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Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby pianoworldstage » Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:02 am

Hi,

Just finished cutting a solo piano album, and need advice on mastering.. had little experience with mastering in the past.. was wondering if anyone on here uses them? And if there are any free online mastering suites? My approach would be to simply select a preset, nothing customized or over complexed.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:30 am

My question would be... what do you expect from this 'mastering'?

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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:25 am

...and what deficiencies do you hope any mastering will improve, and if so, could they have been dealt with during the recording or mixing processes?

Mastering can't be dealt with by a 'preset', except at a very superficial level.


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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby CS70 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:30 pm

pianoworldstage wrote:Hi,

Just finished cutting a solo piano album, and need advice on mastering.. had little experience with mastering in the past.. was wondering if anyone on here uses them? And if there are any free online mastering suites? My approach would be to simply select a preset, nothing customized or over complexed.

You might want to have a look at my post here.

If you really dont need / want to do anything, all you need is a limiter on the master bus, or not even that.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby pianoworldstage » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:08 am

I understand mastering can be a complexed post production process, having little experience in this field, I'm really not in a position to engage on the topic, but in response to your replies, i was hoping to experiment with the overall sound environment of the piano tracks.. assuming that's what a degree of mastering might provide? Again I'm new to concept, I'm learning..
Style of music, mellow to soft soundtracks.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:22 am

Before proceeding any further
you may care to link to uploads of one or two tracks. Without actually hearing what you have it's hard to make specific comments.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby pianoworldstage » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:30 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:Before proceeding any further
you may care to link to uploads of one or two tracks. Without actually hearing what you have it's hard to make specific comments.

How do i upload an attachment? As I'm finding it a little difficult..
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Zukan » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:43 pm

Upload it to Youtube, Soundcloud or similar and link to it from here.

I've mastered piano solos before but for very specific reasons. Usually, the tracking and mixing will take care of a solo piano piece and you rarely need mastering if those two elements are met. However, I appreciate that at times when combing different piano solo stems can be imbalanced if playing the bass and mids on separate tracks. The dynamics often alter when played in isolation as the fluency of the playing changes when having to play each separately.

Drop us a link and we can best advise you.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:35 pm

pianoworldstage wrote:...i was hoping to experiment with the overall sound environment of the piano tracks.. assuming that's what a degree of mastering might provide?

Not really: the 'sound environment' is captured during the recording and is determined by the acoustics of the venue and the microphone technique being employed -- assuming you're talking about a real acoustic instrument. (If you're talking about an electronic or virtual instrument, it's determined by the voice generation and any including acoustic processing.)

It is possible to add reverberation, or alter the perceived nature of the acoustics to some extent through various signal processing techniques... but that would tend to be done as part of the recording/editing stage rather than 'mastering' in general.

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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:49 pm

Zukan wrote:Upload it to Youtube, Soundcloud or similar and link to it from here.

Drop us a link and we can best advise you.

Further to Zukan's suggestion, you don't have to make the links public - they can be private so only those given the link (i.e. us) will be able to find them.

Handy if you don't want the world to get hold of them yet ;)


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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:57 pm

CS70 wrote:
pianoworldstage wrote:Hi,

Just finished cutting a solo piano album, and need advice on mastering.. had little experience with mastering in the past.. was wondering if anyone on here uses them? And if there are any free online mastering suites? My approach would be to simply select a preset, nothing customized or over complexed.

If you really dont need / want to do anything, all you need is a limiter on the master bus, or not even that.

That's pretty much all I do at the 'mastering' stage on my own material - I invariably use PSP's Xenon very transparent mastering limiter to raise the level and balance each track to fit in the context of an album, and reduce the bit-depth from 32-bit float to 16-bit using Airwindows NJAD via its StudioTan plug-in. Occasionally I may roll off the extreme bottom end starting around 30Hz if there's any 'cone-flapping' lows that should really have been removed at the mixing stage.

And that's it.

pianoworldstage wrote:...i was hoping to experiment with the overall sound environment of the piano tracks.. assuming that's what a degree of mastering might provide?

If you're referring to changes in reverb to place the piano into a different 'virtual space', then this as others have mentioned is really something that most of us consider to be part of the mixing stage.


