ABOUT THE AUTHOR / VIDEO SERIES CREATOR
Hello my name is John Rogers, owner of JR Mastering. I’m one of the most successful online mastering engineers, having worked with over 7,500 highly satisfied clients on now over 40,000 songs since 1999.
During my career I’ve worked with a handful of Grammy nominees, several songs I’ve mastered went top 5 on the European billboard charts. I’ve mastered hundreds of songs for movie soundtracks, and for DJs who played them in clubs all over the world.
My debut book, Audio Mastering Secrets, is one of the first audio mastering books on the market that focuses entirely on “How to master audio to radio quality standards,” all from the comfort of your home studio. No expensive gear required to get amazing results!
I also have a video series that will teach you how to master your style of music in under TWO hours!
Note - If you're looking for someone to mastering your songs (and don't want to learn yourself), visit my website JR Mastering.
ABOUT THE BOOK
It focuses on how to master audio, how to become a great audio mastering engineer, and how not to be a bad one. I don’t get into the specifics of brands of gear you should buy, the history of audio mastering, 1,000’s of compressor settings (of which maybe 40 you’ll ever use), or a dozen pages on how to sound proof your room.
If you’re looking for that information, there are several other books on the market that explain those topics very well.
In audio mastering, you will face common problems like a mix being too thin, tinny, distorted, over-saturated, muddy, or not bright enough. Sometimes you can’t get the song loud enough, boomy enough, no separation, too much bass, no sparkle, and many other problems.
I explain in detail which effects processors to use and their exact settings to solve these common problems. This is a great tool to refer back to when needed.
Not entirely on theory, what I learned in school, what I heard from some other engineer, etc. I’ve mastered over 40,000 songs for over 7,500 highly satisfied clients. Why is this important?
1. Because I know the techniques and secrets that I’m teaching work very well! The proof is in the thousands of positive email testimonials I’ve received.
2. I also know which problems and situations arise very often, and which ones never happen at all. Knowing this allows me to focus only on what you will actually experience when working on an audio mastering project. Someone who hasn’t worked with a large number of customers won’t even know what areas to focus on
Here’s where I break down the sonic qualities of sixteen different genres. How much brightness, bass, boominess, compression, etc., you’re trying to achieve for each genre. And several tips on what clients are looking for. This is a great tool to refer back to if you don’t know the sonic qualities of all the different genres very well.
In this section, I cover a series of do’s, don’ts, and facts that basically apply to all audio mastering jobs regardless of genre. I also cover several pitfalls you will experience (just like I did) as an audio mastering engineer, and how to get through them.
After reviewing hundreds of masters and re-masters from other online studios, I’ve found that most sound engineers don’t know how to properly use compression. A lot of them never use it at all! This causes their songs to break up badly during loud playback. In this book, I cover everything you need to know about compression in audio mastering. I eliminate 95% of the needless threshold/ratio combinations, which makes the entire process much simpler.
Setting Up You're Listening Environment
In this section I cover calibrating your speakers, learning your speakers, speaker placement and room size. And, the myth about soundproofing your room.
The basics of what they all do, how to use them, when to use them, and my initial settings templates.
I cover a handful of important must-know facts if you’re working with clients. Why lose jobs learning on your own (trial and error). Learn from my past mistakes!
I left out all the high-tech jargon and rarely used words that slow down sentence flow. I want everyone to learn how to properly master audio, while not having to try and figure out what I’m trying to say! Ha!
In this book I cover audio mastering FAQs, definitions, concepts, and procedures. I also talk about working with sonic qualities, A/B comparison, working with 4-BAND processors, creating headroom and dynamic range, evaluating the mix, protecting your hearing, EVERYTHING I’ve learned in the last 17 years!
In a matters of weeks, you can learn all of the audio mastering secrets, tips, and techniques that took me over 17 years to learn!
Or with my video series, learn in only TWO hours!!
If you started audio mastering and learning on your own this year, by 2034 you might learn everything that’s in this book and video series. Ha! Why not just make a small investment and start learning right now!
