your head round what mastering can do on your tracks. My common rule of thumb is once I’m producing a monitor for enjoyable or experimentation, I deal with the mastering duties. As soon as I really feel like I’ve one thing prepared for launch, I’ll convey a mastering engineer on board.

However let me additionally preface by saying that I’m NOT knowledgeable – I’m only a hobbyist so what I’m writing right here might NOT be one of the best observe. If you’re severe about mastering your track, I STRONGLY advise you to contact knowledgeable mastering engineer. And for some wonderful recommendation on mastering, take a look at this text by Ian Shepherd or this information on mastering beats from Fashionable Samples).

So with that out of the way in which let’s transfer on!

A Little bit of Information on Mastering Instruments

There’s a broad vary of VST plugins that can be utilized for mastering: brick wall limiters, single band compressors, multi-band compressors, equalizers, stereo enhancers, and many others. And there’s even a bunch of presets to get you began.

I’ve to say although, that whereas presets is usually a nice place to begin, there isn’t an FX chain or “preset” that’s going to work for each combine. There isn’t a shortcut to mastering.

Every combine is totally different, which is why the mastering instruments should be picked and tweaked in accordance with every distinctive scenario. The whole lot depends upon the audio materials you have got and what you need to obtain with the mastering. Typically, it’s possible you’ll solely want so as to add a limiter to get the job executed, whereas different instances it’s possible you’ll want 4-5 totally different plugins. The factor is, you simply must study to make use of your ears and choose your instruments primarily based on that.

So with that in thoughts, I’m going to indicate the tactic and the instruments that I used to grasp the track on this tutorial. The plugins and the settings had been tweaked and tailor-made particularly to the instance track in order that this configuration gained’t work precisely on your mixes.

The concept is to take the overall data that I’m presenting and apply it to your mixes in a method that’s distinctive to your sound or your explicit venture.

I’ve additionally included the FL Studio Mixer State file on the finish of this tutorial so that you can obtain into your classes and experiment with in case you select to try this.

However I also needs to emphasize that that is NOT a definitive information to mastering as there may be much more to the method than simply throwing a bunch of plugins at your combine.

Okay, let’s start!

Getting ready The Tune For Mastering And Getting Down To Enterprise

There are literally two methods to grasp your songs in FL Studio (or any DAW for that matter).

  1. You possibly can grasp the track whilst you’re mixing it or
  2. you possibly can export the track as a WAV file, create a brand new empty venture, import it again to FL Studio, after which grasp it.
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I personally wish to hold mixing and mastering as separate processes, so I’m going to make use of technique 2 for this tutorial.

STEP 1 – Export your combine to WAV

Earlier than you export your combine to WAV (aka do the mixdown), it’s essential be sure that it isn’t clipping. A technique to try this is to drop the grasp quantity stage to round -6.0 dB or decrease. That is to go away some headroom (“air”) between the very best peaks and the 0dB stage, thus avoiding the looks of clipping (learn extra about this in my mixing tips article).

Nonetheless, in case you’re exporting your WAV to 32 bit floating level format, you don’t want to fret a lot concerning the clipping  Besides, it’s nonetheless a great mixing observe to keep away from clipping by utilizing the extent faders.

Nonetheless, in case you’re exporting your WAV to 32-bit floating level, you don’t want to fret a lot concerning the clipping(take a look at mixing tip on utilizing 32 bit floating level format). Besides, it’s nonetheless a great mixing observe to keep away from clipping by utilizing the extent faders.

Additionally, ensure you don’t have any compressor or limiter on the grasp fader if you export the monitor.

Use the very best attainable high quality for rendering. Listed below are the settings I’m normally utilizing:

STEP 2 – Create a brand new empty FL Studio venture, and open your exported combine in Edison

Lower the pointless silence on the finish or starting of the track (if any). Verify the pic under:

STEP 3 – Create a really quick fade out on the finish of the track (if wanted)

That is to keep away from the track being abruptly reduce. In some instances, there may be a tail of reverb or delay nonetheless taking part in after the precise track has ended. Verify under:

Create a Short Fade Out At The End of the Song**SIDE NOTE** The next step it is best to take with warning!!!

STEP 4 – Peak normalize the WAV file

Peak normalizing will increase the amplitude of the waveform in order that the loudest peak is at its most attainable stage (close to 0dB). This will increase the monitor quantity with out clipping.

Different producers say that it is best to NOT normalize your WAV at this level. Nonetheless, I’ve been doing it regardless. I just like the sign to be “hot” earlier than feeding it to plugins that have an effect on the dynamics of the audio. I could also be doing it unsuitable, however thus far I haven’t had any points with this step.

