MP3 / WAV: Mastered or Not?

  1. 4 years ago


    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    in the past I have been only selling 320mp3 for simple "leases", that basically were the same as the one you heard on my webpage, but with the tag being removed. They have a mastering chain fx applied to them (Ozone loudness maximizer among others)...

    Now I see some producers selling a "wav" version of their beats, does it just mean the exact same sound, but wav instead of 320mp3, or does it mean "unmastered wav", no fx on the master bus?

    Or maybe I am wrong from the start, and even the 320mp3 you send for basic cheap lease is an unmastered beat, with nothing applied on the master bus?

    As I am just at the beginning of the process of uploading things and setting up my "beat store" on Soundgine, I am asking to the people with some experience how they proceed.

    My feeling would be that for the cheapest lease option, I don't want to give too much... but maybe I am wrong...

    Thanks for sharing your way of doing things... :)

  2. SkillyMusic

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 2534 RP
    Edited 4 years ago by SkillyMusic

    '@FrozenjaZzBeats' Not sure if I I understood you correctly. In my opinion every version you sell should be mastered. Whether it's mp3 or wav.

    If I found a beat I like, I'd want to buy it, get my download and use it for whatever I want to use it for instantly. Therefore the beat should be completely finished = mastered. Wave (with 44.1kHz and 16Bit/24Bit) is the absolute standard when it comes to audio. However some producers do sell mp3 versions to provide more options to buyers. It's up to you if you want to sell .mp3s or not. If you don't want to give too much as you said, you could make your .mp3 version the cheapest lease. But again even this version should be mastered. :)

    Hope I could help you a little

  3. FrozenjaZzBeats

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    Thanks Skilly,

    my concern is that, with a "mastered" mp3 or wav, you are extremely limited in terms of headroom, to add vocals, as everything is already "squashed".

    On the other hand, these "mastered" beats are appreciated as for some bedroom rappers, they just have to add the voice and voilà.

    I have seen some conversations where beatmakers explain that the files they send to customers (even simple leases) are "raw", with nothing applied on the master bus.
    So they would give the opposite advice as yours: "this version should NOT be mastered" :)

    What do you guys do?' @OxygenBeats' or' @bbotabasco'?

  4. FrozenjaZzBeats

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    Just seen this on a forum, where someone was asking the same question as me (sending unmastered or not)

    "I've been thinking about this too but honestly no one has ever leased something from me and asked for a unmastered track. Most not all but most artists who lease aren't planning on mastering after they record anyway. They want the beat loud when they get it. I actually think you would get a lot of complaints if you sent them an unmastered wav after they purchase."

    Now I thought that you guys were sending a "mastered", loud mp3, and a "unmastered", "nothing on the master fx bus" WAV file, but maybe I am totally mistaken. So before I upload lots of large files with my slooooow connection, I would be happy to know what you usually do :)

  5. [deleted]

    30 Apr 2015 User since 1970

    I don't believe in "mastering" beats. I think it's rather amateur. Having said that, I do put ozone on my master bus. But I apply VERY SUBTLE changes. The main reason it's there is to limit via the maximizer, and to limit with the dynamic compression module. I don't really use the maximizer to boost levels; only subtly here and there. Sometimes I'll add a little more width or whatever, but I feel like the term "mastering" is misleading. If by "mastering", you mean using any plugins on your master bus, then I guess all my beats are "mastered"... but I'm afraid what most people mean by "mastering" is over-compression/maximizing.

    If there are any problems with your mix, THEN FIX THE DAMN MIX! You should have the entire project with all the stems/tracks in front of your face. The beat should be as loud as you expect it to be when the project is finalized. There should be room for the vocals. Sometimes what I do is I find an acapella track and drop it in the project to see if there's still room for vocals before bouncing it out.

    Please please please do not just maximize the shit out of your beat. You want dynamics. Mixing is about balance. You should check into signing up for Superstar O's VIP packs. In this last month's package, I provided a really powerful and fast way of improving your mixes.

  6. FrozenjaZzBeats

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP
    Edited 4 years ago by FrozenjaZzBeats

    Totally agree!!
    I think my mixes are clean - the fx I put on the master bus (Ozone among others) are not to fix anything.
    And yes, I have all the tracks in front of my face, and I fix the mix quite often, with all fx disabled on the master bus.

    But "The beat should be as loud as you expect it to be when the project is finalized"...

    Well, this is not my case... everything has room to breathe, nothing is squashed, so I am far from the final "loudness".

    I wish I could do what Johnny Juliano did on soundlick, where everyone was noticing its ultra powerful kicks.... the secret was he had applied no limiting at all on the master. As a consequence, his beats were noticeably softer than any other one, but he did not care, he was already #1.

    Here, it is a different story: our songs are being played in a chart... and if your song is soft and the listener has to crank the volume, you lose some points...

    I checked your songs, they are quite loud, I am wondering how you can do this only with "subtle" settings...

    So I guess that in your case, the song we hear in the preview is the same as the one we guess when buying it (except maybe it will be a wav or better mp3 rate, and no tag) ?

