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Topic: Mastering Help

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  1. #1

    Mastering Help

    Hi, everyone.

    I'm really new to using a DAW and I'm using Cubase SE and Garritan 2.0 version 1.1.8.003 and my system is a 2.0 gig AMD processor with 2 gigabytes of RAM installed. I want to find a basic solution for mastering while I play and record.

    Currently, my sounds are coming out too loud and distorted when I play sounds in a section, like for instance a section of 6 violins. This especially happens when I play a loud passage.

    Should I have mastering in place to keep my volume levels down, or should I control it through the keyboard while playing and then filter out the high volumes later during the final mastering? What should I do?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Mastering Help

    Hi, TyPh1 - Thanks for coming here for some help. Let me get started at least:

    There are so many things in your short post which indicate that you don't understand some basics, that it's hard to know where to begin.

    You're inexperienced, a "newbie" - and that's what everyone is at first. As such, a thorough read through of your manuals is first needed.

    "Mastering" isn't something you do while you play and record. Mastering is the very final step, after you've done a mix-down, usually done in software dedicated to only audio editing, like Sound Forge.

    People however Do what comes close to "mastering" in programs like Cubase. - But I think you're referring to a plugin you might have called "Mastering--" etc. whatever it says, there are a number of plugins that are sometimes called mastering plugins because they are EQs, Compressors, Limiters - they do the sort of thing engineers do with a full 2 track stereo mix of an entire piece.

    So--first off, forget about the "mastering" for now.

    Your strings section and other instruments are coming out distorted? They are simply too loud. There are several points in the chain where volume is controlled, but you should start at the source first, and work your way up. The source is at the instrument itself--whatever you're playing.

    You have an out-dated version of GPO, by the way. I highly recommend you go through the process of upgrading--info is all over this Forum and at the Garritan main site - http://www.personalorchestra.com.

    But in any case, in the Kontact player where you load the GPO instruments, the default volumes are the best place to begin. If you've increased them, thinking the instruments are too soft. That's a mistake - Put them back down.

    Do you understand the use of MIDI controller #1 for volume, the data your Mod Wheel generates? That's your volume control for most of the GPO instruments.

    Then, in Cubase, in your mixer, you can't have all the audio faders turned all the way up - They should start approximately half way up, and moved up more only if necessary.

    If you take all these steps, there's no way you'll get distortion.

    Your ideas for controlling volume in your last paragraph are all incorrect. You just simply have to have Kontact levels set correctly, adjust the volumes throughout a song with the mod wheel, and make sure your Cubase faders aren't too high. You don't want to use any compression, limiters or any other "mastering" plugs while you're simply playing your music.

    Then after your piece is played into Cubase, that's when the longer piece of work begins, doing the editing, mixing --and THen "mastering" if you want to do that.

    Best of luck - Others may chime in with more instructions too.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  3. #3

    Re: Mastering Help

    Thank you for your help.

    You pretty much confirmed what I had been thinking all along. The way I was trying to do it just seemed wrong. I will adjust my volume settings tomorrow and make sure that my mixer settings are at default. They should be because I rarely touch the mixer.
    As far as the old version of GPO goes.. I tried the new version and it was rife with problems, so I went back to the old version. I will try to upgrade it again, but for now, I need something that will work more reliably. If anyone has any tips on upgrading, they would be welcome.

    Thanks!

  4. #4

    Re: Mastering Help

    Hi TyPh1

    Most of the times I just throw in a master plugin like waves L2 into my chain, just so that it sounds good as I play the instruments. But when I render to audio for mastering at a later time, I remove all the plugins and render it raw. So that when you finalize it in something like soundforge or wavelab, you have lot of room to work with for improvement. Bottom line, you want your mix sounding as good as you can get it before the mastering, so that the final mastering process can put a sparkle into the final mix.

    Its almost like when you want to master, you almost need different ears than when you do your mixing/sequencing. You can also learn a lot by comparing A/B to a favorite professionally mastered music CD of the style of music you are trying to emulate. Since I am not a Pro, and only a hobbyist, this is pretty much all I have to rely on, my ears, good professional mastered CD to compare to and the knowledge of the mastering plugin and what each of them can do. You can get descent results, doing it this way, but again its hard to compete with a well mastered sound produced by a really good mastering engineer. These guys get paid for their ears.

    Go here and download the free PDF files. They have lots of good information in there to give you some background information on this subject. Even if you don't have this plugin, its still a good read.

    http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/guides.html

    BTW, Ozone is a great all in one mastering plug in, I have this one too, along with waves stuff. If your on a budget, you cannot beat Ozone's value.

    Hope this helps, and good luck
    Dd

  5. #5

    Re: Mastering Help

    Thanks for the additional information. I will look at Ozone if I get the chance.

    Perhaps I should re-state my question in light of the newly recieved information.

    How should I setup my volume levels for making a template? The only ways I know how to do it is to chage the volume in the GUI, or use the mod wheel, which I do not have on my MIDI controller. The lack of them is really frustrating, as I do not know how to draw in CC data unless I already have a MIDI file loaded, so starting from scratch is a problem. Even then, I've often drawn in the data with no changes at all being noticable.

