This post is a discussion on the process of mastering the compilation, and focuses on the preparation within Ableton, the limiting within Sony Sound Forge and the disc authoring within CD Architect.
As the mix was now complete and ready for mastering, the first step I undertook was to go into Ableton and obsessively clean up the automation points to the the exact frames within the bars, and make a note to the nearest frame of where each track marker would be placed.
After these steps where completed, I then automated the tempo for both discs, making sure things were varied enough for set flow and honourable to the intended tracks BPM, it felt a little odd doing this step as compared to today’s standards the mix does feel fairly pacey at times, and I had to keep fighting the urge to slow things down!
Once all the housekeeping had been completed, it was then a case of exporting both the mixes as WAV files at 24bit 48000hz (overkill I know but I wanted to make sure no quality was lost prior to the mastering within Sound Forge.
SOUND FORGE MASTERING
The first step in mastering in Sound Forge was to scan through the waveform and check for any rogue glitches or spikes (luckily there where none) or anything else untoward with the waveform. Once this had been completed I then scanned the overall RMS of the waveform and the peak values ready for the use of the limiter.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted the mastering of the CD to be competitive to modern standards but also not at the expense of over squashing anything, so I imported Sasha’s Invol2ver CD which was mastered by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road, and the result was a fairly respectable RMS of -15.1db and a peak of -0.1db
Now that I had a ballpark figure it was then a case of using the limiter (again one from the Sonnox team) and using it to get the level of the mix up to the same standards.
A point worth mentioning here is that the Sony Oxford Limiter has an added feature called ‘Enhance’ which is basically a sonic maximizer that can add a bit of sparkle to any limited transients.
As I had stayed well clear of any undue processing throughout the project I was a bit wary of using this feature, but in the end opted of picking the maximum setting which was 125% and then halving it to 62.5% so I had the best of both worlds, leaving the dry sound intact but adding a slight touch of modern ‘bite’ and as the mix was not heavily limited in any case the results were very subtle but none the less pleasing.
The final step in this process was to set the dithering to 16bit 44.1khz suitable for CD, and then input the track marker regions into the waveform ready for the disc authoring in CD Architect.
DISC AUTHORING IN CD ARCHITECT
The disc authoring was actually done in two stages, as the actual physical CDs I was burning were being pressed up by a local CD factory in Manchester, and then I was burning the data onto the CDs myself at home.
The first step in the authoring was to input the CD text, which took an absolute age (but I figure is well worth it for the buzz!) then inputting the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for each track on the mix.
The ISRC code was found by inputting all the CD singles used on the mix and then scanning them in CD Architect, which then enabled me to prove that I was using offically released material and not pirated MP3s or such like (I think I’ve already proven above & beyond on that point though!)
Once the data had been saved and the printed CDs had arrived, I then burnt the discs and tested them in iTunes, EAC and various other programs to check for any errors.