As I’ve mentioned in the past, the mastering process is usually very similar across all software. The final destination of a song is to have it sounding as commercially professional as the songs recorded in an industry professional studio. Therefore, in essence, you’re performing the same steps all the time, just with different plug-in names in each DAW being used.
Today we’re going to dive into some mastering practice in FL Studio which is available to anyone interested in recording music. Of course, you’re able to purchase it directly from the Image Line website, but why not try it out first since the trial version is at no monetary cost? It’s a no-brainer.
First Steps To Mastering
In my previous article about mastering in Ableton Live, I touched on the preferred way to prepare your song to be mastered. Make sure that you have a good mix before exporting your song into a new session and also that your bit depth is at 16.
The better the mix is before you master, the more subtle you’ll need to be with the mastering plug-ins. It’s also a good rule of thumb to not have any plug-ins on your master track because that can highly affect the quality of your mix in a negative way.
I always make sure my mix doesn’t get too loud since the overall sound will be increased in the mastering stage, so in my opinion it’s a good idea to add a limiter and turn it down to around -8db so you have no peaks on your master fader.
Once your song is bounced into .wav format you can load it into your new FL Studio session.
After you add your EQ, you can begin sweeping for you any unwanted frequencies. I’ll say again that you only need to be making very subtle and necessary changes if your mix came out great. If you find yourself making a lot of corrections in the mastering stage, then you’ll need to reopen your previous mixing session and make some improvements.
While you sweep for frequencies, all your doing is getting rid of those very resonant or boxy sounds in your track. You may increase or decrease any high end frequencies if it makes the song sound better with more clarity. Don’t forget to remove any low end you don’t need, which is something I usually do before anything else.
Next, let’s move on to compressing your track.
There’s a few options as far as compressor plug-ins, but I’ve found that the one called “Maximus” serves its purpose in the best way. If you read my article about mastering in Ableton, a lot of this should sound very familiar.
Since the whole point of compression is to raise the volume level of the quieter parts and decrease the volume of the louder parts to give you a well-balanced track, it’s important to not go overboard. If an important detail of your song is the bass, you’re not going to want to compress the low end much, or at all in most cases.
There are a few numbers I could throw at you to live by while compressing, but I really don’t like doing that since every song is different and unique it its own way. Instead, I’ll say that it’s okay to go by the threshold meter which lets you know how compressed a specific section is. If you’re just starting out in mastering I suggest making very subtle changes and referencing the before and after.
Keep in mind that you can always go back and make small tweaks to these plug-ins if you don’t catch it right away.
Next we’ll add some saturation. You can either use one of the saturator plug-ins or use the saturation within the Maximus compressor. This knob only needs only to be turned down slightly so your volume is not peeking over a certain level. After you’ve added all the necessary plug-ins you’re able to go back and make adjustments.
It’s always good to add an analyzer of some sort to monitor your song’s overall gain so it sits at the proper range so it can be radio ready (if you decide to go that route of course).
Lastly, we’ll use the stereo imager or enhancer within the same compressor to make sure your lows, mids, and highs are balanced to perfection. I’d add an anylyzer plug-in to verify your overall volume is loud enough, and will continue to be whether it’s played in the car, on your Bluetooth speaker, or on your pro Yamaha speakers. You can use the “Youlean Loudness Meter” to check this.
Keep It Simple
Of course there are far more advanced techniques you can put into action with a little research and practice, but since this is an introduction to mastering I’ll save that for another time. Make sure to keep things subtle and simple with your mastering so your song doesn’t sound worse than your rough mix, and if it does please reach out to me and ask questions.
Thank you to all who’s been reading along this far and I hope I’ve answered all your questions. Any comments or discussion starters, please leave them down below and I’ll be happy to be involved.
Thank you for reading!