Mastering techno- how do they get the huge looking waveforms

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austinedward08
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Mastering techno- how do they get the huge looking waveforms

Post by austinedward08 » Thu May 11, 2017 9:49 pm

I'm finding that a ton of my favorite tracks to dj all have these similarly huge waveforms when viewing them in rekordbox or soundcloud. What are they doing to achieve this? I'm guessing it's not slamming the limiter on the master track as I've tried that lol, any tips?

Here are some examples, I've heard this in videos referred to as a "sausage" master as opposed to "fishbone" master

https://soundcloud.com/ultramajic/child-of-god

https://soundcloud.com/fadetomind/na-definite-sentence

https://soundcloud.com/herrecords/mm-qb ... volume-4-1

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ignatius
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Post by ignatius » Thu May 11, 2017 11:04 pm

if you hit "command +" in the waveform editor the waveform will zoom in and look huge.

srsly though... it's a combination of things... one mastering engineer i know pushes gain into his AD converter which has a really great analog front end and it's basically clipping/saturation and then does usual mastering things.

mastering studios often have analog signal chains with very high headroom and they can gain stage at every step and find ways to make things louder and squeeze every bit of dynamics out of your mix so it's just a big flat block that makes for ear fatiguing listening.

there's lot's of digital tools around these days too.

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austinedward08
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Post by austinedward08 » Fri May 12, 2017 1:02 am

ignatius wrote:if you hit "command +" in the waveform editor the waveform will zoom in and look huge.

srsly though... it's a combination of things... one mastering engineer i know pushes gain into his AD converter which has a really great analog front end and it's basically clipping/saturation and then does usual mastering things.

mastering studios often have analog signal chains with very high headroom and they can gain stage at every step and find ways to make things louder and squeeze every bit of dynamics out of your mix so it's just a big flat block that makes for ear fatiguing listening.

there's lot's of digital tools around these days too.
hmm yeh i suppose i could try to replicate that digitally -- i don't really run outboard gear. getting a better understanding of compression would probably help too... i've been working in ableton for far too long to not be pro at this lol

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Post by Hainbach » Fri May 12, 2017 1:32 am

Read Bob Katz book "Mastering Audio". Best money you will spent.

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Post by TheRosskonian » Fri May 12, 2017 10:27 am

Always good to see another Ultramajic fan :nana:

The three tracks you posted have a lot going on in them respectively. I have to assume that they are using some form of parallel compression to bring up the general volume of the track, especially effecting how it looks in a waveform viewer. That being said, Soundcloud's waveforms make no sense to me visually. Sometimes they match what I think a track should look like, but most times they don't. Serato, which I'm assuming Rekord box borrows from heavily, seems to make more sense to me. But in the end, how the waveform looks only really matters if it can translate over to the person needing the visual aid (DJ, producer, or engineer). Everyone else will only use their ears, the important part.

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Post by nuromantix » Sat May 13, 2017 4:14 pm

I master quite a lot of house & techno records. I don't try to squash too much unless it seems like the client wants that sound.

If they do want it loud then I generally use:
a software comp to catch any occasional transients...
whatever EQ sounds good...
a Maselec limiter shaving off just a dB or 2 from transients...
a good valve comp (with a very slow attack and release set to make the track groove) with gain reduction going up to 5dB on some tracks...
a few more dB of gain from Waves Maxx BCL as long as it doesn't adversely affect transients.

When you are doing this much squashing it's often necessary to automate the level of the audio going into the chain in order to preserve overall dynamics and avoid everything sounding superloud in breakdowns and then dipping away when the kick/bass come in.

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Post by ignatius » Sat May 13, 2017 4:56 pm

Hainbach wrote:Read Bob Katz book "Mastering Audio". Best money you will spent.
+1

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Post by mrflannery » Tue May 16, 2017 12:00 am

ignatius wrote:
Hainbach wrote:Read Bob Katz book "Mastering Audio". Best money you will spent.
+1
+1

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Post by listentoaheartbeat » Tue May 16, 2017 5:29 am

'Mastering Audio' is one of my favourite books about audio engineering, however I'd take it with a grain of salt when it comes to mastering techno music. You can apply a very crude approach to many techno tracks, especially those that are rather raw and upfront like the ones you posted. That said, the book will help you gain a deeper understanding of audio systems, signal properties and how signal processing relates to program material, which is obviously helpful!