Check out two of my best articles -
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the constant hearing of a sound when there is no sound present. Some describe it as a ringing sound, a hiss, or a high pitched tone. The sound is continual, and it varies from one tinnitus suffer to another.
How Is Tinnitus Caused?
Tinnitus is caused by either a single extremely loud sound or by loud sounds over a period of time. I know a military vet who got severe tinnitus from the sound of jets taking off in close proximity. Another guy I know got it from a single bomb explosion that was right next to him. Listening to loud music at a concert or club, if you're in a band, if you play music loud on your iPod, or monitoring music very loud as a sound engineer, over a period of time any of these scenarios could cause tinnitus. If you cut grass for a living and don't wear earplugs, I would imagine that could eventually cause it too.
It can also be caused by prescription drugs in the benzodiazepine family or even by over the counter drugs like ibuprofen. I heard of a man who got severe tinnitus from MSG in Chinese food. The cook made a mistake and loaded it up heavy with MSG.
When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style. Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc. I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.
Most good speakers have EQ adjustment switches on them, and the sub-woofer has a volume control on it. After several listens, I'll slightly adjust the EQ on the monitor speakers and the bass amount on the sub-woofer so that my favorite reference songs sound "true" to me. I'm making my speakers sound true to life, not exaggerated in any sonic area. Once the songs playing through these speakers sound "true" to me, then anything I mix or master will be done correctly.
How could speakers sound untrue to me? An example, if I'm playing a few commercially hip hop songs and the bass sounds very weak on every song, the speakers I'm using are untrue because I know in reality the bass should be much higher/louder in hip hop. I know the sub-woofer needs the bass volume adjusted and maybe the studio monitors do too. And I adjust them accordingly.
If I worked with these untrue speakers, I would improperly raise the bass on every song, thinking it was too low when in reality the speakers aren't properly playing the bass.
It's easier when working with true speakers because what you hear correctly represents the audio material you're working on.
First off, I use speaker stands for my studio monitors, and the speakers stand 3.5 feet off the ground. I have the stands roughly 7 feet apart, and the speakers are about 6-7 feet away from my face. The sub-woofer is on the floor, centered between the two speaker stands.
Note - Do not put the back of the speakers right up against a wall. Have at least 10 inches between the back of your speakers and the wall, or the sound will be altered.
I've found this setup is close enough where I can here all the details in the music, wide enough so I get a full representation of the stereo field, and the speakers are far away enough so I can crank the music up to 105dbs to make sure it sounds right for loud playback, without blasting myself in the face.
Before I tell you the setup I like best, after many years of experimentation, I'd like to first tell you the setup I personally don't like (even though a lot of sound engineers do this). Two studio monitors, five feet apart, on a desk two feet away from their face. And NO sub-woofer! I think they call this "near field" monitoring. But at some point during the audio mastering process, you must crank the music up very loud to set your final compression and to hear how it translates at high volume levels. You can't do this if your speakers are right next to your ears! At least I can't.
Maybe this is why the songs I get in for re-mastering badly break up when cranked up loud, and the bass is totally washed out. They were originally mastered at very low levels without a sub-woofer, and not optimized for loud playback.
I also find it hard determining the overall depth and stereo width in music when the speakers are two feet in front of me. Which makes sense. Its like watching a 50" TV. I want it to be far enough away so I can take the whole picture in. No one puts a 50" TV on a table right in front of them, yet this is done with speakers.
I've used dozens of different brands of speakers in my career and I do like a few better than others. But, this article deals more with types and sizes of speakers, not with the brand choices.
The main mixing and mastering speakers I currently use are Dynaudio 100w powered studio monitors with 7" woofers and 1.1" tweeters. They have nice EQ adjustment options on the back and I know these speakers very well. If you get speakers that are a little bigger, you'll get better LOW-end out of them, but I'm happy with the size I use.
The most important part of your speaker setup (that a lot of newbies don't know about) is having a sub-woofer on the floor between your main studio monitors. It's impossible to correctly mix or master any music content under 150hz without having a sub-woofer. 7-8" studio monitors will not play the low 50hz sub-bass AT ALL, and they're weak at best in the 100hz area.