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Mastering again.

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Re: Mastering again.

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:03 pm

Arpangel wrote:all I can think of is that my standards aren’t as high as some people’s, and I’m happy if things are good enough, or "OK" for better or worse!

A lot depends on the music. From the little I've heard your music has little to do with any standard reference, so - outside some specific technical standards - it probably does not particularly benefit from any particular modification. If there are no vocals, there no vocals to be buried, so to say.

There still may be technical issues, however - and often is about what you don't hear: for example, if you plant to print to vinyl and your bass simply can't fit the medium. The job of the mastering engineer will be in that case to keep the perceived sound as it is as much as possible, while reducing the low end to something that a stylus can manage.. and in that case, if you don't hear any difference, it will be an unmitigated success and a marvelous achievement on his side!

For more traditional forms, say a singer-songwriter track with acoustic guitar and vocals, there's a lot of references and expectations from the public on how it should sound (whether you like it or not) and that may prompt the mastering engineer to ask you if you really mean it... even if, as I mentioned, not so much.


I’ve heard some great records, and really bad ones as far as technical quality goes, and the bad ones are often by people who should be able to afford the best, and the dodgy sound was definitely not intentional. The outcome sometimes, is so very, very unpredictable.

Bad records have little to do with dodgy sound, they have all to do with dodgy music ;-)
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:32 pm

Arpangel wrote:...agreeing with "accepted practice" has never been my strong point, and my inbuilt cynicism may be my biggest stumbling block.

That's why we love you Tony ;)

You may sometimes seem to have strong opinions that don't tie in with the rest of the pack, but you're always open to discussion, and as far as I can see discussions with you often seem to open up new avenues of thought, even if I don't necessarily agree with them :thumbup:


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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:59 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
Arpangel wrote:...agreeing with "accepted practice" has never been my strong point, and my inbuilt cynicism may be my biggest stumbling block.

That's why we love you Tony ;)

You may sometimes seem to have strong opinions that don't tie in with the rest of the pack, but you're always open to discussion, and as far as I can see discussions with you often seem to open up new avenues of thought, even if I don't necessarily agree with them :thumbup:


Martin

I suppose that’s why I post sometimes, I’m not having a go at anyone, or anything, I’m just interested in people’s opinions. It makes me doubt some of my own too, many times.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:04 pm

Tony, I think if I had you as a client I'd want to do at least a few attended mastering sessions before even thinking about mastering your material on my own. Mastering is definitely a two way process where both the client and engineer may have issues with the material. I actually have one or two clients who still attend sessions, even though I've been working with them for years, because their requirements can be quite challenging and it really helps to be able to turn round and say "is that what you were thinking of?" and get an immediate answer in return.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:14 pm

James Perrett wrote:Tony, I think if I had you as a client I'd want to do at least a few attended mastering sessions before even thinking about mastering your material on my own. Mastering is definitely a two way process where both the client and engineer may have issues with the material. I actually have one or two clients who still attend sessions, even though I've been working with them for years, because their requirements can be quite challenging and it really helps to be able to turn round and say "is that what you were thinking of?" and get an immediate answer in return.

That’s interesting, I’m wondering how many times you have to persuade someone that something is really a bad idea, and it would be better done another way? The sort of thing that is beyond personal preference, that is just plain "not good"
And I guess, sometimes, the client actually doesn’t know what’s possible with specialist equipment and good ears, and is quite surprised at the results sometimes, this is what I’d be hoping for.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby tomeh » Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:52 pm

Where to start?

1. An artist has just invested creative writing, arranging, producing, performance, recording, and mixing, time, energy, soul and money.

2. They have done their best at every step to create something that is going to represent them to the world.

3. They don't have the best equipment (playback system) in a well designed and executed acoustic environment to ensure that all of the details, nuances, flow from track to track will be at it's best when they present their work to the world.

4. People of world listening to his/her creation will be using earbuds, full headphones, Bluetooth speakers, cars, personal stereos, club sound systems, laptops, elevators, and yes some very high end systems as well.