In most cases, it's not about mastering though. If you run your mix through a limiter with 2-4 dB of gain reduction and it isn't almost there, go back to the sounds and the mix. The potential for a great mix lies in the sounds you use. If you get your sounds right, you should be able to create a good mix only by adjusting the levels. Add some purposeful processing and it will become a great mix. In an ideal scenario, mastering only adds some final touches.
Last edited by listentoaheartbeat on Tue May 16, 2017 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ear ear » Tue May 16, 2017 5:59 am

There's some interesting reading matter on Chris McCormack's site at Blacklisted Mastering.
He throws the ink first and works out what it is later. "I've got to turn that into parrots." - Ralph Steadman

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Post by dubonaire » Tue May 16, 2017 7:02 am

ear ear wrote:There's some interesting reading matter on Chris McCormack's site at Blacklisted Mastering.
Great techno producer.

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Post by ear ear » Tue May 16, 2017 11:50 am

Bloody hell, something I agree with you about. :)
He throws the ink first and works out what it is later. "I've got to turn that into parrots." - Ralph Steadman

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Post by dubonaire » Tue May 16, 2017 3:25 pm

ear ear wrote:Bloody hell, something I agree with you about. :)
Ha ha! Well I guess that's the awesome thing about techno right? A common bond. 8-)

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Post by JonathanB » Wed May 17, 2017 2:19 pm

this
listentoaheartbeat wrote:'Mastering Audio' is one of my favourite books about audio engineering, however I'd take it with a grain of salt when it comes to mastering techno music. You can apply a very crude approach to many techno tracks, especially those that are rather raw and upfront like the ones you posted. That said, the book will help you gain a deeper understanding of audio systems, signal properties and how signal processing relates to program material, which is obviously helpful!

In most cases, it's not about mastering though. If you run your mix through a limiter with 2-4 dB of gain reduction and it isn't almost there, go back to the sounds and the mix. The potential for a great mix lies in the sounds you use. If you get your sounds right, you should be able to create a good mix only by adjusting the levels. Add some purposeful processing and it will become a great mix. In an ideal scenario, mastering only adds some final touches.
Buttons. I like buttons.

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Post by XAXAU » Mon May 22, 2017 12:15 pm

I use:

Clipping
Distortion
Parallel upward compression
Parallel upward multiband compression
Limiting with slow release 25-50ms

I mostly process individual tracks and master gets slow release limiting.
I get clean but loud tracks doing this. It's all happening in the production stage, never at "mastering".

Read "maximum illusion with minimum voltage"

Cheers

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Post by mrflannery » Tue May 23, 2017 10:54 am

Ooh, also check out Dave Darlington mix tips for dance music on youtube or lynda.com he's got some great tricks up his sleeve.

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Post by strat_barrett » Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:09 pm

Thanx for the Bob Katz book tip :tu:

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Post by wiggy81 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:01 am

'There is no magic silver bullet. There is no one magic anything that will be 'best' in all situations. The ability of the operator to determine what it is that needs to be done and pick the best combination of tools is more important than what tools are used." - Glenn Meadows
+1 for the bob katz book.

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Post by calaveras » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:12 am

all of that but frankly, those tracks are fricking loud.
I checked them against a couple of mine which I mastered kind of aggressively and they were tons louder.
I'm gonna guess they are using Oxford inflator or some similar loudness black box to goose things up.
Me I like to use a smidge of EQ, the UAD Neve 33069 limiter/compressor.
Some sub bass synthesis (just a hair).
And maybe a little more EQ if the dynamics dulled things out.
I've tried the 2 or 3 comps and limiters thing and it always seems to start getting hazy and dull. Maybe I just need better plugs.

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Post by MAXTHEDOG » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:16 am

Compression and brick wall limiting is what it's about.
Another good article is "The Loudness War" in Sound On Sound magazine. Can't remember the exact month but it was sometime in 2016.

+1 for the Bob Katz book.

However, having read it twice in the days when I was concerned about these things I came to the conclusion that few of the tips, info etc would be of any help to most people given that they won't have a dedicated room and all the relevant (costly) equipment for mastering.
Mastering requires a different skill set to mixing etc.

