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This piece was created for a video game called Minion Masters - currently in alpha. I hope I can get some critiques!

Ravager was the apex predator of his world, but with no regard for anything but the hunt, he eradicated every other living thing. He now travels the universe looking for any kind of light.

https://app.box.com/s/twz88afy1dl1ck4bfkp14amla54ra27a

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Now, where did ravager find the time to develop the means by which to travel the universe while, eradicating every other thing on it's planet?

No wonder our supposedly civilised world is fucked up. So many fantasists masquerading as intelligent beings.

Yes! It is an age thing. We all should know, one large meteor strike on our little globe would do a job quick time.

We are all nothing but star dust.

I think you won the internet. 

Ray said:

Now, where did ravager find the time to develop the means by which to travel the universe while, eradicating every other thing on it's planet?

No wonder our supposedly civilised world is fucked up. So many fantasists masquerading as intelligent beings.

Yes! It is an age thing. We all should know, one large meteor strike on our little globe would do a job quick time.

We are all nothing but star dust.

One minute Ray's talking sense, the next he goes a bit . . . Stancill. Ray! Come back, you glorious lunatic!

This was a cool piece Benjamin, a little let down by production to my taste. It doesn't quite feel "glued", and the percussion sounds too obviously-sample (in some cases like casio keyboard disco samples) to ignore. But this is a composer forum, it's going to get picked apart in ways that the audience won't notice. There's a great theme coming in on brass. I think you could cut out a few bits and expand on that for a better piece - it sounds best when everything is hammering away, though 3 minutes of main theme wouldn't work too well compositionally.

Do you do much mastering - multicompression, stereo imaging etc? It feels like it lacks that sparkle. I'm far from an expert of course.

Sounds good to me; if you wanted to check out mastering stuff you can do a free trial of Izotope Ozone and see it it's something you think you need. And there are audio forums that will be happy to nit pick for you too. It's a competitive field and little things can make a difference.

If you don't mind a counter opinion, I'd avoid Ozone. I find it colours the sound too much. If you have a decent DAW, the onboard tools are probably better.

Ingo Lee said:

Sounds good to me; if you wanted to check out mastering stuff you can do a free trial of Izotope Ozone and see it it's something you think you need. And there are audio forums that will be happy to nit pick for you too. It's a competitive field and little things can make a difference.

Yes, all the tools in Ozone are available elsewhere and there are a multitude of flavors from different sources and an audio engineer should pick and choose the plugs that work the best for the project.

I suggested Ozone because it's a good beginner package. It has lots of documentation and presets that are a good starting point to learn from; and the trial version is free, but there's lots more out there.

Mastering is hard to learn, I think you need something, tutorials, a school, some helpful forums, as a starting point.

Dave Dexter said:

If you don't mind a counter opinion, I'd avoid Ozone. I find it colours the sound too much. If you have a decent DAW, the onboard tools are probably better.

Ingo Lee said:

Sounds good to me; if you wanted to check out mastering stuff you can do a free trial of Izotope Ozone and see it it's something you think you need. And there are audio forums that will be happy to nit pick for you too. It's a competitive field and little things can make a difference.

A lot of varying opinions here. I will check out Ozone, but if David is right, (coloring the sound), then I'll probably just do a better job of mastering with PreSonus. Practice, practice, practice!!

I definitely always have something new to learn. I agree that it lacks a sparkle. This is something I really want to spend time with once I get my new speakers. I've strictly been using headphones, and I think this handicaps my mixes. I have a little compression on each track. After a fresh listen this morning, I'm also in concurrence with the drum kit sounding gimmicky. 

I will definitely repost once I work on this a bit more after I get new speakers. I appreciate the feedback. Like you said, though, the general listening audience probably won't pick it apart quite as much as a composer's forum would - but that's exactly why I posted it here! I like being picked apart. 

For our listening pleasure, here is my new version of Ravager's Vengeance with added umph.

https://app.box.com/s/twz88afy1dl1ck4bfkp14amla54ra27a

In my personal opinion, a good mix shouldn't have anything on the master track, except occasionally a limiter or very, very subtle compression to catch any potential peaks. I try to get the most volume and shine out of a mix by processing on each individual track  - I think it is a bad habit to crutch on using any one tool on your master track. 

