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Is this master any good?

Postby Kinh » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:31 am

I had this done professionally and could use some advice. The problems I have are:
It's too crisp, not enough bottom
kick not tight
mid/highs distorting
dynamic are causing slight inconsistent volume, heard mostly with in verse
...all of which is most obvious when played through cheaper earbuds/speakers

Can you identify with any of the above or am I just being too picky? Is just that is seems a little harsh to my ears when compared to other released tracks. How does it sound to you?
Thanks
https://soundcloud.com/matthewcrowe/no-inbewteen/s-p8hRm
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby CS70 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:17 am

The sound you want must be in the mix. For a single track, mastering simply ensures that you get a similarly balanced sound across different playback system. This will be the case especially when done professionally.

It's too crisp, not enough bottom
kick not tight
mid/highs distorting
dynamic are causing slight inconsistent volume, heard mostly with in verse

All these are mix problems, and you want to fix 'em in the mix before sending to mastering.

Perhaps the only which could be a mastering issue is distortion if the track has been limited too much, but judging from the waveform on soundcloud, it doesnt seem so (I dont use SC much tough so I dont know how much the waveform matches the content), and the fact that the mid/highs would distort before basses suggests that the mix balance is not good.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:46 am

It would help if we could also hear your unmastered track for comparison.

Equally the ME, whom I assume you paid, might tell you what exactly he did to the track.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:12 am

Hi Kinh,

Just had a listen to your mastered track, and I can hear all the things you mention (flabby kick, crsip and not enough bottom etc.).

However, I agree with CS70 that these are all things that should have been cured at the mix stage - a mastering engineer is sometimes referred to as not even adding the cherry on the cake, but polishing the existing cherry ;)

He/she will be sensitively balancing out the frequency response (adding low end heft and high end air is needed, but only in subtle amounts where necessary, and not enough to alter the chosen balance of the track as you submit it. Similarly with dynamics - if anything sticks out on a well-calibrated playback system then this should be dealt with sensitively.

I also agree with Tim that if we could be the pre-mastered version we could offer more detailed opinions on whether or not this mastered version is an improvement, but it does sound good to me. As I say, if you wanted your kick and bass end to be tighter then that should have been done at the mixing stage.

Hope this helps!


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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Kinh » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:24 am

Tim Gillett wrote:It would help if we could also hear your unmastered track for comparison.

Equally the ME, whom I assume you paid, might tell you what exactly he did to the track.
Good point.
Here:
https://soundcloud.com/matthewcrowe/noinbetween-original/s-M0Hke
As you can hear it has more body, warmer without harshness. For example, compare the piano at the beginning - on the mastered : there seems to be spikes in the low to mid area, same frequency area as the pad. On the original , that's not there so it cant merely be a mixing issue, but rather a compression... It's like the transients are too sharp. I'm hearing the same issue with the percussive elements that follow. Again, not a problem in the original.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:46 pm

Hi again Kinh,

Mine is only one opinion, but on first listening I prefer your original mix too. As you say, it's warmer without harshness.

However, to me the most obvious difference is with the vocals - in your mix the words are easy to pick out and have lovely separation from the rest of the mix, whereas on this mastered version they seem to have been pushed back, made harsher, and are less easy to understand.

I think you have grounds for complaint, but as always I'll be fascinated to hear what others think, as mix tweaks can be such a subjective thing.


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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:56 pm

I would have a conversation with the mastering engineer. If this is the first time that you have used them then they will have no idea of the sound that you are after so they'll need some guidance from you. With a new client I would always expect to have to do at least a minor revision to the first job they send me as everyone has slightly different expectations.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:57 pm

The most obvious difference to my ears and meters is the mastered
version is " louder". That's not unusual in that MEs regularly ask clients not to normalise. But also the track has been (probably multi band )compressed. In the not so loud passages, reducing the mastered version by 8 or so db makes the levels comparable. Good sounding track BTW but Im wondering what you expected or hoped the ME would do. All the best, Tim.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Kinh » Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:18 am

Let's say the problem is the mix, not the masterer, what am I doing wrong?
I mean, you can hear in the pre-mastered track the balance is about right and the vocals sound upfront (well, to me they do anyway). Could it be that it sounds too good and the dynamics and enhancements in the mastering exaggerate by adding sharpness on an already bright sound?

