When working on a track or remix on the road or on the day of a gig, there’s often little time to get a song professional mastered before playing out. Today, Mad Zach shares his tried and true “schmastering” technique, using a solid reference track and a few tools to bring the mastering on a track to a point where it can be tested on a real system while still sounding great!
Obviously the best tip are all wrapped into the video above, but if you need a guide to refer to after the fact, here’s the basic steps (and the critical free download!):
- Export your finished song
- Grab a second song for reference (use something that has a professional mastering job on it and that is at least vaguely in a similar genre or style as your track)
- Use a simple EQ Eight to eliminate bass below ~50hz, roll off the very high end (>11kHz), and dip the EQ slightly where the speaker crossover would be (~320Hz)
- Download + Install the free Yohng W1 Limiter plug-in (Mac + PC compatible)
- Watch your levels visually and adjust the limiter threshold and release
- Continue to actively compare with the reference track and adjust and play with the values
ProTip: If you spend too much time tweaking and referencing, you’ll lose your ability to know what’s good anymore. Take twenty minutes to an hour, walk away from the track and computer, and come back with a fresh head and set of ears to try again.