However then once more, what do I do know? I’m only a hobbyist. So be cautious!

After normalization, save the adjustments to a WAV file.

STEP 5 – Create one other empty FL Studio venture and import the WAV to a Playlist

STEP 6 – Load the mastering plugins

Bear in mind, regardless that I’m showcasing a “mastering plugin chain”, the set of plugins you choose actually depends upon your combine and how much remedy you suppose it wants. The next plugin chain might very properly not go well with on your wants (you possibly can just do as nice solely with an EQ and limiter).

So right here goes:

Open the Mixer and add these plugins in a following order to the Grasp mixer tracks FX slots:

  • Fruity Parametric EQ 2 for chopping undesirable frequencies.
  • Fruity Compressor to be sure that the dynamic vary of the entire combine is balanced in order that there isn’t too massive gaps between the loudest and quietest elements.
  • Fruity Multiband Compressor for nice tuning the quantity stage in areas which can be nonetheless too loud or quiet within the combine (if any).
  • Fruity Parametric EQ 2 for enhancing frequencies.
  • Fruity Limiter for maximizing the quantity of the entire combine with out clipping it.

Now, few phrases concerning the order of the plugins within the FX chain: discover that the eq used for chopping comes earlier than the compression and eq for enhancing, after the compression. Why? As a result of the eq settings impacts how the compression behaves. For instance, in case you increase some low fequencies earlier than the compression, you elevate their peak stage and compressor will react to those peaks by attempting to attenuate them.

Nonetheless, like at all times in audio manufacturing, there shouldn’t be an excessive amount of do’s and dont’s: in some conditions the aforementioned might be precisely what you want, however in a standard mastering scenario, chopping frequencies may be greatest to be executed earlier than and boosting after the compression..

Under is a pic of the mastering fx chain:

Mastering FX ChainNow, to the settings of the primary eq.

STEP 7 – Fruity Parametric EQ 2 for CUTTING

That is the eq unit that comes BEFORE the compressors. You could wan’t to chop the very low frequencies from round 20-30Hz utilizing excessive move filter with steep filter slope and the excessive frequencies close to 20kHz with low move filter. These are frequencies that may’t be heard by way of a lot of the regular speaker methods, however they may add pointless power to your combine and will make it sound louder (not in a great way) than it truly is. In case like this, it’s like leftover noise that must be cleaned.

Nonetheless, in case you’re making digital music particularly for golf equipment, you would possibly wan’t to contemplate whether or not you narrow the lows in any respect. It is because if the track is performed by way of massive PA methods, you would possibly free an excessive amount of of the low finish response. And regardless that human ear can’t hear frequencies of 20Hz and under, they nonetheless can’t be FELT within the membership.

However, and proper me if I’m unsuitable, not practically all the massive PA methods are in a position to go all the way down to 20Hz. I’ve heard that the majority will truly roll off the 30-40Hz (?), so in case your combine has lots of power within the 20-30Hz area, it can simply uselessly waste the headroom of your combine. With that in thoughts, setting the reduce to 30Hz may be one thing value to check.

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Additionally, keep in mind this:  if the PA system has been setup poorly, there’s at all times a danger that sub-bass heavy tracks might blow up the system.

Slicing the 30Hz vary, when it’s not wanted, removes the pointless frequencies and will clear up your combine properly and provides a bit extra headroom to boost the general stage of your complete combine.

But it surely’s actually as much as you and what you’re planning on doing along with your track. You may very well finish as much as not use the chopping eq in any respect.

Observe concerning the excessive frequency reduce: in case you really feel prefer it, you may additionally attempt to begin rolling off the excessive frequencies already from 16kHz to scale back the occurance of ear aching excessive finish on massive PA methods.

Now, to the compression.

STEP 8 – Fruity Compressor

Fruity Compressor is a single band compressor and single band compressor is beneficial in mastering fx chain for leveling the dynamic-range variations in your combine. Compressor is nice for “gluing” totally different sounds within the combine collectively to tighten up the combo. Fruity Limiter works nearly as good (in all probability even higher as you possibly can SEE the place the enter sign is peaking so you possibly can simply set a proper threshold worth) if you activate the compressor mode in it.

Let me clarify the thought of compressor a bit extra:

Principally, compressor is nothing greater than a automated quantity controller. The concept is just about the identical like in case you would attempt to manually tweak a quantity controller in a response to the altering quantity ranges of your audio by attempting to maintain the general quantity stage of the audio inside an outlined minimal and most vary. With compressor, this all occurs mechanically: you may make the quieter elements in your combine louder and in addition be sure that the louder elements gained’t trigger clipping because the compressor reduces the acquire of the peaks and you may set the edge stage the place that is occurring and the way.

