Mastering The Contours In Stems Challenge
For July we have a really interesting challenge where members can master a tune from stems.
Stems are basically sub-mixes of a mix where a stereo stem would, for instance, have nothing but the drums. The stem would, however have the full reverb and effects used in the mix for the drums. If you had a mix in three stems (drums, instruments & vocals) you can pull up the stems in a DAW at "0" level they would mix together to give you the full mix, exactly.
The reason stems are used is because the processing settings which are optimum for some instruments are quite different than what you would use for other instruments, e.g. attack and release for compressing drums vs. vocals. Also anything you did to enhance one instrument in the mix would also affect other instruments, e.g., if you wanted more vocal presence, you would also bring out the guitar in the mix.
When clients supply stems they should also supply a copy of the entire mix. If you add the out of phase full mix to the stems there should be a complete nulling of the sound. Many times there isn't quite absolute nulling unless the DAW has very good "time compensation" built in.
The tune we are going to mix for this challenge is "Cry To Me" by the Contours. This tune was originally recorded by Soloman Burke in 1962. It was one of the tunes heard in the Dirty Dancing film and when the Contours went on their "Dirty Dancin Tour" they performed this song. In 2009 the group decided to demo this and several other tunes they performed in their act. They quickly realized that these "demos" were really master quality and contacted me to do a professional mastering job on the mixes. I requested that they provide me with stems.
The group has given me permission to use the mixes & masters for educational purposes, which I have done in several of my classes and seminars on mastering. The tune is being used under the "fair use" provision of the US copyright laws (educational use clause).
You can check out the current Contours (with Silvester Potts) at http://www.thecontours.us/
. If you get a chance, see one of their shows and you'll be impressed I'm sure.
The files are available nowCry Full MixCry Drum StemCry Instrument StemCry Vocal Stem
If you want to keep it simple, you don't have to master using the stems - you can simply master the full mix file - but let us know this. And let us know if your are participating in this challenge.
If you run into problems using the stems, please ask for help.
Your submissions are due by Monday, July 9, 2012 at 6PM. As always, post your submission to your web space or use a service like yousendit or dropbox. Do NOT post the link to the url here but send it in a PM to me.