|HD Separation Mastering provides
unprecedented control to optimize and enhance your music. Appropriate refinements are
made to separated
portions of your mix. This method helps preserve the musical
tone or dynamics of your music more than any other process. It works on
the needs of the music, not the
needs of overall volume.
It's more precise than applying traditional
compressors to a complex locked-down 2-channel waveform. Separations do
what multiband compressors DREAM they could do!
How to make
Using Digital Audio
Workstations or audio consoles,
additional equipment is needed
record/bounce your final stereo
as you would normally
be a 24 (or 32) bit stereo wav (or aiff) file at the same sampling rate
session. Up to 96k accepted. The output level should be around
-6 dbFS to -3 dBFS on your 2-track stereo meter. Do not zip, rar or
data-compress any audio files.
folder on your
hard drive and label it with the name of the
song you're working on [USE THE NAME
OF YOUR SONG].
the file [YOUR_SONG_NAME]
put it into the [YOUR SONG NAME]
folder (no brackets needed). DATE THE FOLDER.
Then, without changing
levels, any plug-ins,
or anything else:
1) Make a stereo
Separation (through your stereo buss, just like your regular mix)
(or disable the outputs of) all
tracks except the drums.
Record (or bounce)
part of your mix
to a 24 (or 32) bit stereo
file (with all drum-related reverbs and
effects). Go through your stereo
exactly as you would for any
normal mix. Dual mono tracks (which combine to stereo) or stereo
interleaved files are accepted.
Don't change any plugin settings. Name the file YOUR_SONG_Drums.wav
(meaning use your song title).
44.1k, 48k, 88.2k and 96k sampling rates accepted. Put it in
the same folder [Your Song Name] as the stereo mix. Using your song
name(s) helps identify and organize the Separation tracks. Do not zip, rar, or otherwise
data-compress your files.
2) Make a stereo
bass Separation (even if there's only one bass track)
disable the outputs of) all tracks but the bass track(s). Record/bounce
bass-only Separation "mix" (in 24 or 32 bit stereo - not mono - with all related
effects) using your normal stereo
(including any stereo buss
Name this file (the actual song name) YOUR_SONG_bass.wav and
put it in the same folder as your approved stereo full mix. Do not make
a mono track.
3) Make a stereo
instruments Separation (always through your stereo buss)
disable the outputs of) all tracks but the remaining
(non-drum/bass) instruments. Record/bounce
this instruments-only (no backing vocals) Separation
"mix" (in 24
or 32 bit stereo (up to 96k) with all related
effects) using your normal stereo buss (including any buss processing).
4) Make a stereo vocals Separation
(include all effects, plugins, etc.)
Name the file YOUR_SONG_Instruments.wav and
put it in the same folder as the other separated tracks. Use the actual
name of the song (YOUR SONG is just for illustration). Do not zip, rar, or
otherwise data-compress your audio files.
Mute (or disable) all
tracks but the vocals.
separately (24 or 32 bit stereo
with effects) through your stereo buss. Don't change any plug-ins. Name
the file YOUR_SONG_Vocals.wav and put it in
the same folder. Use the name of your song.
maximum number of Separations accepted is 8.
• Want it
even simpler? Make 2 Separations: stereo all-Instruments
and stereo all-Vocals
(in addition to making the full stereo mix). (Three
Separations don't really add benefit - go with 4.)
• This method adds about 15 - 20 minutes of mastering per
song on an
excellently recorded and mixed project. In some cases, it can be faster
traditional 2-track mastering. Every project is unique.
• SAVE MONEY - More costly than mastering refinements:
made Separations such as: not in sync, mono, different starting
defective files (with tics), missing or duplicated parts etc. Studio
time (minimum $50) is charged to load in replacement Separations
-- or to re-sync out-of-time
Remedy (1) : After making
Separations, open a new DAW session and import
these new Separation tracks. Listen to be sure you have included
in your stereo mix.
(2): Make a sync "pop" or "tic" at the beginning of your mix which goes
on every Separation. When making a new separation, load it into your
"Separations Test" session to be sure it lines up exactly with all of
your other Separations.
• Save more money:
Don't make a lot of Separations. These basic 4: drums, bass,
instruments and vocals are ideal. If you have serious DOUBTS about
something in the mix, separate it.
Generally less is more. If the
process requires additional tracks, we'll discuss it! Remember, don't zip or rar
data-compress your files.
• Separations, by
definition, say that the sonic goal is about refining, not remixing. Remixing is to create
something original; Separations are intended to be enhancements OF the
However: We can take
a more thorough, more no-limits "remix"
approach (example doing automated vocal moves). You will need to have
the budget for
the additional time required.
• Yes, Separations
give you more options. Often people use this to their advantage. It
sounds great. It can be simple or diverse. Your goals come first!
SEPARATION TRACKS IN STEREO
- MONO TRACKS ARE NOT ACCEPTED
Formats accepted: 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k and 96k sampling rates - 16, 24 or
MP3's, zip or
rar files are not accepted. Use uncompressed wav's or
your files to a flash drive, data CDR(s), DVD-(minus)R
other data drive for delivery to the studio
2-track mix is processed through a single audio path - into a stereo
or more separated portions of your mix (example: instruments, a
cappella vocals) are summed in a source computer and processed through
audio path - into a stereo mastering system
Mastering - Exclusively at Vestman Mastering
or more (preferably 3 to 6) separated portions of your mix (example:
drums, bass, instruments, vocals) are processed through 4 independent
Discrete Class-A analog audio paths -
into a separate, unique
device and high-precision stereo mastering system
Making a loud CD master
requires that the highest dynamic peaks of a mix (usually
the drums) must be lowered (limited) in order to raise the
overall volume of the audio (to avoid clipping distortion). Often this
changes the tone or
apparent level of the drums in the master. This kind of peak
limiting is almost never needed for vocals or support instruments.
peaks/transients differently than the vocals. This eliminates
unnecessary artifacts imposed on the vocals by the drum processing. The
warmth and natural character of
the vocals and other instruments are retained.