    If any of you can help answer those question it would be appreciated. And thanks again.

  6. #6

    Re: Mastering Help

    Hello again, TyPh1

    "...I will adjust my volume settings tomorrow and make sure that my mixer settings are at default. They should be because I rarely touch the mixer..."

    No, don't do that. The mixer faders shouldn't stay at the default volume of Zero DB - That's almost full blast. You'll still have your distortion problem.

    As I said in my first reply, try starting with the Cubase faders at a moderately low level, like 1/2 way up. But you Do have to touch the mixer - That's where a lot of your work needs to be done. There's simply no way that set-and-forget levels in the mixer are going to work for every song. They will have to change depending on the needs of a given project, and those faders need to be automated so they are constantly changing during playback--that's the main task of making a mix.

    "...As far as the old version of GPO goes.. I tried the new version and it was rife with problems, so I went back to the old version..."

    I'm sorry you had problems. But it isn't rife with problems though, it's a vast improvement. Maybe you had problems with the Kontact 2 Player - it can be tricky to get used to. But you really need to be working with the current version.

    "...How should I setup my volume levels for making a template? The only ways I know how to do it is to chage the volume in the GUI, or use the mod wheel, which I do not have on my MIDI controller..."

    I don't recommend templates. When I've made them, I end up never using them. Here's a much easier thing to do - You've worked up a song and your next one will have basically the same list of instruments - Copy and delete all the data in the tracks, and save the project with the new name. Then you are instantly laid out in detail the way you want, ready to record.

    As soon as you can upgrade your MIDI controller, the better. That's extremely unusual for an actual controller to not have a Mod Wheel--it's basic and standard.

    "...I do not know how to draw in CC data unless I already have a MIDI file loaded, so starting from scratch is a problem. Even then, I've often drawn in the data with no changes at all being noticable..."

    If you've drawn in data with no effect, then you're drawing in the wrong data. MIDI controller #1, cc1, is what controls the volume for most GPO instruments. In your MIDI controller pane, you need to specifically select "modulation" - cc1, to draw data which will effect the volume - If you have the right controller number selected, and you draw extremely low levels in, believe me, the volume change will be dramatic. Remember that cc1 usually controls Modulation in synths, and so it's labeled Modulation.

    Also, you Can draw in data into a blank track if you want. Insert a MIDI track in your project, go to the controller window--draw. If you're trying to draw velocities, that won't work because velocities have to be connected with notes - it shows how hard a key was struck. But the continuous controllers like cc1 can be drawn in even without notes in the track - And they should look like drawings of hills and mountain ranges, constantly undulating.

    I urge you again to investigate the owner manuals, and to upgrade your GPO.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  7. #7

    Re: Mastering Help

    Thanks again, Rbowser. I got the update and did some research. I was under the impression that the old Garritan sampler windows was still usable, since it still shows up as a vst in my list. It's not. Only the KP2 program (which is much better than the other one) works and it is more than sufficient for me to do my work.

    About the MIDI controller, I have a Yamaha P70 piano as a controller and it dosen't have any mod wheels or knobs, but I do have a much smaller controller, an Edirol PCR M30 that has a ton of knobs and faders and a mod wheel/joystick on it. Do any of you know if I can connect it through the USB and have those knobs work for me even if I'm using the the other keyboard?

    Today I will check and make sure that I am controlling CC1 data and not velocity data. That seems very likely. I'll also get into my mixer and set the levels to a medium setting.

    Thanks for all the help. I'm a noob with a lot of questions to round me out as a beginner DAW composer and you guys are really a big help.

  8. #8

    Re: Mastering Help

    Quote Originally Posted by TyPh1
    About the MIDI controller, I have a Yamaha P70 piano as a controller and it dosen't have any mod wheels or knobs, but I do have a much smaller controller, an Edirol PCR M30 that has a ton of knobs and faders and a mod wheel/joystick on it. Do any of you know if I can connect it through the USB and have those knobs work for me even if I'm using the the other keyboard?
    Hey TyPh1,

    Welcome!

    Cubase SE ought to be able to receive multiple MIDI input sources simultaneously as long as they're all connected and powered on program start and then selected/enabled in the MIDI Devices menu. Then when you're recording midi, just set the input on the track to OMNI.

    I own a PCR-80. If you haven't found it yet, there's some good interface software available on the Edirol site which allows you to reassign all those knobs and faders to different CC values via the USB. Sending the data is a little complicated, but the manual and maybe a help file somewhere walks through it step by step. It is called PCR Editor. I usually assign a slider to also serve as a modwheel control since the Roland modwheels are springy.

    I'm a noob with a lot of questions to round me out as a beginner DAW composer
    We've all been there

  9. #9

    Re: Mastering Help

    Thanks, Reegs.

    That program was actually pretty user friendly and intuative. you just click tha corresponding button on the GUI and tell it that you want it to controll CC data and set it to whatever # you want to change. I think I prefer knobs to wheels also. Now to get a good template together for controlling all the instruments in GPO!

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