When I mixed the vocals, for example I added harmonics trying to aim for what the mix would sound like as a released track where the vocals are very present. Now if he's adding an exiter on everything my harmonics could be more pronounced than intended.

Also another possible scenario - my hearing may not be that good.
Also, I mix with a sub woofer.

Even still, one would think it's the masterer's job to take this into consideration, critique the mix and notify the client before mastering so that changes can be made.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:02 am

To my ears your mix sounds fine. If that track was played on radio, the station equipment would probably automatically process it, somewhat like what the ME did to it. We cant control that processing.

But more fundamentally IMO, we cant control the hugely varying conditions under which people listen to recordings. Not even mastering engineers can control it.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby awjoe » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:14 am

Kinh wrote:I had this done professionally and could use some advice. The problems I have are:
It's too crisp, not enough bottom
kick not tight
mid/highs distorting
dynamic are causing slight inconsistent volume, heard mostly with in verse
...all of which is most obvious when played through cheaper earbuds/speakers

Can you identify with any of the above or am I just being too picky? Is just that is seems a little harsh to my ears when compared to other released tracks. How does it sound to you?
Thanks
https://soundcloud.com/matthewcrowe/no-inbewteen/s-p8hRm

Bitch, bitch, bitch. I do the same. Yeah, it's bright, but I liked it. Yeah, if I got my hands on it, I'd make it less bright. I'd bring up the bass. But I like this tune and the way it sounds. So either you're using the bitch, bitch, bitch gambit to get your tune heard on this site, or you're really suffering from buyer's remorse.

Really, it sounds good. Even with all the above provisos.


But yeah, it would sound better with more bottom. :)

I didn't listen through earbuds, I listened through a good monitor in a good room.

ps But what I'd really love you to do is tilt that waterside picture a degree or two right/down. It tilts. Water doesn't do that. It bothers me far more than anything in the tune on Soundcloud.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby awjoe » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:18 am

CS70 wrote:The sound you want must be in the mix. For a single track, mastering simply ensures that you get a similarly balanced sound across different playback system. This will be the case especially when done professionally.

It's too crisp, not enough bottom
kick not tight
mid/highs distorting
dynamic are causing slight inconsistent volume, heard mostly with in verse

All these are mix problems, and you want to fix 'em in the mix before sending to mastering.


I would think so too, but let's see what the poster says. Kinh - had you achieved this in the mix before your poor mastering engineer got his/her hands on it?
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Kinh » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:05 am

awjoe wrote:
CS70 wrote:The sound you want must be in the mix. For a single track, mastering simply ensures that you get a similarly balanced sound across different playback system. This will be the case especially when done professionally.

It's too crisp, not enough bottom
kick not tight
mid/highs distorting
dynamic are causing slight inconsistent volume, heard mostly with in verse

All these are mix problems, and you want to fix 'em in the mix before sending to mastering.


I would think so too, but let's see what the poster says. Kinh - had you achieved this in the mix before your poor mastering engineer got his/her hands on it?
Well I think I did but maybe your hearing is superior to mine. What do you think?
https://soundcloud.com/matthewcrowe/noi ... al/s-M0Hke
To me that sounds natural.
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby Kinh » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:08 am

I should also note, I did get him to do it again and boost the lows, take off the highs but in my option the problem with the low to mid transients only exacerbates + the vocal is kinda lost which probably explains why he excited the first one so much.
https://soundcloud.com/matthewcrowe/no-inbewteen-2nd/s-Azzrm
Does this sound right to you?
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Re: Is this master any good?

Postby awjoe » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:25 am

It sounds good. And if you sent it to me, I'd put it somewhere between his and yours. And I bet mine would sound good, too.
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