You are here

Pre Masters Query

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Pre Masters Query

Postby MCP_Music » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:03 am

Hi,

I have been sent an email from a label asking for my songs in the following format:
16bit 44Khz, -3dB without mastering chain, uncompressed.

Obviously 44/16 I can do.

Does the -3db part mean the meters can't peak any higher than -3dbfs, and should I be aiming for that mark?

I also mix into a compressor which is a part of my sound, so when it says 'Uncompressed' does that mean I have to unbolt the compressor from my main mix bus or can I get away with using the compressor and just not slamming the [ ****** ] out of it?

And I'm assuming 'without mastering chain' means no limiter/exciters etc..

Thanks for your time,
_Luca
MCP_Music
Regular
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby narcoman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:15 am

If the compressor is for flavour and part of the sound then leave it on. If its for "loudness" take it off.


Peak at 3dB - yeah why not. Little high for me but still fine.

Without mastering chain - yes remove the limiter and enhancer. Anything that you're using to globally change your mix and makw it "more commercial" (because really your mix shoud do that on its own - the problem with relying on mix buss processing is that its the road to a quieter mix when you get up against the punchy stuff !)

Pre-master? We call it a mix (I dislike this - "pre mastering" phrase thats cropping up :)).
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:26 am

Yep...All it is is them asking for your mix in the format that their mastering guy would prefer...ie no brickwall limiting, ozone or any of that sort of thing, little bit of headroom. As Narcoman says, if you've mixed into a compressor and/or eq leave those on.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3516
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:28 am

One thing that seems odd...If you've mixed it at 24bit, I'd expect they'd want the 24bit/44.1kHz mix, rather than letting you add dither and go to 16bit, and then have the mastering applying processes and have to re-dither it. I'd check that.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3516
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Bossman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:30 am

narcoman wrote:Pre-master? We call it a mix (I dislike this - "pre mastering" phrase thats cropping up :)).

the way I understand it is: A 'Master' is the output from the mastering house. A 'Pre-Master' is what mix engineers send to the mastering house to be mastered.

So, when I've finished a mix I make a pre-master to be sent for mastering.
User avatar
Bossman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:00 pm
Location: UK

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Daniel Davis » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:09 pm

I still don't understand why they would want it -3dB (or any specified level). Don't they have an input gain control?
It almost begs the response of sending it back to you 3dB louder and claiming an improvement.
Daniel Davis
Regular
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:43 pm

I suppose it allows them to send it straight to analogue without any risk of inter sample clipping and without adding any numbers.
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3516
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:08 pm

Just a niggling thought here - could the term 'uncompressed' refer to the audio format rather than the mastering section - as in 'uncompressed audio'. I realise they've stipulated no mastering toys but it seems funny they've specifically spelt compression out again rather than limiting.
shufflebeat
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3548
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK

I don't know much but I'm happy to share my ignorance with anyone who can use it.


Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:13 pm

Daniel Davis wrote:I still don't understand why they would want it -3dB (or any specified level).

To make sure that you haven't clipped the mix (a problem they can't fix!). Furthermore, inter-sample peaks will exist whereby the fully reconstructed waveform will peak higher than the sample peak levels displayed on most DAW metering. 3dB of headroom will accommodate most, although tests have shown heavily processed material can have inter-sample peaks higher than that. I normally leave 6dB myself.

And yes, they do have a digital input and will probably use it... But by specifying a 3dB headroom margin they are hoping to receive a mix which isn't clipped and which they can do something creative with.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17512
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:14 pm

shufflebeat wrote:Just a niggling thought here - could the term 'uncompressed' refer to the audio format rather than the mastering section...

Yes, absolutely. It's amazing, but some people really do often send mp3 files for mastering!

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17512
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Wease » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:20 pm

The op is sending the stuff to a label....not a mastering house....

I suppose this justifies the 16bit request

I'm going to bow to conjecture and suggest that they want tracks for a "sampler" cd.....and they'll do a quick levelling master "bodge" to all the tracks so none stand out.....probably hammering them all with a cheap software limiter :headbang:
User avatar
Wease
Frequent Poster
Posts: 795
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Sunny Walsall

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby narcoman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:37 pm

Bossman wrote:
narcoman wrote:Pre-master? We call it a mix (I dislike this - "pre mastering" phrase thats cropping up :)).

the way I understand it is: A 'Master' is the output from the mastering house. A 'Pre-Master' is what mix engineers send to the mastering house to be mastered.

So, when I've finished a mix I make a pre-master to be sent for mastering.

well - i'm sidetracking now - but you shouldn't be changing a mix. You send the mix. The term "pre-master" has arisen from the oodles of home users who re-eq their mixes and generally fek up the mix even more for the unfortunate mastering engineer to fix!

