Q&A with David Glenn: Mastering

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Q&A with David Glenn: Mastering

Hey, what’s up guys? David Glenn, for davidglennrecording.com,
theproaudiofiles.com, and the new, themixacademy.com.

Super excited, today we’re talking about mastering.
A few weeks ago, I announced that I was going

to be launching a Podcast/videocast type deal.
With all the work I put into themixacademy.com,

this podcast has gotten pushed off a little
bit, but it’s still coming your way. I had

a great question that I didn’t want to leave
out there any longer, and it’s from Soren

the Desperado Studios.

He writes in: “What’s up, Mr. Glenn? Looking
forward to the podcast. I really enjoyed the

interview that you did over at Home Recording
Weekly. Very inspiring how you’ve arrived

where you’re at and the way you manage to
make music professionally in a home environment.”

Thank you very much, Soren, I appreciate that.
Shout out to Kern over at Home Recording Weekly,

great guy.

“The first question is I know that you do
your mastering on the Master fader in your

mix sessions (the 2buss). I was curious how
you handle an album or an EP with mastering?

Do you still master the same way, and if so,
how do you make the tracks cohesive and balanced

against each other, when or if you master
each track in isolation?”

That’s an incredible question, which is why
we’re doing this tutorial, because I thought

it was worthy of it’s own video.

The next part is:

“I know that you check your mixes on different
speakers, but seeing as how you’re mixing

primarily on headphones, I was curious whether
you ever do a part of your mix flow while

listening in mono? I’d like to think that
my mixing improved when I started mixing in

mono, but I’ve always noticed a discrepancy
between the home studio tutors and the big

name professionals that intrigues me. The
home studio teachers often swear by mono mixing,

while guys like Andrew Scheps, CLA, Dave Pensado,
they state quite clearly that they don’t give

a crap about mono. I mean, what’s up with
that?”That’s funny. That’s a great question.

I’m going to answer the second one first.

I respect the heck out of Graham, therecordingrevolution.com,
Joe Gilder, home studio, home recording, home

studio corner… Tons of guys out there that
are doing a great job teaching and bringing

incredible content your way. I don’t mix in
mono, I’ve never tried it. I think I’ve never

tried it because before I heard about mixing
in mono, I heard Dave Pensado say that he

didn’t give a crap about it, and that mixing
in mono would be like making movies for black

and white TVs. He just doesn’t think about
it. I think I quoted him pretty clearly on


So, for me, I don’t, but I don’t bash it.
If you mix in mono, if you give it a shot,

and you feel like you gained something from
it, then by all means, try it, use it, if

you like it, don’t feel like because a top
professional – I’m sure there are top professionals

that DO mix in mono and get great results,
so I wouldn’t just throw it out the window

because you hear online teachers saying one
thing, and then you hear maybe some of the

top professionals saying another.

Give it a shot, if it works for you, go by
it, but if you give it a shot and you don’t

like it, you’ve got proof that it’s not necessary.

Just a taste thing. By all means, all the
stuff we talk about with mixing and mastering,

it’s a taste thing. I hope that answers that

The first part, I really want to go over because
this is something that I’ve had a reason slice

of humble pie with. The mastering situation.
He’s right, I do use kind of a mastered 2buss

situation. I run things through several layers
of plug-ins. We’ll link to that video so you

can check that out, and I probably need to
update it, but my 2buss is layers of processing

for analog character, we’ll call it. A little
bit of tape saturation, a little bit of multi-band

compression, and then towards the end, we’ve
got limiting. If I’m mixing a record at one

time, I’ve got all the files, I’m in control,
the deadline is go, I will do my best to have

each bounce of all those songs to be mastered
when I’m bouncing them.

The only situation I’ll be careful with that,
is if I’ve got a record where there’s multiple

genres within the record, some cohesiveness
may still be desired by the artist or the

producer to afford those final masters for
it to all kind of gel, so if you’ve got like

a pop/EDM type vibe going on, and they want
it smashed at -6dBFS RMS or whatever, really

hot, then I’m going to treat that song differently
than I will if they have a pop-rock/acousticy

type song, and that happens all the time on
records that I mix in kind of a modern pop

world. So maybe I can get away with a little
bit lighter, -8dBFS kind of deal. So there’s

a little bit of a difference there.

Well, if they want those two songs on the
final record to be cohesive, and I’m mastering

it, then I’ll try to have that discussion
with them so we don’t go to -6, but ultimately,

there’s going to be some work to do on the
end there, so I may not limit those down to

-6 or -7 or -8 or whatever I’m going for when
I’m bouncing the final mix. I’ll mix into

that limiter, but I’ll maybe wait until a
final mastering session to apply a more consistent

vibe to all the tracks in the mastering session.

I’m blabbing about it, but hopefully this
is answering it and helping you guys.

If I’m mixing a record all at one time, I
try to shoot for -8 or so. -7.5, whatever.

I try to do that consistently so that when
I bounce those final mixes, they’re ready

to go.

I just did a record for the very talented
LaRue Howard***. It was a live Gospel type

record. Every mix was bounced .1 away from
each other RMS levels or LUFS using Ozone

InSight at around -7.5, -8dBFS. That worked
out great for that record.

Up in front of me is a record where that didn’t
work out so great, and the reason why is because

I mixed it over the course of 7 or 8 months.
The first song I mixed, I was a very different

mixing engineer than towards the end, and
a lot of us up-and-comer guys are going to

notice that you’re always growing, you’re
always learning, you’re always kind of evolving.

Even some of the top guys, the same kind of
thing is going on, but for them, it’s less

of an obvious way.

So the very first song that I mixed for these
guys sounded very different. Let’s see if

I can pull open a snippet.

[song plays]

Okay, so that’s very different than this.

[different song is played]

Okay, so that one’s much brighter. It’s a
little more of a happy tone, happy song. So,

I’m not mad at it, but for the overall glue
of the record, I wanted those to be a little

bit more cohesive, so I give a little plug,
that’s [???*** (appx 7:30)] I think that song…

Yup, [???*** (appx 7:32)] is the song from
November 2014, The Mix Academy. Give a little

plug for that, you get to mix that record

But, let’s see here… The mastering process,
I bit myself in the butt with this one. I

bounced that mix, however long ago, at that
RMS value. I crushed it, it was printed that

way, and I didn’t give myself any headroom.
Well, I got to the end of the record, and

I mixed all of the songs with that final output
being as hot as I wanted that record to be,

and then I noticed that, wow, there’s kind
of some inconsistencies here that I want to

address in the mastering session.
So, when I imported these in, I noticed that

song #1 just like we heard it, was a lot brighter
and sort of a different vibe than song 7,

8, 9, 10, 11, whatever.

Well, how I addressed that was, I’m the mixing
engineer, so I went back to the mixes and

I bounced all those mixes all over again,
and I left headroom. Then I came in here and

used just the limiter of my chain. I removed
the limiter of my chain, and then applied

that in a mastering session, which is great.
I love that workflow, I think that works incredible.

But if I were to have sent these to a mastering
engineer, I would’ve pissed them off. I probably

would’ve embarassed myself, and if he wouldn’t
have sent back and said, “hey, resend these,”

the record may have suffered from it, and
that would’ve been my fault, and I wouldn’t

have wanted that to happen.

Let me give you a demonstration. I’m not going
to give you the technical explanation behind

this, but let’s come back here and let’s play
a snippet. Guys like Eric Tarr and Matthew

Weiss, Ian Vargo, they’re going to be a little
more technically inclined to give you the

science behind this, but let me delete this
for now.

I want to take a look at the meter on the
FabFilter Pro-Q2 when I hit play.

[song plays]

Okay, that’s a record I had the 2buss down
by 1dB. Let’s find the chorus where it’s –

[song plays]

Okay, cool. So you can see that it’s going
to -0.3, and that was my final limiter hitting

the mix at the chorus.

Well, watch what happens whenever I instantiate
just a simple high-pass filter at 25Hz. Watch

what happens to this meter.

So before it, you saw…

[song plays]

It was -0.3. Now watch.

[song plays]

We’re clipping. It’s over. I can’t explain
that, hopefully those guys will chime in.

If you can explain it, please do in the comments
below. But I didn’t give myself any headroom

initially for this one, and the mastering
engineer needs that. He needs some headroom

so that he can apply EQ. All I did in this
case was apply a low-cut. In my mind, I would

think, “hey, I’m removing any of that sub
stuff that I don’t want, why is it boosting

the volume? It should be increasing the headroom
and giving me more space to be able to put

more stuff in,” but that’s not the case.
Help me out, help me understand that.

So that’s that. The reason why I’m telling
you this and asking you to explain it to me

and going over this is because for me, myself,
I had a slice of humble pie when I got to


Luckily, I was the mastering [sic] engineer,
and I could go back, and I could bounce my

mixes without the limiter on it, but so many
times I hear guys saying, and I used to be

one of them, “nah, I’m just going to send
the mastering engineer the master with no

headroom.”This is why they need headroom.
This is why whether you’re doing it, or the

mastering engineer is doing it, you need to
leave them some headroom so they have some

room to do some stuff. If he goes in and he
wants to take out a little bit of the tambourine

that has a really harsh frequency, he goes
searching for it, he finds it, for him to

be able to do that, he needs some headroom.
There’s probably a better explanation for

that, but at the very root of it, hopefully
that helps you to understand to leave some


If you’re mixing a record over several months,
leave some headroom. Take that final limiter

off when you bounce it so that you can kind
of look at what you did at the beginning of

that mixing process, towards the middle and
the end, and help that record come to life

and glue it together rather than it being
all over the place and bright, and not bright,

but anyways…

I’m rambling, I’m blabbing about it, I’ll
leave the mastering stuff to guys like Ian

Shepherd and the pros, but that’s my take
on how I’m mixing, and hopefully that answers

your question, Soren. I appreciate you sending
that in. I got a little rambly there at the

end, but man, if you guys have any questions
you want answered like that, feel free to

shoot me emails. David@davidglennrecording.com.
Don’t forget to check out theproaudiofiles.com,

and the new themixacademy.com where we’re
going to go start to finish with mixes. We’ve

got a private forum, exclusive tutorials,
three, four, five tutorials each month, you’re

going to get the session files, you’re going
to mix the song, you’re going to watch me,

learn from me, do it yourself, build up a
resume, all kinds of great stuff, just $27

a month, and like always, like, subscribe,
share these videos, it helps to bring you

more content, and we’ll see you on the next
one!Thanks, guys!

Q&A with David Glenn: Mastering

Instant access to every in-depth mixing course from David Glenn: http://theproaudiofiles.com/members
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A response to a subscriber question:

Wazzup Mr. Glenn!

Looking forward to the podcast! I really enjoyed the interview you did over at the HRW show, very inspiring how you’ve arrived where you’re at and the way you manage to make music professionally (in a home studio environment).

My Questions:

I know that you do your mastering on the master fader in you mix sessions, I was curious how you handle an Album or an EP for mastering. Do you still master the same way? And if so, how do you make the tracks cohesive and balanced (against each other) when/if you master each track in isolation?

I know that you check your mixes on different speakers, but — seeing as you are mixing primarily on headphones — i was curious whether you ever do a part of your mixflow while listening in mono? I’d like to think that my mixing improved when i started mixing in mono, but I’ve also noticed a discrepancy between the home studio tutors and the big name professionals that intrigues me. The home studio teachers often swear by mono mixing, while guys like Andrew Schepps, CLA and Dave Pensado state quite clearly that they don’t give a rats ass about mono…. I mean what’s up with that!? 0_o

Thanks for what probably will be a good show! 🙂

About The Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

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