    Well I guess I could maybe release some less squashed beats.... it seems this stupid loudness war is less active... It has caused me headhaches... because my beats where nice, and once dramatically squashed to get more and more loudness, obvisouly... the bass was gone, the kicks were thin...

    I would love to be able to reduce the amount of "added loudness" :)

  7. FrozenjaZzBeats

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    Thanks so much' @OxygenBeats' !!
    I am realizing I have been too far in this loudness war I hate!!
    Just wondering, if you have 5 minutes, could you check out and play one beat (or more if you feel like it!)... Should I really try to make them a bit less loud... or are they ok and not too squashed ?

    But anyway, I have searched a bit about RMS and LUFS, it seems LUFS is now a good way to easily understand how loud you are or not. Now I'll have to find my LUFS target, I am pretty sure I am way too high. The irony is I spent hours to try to understand how I could keep nice dynamics... !

  8. DangerZoneBeatZ

    30 Apr 2015 User since 2015 Chicago + 18 RP

    For all my tracks I just give them a decent mix and a light master if someone buys the exclusive they can do further tweaking on their own with a professional engineer but that's just me

    I try not to have my tracks be too loud but it depends on the track itself and other factors

    When it comes to mixing and mastering I don't really have a set formula I just go with the flow

  9. SkillyMusic

    30 Apr 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 2534 RP
    Edited 4 years ago by SkillyMusic

    '@OxygenBeats' What you do is mastering! I guess :) Mastering definitely is subtle! And yes at the very end of the mastering process sometimes you need to maximize. But of course the extend of this whole mastering process should be different with every beat. And I agree, maximizing your beat like crazy does not equal mastering.
    @FrozenjaZzBeats' I wouldn't be too concerned about this whole loudness war thing. It's quite useful to learn about it and know what it is all about and if you produce for tv etc. you have to play by loudness and peak rules (especially in the EU), but I wouldn't take those regulations as a standard of what's good and bad you know? So don't let your LUFS number or any number for that matter tell you whats good and bad. Let your ears decide. Of course everybody wants their beats to be loud and have great dynamic range at the same time but I wouldn't "sacrifice" dynamics for an even louder beat.
    You didn't ask me to but I just listened to your beats and if you ask me you are on the right track. :) Especially for these kind of beats (jazzy, old-school-ish Hip Hop) I feel like it's important to keep a certain dynamic range. Some of them kicks could kick just a little more, but I think you could solve that in your mix (not master) by adjusting the kick. I can only listen through headphones right now, so don't take my word for it. Heck don't even listen to me it's just my opinion and there is no right and wrong here!
    :) Keep it up!

  10. [deleted]

    30 Apr 2015 User since 1970

    '@SkillyMusic' Perhaps in a technical sense. Although, not if we are using the old definition of mastering where "mastering" was preparing for vinyl or placing on physical mediums. Words have lots of meanings, and they change all the time depending on who you talk to. And I think most people have a screwed impression of "mastering".. That's why I try not to say that.
    @FrozenjaZzBeats' Sure thing!

    Here's something I've considered more and more... that maybe this loudness war is all in our heads. Do we any proof at all that the customers really care that much about it? I mean, everyone knows how to turn a volume know up/down... In fact, if you're audience is full of clients who are wise enough to purchase beats, they're probably very wise to loudness wars. And you're only insulting them when you assume they won't know when to turn the volume up or not. If you listen to most all popular songs on youtube now, by the biggest artists in the game, all the top billboard hits... they're all quiet mixes. They're so quiet, they don't even hit the threshold, as if they were turned down a few db after the fact. Download some top hits off youtube and see for yourself! The people making the most money don't give a F%$# about your loudness wars.. the only people who care are amateur beat makers and small niches. People know how to turn up a volume knob.

    What's actually important is having a good balance and staying consistent.

  11. FrozenjaZzBeats

    1 May 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    yep, I spent the night reading many things about the new EBU Loudness stuff...
    I am happy to see that the "loudness war" seems to be slowly a thing of the past
    That being said, you say

    "The people making the most money don't give a F%$# about your loudness wars.. "

    but it seems that in the current charts, EDM or Rap, songs are mixed so loud it is a pain...

    And I have read so many testimonies of audio engineers that wanted to keep dynamics but artists wanted the damn thing to be loud :(

    Well, I have an opportunity, as I am new here, to maybe lower things a bit, keep more dynamic and have more punchy kicks, so I'll try to do that and reupload stuff.

    Thanks for opening my eyes :)

  12. legendarybeatz

    1 May 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1953 RP

    Hey' @FrozenjaZzBeats' , very good question.

    My take on this is that yes! Master your beats. Piggy-backing off of what everyone has already said, realize that if you are going to sell your music to an established artist, they will purchase exclusive rights anyway and will ask for trackouts. With these trackouts, they will have their sound engineer mix the beat again anyway.

    Mastering your beats gives your customers the best quality product upfront. Yes, times have changed. This argument has been big for a couple years but has quieted down recently. Think of it this way, if you are an artist, you want the hardest hitting, loudest beats you can find. Of course if you mix loud then you may not have an issue. But most producers may mix low, which means that when a possible customer listens to your beats they don't hit as hard. That alone can make you lose sales.

    Funny thing is, artists don't know the difference between mixed & unmixed. Educated Artists will purchase trackout files with exclusive rights, knowing that they can have the track mixed to match their voice and performance.

    I would suggest to master your tracks and ultimately, you should ask your current/past customers if that matters to them, because producers won't really be able to help you with this mostly due to the fact they talk from experience. In the music online game, each experience is different for each producer and each tactic may not work for every producer. So talk to your clients, if you don't have any as yet, then yes, make your music as high quality as possible. That way your customers hear the best from you and then can consider making changes later (but not likely)...

    Be You, Be Legendary!!!!
    Legendary Beatz

  13. FrozenjaZzBeats

    1 May 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    '@legendarybeatz' Thanks for your very interesting answer!

    I remember having asked several times: "do you want me to send you an 'unmastered' beat, you'll have more headroom for your voice", and the answer was that no, they wanted loud/banging stuff to be more inspired rap on the beat... Well....

  14. legendarybeatz

    1 May 2015 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1953 RP

    Yea' @FrozenjaZzBeats' , I think you answered your own question lol.

  15. 3 years ago


    3 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    '@OxygenBeats' I just checked you recent productions... and wow... they are way way louder than mine...

    Well, I decided to lower the volume of all my productions, and I stick to -12LUFS now (which usually, with my music, translates to around -13.5RMS).... I am happy with this choice as I have the feeling I get more dynamics, but if lost in a market such as the Playce charts... well...

    I guess it it partly due to your genre of music that is more full of energy than mine? But it is hard for me to believe that Ozone Maximizer is not working that much on your master bus... ;)

  16. OxygenBeats

    4 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 3556 RP

    '@FrozenjaZzBeats' it really isn'tthough. haha

    With the maximizer, I usually don't drag the threshold down past the -1 db mark, and I usually either don't use it at all or I use it subtly and go around -.5db.

    It's all about the mix. Fuck "mastering"

  17. FrozenjaZzBeats

    4 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP

    @OxygenBeats' It's all about the mix. Fuck "mastering"

    mm... I mix with reasonable levels, everything peaks at -3db in average... But even if I mixed so that stuff would peak 0, I would never reach your levels without adding some limiting....

    That being said, I have seen your videos, and it seems you have many many tracks, so I guess the volume adds up :) I tend to simplify the base of my beats, for my last one I have basically kick/snare/hats/bass and keys. On top of that I add some guitars and horns, but the meat is just drums/bass/rhodes...

    And to get the kind of loudness you have in your tracks, I don't see how mixing alone can do this.

    But I am happy with my levels, I am at -12 LUFS, and I read that youtube is around -13LUFS now (even if things are bit more complicated than taht). My ozone maximizer seems to be working between 1 and 4db of reduction, which seems reasonable to me :)

  18. OxygenBeats

    4 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 3556 RP

    '@FrozenjaZzBeats' Sure you can get your mix that loud without ozone or a limiter. The limiter of course is just there to smooth out the waveform for the transients that approach the ceiling, which is pretty much just the kicks and occasionally snares. I didn't think your beats were really quiet, but a lot of times when people hear something as "loud", they are actually referring to the mid/high frequencies in the presence range. Because "loudness" is not an absolute term like decibels; loudness refers to perception, and we're more sensitive to certain frequencies than others. White noise will often sound 'louder' than pink noise at the same db level.

    And that's where genres come in. EDM tends to be a lot brighter than hip hop. Hip Hop is actually usually very dark compared to most genres in general. But I'm more and more aligning my reference mixing with EDM rather than hip hop. Pop and rock in general are also brighter than hip hop, but I'd say EDM is the brightest. Of course, it depends on whose mix you're listening to, and even big name producers have some mixing incongruities.

    About youtube, I don't know what the fuck is up with youtube. I tried being scientific about it by uploading sine waves and white noise at various levels and the results seemed kinda random and stupid. It's bullshit! lol... because it will make a lot of my stuff quieter randomly but I've downloaded and analyzed beats from Trap Nation's Youtube and they seem to have found a way to get their music to max levels after youtube uploads.

    So I think that may be youtube's goal. But I think their algorithm has some quirks.

  19. FrozenjaZzBeats

    4 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 1118 RP
    Edited 3 years ago by FrozenjaZzBeats

    '@OxygenBeats' yes, your music is quite "bright" (and "smart" as well... really, your music totally rocks, innovative, but in the trendy EDM move, and with your signature sound. !)

    My beats are not "really quiet", I was just surprised and wondering how you could get these mixes, they don't sound "limited" or "squashed" at all, but yet sound "full" and ... loud.

    Oh I guess I still have much much to learn as far as mixing is concerned. Well, I am quite happy with my latest mixes, such as "Shadow". I realize that during the verse, things are really "quiet" (I mean : "not busy"), but that is to leave room for the rapper :)

  20. OxygenBeats

    4 Jan 2016 Power Contributor User since 2015 + 3556 RP

    '@FrozenjaZzBeats' It's always good to learn more, but yeah, I don't think you need to change your mixes at all. I think your mixes are dope, I'm loving your latest stuff! :D

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