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xza

Mixdown sounds great with no master bus created... Sounds horrible when I create a master bus..

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Hi I'm looking for some advice.. 

I'm working on a collaboration doing vocals. We have 20 - 30 songs nearly completed. My collaborator has been using cakewalk for 15 years but he has not created an master bus for any of the songs but the mixes sound amazing. 

I created a master bus and suddenly the mix sounds horrible and very different. (There are no plugins on the master bus I created) 

Question: Is this normal for cakewalk users? Is it absolutely necessary to create a master bus? Do you know what's going on here? 

 

Peace Bob 

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Are you sure there are no effects on the master bus?  What about the pro-channel for the master bus - any effects in there?  You might have configured Cakewalk to add a default Bus Pro-channel configuration when a bus is created.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the reply. I just checked and there are no effects on in Pro - channel or the FX rack.  I created a new master bus with the same result mix seems squashed and not as open sounding. 

If deleting the master bus sounds better and is not absolutely essential then it seems like the way to go.  Bob 

edit: I'm not mastering in cakewalk so it doesn't seem like a big problem but I'm just curious if other users do it this way 

Edited by xza

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Posted (edited)

Of course one could output directly to your audio interface but you will not have proper control over your level.  The master bus is where you always will need a limiter to catch peaks. Or the opposite would be your tracks are too quiet compared to the rest of the world. My method demonstrated here is very basic mastering just to get newbies started. Mastering is a process one cannot ignore it’s importance and fake it. 
 

Always mute your master bus to make sure all buses and tracks are correctly assigned 

Edited by John Vere
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you can route directly to the hardware outputs (which is what is seems like you're original project settings were). however, if adding a master bus changed things - you might need to check that all tracks AND all SENDS etc and all BUSSES are also going to the master buss. otherwise you may be missing tracks, effects, etc etc which are currently routed to the hardware and the results are now a skewed output.

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Two points:

1. Having a master bus is not a  technical requirement. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have one.

2. A bus alone will not change the sound of your mix. A bus with no gain and no fx will be completely transparent. You can route that bus into another bus into another bus and the sound will not change.

Normally, a master bus is where the mix is brought up to desired levels. That implies that levels going into the bus are lower than the ultimate target. Take a look at your bus meters; they should be well below 0 dB, preferably around -12 but no higher than -6. If not, lower every track until it is.

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25 minutes ago, John Vere said:

Of course one could output directly to your audio interface but you will not have proper control over your level.  The master bus is where you always will need a limiter to catch peaks. Or the opposite would be your tracks are too quiet compared to the rest of the world. My method demonstrated here is very basic mastering just to get newbies started. Mastering is a process one cannot ignore it’s importance and fake it. 
 

Always mute your master bus to make sure all buses and tracks are correctly assigned 

Thanks for the reply John but I'm not mastering in in cakewalk just exporting the final mix with enough headroom to be mastered. I will still check out the videos Bob 

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Ok got it.  If you check out my channel I have lots of videos that have information about using busses, mixing and signal flow 

 

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20 minutes ago, bitflipper said:

Two points:

1. Having a master bus is not a  technical requirement. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have one.

2. A bus alone will not change the sound of your mix. A bus with no gain and no fx will be completely transparent. You can route that bus into another bus into another bus and the sound will not change.

Normally, a master bus is where the mix is brought up to desired levels. That implies that levels going into the bus are lower than the ultimate target. Take a look at your bus meters; they should be well below 0 dB, preferably around -12 but no higher than -6. If not, lower every track until it is.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah there is at least -6 of headroom left for the mastering process. 

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36 minutes ago, Glenn Stanton said:

you can route directly to the hardware outputs (which is what is seems like you're original project settings were). however, if adding a master bus changed things - you might need to check that all tracks AND all SENDS etc and all BUSSES are also going to the master buss. otherwise you may be missing tracks, effects, etc etc which are currently routed to the hardware and the results are now a skewed output.

Thanks Glenn. Yeah I'm routed directly to the hardware outputs. I'll take your advice and re check everything is going to the master bus. 

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To answer one important part of your question, no, for most users having a Master bus isn't a problem. All of the default Cakewalk project templates include a Master bus with all audio tracks routed to it (including soft synth outputs). So something is going wrong with your projects.

As mentioned, make sure that all of your audio tracks route to the Master bus. Best practice is considered to be that all audio from tracks and buses routes to that Master bus, which then routes to the hardware outputs (or in my case to another bus that routes to the hardware outputs).

If you do this, there should be no sonic difference between what's coming out of the hardware outputs and what's coming out of the Master bus.

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