5. Which one of the above playback systems will someone reviewing this creative masterpiece most likely be using? And how will all of your efforts (see note 1) be presented to them? Are you seen as serious, below average, average, above average or as polished and professional, catching peoples eye and ears?

You can record using a single SM58, live off of the floor into a 1970 cassette recorder or a $200, Zoom H2 if you want to? Up to you how you present yourself.

Stay well everyone.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:22 pm

tomeh wrote:Where to start?

1. An artist has just invested creative writing, arranging, producing, performance, recording, and mixing, time, energy, soul and money.

2. They have done their best at every step to create something that is going to represent them to the world.

3. They don't have the best equipment (playback system) in a well designed and executed acoustic environment to ensure that all of the details, nuances, flow from track to track will be at it's best when they present their work to the world.

4. People of world listening to his/her creation will be using earbuds, full headphones, Bluetooth speakers, cars, personal stereos, club sound systems, laptops, elevators, and yes some very high end systems as well.

5. Which one of the above playback systems will someone reviewing this creative masterpiece most likely be using? And how will all of your efforts (see note 1) be presented to them? Are you seen as serious, below average, average, above average or as polished and professional, catching peoples eye and ears?

You can record using a single SM58, live off of the floor into a 1970 cassette recorder or a $200, Zoom H2 if you want to? Up to you how you present yourself.

Stay well everyone.

Beethoven still moves me beyond, via my cheap John Lewis Radio, the technical quality isn't an issue.
I think SOS is about taking onboard peoples technical issues and helping them to resolve them, to then help them on their way to making music. Maybe, mistakenly, I blur the boundaries a bit too much sometimes.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:26 pm

Arpangel wrote:That’s interesting, I’m wondering how many times you have to persuade someone that something is really a bad idea, and it would be better done another way? The sort of thing that is beyond personal preference, that is just plain "not good"

Well ultimately it is the client's decision so, if that's what they want, that's what they get. I know I'm not infallible and I've been known to make things sound "too nice" in the distant past.

Arpangel wrote:And I guess, sometimes, the client actually doesn’t know what’s possible with specialist equipment and good ears, and is quite surprised at the results sometimes, this is what I’d be hoping for.

I was thinking of one client in particular when I wrote the last post who isn't technical at all so his ideas aren't fettered by technology. He's certainly pushed me into using new techniques purely by describing the sound that he is after.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:31 pm

James Perrett wrote:
Arpangel wrote:That’s interesting, I’m wondering how many times you have to persuade someone that something is really a bad idea, and it would be better done another way? The sort of thing that is beyond personal preference, that is just plain "not good"

Well ultimately it is the client's decision so, if that's what they want, that's what they get. I know I'm not infallible and I've been known to make things sound "too nice" in the distant past.

Arpangel wrote:And I guess, sometimes, the client actually doesn’t know what’s possible with specialist equipment and good ears, and is quite surprised at the results sometimes, this is what I’d be hoping for.

I was thinking of one client in particular when I wrote the last post who isn't technical at all so his ideas aren't fettered by technology. He's certainly pushed me into using new techniques purely by describing the sound that he is after.

Do you feel sometimes you're more of a producer rather than a mastering engineer?
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby The Elf » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:58 pm

Arpangel wrote:Beethoven still moves me beyond, via my cheap John Lewis Radio, the technical quality isn't an issue.
Don't confuse the quality of the format you consume audio on with the quality of the source...
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:25 pm

Arpangel wrote:
James Perrett wrote:
I was thinking of one client in particular when I wrote the last post who isn't technical at all so his ideas aren't fettered by technology. He's certainly pushed me into using new techniques purely by describing the sound that he is after.

Do you feel sometimes you're more of a producer rather than a mastering engineer?

