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Advice please on compiling/mastering my first EP


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I’m prepping to make my first EP – 3 to 5 songs as a “united whole.” Over the past couple of years, I’ve mixed and mastered each track separately as I figured out how to work in CW, without thought to this long-term possibility.

Now, I want the songs to have a cohesive “whole” feel… like an album. The mixdowns are all in separate project folders. Some (the later ones) are better than others (the earlier ones). I plan on revisiting each to polish anything that seems to need it based on my current knowledge and skill level.  

For mastering tools,  I’m using Ozone 10 with references to get in the ballpark. I also have Izotope’s RX8 (if that could figure into the workflow). Additionally, I have Izotope’s Insight, which I just picked up at a great loyalty offer price. Great for metering an analysis.

Ultimately, I’d like to go through Distrokid to get on the streaming platforms. To help on that front, I have ADPTR Audio’s Metric A/B for seeing how I stack up with references out in the streaming world in my genre (rock) as well as their Streamliner, which helps prep things for streaming with LUFS loudness/dynamic levels, etc.

I'm unsure where to start this process. After I polish my pre-master stereo mixdowns, should I pull those into a single “mastering” project, with a track for each, all running through the same session of Ozone?  

I’m sure, like everything else, there are more ways than one to approach this. Looking for foundational best practices to keep in mind. Any suggestions as to how to approach this maiden “EP compilation” voyage would be appreciated!  What a long, strange trip it's been! 😁   

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I master multiple songs (EP/LP) in one audio track sequentially ( I learned from Bernie Grundman) with track start markers & a couple of markers inside each song for pertinent sections (verse/chorus/bridge et al) and then run to a master bus with my mastering chain. Enough silence (~5sec) between cuts to emulate the final assembly and eliminate overwash of my ears.

On the source track I can insert EQ & level changes that can be written into snapshot automation before treating the ensemble with mastering tools to get them in the same ballpark an make them sound like they came from the same project. 

Of course, I will also send notes back to the mixer (if not myself) for recommendations regarding the mix. So, yeah... getting the mixes right IMO is the toughest part.

Mastering a well executed mix is sooo much easier than polishing a turd.


Edited by OutrageProductions
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You might find this article, Mastering a Seamless Album, helpful. Although it's about creating a seamless DJ-style mix with transitions/beatmatching/crossfading, it treats Cakewalk like a mastering program, and the requirements are similar to yours. To hear the album that's linked to in the article, which is pretty much rock despite the continuous DJ-style mix, scroll down to the Singles and Albums playlist. It's the second album in.

I'll second OutrageProductions comments about mixes, so it's good you're going to go back and  polish them. When you get a mix whose sound you really like, load it into the other songs you're mixing so you have a reference you can unmute and listen to from time to time.

The main concern I'd have about the mixes is that the balances of all the instruments are right. If one song needs just a little less 300 Hz or a little more upper mids or whatever, that's easy enough to do in the mastering rather than tweaking multiple individual tracks to get the same results. 


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51 minutes ago, Craig Anderton said:

When you get a mix whose sound you really like, load it into the other songs you're mixing so you have a reference you can unmute and listen to from time to time.

The main concern I'd have about the mixes is that the balances of all the instruments are right.

^^^THIS is vital! Get one just the way you like as a pre-master mix and use it as a reference.

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That’s what I’ve just decided to do myself. I’ve been working on 35 of my originals for a last 20 years Some started life on 8 tracks an had real drums and bass etc. When I tried to blend those with my newer songs it was impossible.  
So l created a band using the VST’s I liked best and used that band on almost all the 35 songs. I used presets and velocities etc to have a very consistent sound.

But each song is still different and after a year of mixing and re mixing and listening on as many playback systems as possible there was one song that turned out better than the rest.
So I looked at that songs mix under the microscope and applied what it had as best I could to the rest. This has gotten me very close to the songs sounding like what I wanted which is what you would hear at a live concert of the music. 
Most of the success of this was due to using a balance of listening as well as good analyzing tools. 

I’m almost done but
I put it aside about a month ago due to having to focus on playing gigs. 

Some of the gigs I play my originals at so I made backing tracks. This involves muting the vocal and guitar buses. This became yet another eye opener for the analyzing a song and mix. I thought I was done with recording and editing.  Nope. 
I promised my family that I will get them in the can and move on soon. 
What I do with them doesn’t matter to me. 
I wrote them to play live. 

Edited by JohnnyV
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