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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:03 pm

I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:18 pm

A good academic point Sam! :thumbup:


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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:53 am

pianoworldstage wrote:Hi,

Just finished cutting a solo piano album, and need advice on mastering.. had little experience with mastering in the past.. was wondering if anyone on here uses them? And if there are any free online mastering suites? My approach would be to simply select a preset, nothing customized or over complexed.

On all the piano CDs I have done so far - I recorded the music with a pair of microphones in the right position in the room.

I edited the tracks - no compression nor artificial reverb - inserted the track numbers - burned a test CD for the cliient and when he was happy burned a DDP to sent to the pressing plant.

No special "mastering" at all.

This was solo classical piano recitals.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:57 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?

You can, actually.

If you use more than a single pair of microphones on the piano - eg: phased array or a stereo pair plus a room pair - you would need to get the right balance between the two sets of mics.

I only used a room pair once, and that was at the specific request of the record company (who mixed the recording) - personally I prefer a single stereo pair of omnis at the right position to get the best balance between instrument and room.
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:13 am

John Willett wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?

You can, actually.

If you use more than a single pair of microphones on the piano - eg: phased array or a stereo pair plus a room pair - you would need to get the right balance between the two sets of mics.

I only used a room pair once, and that was at the specific request of the record company (who mixed the recording) - personally I prefer a single stereo pair of omnis at the right position to get the best balance between instrument and room.

Yup, I know that, but maybe the OP does not ;)
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby forumuser840717 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:47 pm

John Willett wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?

You can, actually.

If you use more than a single pair of microphones on the piano - eg: phased array or a stereo pair plus a room pair - you would need to get the right balance between the two sets of mics.

Yes but isn't that a rather important part of the recording/balance engineer's job (usually in cahoots with the producer and artist) rather than anything to do with the mastering engineer or mastering process?
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:53 pm

That was the point JW was making I think :thumbup:
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:27 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:
John Willett wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?

You can, actually.

If you use more than a single pair of microphones on the piano - eg: phased array or a stereo pair plus a room pair - you would need to get the right balance between the two sets of mics.

Yes but isn't that a rather important part of the recording/balance engineer's job (usually in cahoots with the producer and artist) rather than anything to do with the mastering engineer or mastering process?

Yes - that's what I was saying.

I have had control, with the artist, of most of my recordings.

A couple were handed to the record company for editing, though.

But the ones I did were never "mastered" or messed about with - just a recording, edited. The final result was normalised if there was a good headroom (but *not* to 0dBFS).
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Re: Solo Piano mastering ???

Postby pianoworldstage » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:33 am

John Willett wrote:
pianoworldstage wrote:Hi,

Just finished cutting a solo piano album, and need advice on mastering.. had little experience with mastering in the past.. was wondering if anyone on here uses them? And if there are any free online mastering suites? My approach would be to simply select a preset, nothing customized or over complexed.

On all the piano CDs I have done so far - I recorded the music with a pair of microphones in the right position in the room.

I edited the tracks - no compression nor artificial reverb - inserted the track numbers - burned a test CD for the cliient and when he was happy burned a DDP to sent to the pressing plant.

No special "mastering" at all.

This was solo classical piano recitals.


That employs a very organic recording process.. although i suppose that method may suit solo classical piano?

What i find rebarbative are the dynamics..
In post production I'm not exactly sure what tool is best to improve the overall spectrum of dynamics. What i did find helpful when recording from a digital piano, was to change the key's "touch sensitivity feature" from Medium to Hard.

There was a slight reduction in tonal clarity when switching to Hard, but i found on the whole it provided for a more controlled performance when recording.. minimising much of the out of place dynamics.

John Willett wrote:
forumuser840717 wrote:
John Willett wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if the OP has a stereo recording of a solo piano and thinks (quite reasonably) that you can't 'mix' a single instrument? So, when referring to the processing applied to that recording, then it seems logical to refer to the process as 'mastering'?

You can, actually.

If you use more than a single pair of microphones on the piano - eg: phased array or a stereo pair plus a room pair - you would need to get the right balance between the two sets of mics.

Yes but isn't that a rather important part of the recording/balance engineer's job (usually in cahoots with the producer and artist) rather than anything to do with the mastering engineer or mastering process?

Yes - that's what I was saying.

I have had control, with the artist, of most of my recordings.

A couple were handed to the record company for editing, though.

But the ones I did were never "mastered" or messed about with - just a recording, edited. The final result was normalised if there was a good headroom (but *not* to 0dBFS).
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