Post Production Question

I have been having a very hard time with mastering problems regarding this piano composition I wrote. This is sort of a repost but I just ask for anyones opinion on this.

  1. It is noted that I am EXTREMELY happy with the mix. So I really do not expect answers saying to me that its probably your mix when in reality its not. So please do not give me any suggestions on the mix.
  2. I did not want to add to much reverb, it was making it ting tang sounding and so I did not incorporate it.

This is the Mastered Score of La Madre Del Amor. Feel Free to take a listen:

Okay so the question is: What is the best technique to listen to your piece while mastering? Do you currently hear any pitchy problems in this piece.?

The reason why I ask is that this mastered version sounds quite decent on my current labtop speakers and even better on the speakers that are jacked into the headphones. But when it comes to final production, I hear it on this Mac laptop and I hear a few pitchy notes that I dislike, and I realize shit, I got to do this all over again.

What i have done in the past is boost the volume all the way up on my laptop speakers, and hear if there are any pitchy or db problems, and I fix it there as I increase the loudness. I don’t think its clipping because i do not see a red clipping problems so I listen to my ears instead and its noticable. I have read that its best to listen to a piece at 85 db or less, but even at full blast laptop speakers its about 60 db. The headphone jack technique to an external speaker doesn’t seem to work cause then I have a tendency to over maximize the sound when I listen to the labtop speakers. So is it a good idea to use the worst speakers possible? so that you know for sure there is no db problems. I have read tutorials saying that its best to use really good speakers but, then you don’t hear db problems if they are really good, so to me it defeats its purpose.

I would love to get this piece louder like it is now without any pitchy problems that is my main goal. Now I have increased the overall volume in the piece in the mix but I didn’t find it effective if I could just use a loudness maximiser to do it, I did not want to put a limiter on it cause it sort of lost the dynamics for this piece.

When you compose, what is the overall volume that you achieve in the mix. Is it best to be right under the red clipping signal problems? Or in the middle?

Any information would do.

Once again I am very happy with the mix. The max RMS value was about -15, and averaged to about -20ish, so its not blaringly super loud liked -8 db.

Thanks folks

What exactly do you mean by “pitchy” problems?

After a quick listening I find the recording to have a bit more bass than I’d expect from a grand piano.
Since the refrain melody is played quite high, I might have chosen a narrower or different stereo image.
The reverb does not sound totally convincing, could have been much worse, but also a bit better.

Regarding volume, be very very careful with your dynamic processing, acoustical solos tend to be very unforgiving and there’s no need to maximize the hell out of it. If you do want something then try a compressor with the analysis set to rms (or a high value if it’s specified in ms) and a slow release to even out the block dynamics a bit.
When exporting, set the master volume that the peak value reads just under 0, some leave a couple of tenths of a dB to avoid problems with bad DAC:s, I always aim for -0.1.

Also, don’t bother too much with how it sounds through laptop speakers, no matter what you do to your mix it will always sound more or less crap on a laptop, and you risk making it sound bad in every other type of system if you try to “laptop optimize” it. There’s a good reason why studios utilize studio monitors.


At what I can hear your piano sounds technically good but there at two points:
_First: I can say that your piano is obviously sampled and it lacks sustain. The notes die too fast. It sounds like Ivory. Is it? I’ve often found this problem in Ivory but it can be fixed. Tweak the knobs.
_Second: it needs depth. Put more verb and work the parameters, don’t use presets or make your own sound starting from them. Try to make a non-standard verb or even a weird one. Your hear is the only judge. Don’t be timid. Work specifically on the interactions between release time and wet level. Find something unusual and appealing. Make many versions, wait several days or several weeks and when your ear is fresh again, choose the best one.

It’s not technical it’s all a matter of hear and musical taste.
I agree that a good monitoring system is essential.

“Have a happy new ear”
John Cage