Close ☰
Menu ☰

Steve Corrao #3: Mastering Blues Music

Posted on: Friday 7th of December 2018

Sage Audio Mastering Studio, located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee has Blues music deep in its roots.

Owner Steve Corrao tells us more…

“The Blues [Ed note – yeah, Blues with a capital B!]  is one of the most soulful genres in all of music. When we talk about mastering this genre, we have to consider the emotion and dynamics of the material. The Blues genre is often full of bass walks, interesting scales that contain thirds and fifths, and raw performance-based recordings.

These elements give us a feeling of groove and emotion. There’s a real push and pull, almost a ‘call-and-response’ type movement in all Blues music that should directly dictate how we approach our signal chain when it comes to mastering. The Blues can sometimes be tricky, as the treatment of the low-end is important in setting us up to treat the midrange and top-end of a mix. When we approach a Blues mix, we should always be thinking what will best serve the song and keep the performance alive. Pay attention to the kick and bass relationship. This gives the Blues its drive. The bass is the backbone and if the low end isn’t nailed, the song can fall apart.

Let’s start with the low end and set ourselves up to have a great master.

Mono the centre information using a Mid/Side EQ or a “mono-maker.” Start at 50Hz and go all the way up to 100Hz. See if the low-end becomes more clear and if the groove begins to lock-in more. Dial it in to taste. This can clear-up the mix immediately and give clarity to where the low-end sits.

To glue the low-end together, while maintaining top-end articulation for guitars and vocals, we need a compressor that handles low end information well while bringing some cohesiveness to the top-end of the frequency spectrum. Try a “Variable Mu” or “Vari-Mu” for this genre. These types of compressors are smooth and warm because of how the tubes respond when material is fed to them. They often have preset constraints on the attack, release, and ratio sections, so it’s important to use your ears more-so then looking at numbers. When Vari-Mu compressors are pushed, we often get a ‘glue’ and Harmonic Distortion that is undeniably emotional and dense.

The Fairchild 670 and the Manley Vari-Mu are two perfect examples of this. Adjust the threshold until you feel a bounce or groove. The low end will most likely be triggering the compressor, but this is what we want to create, a nice dense master. Start with just 1dB of compression and you may find that’s all you need (See image below for an example). While you may not be able to afford a high-end analogue compressors right now, the plugin versions can produce pleasing results. If you want to hear the real thing, Sage Audio has a Manley Vari-Mu for mastering.

After compression you may find it beneficial to add a wide ‘Q’ boost of the low-end, try 40Hz-100Hz at 0.2dB to bring out the character and Harmonic Distortion that was created by the compressor as well as a slight top-end shelf to open things back up. Start your shelf at 1kHz and dial it in to taste. You might not need your top-end shelf to extend to 1kHz, but starting there can really help make the guitars and vocal tangibility stick-out, which will make the listener feel more intimately connected to the material.

If you do these three things, you will find your song grooving in no time. Always remember to keep the performance in mind when using these techniques. If you feel like you’ve lost any of the feel of the recording or the bass falls apart, then just step back and try again.

 Sage Audio Mastering Studio

Steve Corrao #1: Mastering Gospel
Steve Corrao #2: Mastering Country 



Latest News & Blog articles

  • The first-of-its-kind Scholarship programme, which begins in 2021, will cover the full cost of the course fees and contribute towards living expenses for two black British students annually to study on Abbey Road Institute’s Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering. Abbey Road Institute is the education arm of Abbey Road Studios, offering highly […]
  • The inaugural Sound of the Year Awards 2020 is a newly launched celebration of everyday sound (not music) in all its forms presented by The Museum Of Sound in partnership with The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop and others. It is a UK-based awards ceremony this year but submissions are encouraged from around the world. Anyone […]
  • The Music & Media Technologies (MMT) programme at Trinity College Dublin has partnered with PreSonus Audio Electronics in adapting to a new online lecturing format, to enable students to carry out their creative and technical audio projects remotely. MMT lecturer Jimmy Eadie said, “We are delighted about the potential of this industry and academic partnership between […]
  • Shenzhen Leiting Digital Entertainment Company Ltd is one of China’s leading video games publishers, with over 45 million players across the country enjoying its mobile and PC releases. A wholly-owned R&D subsidiary of G-bits, the company employs enthusiastic games fans with one simple mission – to produce ‘unique and great games’. As a result of […]
  • Despite the challenges and delays of a global pandemic, manufacturers have continued to develop new and innovative products. Our nominations include both high-tech AoIP equipment and artisanal custom-builds, encompassing the (sometimes esoteric) recommendations from our panel of producers, and drawing on the detail and results from recent reviews by our professional contributors. For the tenth anniversary […]
  • Focusrite Pro has introduced a new Red 8Line interface, RedNet R1 desktop remote controller, and MkII editions of its RedNet A16R and RedNet D16R Dante interfaces. Red 8Line is a completely new addition to the hugely powerful Red range of Pro Tools | HD, Thunderbolt 3 and Dante audio interfaces for Mac and PC. Red […]
  • The award-winning games developer has installed three edit suites and a Dolby Atmos mix room at its facility in Sheffield. While most of the UK has been in lockdown, award-winning game developer Sumo Digital has been expanding its audio facilities by building three 5.1 surround sound edit suites, a Dolby Atmos mix room and a […]
  • The investment company which owns the studios where The Sopranos, Sex and the City and 30 Rock were recorded today signed a deal to build London’s largest Hollywood-style TV and film production centre. Hackman Capital Partners, the owner of sites including Culver Studios in Los Angeles and Silvercup Studios in New York, has agreed to invest […]
Translate »