Vocal de-essing (removal of high
frequency "ss" or "sh" bursts) is commonly needed in mastering,
particularly when a full mix needs more clarity. Drums, however, are
when de-essing is "globally" applied to a full mix.
Vocals can be
de-essed and clarified without changing the tone and dynamics of the
drums or other instruments. Support instruments are warmer and more
musical when they do not "share" the same processing chain
as the vocals or drums.
| If you separated the
bass as well as the instruments, vocals and drums, you have now
files including four
Separations and the stereo mix into one
[Your Song] folder. All files must be in stereo - each
bounced the same way through your
stereo buss output.
(Your Song) Full
(Your Song) Drums.wav
(Your Song) Bass.wav
(Your Song) Vocals.wav
SURE you leave
your computer automation ON for each Separation so that every sonic
move you make in your stereo mix is retained in the Separations.
change any aspect of
your mix - this
is only a process
turning off and on tracks
the song at the exact same place at the beginning of the song
• Organize your files -
each song should be "Saved As" a
Separation session. Take your original song's session and "Save As"
[YOUR SONG] Drums • [YOUR SONG] Bass • [YOUR SONG] Instr • [YOUR SONG]
Vocals. Possible issues can be avoided.
• If you make new
Separations for a song already being mastered, be sure to DATE the new
files so we can easily differentiate them from the first batch of
• If you
are recording "wild" onto a separate computer or Masterlink, clone
cue "tick" (like a drum cross-stick or other percussive sound) at
beginning of one track that is within each set of Separation tracks.
We will line up your tracks using your sound cue.
A COUNT OF ALL THE TRACKS YOU ARE
MUTING/TURNING OFF. Every element in your mix, every
automation move, every
should go into the Separations. When recombined together, they exactly
to the stereo mix. (Note: if you've used stereo buss compression, each
separation will be less compressed than the full stereo mix. When
recombined in mastering, this compression will be restored.)
Check your Separations: Load them into a new mix session. The combined
Separations should sound the same as your stereo mix file, but just
more open and less compressed. You may see "overs" in your stereo
meters from the
Separations because the transients come through more. This is normal,
although "overs" are not
as common when a good amount of headroom is left in the original stereo
• KEY: The better you like your stereo mix, the fewer Separations
need. Four or five is ideal. The more concerns you have about your mix,
make a greater number of
Separations. The maximum accepted is eight (plus the stereo mix)
Separation Mastering - The
allows us to
reconstruct your mixdown using the Separations - to enhance separate
elements in the analog domain - without compromising other elements
within your mix.
open up the sound and improve
the transients, musicality and dimension. Each layer can be made to
articulation and better imaging than a standard stereo format. (More about WHY here.)
your 2-track mix and A/B compare it with your
ensure that the intentions of your original mix are honored.
totally recallable mastering
enhancements that enable us to
produce everything from light sonic retouching all the way to
the final master for you.
Save time and money:
LOAD YOUR SEPARATIONS INTO A BRAND NEW MIX SESSION. ALSO LOAD YOUR
STEREO MIX, but MUTE the stereo mix. LISTEN to your "summed"
Separations, and then SOLO your muted stereo mix. Compare the sound of
your soloed stereo mix to your Separations. CHECK TO BE SURE EVERYTHING
IS PRESENT IN YOUR SEPARATIONS.
from the original
mix session! If your
system is 48k, make 48k-24 bit files. If
your system is 44.1k,
make 44.1k-24 bit files, etc.
Flash drives are the most convenient, but you can also bring
in a hard drive with your
Separation folders. If you bring in DVD-R's
• NEVER make zip,
rar, or any kind of compressed files. Uncompressed audio always
loud rock projects:
recommend that you separate your drums into three Separations: [Your
Song] KICK.aif -- [Your Song] SNARE AND TOMS, and [Your Song]
OVERHEADS.aif (overheads). Your
Overhead Separation should include ALL hi hats and cymbals and room tone that you have
blended in your mix. The Drum Separation should be ONLY drums.
more issues with cymbals than any other drum-related sound.
Softer crashes and open high-hats makes an amazing difference in the
sound and it saves
money and time. (DRUMMERS: hit
cymbals - especially
crashes and open hats softer.)
are better because they:
• Eliminate the need
mixes - gives you more creative control
• Produce a more
pleasing, more transparent 3-D sound
• Restore elements
that can be
lost when "slamming" levels are desired
• Resolves mixing
studio deadlines and creative burnout
compromises associated with traditional mastering
• Maximizes the
benefits of ideal
acoustics and expert mastering engineering
• Can give you the
sound of analog
summing in the mastering room
"Separation Mastering is a
non-destructive process. In the hands of a competent mastering
engineer, Separations can deliver much better results."
- Grammy winning engineer, Erik
Zobler (Dianne Reeves, George Duke,
Anita Baker, etc.)
"The clarity, punch, and definition is amazing. You made the
project sound world-class."
- Joe DiBlazi, renowned guitarist, producer, LA, California
"Separations simply BLEW THE
ORIGINALS AWAY! I was astounded."
- Caleb Magnino - Engedi - Bakersfield, California
"Separation Mastering is
simply amazing. It's definitely the wave of the future."
Artist Grace - O.C. California
"Separations is quite a
'jaw-dropping' thing to hear. I'll never have anything mastered another
- Scott Menefee - Copperdown
so much sense for
Indy artists who want a competitive edge."
- Laurie Morvan,
The Laurie Morvan Band
- Award-winning blues rock recording artist