If you want to really get good at mixing and mastering, try hanging out on the Gearslutz forums for a few years - that's all I needed to get at least halfway decent at mixing, I never had any classes and maybe have only watched a handful of free youtube tutorials. It does simply take a lot of practice, just like composition, playing an instrument, or anything else. 

If you wanted to apply a single effect that applies equally to all tracks wouldn't it make sense to either route all tracks to a single buss, or else put it on the master buss (which is less work) ?

Traditionally mastering engineers would only work with a stereo mix sent from a mixing engineer which is the same as putting effects on the master buss.  There are plenty of examples where an engineer made improvements to a recording by doing this, why limit yourself?  I'm just asking, I've never heard of anyone trying to avoid using the master buss .

David Lilly said:

In my personal opinion, a good mix shouldn't have anything on the master track, except occasionally a limiter or very, very subtle compression to catch any potential peaks. I try to get the most volume and shine out of a mix by processing on each individual track  - I think it is a bad habit to crutch on using any one tool on your master track. 

If you want to really get good at mixing and mastering, try hanging out on the Gearslutz forums for a few years - that's all I needed to get at least halfway decent at mixing, I never had any classes and maybe have only watched a handful of free youtube tutorials. It does simply take a lot of practice, just like composition, playing an instrument, or anything else. 

I personally, if looking to add an effect to all audio tracks, would create a return track with the effect on it. Then I can control how much of each individual track I'd send to the return track, to determine how much I want that effect to affect the dry signal sending to it. 

This gives me more control over each individual track and how much its signal is sending to the return track.

This is speaking in terms of digital mixing and mastering. The methods you described are from working with tape most likely, and I have no experience in that. 

To me, the more you can control in your mix, the better. Throwing a reverb on the master track, for example, can cause results you do not want in the way certain frequencies interact with one another. It also washes out the 'dry' signal of each individual track.  

I seem to be disagreeing with everyone today :)

In my experience I'm with Ingo - I've tried mastering every track individually and it doesn't work well. I get the best-sounding mix I can, export with some headroom for mastering, and then do the necessaries. This seems fairly standard practice. You get a good sound so I suppose it works for you, but applying unique effects on single tracks won't give quite the same effect as applying them to the full mix.

It's all tied in with how good the individual tracks are, though, whether recordings or samples. I now have very good mics, preamp and interface so even the raw audio sounds good. My older recordings needed more work done on them and even older ones just sound terrible now. Your audio fidelity seems high, so you won't need to do as much.

Benjamin - I feel like you've just boosted the bass in your mix. That's not really the solution - frequencies lower than about 70-100hz (the very low bass end) are often redundant and muddy the mix. As a result of the pushed bass, especially in the kick drum and snare, the rest of the mix is dropping very slightly at those points. Counterintuitively, some high end airiness can bring out the bass in a mix. Much as in orchestral writing, a good mix generally will be even across the range. Too many gaps or too much weight in one frequency band will overpower a mix - yours sounds too bottom-heavy. And if you're using EQ or mixing tools extensively to fix problems in your samples or recordings, the mix will generally lack something.

Production is as personal as composing of course, but there's a certain minimum standard to get to before you then play around with your own taste. It's not difficult to achieve this standard though.

And definitely don't mix with headphones. You'll get occasional producers who swear by them, but the majority of the world's best music was mixed with flat-response monitoring speakers - NOT normal PC or hifi speakers, which colour the sound. I've mixed with all three over the years.


David Lilly said:

In my personal opinion, a good mix shouldn't have anything on the master track, except occasionally a limiter or very, very subtle compression to catch any potential peaks. I try to get the most volume and shine out of a mix by processing on each individual track  - I think it is a bad habit to crutch on using any one tool on your master track. 

If you want to really get good at mixing and mastering, try hanging out on the Gearslutz forums for a few years - that's all I needed to get at least halfway decent at mixing, I never had any classes and maybe have only watched a handful of free youtube tutorials. It does simply take a lot of practice, just like composition, playing an instrument, or anything else. 

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