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Master: ‘Ipogeo’ by IsadoraD

I mastered the debut EP for the Italian duo IsadoraD. They blend electronica, pop and indie.

Simone Silvestroni's avatar ·

Stem mastering

After listening to the mixes, I almost immediately opted for stem mastering. I felt like the songs could have been improved by slightly altering the balance between certain tracks. Even if it was possible to perform a fairly similar correction on a two-track stereo using spectral editing, I felt like having the stems would have offered way more wiggle.

After agreeing on the type and number of stems, I proceeded with the edits. Having such a granular access to the layers, I could apply gentle strokes of EQ and compression to some tracks leaving the others untouched. Automation also was of great help, especially for enhancing the choruses.

A Reaper project where I mastered using stems for drums, bass, vocals, guitars and keyboards A Reaper project with stems for drums, bass, vocals, guitars and keys

Mastering using Reaper subprojects

The way I approached the final mastering stage resembles the same technique adopted while mixing Ember Rev’s upcoming album. Subprojects are such a powerful and useful feature I couldn’t refrain from trying it with mastering.

Once the editing stage is complete, ideally I don’t want to keep tinkering with the audio material. With subprojects there’s no bouncing of the two-track to disk to be imported in a new session. Instead, the stem-mastered project becomes a child to be added to a parent project.

The crucial difference is that if I then double-click the child project (rendered in the parent project as a stereo wave file), Reaper opens a new project tab containing the original session, complete with multi-tracks, plug-ins, edits and automation. I can perform fine-tuning without technically leaving my master project. Once I save the new edits, the child is automatically re-rendered and updated in the parent.

So far, I haven’t seen anyone else using the same procedure, so this is to be considered my take on stem mastering using subprojects in Reaper.

Mastering ‘Ipogeo’

I had to go back to the stems a couple times, because of minor loudness adjustments. Normally, I would have adopted a multi-band compressor on certain frequency ranges; since subprojects are available, I simply double-clicked and opened the original stem stession, applied the corrections on drums and bass without touching vocals and the remaining instrumentation.

Once happy with the master, I bounced three versions, each one with a progressively higher loudness. In the following screengrab, the subproject (yellow audio item) had retained the original session markers as item/take markers, which helped with automating the limiter in certain sections.

"The master project in Reaper containing a subproject, along with 3 rendered test masters The master project in Reaper containing a subproject, along with 3 rendered test masters

Checking loudness

With SWS installed, checking on loudness is a breeze. Besides having useful metering plug-ins, I love how quickly I can select multiple audio items, click on the Extensions menu and select Loudness to see the complete analysis in a neat table.

Final session with the 3 mastered songs on different tracks, to check on loudness and consistency Final session with the mastered songs, to check on loudness and consistency

Official video

If you prefer, watch the video on YouTube


Bruno Valeri
vocals, piano, synth
Emilio Albertoni
guitars, bass, synth


Mixed by Emilio Albertoni / Mastered by Simone Silvestroni / © 2023 Emilio Albertoni & Bruno Valeri / ℗ 2023 Minutes to Midnight (sound recording copyright)