Audio: The Art and the Science

Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science


Should I be dithering my output in Pro Tools 11?
Written by an award-winning, highly respected professional, Mastering Audio gives you a thorough introduction to the unique procedures and technical issues involved in mastering.Suitable for all levels of students and professionals, it is ideal for anyone who wants to increase their mastery of digital and analog audio: musicians, producers, A&R, mastering, recording, and mixing engineers.Fully updated to cover the latest technologies, Mastering Audio discusses audio philosophy and art: sequen…

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Should I be dithering my output in Pro Tools 11?(r/edmproduction)

First of all, you have to decide what you want the focus of the track to be on. You talk about bass a lot, so I guess that’s your focus. So start by lowering all faders to the bottom (start with silence).

>When mixing, what are my goals to get my levels at?

Skip to the main part of your song, a part where everything is playing. Raise the fader on your bass channel so that it peaks at about -12dB on your Master channel meter. Now, without looking at any meters, raise the fader of your next most important channel (in EDM, usually the kick) until it sounds good alongside the bass. Then do the same with the next most important channel until all three sound good together and repeat until you’ve raised all faders by whatever amount.

By the time you’re done, you will probably be peaking at -6dB. Don’t worry if you aren’t, so long as you’re not clipping.

Not every part of your song will fit into this mix, but it’s a pretty good place to start. Now you get busy with automation in parts like your intro/outro and breakdowns.

>To make my track professional sounding, I’m using a spectrum analyzer, so what do I want the shape of all the levels to be?

Forget about the spectrum analyser. They have their uses, but real men mix with their ears. Professionals mix with their ears. Stop worrying about the numbers (so long as you’re not clipping!)

>Is bass supposed to be higher than the rest because it’s perceived as lower?

Not necessarily. You might find that your bass fader is higher than the rest, but that’s because you made it your focus. It would be different if you were making a rock track, where the guitar or vocals would be the focus of the mix.

>How do I get things like my lead to stand out without squashing hats and other sounds?

We call this “separation,” and you do it with EQ. If your leads are interfering with your hats, chances are that they are sharing some of the same frequencies. What you have to do with EQ is separate the frequencies of each channel so that they don’t clash. This is where you would use that spectrum analyser, at least until you develop a good sense of frequency with your ears alone. Solo the hats and look at where they peak on the spectrum. Now cut that frequency from your lead with EQ. Don’t go nuts, a cut of 5-6dB is more than enough. Now do the same in reverse – look at where the lead peaks and cut that from the hats. The two tracks should now play nicely together without clashing.

By the way, I’m of the opinion that with EDM, where the producer is in full control of the sound design of all the elements of a track, if you need to drastically EQ any track, then it’s better to just rethink the sound selection. Why bother trying to force a lead to fit a hi-hat when you have many GB of other hi-hats on your hard drive, or when you have a synth with total control of the frequencies in your lead? It’s true, you can’t polish a turd, and you can’t make two polished turds look good together either.

>Often I test it in my car with a subwoofer and my levels for bass are low but I’m already almost clipping.

It’s probably just that other channels have bass information that doesn’t need to be there, leaving no room for your actual bass. Since you’re now mixing to focus on your bass, this should be less of a problem. To go along with what I was saying about frequency separation it’s common to just high-pass filter every channel to about 120Hz except the bass and kick, so that they are the only thing heard in that whole frequency band (which is what your subs are playing).

>I just need like an in depth text resource

My recommendations are The Art of Mixing and Mastering Audio.


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Bob Katz

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Focal Press

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Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science

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