The term pre- master started cropping up about 6 or 7 years ago.
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby narcoman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:38 pm

Daniel Davis wrote:I still don't understand why they would want it -3dB (or any specified level). Don't they have an input gain control?
It almost begs the response of sending it back to you 3dB louder and claiming an improvement.

As others have said - it ensures no inter sample peaks above zero.
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Bossman » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:36 am

narcoman wrote:
Bossman wrote:
narcoman wrote:Pre-master? We call it a mix (I dislike this - "pre mastering" phrase thats cropping up :)).

the way I understand it is: A 'Master' is the output from the mastering house. A 'Pre-Master' is what mix engineers send to the mastering house to be mastered.

So, when I've finished a mix I make a pre-master to be sent for mastering.

well - i'm sidetracking now - but you shouldn't be changing a mix. You send the mix. The term "pre-master" has arisen from the oodles of home users who re-eq their mixes and generally fek up the mix even more for the unfortunate mastering engineer to fix!

The term pre- master started cropping up about 6 or 7 years ago.

No, I didn't mean to change the mix in any way, or re-eq the mix before mastering... Just that the name of the final mix that is going to be sent for mastering is called a 'pre master'. I saw this term mentioned in Bob Katz Mastering Audio book - a Pre master is what the mastering engineer receives, and a Master is what he returns.
User avatar
Bossman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:00 pm
Location: UK

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby narcoman » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:14 am

I know. I read it too. And it's "bogus" and a fine example of another "americanism". You mustn't say it in my place or i'll send you to the naughty corner.

I mentioned it to Bob and he just shrugged (he's a lovely man but not without faults and holes in his understanding of the biz).
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:21 am

Yeah, Bob's book is an awesome technical guide, and provides a very interesting and insightful look at the technical side of (some people's) mastering. But if you talk about 'pre masters' here in the UK people may misunderstand you and wrongly assume that you've done something more than just send a mix. Normally, you send a mix, you get a master.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3516
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Daniel Davis » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:22 am

I'm aware of inter-sampling peaks, and I didn't mean to advocate a high level. The same point presumably counts for the returned masters - and I don't see any mastering houses returning files which peak below -3dB. If the answer is brick wall limiting - well we can all do that.

And why would they specify 16-bit when most of us are quite capable of outputting 24-bit stereo mixes or stems?

Now if they had said... a stereo mix or stems of at least 16 bit uncompressed quality with no clipping or inter-sample peaks. Perhaps that is what they meant.
Daniel Davis
Regular
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Bossman » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:53 am

narcoman wrote:I know. I read it too. And it's "bogus" and a fine example of another "americanism". You mustn't say it in my place or i'll send you to the naughty corner.

I mentioned it to Bob and he just shrugged (he's a lovely man but not without faults and holes in his understanding of the biz).

Ok, fair enough... :beamup:
User avatar
Bossman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:00 pm
Location: UK

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby narcoman » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:07 pm

Daniel Davis wrote:I'm aware of inter-sampling peaks, and I didn't mean to advocate a high level. The same point presumably counts for the returned masters - and I don't see any mastering houses returning files which peak below -3dB. If the answer is brick wall limiting - well we can all do that.

And why would they specify 16-bit when most of us are quite capable of outputting 24-bit stereo mixes or stems?

Now if they had said... a stereo mix or stems of at least 16 bit uncompressed quality with no clipping or inter-sample peaks. Perhaps that is what they meant.


Most modern masters are damaged piles of rubbish - but you don't want to deliver a mix that way. The old mastering maxim of "first do no harm" no longer applies in a competitive loudness war.

There are plenty of re-construction peaks above zero in a hard limited master. It's not possible to have peaks under zero with a ceiling set near zero. Even un limited files make re-construct above zero. The maximum sample value is not the peak of the curve.
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:50 pm

Amongst other things I most importantly recommend the file should not be clipped. By using an appropriate gain structure during recording and mixing plenty of headroom can be built into the mix. As long as it is not clipped everything else is ultimately arbitrary excluding extremes. Working at around -12dBFS can make sense as a nominal level when working with analogue gear (unless you are driving it for sonic effect)

cheers

SafeandSound
High end online mastering
User avatar
SafeandSound Mastering
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1035
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby MCP_Music » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:27 am

Hi guys.

Wow I am always impressed at the wealth of information that pours from this forum.

I am working in the digital domain strictly at this point except for my mic pre.

I removed the limiter and had 12db of headroom. I am re balancing and as I go the level has crept up to -6db peak.

I will ad 3db of gain via gain plugin and I'm all set I think.

This is for a release of my songs and not a sample pack.

Thanks!!
MCP_Music
Regular
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Pre Masters Query

Postby Jack Ruston » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:52 am

You can use the master fader to trim the final level.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3516
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests