And these parameters are only locked in after rounds of listening and testing.
Critical thinking is a crucial part of automations. So why automate in the mastering stage? However, there are a few occasions where a fixed mastering setting might not be enough to account for all the nuances in a musical performance. Some genres might require more attention than others. An EDM track might have drops that sound distinctly different from its verses or your desired settings for a dynamic power ballad might begin to distort by the time the climactic section comes in.
Those are a few situations where automations might come into play. Working with Doug, mastering and vinyl cutting could be done purely analog from the tape machine straight to the console. Any EQ and compression settings were recorded on a recall sheet—purely pencil and paper.
On some rare occasions, some mixes could require different treatments at various points in the music.
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To handle this, one option was to print different mastering passes and then splice in each section to produce the final product. The other option was to do mastering rides on-the-fly as you printed the master. You could describe the latter as a form of automation. Doug and I would mark down the actual times on our recall sheet when any volume, EQ or compression ride would take place throughout a song. Below are examples of recent mastering sessions where I relied on the automation of some Ozone 8 settings to achieve my final mastered sound.
This song, in particular, has a very dynamic quality to it. The goal as the mastering engineer is to make sure not to lose this dynamic feel and that the progression of the music is present throughout until the grand ending. You also have to take into account certain elements in the production that might interfere with the build-up as you dial in your mastering settings. Though it has a distinct boomy character from 80 Hz and below, it only ever-so-slightly overwhelms and distorts at certain points of the musical performance.
To address these points without compromising my overall settings, I decided to automate my Ozone 8 EQ. Below is a clip of the audio and a screenshot of my mastering settings enabled but without my automation on the low frequency. To enable automation on Ozone 8, click the Auto button as seen on the screenshot above.
For this mastering session, I wanted to automate the gain on my Band 1 low shelf EQ settings. This enables the automation function on the gain of my low shelf EQ. Once enabled, I used the Pro Tools pencil tool to indicate the times where I wanted the low shelf EQ automation to take place.
I found that sculpting out 1. Having gradual automation beginning at the second chorus, which then slowly tapers off during the bridge helped maintain a natural sound throughout. Artist: Poetic Thrust.
Here is another example of applying subtle automation on the low shelf EQ but in an opposite scenario. One of my objectives while mastering this track was to make sure that the frequency spectrum of the music is balanced from the drone all the way to the crispy percussive instruments. I found that a -1dB low shelf EQ down at 25 Hz helped achieve a strong punchy low end while allowing the rest of the mix elements to breathe in the master. One byproduct of this setting, however, is that by the time the climactic section comes in, the frequency balance begins to change—the vocals become denser and all the instruments come together into one energetic finish.
Here is the audio clip and EQ screenshot prior to automation. To adapt and make sure that the climactic section gets the full energetic sound it deserves, I enabled the gain automation on my Band 1 low shelf EQ once again to gradually remove itself from the chain by the time the climax begins.
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Below is a screenshot of the subtle EQ gain ride from By taking out the low shelf EQ, the overall frequency spectrum of the ending section sounds more balanced and we hear the articulation from the low-end drone once again. Film scores are known for their sweeping orchestral cues and wide dynamic range. As the mastering engineer, my goal was to ensure that none of these qualities ever get lost during the mastering stage.
Retaining these dynamics, however, opens the door to more potential distortions in the master. This type of distortion occurred quite often throughout the soundtrack, though not on all loud, dynamic sections. Listen to the same audio clip with the vintage compressor threshold automation enabled only at the distorting section.
Despite the many possibilities you have with automation, it does have its limitations. One alternative to automations is creating multiple mastering passes instead, each with its own set of mastering parameters. After printing, you then splice together these audio clips using your mastering DAW in order to come up with the final mastered sound.
This allows for more creative freedom when mastering each section of a musical performance. Another solution is object-based processing. While automation is a powerful and musical tool to add to your mastering arsenal, now is also a good time to remind yourself that critical listening and intent are key. Check out what happened this week with the Spire community. The first skills most riders learn are centered around staying safely on the trail, riding efficiently, and gaining overall balance on the bike. These are the skills that allow us to crash less and ride longer, making mountain biking more enjoyable.
Vision and scanning the trail properly will help you anticipate obstacles and changes in the track, eventually allowing you to ride faster and more confidently. An efficient pedal stroke is a key to saving energy throughout the course of your ride, climbing smoothly, sprinting powerfully, and eventually will help you to get over the larger obstacles in your path.
For new riders, achieving a pedal stroke with solid circular power transfer will save you a lot of energy and make your ride far more pleasant. A good majority of trailside dirt naps and general crashes happen while we are turning, making this an obvious element to improve next.
Additionally, if you are interested in going faster on your bike, carrying more speed through turns is one of the best ways to shave seconds off your overall time. The first time you feel the force of your body being pushed into a berm at speed you will likely let out some indescribable sound of joy, and instantly be hooked on turning as fast as possible.
Rider: Adrian Montgomery.
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There will forever be obstacles in trails, thankfully, and learning how to get your bike over them without a dismount can be a lot of fun. The first part of that process is lofting your front wheel onto and over things so that you can roll over them. Front wheel lifts can also be a good transition to wheelies and manuals, which are advanced skills we will cover later. Like it or dab it, mountain biking requires some climbing in most areas. As you start to ride steeper and more technical tracks you will inevitably find some stair steps and drop-offs in your path.
Depending on the size of the drop it can be good to look at the landing before you send it, but with the tips in these videos below you should be ready to huck yourself in the air in no time. Developing advanced mountain bike skills takes time, and for some of these, the use cases are fairly limited. No matter how fit and skilled you are on the climbs, you likely love a long and fast descent. Once the shreddy bits of the trail become steeper and more technical than braking and leaning back can manage, there are different skills to help you enjoy the slide. The obvious step to follow front wheel lifts is getting the rest of your bike off the ground and over obstacles.
Throwing our bikes and bodies in the air simultaneously is something even the best riders can improve upon, and fortunately, there are heaps of resources to help us along. Remember the ever-important wheel-lift we mentioned above? Now is when you can add some finesse and fun to it.
The manual can be useful in many of the same situations as a wheelie, and it looks super cool. If you learn to manual for bike lengths you have achieved most of the useful elements of the skill. Not every corner on the trail was built for the amount of space your bike needs to turn. As bikes get longer and trails get steeper, some switchbacks and technical turns require you to lift your rear wheel and pivot in order to point your bike toward the exit.