In a mastering scenario, compression can be utilized to make your combine sound dynamically balanced.

Right here’s the most typical compressor controllers defined:

  • Threshold units the sign stage (in dB’s) at the place the compressor begins to kick in. Whenever you begin to apply compression course of, begin with the edge, as a result of to have the ability to hear the compression, it’s essential to decrease the edge stage under the enter peaks of your audio sign.
  • Ratio units the quantity of compression that might be utilized.
  • Assault controls the time how rapidly the compression begins to have an effect on.
  • Launch units how rapidly the compression impact will cease after the sign drops under the outlined threshold stage.
  • Knee units at what fee the complete quantity of compression is utilized. Lowering the knee worth lets the complete compression to be utilized extra quickly – as quickly because the assault permits. That is the more durable knee. Rising the worth makes the knee softer letting the compression kick in additional gently.
  • Acquire (make-up acquire) is used to spice up the compressed sign output stage as a result of the compression course of reduces the acquire.

Couple of ideas utilizing single band compressor in a mastering scenario: you would possibly wan’t to attempt to use low ratio, lengthy assault and launch instances for extra clear sounding outcomes (clear on this context means avoiding that squashed and pumpy sound… preserving the audio as unique/pure sounding as attainable).

Nonetheless, each combine is totally different so it’s IMPOSSIBLE to provide any precise settings, however you possibly can START experimenting with these:

  • Threshold: -25dB (or wherever the enter sign of your combine is peaking at)
  • Ratio: 1.5:1 – 2:1
  • Assault: 50ms
  • Launch: 150ms
  • Acquire: 2-4 dB or extra (actually depends upon the place you set the Threshold and Ratio)

In case your combine begins to sound too squashed, attempt lowering the Ratio. Experiment with totally different Threshold/Ratio mixtures.

As a rule of thumb, use the compressor sparingly in a mastering scenario to keep away from squashing.

STEP 9 – Fruity Multiband Compressor

Multiband compressor is a good instrument in mastering fx chain for nice tuning the quantity ranges in numerous frequency areas.

Let me clarify the multiband compressor a bit: regular single band compressor (like Fruity Compressor and Fruity Limiter when the compressor mode is activated) impacts to the WHOLE frequency band, however multiband compressor enables you to apply the compression to a SPECIFIC frequency bands – on this case, low, mid and excessive. For every band, you possibly can set the filter cutoff level. Which means you possibly can outline what frequency areas the band compressors will have an effect on.

Multiband compression could be very helpful instrument in mastering as a result of, in case you wan’t to compress (management the quantity habits) of simply the low frequency vary, you are able to do that with out affecting an excessive amount of to the the mids and highs and vice versa. For instance, if  you have got loud peaks someplace within the low frequency space, you possibly can attenuate these with out decreasing the acquire of the mids and/or highs.

Principally, you possibly can do that with an eq as properly, however utilizing multiband compressor right here offers you a bit extra totally different sounding outcomes than eq – extra “organic” or regardless of the correct time period is.

Right here’s a fast introduction to totally different parameters in Fruity Multiband Compressor. Verify the pic under (click on to see it greater):

What settings do I like to recommend to make use of with Fruity Multiband Compressor? Once more, it’s unimaginable to provide any suggestions as every little thing relies upon what sort of audio you’re mastering. You possibly can START with these although, however be cautious: these might NOT work in any respect along with your combine (I truly really feel a form of dumb by recommending particular settings right here…)!

  • Limiter: 0ff
  • Filter: FIR
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LOW BAND:

  • Threshold: -25.0dB
  • Ratio: 1.2:1
  • Knee: 0%
  • Assault: 3.3ms
  • Launch: 62ms
  • Acquire: -1.6dB

MID BAND:

  • Threshold: -9.0dB
  • Ratio: 1.8:1
  • Knee: 76%
  • Assault: 31ms
  • Launch: 56ms
  • Acquire: 1.6dB

HIGH BAND:

  • Threshold: -11.0dB
  • Ratio: 2.0:1
  • Knee: 76%
  • Assault: 3.6ms
  • Launch: 48ms
  • Acquire: 2.7dB

Significantly, it’s essential study to make use of your ears and allow them to decide what settings to make use of. ?

Now, to the boosting eq.

STEP 10 – Fruity Parametric EQ 2 for BOOSTING

That is the eq unit that comes AFTER the compression. In case you wan’t so as to add a little bit of brightness to the entire combine, attempt boosting frequencies round 8-15 kHz utilizing peaking filter with a semi-broad bandwidth.