The lines may be slightly blurred - especially as I'll sometimes do a dub mix for this particular client (he often brings along different mixes of the same song and by clever manipulation I can often extract elements of the mixes separately) but I always see myself as working towards his artistic vision so I think of myself as an engineer. To me, a producer has an artistic vision for the piece and would have much more creative input from the start of the project.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby MOF » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:53 pm

I often wonder how, some recordings fall through the net
I have a compilation album of various artists that has “I’m not in love” by 10cc on it, the compressor artefacts on the opening are truly dreadful. I could go and check who did it and if it had a mastering credit but only if anyone’s really interested. :lol:
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby tomeh » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:15 am

"Beethoven still moves me beyond, via my cheap John Lewis Radio, the technical quality isn't an issue."

The quality of the tools that I used to reveal details when Mastering is part of my drive for the best possible presentation of someones music.

People watch and enjoy movies on their cell phones but I doubt cell phones are used when they are edited and finallized by the company making the movie and investment?

The nicest meal eaten on a paper plate is still great but please don't have a chef with no sense of smell prepare it or it might not be that great. Creating with the best has little to do with how it is consumed.

The true bass region is the most challenging to represent accurately and trust for mixing and Mastering. Very few people mixing have an excellent system (speakers and room) to do this. This is the first place that you can go into the weeds and it happens to most people going without a mastering last step. Most don't even know what they are missing (or their customers) since they don't have the resolution required in the bass region to clearly know what is happening to the double bass, electric bass, lower piano, and kick drum, (nor can't even hear the noise and rumble left by missed HP filters not being applied etc.) They are blind to it. Try to tell a blind person what red looks like.

Search here on SOS for things like "can you really mix on headphones?", the missing bass from destructive ceiling reflections in peoples mixing rooms, cardioid pattern, high end monitors, ETC measurements of your playback room to know that early reflections aren't messing up your imaging and on and on.

SOS is the best in the world at giving you the in depth look at these topics.

They should be opening eyes to "why that Mastering Step is necessary to ensure my best music goes out into the world."
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby tea for two » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:40 am

Im sending a just completed album to a well regarded mastering engineer years experience high profile names.

Because

1. Ive listened to it soooo many times i just don't have the objectivity any more. I just want to hand it over.

2. I trust this well regarded mastering engineer's ears judgement abilities subtleties in the style of music this album is.
For instance if i made a folk album im not likely to send it to a dance music mastering engineer.

3. This well regarded mastering engineer has proper room proper tools for a variety of listening mediums : youtube, phone, car, radio, bluetooth boom box.
Even if the songs have only one or two instruments per song I would still send them incase the room tools picked up something.

4. I want to listen to this well regarded mastering engineer's suggestions ask some questions and understand the things done how it was done.
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Re: Mastering again.

Postby Arpangel » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:07 am

tea for two wrote:Im sending a just completed album to a well regarded mastering engineer years experience high profile names.

Because

1. Ive listened to it soooo many times i just don't have the objectivity any more. I just want to hand it over.

2. I trust this well regarded mastering engineer's ears judgement abilities subtleties in the style of music this album is.
For instance if i made a folk album im not likely to send it to a dance music mastering engineer.

3. This well regarded mastering engineer has proper room proper tools for a variety of listening mediums : youtube, phone, car, radio, bluetooth boom box.
Even if the songs have only one or two instruments per song I would still send them incase the room tools picked up something.

4. I want to listen to this well regarded mastering engineer's suggestions ask some questions and understand the things done how it was done.

I think that what we haven’t mentioned much so far is cost, it’s all very well me deciding to have my material mastered, but what price are we talking about here, in an amateur context.
It seems that a high end mastering engineer with lots of experience with top artists is not in any way going to be cheap, you’ve got to be talking thousands here.
If you decide to use Bill Smith down the road is it going to be better than what you can do with good software on your computer? What I’m saying is, is it worth hiring anyone else unless you can use the best, are there going to be any significant benefits if you use the bloke round the corner? Surely, only the top guys will be able to afford the Massenburg's and the Manley's etc of this world.

This is an old video, but still funny....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nlzwDfxVSg
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