Regarding the matter of compression, I must be odd but I've never understood why producers bang on about "just added a couple of dB's for blah,blah". I've never been able to detect anything other than compression being plastered on thickly as it were. YMMV.
That maybe more to do with my ears - in their 50's now or the fact that I've never had access to several grands worth of Culture Vulture, UAD, Avalon etc
Only plug ins and a cheap non tube rack unit. Once the individual tracks are mixed in with the rest I'm sure any changes are buried.
My €0.02.

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Post by calaveras » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:15 pm

I actually went to school for this shit like 25 years ago.
One of the kye lessons I learned was that a lot of audio engineering isn't magic bandaid that just fixes it. But rather doing 30 different things that all give you half a dB of goodness.
Same goes for mastering and volume maximizing.
Shaving off 2db from the peaks with a compressor, then another limiter that keeps everything within a fairly narrow average can get you a good 3-4db of extra loudness. Which is great, thats like doubling the wattage of your amplifier. But it also really helps to get your master as tight as possible before you get to the Inflator/Maximizer etc plugin.
Personally I like the sound of a kick and snare with a big fat fast transient. That is how it sounds live!
But in this era of MP3 and AAC delivery you have to reduce the crest factor so that there is not a lot of difference between your peak and average value.
Logic has a cool meter called the 'Multimeter' which shows phase correlation, peak and RMS as well as a nice horizontal spectrograph (corrected for loudness per octave so it doesnt slope away towards the treble).

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Post by jloveland » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:40 pm

If you actually care about sound quality HAVE A PROFESSIONAL MASTER YOUR SHIT. Seriously. Anyone can brickwall a waveform and get your hot fire ready for da club, but a real pro will actually give a shit and help IMPROVE the track. For real. Call up Deitrich, Tim, Neel, Pole, Rude, etc. and let the proz handle it.
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Post by ReturnCodeZero » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:39 am

ear ear wrote:There's some interesting reading matter on Chris McCormack's site at Blacklisted Mastering.
There is indeed.

Its all about the mix.

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Post by slumberjack » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:32 am

jloveland wrote:If you actually care about sound quality HAVE A PROFESSIONAL MASTER YOUR SHIT. Seriously. Anyone can brickwall a waveform and get your hot fire ready for da club, but a real pro will actually give a shit and help IMPROVE the track. For real. Call up Deitrich, Tim, Neel, Pole, Rude, etc. and let the proz handle it.
i'm more than tired of dudes who think they can master - even their own! - mixes.

every professional and/or well trained and experienced musician with degree i met said so.

the clue isn't only about the outboard gear. or the experience. or the secrets these people learned from their antecessor. it's also the room. and there again it's not only the accoustic threatment but especially for club music you only want to master in a room where the longest wave can 'float' it's cycle at least once. at then you're at min at 8-10 m / 30 feet in lenght.
and then still you'll need perfect mode protection.

preferably master your skills in mixing imho. spend time listend you mixes on as much systems as possible. adjust until they sound the same EVERWHERE even on you phone the bassline has to translate well together with the kickdrums. if you're there your will know what i'm talking about.
as a hint: the overall loundness has more to with HOW present the sound are in the mix. and how they can stand alone for themself. when you think about mixes as painting then it's about the colors (not refering directy to color as soundtimbre here) and how the stand out fot them self and fit into the picture at the same time. there comes your impact where the picture 'jumps off the wall' / the sound 'seems to 'jump out of the speakers'.
this is presence. this is actual loundness.

or if need a more audio related explantion you can think of the mix like that:
if you deliver a mix with -6db of headroom then you allready got around 100db all set. so the mastering won't or better CAN'T get you that much
of gain as you can deliver within that 100db without any recongnizable artifact of (over-)compression.

i know it's hard but: we all have to work on our mixes first.
there is no magic but dedication and doing the same stuff over and over.

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Post by XAXAU » Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:00 am

It’s all in the mix. Choosing sounds, catching peaks with light limiting, saturation, eq & parallel compression.

Put a limiter on the master and push your track into it until it has the same volume as the track you’re fond of. It will be a busy limiter with lots of distortion at first especially if the release is fast. When you learn to “mix” properly the limiter will do a maximum of 5dB GR on occasional peaks but will be as loud as most sausage tracks out there.

I use abletons limiter with 25ms release = soft limiting without the noise. I use that on the kick, drum bus, synth bus and master. Again just catching some peaks.

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