How to Master a Song in Logic Pro
Learn how to master a song from start to finish in Logic Pro using improved workflows in the DAW along with iZotope RX, Neoverb, and Ozone.
Using RX for cleaning up mastered tracks
There's much more to mastering besides EQ and loudness levels. In fact, mastering is also about listening carefully for sonic problems that weren't noticed at the mix stage. Issues like pops and clicks from poor edits, or background noise from the recording or processing. In this case, we'll be reducing the level of an aggressive consonant sound from the vocals during the chorus.
Let's listen to the second chorus of this track. Pay special attention to the "T" sounds of the main and backing vocals at around 00:03-00:04 in this audio clip:
T Consonant Sound
Do you notice how aggressive and bright that "T" is in the vocals? The vocals lurch out of the mix in an unpleasant way. While we could try to automate an EQ to reduce this issue at this one moment, let's instead use
RX 10 Advanced
Another great aspect of mastering in Logic Pro is that Logic supports the ARA 2.0 protocol. ARA, or Audio Random Access, is a feature that allows audio to be instantly transferred from your DAW to a supporting application. Normally if you wanted to clean up this mix using RX, you'd have to:
- Import the stereo file into RX
- Clean up the audio in RX
- Export the edited stereo file out of RX
- Import the edited stereo file into Logic Pro
That's 4 steps between applications to clean up one small issue. And who knows if there are more issues to correct elsewhere in the file?
But thanks to Logic Pro's support of ARA 2.0, you can instead do the following:
- Load the RX Spectral Editor (ARA) plug-in on the first Audio FX slot of the channel strip of the stereo mix
- Press play
The moment we press play, our stereo mix is instantly transferred to the RX Spectral Editor. No exporting and importing is required. And once transferred, we can use RX Spectral Repair’s Attenuate feature to reduce the aggressive consonants in this vocal.
If we take a look around 1:45 in the RX editor, we can actually see 2 bright spots which make up those "T" sounds.
Once selected, let's click on Attenuate to reduce the level of this first sound. Let's take a listen now and see if we've managed to reduce the level of the consonant so that it sits back into the mix:
Reduced T Consonant Sound
Definitely better! But the consonant could still use a bit more finesse. Let's select the 2nd brightest part of the audio using the Time-frequency select tool. This second part of the consonant lives around 5000 Hz and above.
Let's now expand the controls of the Spectral Editor so we can fine-tune how much we attenuate this sound. Since this selection is quite large, we do have to be careful not to hurt the rest of the mix when we attenuate.
Let's reduce the Strength slider under the Attenuate function to about 2.53. Once adjusted, click Process to reduce the level of our consonant. With the second part of our aggressive consonant reduced in level, let's listen to the results:
Further Reduced Consonant Sound
Thanks to ARA and RX we successfully reduced this consonant to a more tasteful level. All without having to leave Logic Pro!
You can leave the Spectral Editor (ARA) plug-in on your channel strip for as long as you need to make corrections. Once all corrections are complete, I suggest bouncing your track in place to commit your RX edits. You can do this by going to File > Bounce > Track in Place.
Selection-based processing in Logic for mix rebalancing
Before we begin mastering our track using Ozone, there's one last housekeeping detail to tend to. Between the first chorus and the second verse there's a brief break section. This break serves as a short reprieve from the loud punk rock intensity.
Brief Break Section
Listening back to my original mix, I do wish I had added more reverb to this break for more space and breath. Of course I could go back to the original Project and adjust my reverb choices in the mix. But sometimes we don't always have the luxury to go back. So instead let's use selection-based processing in Logic Pro to "bake in" a bit of reverb.
Selection-based processing allows you to apply plug-in processing to a specific part of a track or region. You can completely replace your original region with the update processing. Or you can create a new take with the plug-in processing applied. In the case of a new take, Logic Pro will create a Take Folder. And from there you can comp together bits from the original mix and the newly processed mix.
First, select the mix region in the Tracks Area. Then head to Functions > Selection-Based Processing.
Once selected, the selection-based processing window will appear. You can even compare two different plug-in chains before committing your plug-in processing to your track. For now though, we'll load a single, stereo instance of
Now using the Marquee tool, let's select the part of the mix we plan on rebalancing using Neoverb. Just like with the Fade tool, you can set the Marquee tool as your mouse tool using the menus at the top of the Tracks Area.
Once the track is playing, let's use the Reverb Assistant feature in Neoverb to quickly dial in reverb for this part. Clicking on the Reverb Assistant button in Neoverb offers various controls to fine-tune the Assistant's results. I'm going to leave the Reverb Assistant controls in their default states. Let's click Next.
In seconds, Neoverb dials in a reverb sound for this break section. Click Accept to view the adjustments Neoverb has made.
Of course you can fine tune the results of Reverb Assistant to match your own creative tastes. I'm happy with what Reverb Assistant has chosen for my mix. I'll just adjust the Dry/Wet slider to about 25%. This will add a tasteful, but subtle amount of reverb for our break.
Reverb Assistant Adjustments
With our reverb dialed in, let's apply our reverb to the mix. To be safe, select Create New Take in the selection-based processing window. Instead of replacing our original mix, Logic Pro will create a new take with Neoverb applied. This is great if you decide later you'd like to go revert back to the original mix.
Let's also select under the Gain dropdown the option for Loudness Compensation. With Loudness Compensation, Logic Pro will adjust the level of our processing so the level of our break remains exactly the same. This protects the mix from any accidental boosts or cuts in volume. The volume will remain exactly the same for the break. The only thing that will change is the amount of ambiance. Let's click Apply.
Logic Pro creates a new track with Neoverb applied to the break section of this mix. We've successfully rebalanced the ambiance of this break while preserving a copy of our original mix for safekeeping.
Master your track using Ozone and Tonal Balance Control
We've done a considerable amount of work to this mix! We began by:
- Cleaning up the top and tail of this track
- Adding fades to prevent pops and clicks
- Used ARA and RX9 to correct issues with the vocals
- Rebalanced part of this mix using Neoverb and Selection-Based Processing
Now we're ready to use
Once finished, I'll load Ozone and
Tonal Balance Control 2
- Dynamic EQ
- Vintage Limiter
I'll also use Tonal Balance Control to help identify potential tonal and dynamic issues in this mix. Thanks to the targeted metering system we’ll load a custom curve based on a set of references. And from there you're able to easily identify areas in a mix that need fine-tuning.
Start mastering in Logic Pro
As you can see, Logic Pro is a completely capable DAW for mastering your music. From the initial importing and fine-tuning of your tracks to forensic editing and even mix rebalancing.
And when paired with Ozone, RX, and even Neoverb, you can get more out of mastering in Logic Pro.