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Overview of Aria Automated Analog Mastering + Audio Examples

Hey guys, Matthew Weiss here —

This is going to be a how-to quick little step by step for using Aria automated analog mastering. It’s a really cool program, but it can be a little tricky if you are first getting used to it, because there are a few different settings that you can use, and I just want to walk you through them and give you some examples so that when you upload your mix, you know which one to choose.

So A, B, and C all go in order of compression. A is the least compressed, B is in the middle, C is the most compressed, D is a special setting that I’m going to talk about in a second.

Most of the time, most records are going to fair best on B. B is meant to sort of encapsulate the average Pop to Hip Hop to Rock record, and it is a really nice combination of getting the record nice and loud, but at the same time really preserving those dynamics.

Now, if you’re doing something that’s say a club record or something that’s like a top 40 very competitive loudness kind of record, then you might want to bump up to C. C functions best when the mix itself already has a lot of dynamic processing that makes it get loud nicely.

If you do a very dynamic mix, if you do a mix that isn’t necessarily pre-made to kind of hit the limiter and survive, then you’re going to find that C can get a little crunchy and distorty and is probably not the right setting, but if it’s something where it’s a club record, four-on-the-floor type record where it has been setup to hit that limiter hard, C is going to sound really good.

A is the opposite side. A is a little bit more conservative, it’s friendlier towards the dynamics. Certain records do not have that loudness competition thing going on or simply work better when they have that bit more dynamic preservation, and so that setting is really for acoustic type music. Music where it’s not really drum centric or music where it’s not necessarily meant to be super loud.

Jazz type genres, classical type genres, those are all going to function really well under A. Of course, anything is going to function well under A in general, because it does preserve the transients the best, but that said, there’s also something to be said for the competitive loudness thing that goes on in the daily existence of being an engineer.

Now, D is sort of a hybrid between A and B. It’s almost like A point five, but it’s also been setup slightly differently with the consideration that sometimes, you make a record that is not meant to be pushed, but people demand that you push it anyway.

That’s where D comes in. It’s sort of like, we’re doing a competitive loudness thing, but for a Pop Ballad. D is an appropriate setting for that.

So with all of that being said, I’m going to now play you some before and afters of some mixes and what Aria did with them going in order, A, B, C, and D.

Now I want to give you a fair warning, if your monitors are turned up very loudly right now or if you’re wearing headphones and the volume is cranked, I’m going to be playing heavily limited records, so the playback is going to get very loud. So pause it right here for a second, make some volume adjustments.

Okay, here we go.

So this first record is an acoustic/bass record. It’s not meant to be necessarily all that competitive, and so I went with A.

[mix, then master, A]

Cool. This next one is more of a Country, southern Country influenced Rock type tune, and I went with B because of that traditional rock drum sound seemed to lend itself to being a bit more pushed.

[mix, then master, B]

So you can hear that it’s a little bit louder than A and it’s grabbing the transients a little bit harder, but it still preserves the sound really nicely, and of course, also improves the overall frequency response and texture and tone.

This next one is going to be a Rap track. It’s meant to be played in the clubs, it’s meant to be competitive. Here we go.

[mix, then master, C]

So you can hear, that’s pretty brick walled. I mean, it’s slamming into the limiter, and that’s the point of this setting is to be very, very, very aggressive.

In fairness, also, I did not totally setup this record to work best into extremely heavy limiting, but even as is, even where it wasn’t totally designed to do that, it still handles it pretty nicely.

Alright, and this last setting here is going to be D.

[mix, then master, D]

Now traditionally, I would run this record through A, but I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be appropriate if I took a record that I would normally run through A and run it through D as if somebody had asked for it to be a little bit louder?”

And as you can see, it’s still handling the sense of space and overall cleanliness of playback, as in very little distortion and the transients all being handled very well, although it’s possible it’s a little more pushed that what I would default to.

So that’s a quick crash course on how to use Aria. Don’t forget to check out for articles, tips, and tutorials on mixing and music production, and of course, happy mastering.


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Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch:
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