The boosting may’ve been executed with multiband compressor acquire controls as properly, however the eq is right here for much more exact management over the frequencies. Like I discussed within the multiband compression part above, it can give a slight totally different outcomes than eq when coping with the frequency adjustements.

STEP 11 – Fruity Limiter

Limiter is what you employ for maximizing the quantity of the entire combine with out distortion and Fruity Limiter is fairly good for that. The aim of a limiter in a mastering scenario is to restrict the output stage to an outlined most stage (normally close to to 0.0dB) to keep away from clipping if you’re growing the acquire.

I’ll attempt to clarify a bit how the limiter works:

Limiter is a detailed relative to compressor. It retains the sign from going above a threshold worth, identical to compressor. If the peaks are attempting to go above the edge worth, a acquire discount will happen.

Nonetheless, in compressor, the acquire discount is utilized in a extra light method and it additionally impacts to the quieter elements of the sign by making them louder, whereas limiter (a minimum of brick-wall limiter) squashes the peaks which can be attempting to go above the edge worth and depart the quieter peaks alone. Limiters acquire discount is absolut and extra aprubt than compressors. That’s the principle distinction.

In a limiter, you set the extent above which the sign might be restricted by utilizing the output Ceiling. Normally it’s set to -0.3dB. Now if you begin to enhance the quantity by utilizing enter Acquire, the limiter will squash all of the sign peaks which can be attempting to go above the -0.3dB. So the extra you are attempting to maximise the quantity of your combine, the extra squashed it can sound. Attempt to be light right here by not destroying your combine ?

Some limiters like Fruity Limiter has the assault and launch controls as properly. Assault controls how rapidly the limiter responds to the sign peaks. The Launch controls how rapidly the sign will “recover” from the limiting.

Right here’s among the most essential Fruity Limiter settings launched:

Fruity LimiterYou can begin with these settings, however do not forget that every little thing depends upon the audio materials you’re mastering:

  • Ceiling: -0.3dB
  • Acquire: 4.0dB-7.0dB
  • Saturation: 0.0dB
  • Assault: 4ms
  • Launch: 250ms
  • Assault Curve: 3
  • Launch Curve: 3
  • Forward: 9ms

Experiment with the enter acquire, however be light with it to keep away from squashing your combine. You realize you’re placing an excessive amount of acquire when the track is beginning to sound like confused or prefer it’s in nice strain. Attempt to discover a steadiness between most attainable loudness and never letting your combine to sound overly squashed.

STEP 12 – Export

Export the track as soon as once more to WAV utilizing highest high quality settings, besides set the WAV bit depth to 16 bit as that is commonplace in mastering as a result of you possibly can’t burn 24 bit recordsdata to CD.

That’s it. Hopefully this tutorial gave you an thought what sort of instruments you need to use (and the way to use them) to grasp a track in FL Studio.

Nonetheless, I can’t stress sufficient that EVERYTHING begins from a great combine so it’s important first to make issues sound correct and polished already within the mixing stage and never attempting to make use of mastering to repair a transparent mixing points.

Additionally, mastering will not be one thing you study in a single day. Personally, I’m at all times form of battling it as properly. It takes lots of persistence and trial and error, however experimenting is the easiest way to study.

Bear in mind additionally this: utilizing compression in mastering isn’t necessity. In case your track sounds good with out compression, then don’t use it. It’s not one thing that’s required for making a combination sound nice. It’s simply there to repair the dynamic vary. Really, EVERYTHING – be it eq, compressor or limiter – depends upon the combo and how much sound you’re after for. Ask your self: what do I need – and begin from there.

And eventually, obtain the FL Studio Mixer State file right here.

Right here’s the way you load it to a mixer monitor.

Ultimate tip: if you check this mixer state file of mine and also you’re experiencing an excessively squashed sound, firstly lower the quantity of enter Acquire within the Fruity Limiter as I’ve set it to fairly excessive.

For extra about mastering, I recommend studying a few of these articles:

What Is Mastering?
The Distinction Between Mixing And Mastering
How To Make Your Music Loud
Utilizing Compression
Multi-band Workshop
Superior Compression Strategies, Half 1
Superior Compression Strategies, Half 2

In case you’re actually severe about mastering your track to knowledgeable stage, utilizing a mastering engineer is really useful. Take a look at a few of these guys:

Ian Shepherd’s Mastering Media
Streaky Mastering
SAS on-line mastering
Pete Maher
Tom Waltz Mastering

Okay. That’s about it. ?

Credit to Mo Volans tutorial, which I used as a reference to create this tutorial!

I hope this tutorial helped you to start out mastering a track in FL Studio.

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