A question for masterers....

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Hilary, May 12, 2005.

  1. Hilary

    Hilary Guest

    This is going to sound pretty dumb but I'm an older guy and to me a recording machine is something that has big wheels that go round and round.

    Now suppose I want to send four tracks of sound mixed down from those big wheels, to a mastering service to be made into a relatively professional-sounding two-channel commercial recording.

    I guess the best way to do that nowadays is with a computer and a cd burner but I haven't been able to find any information anywhere on how to just lay down four tracks in one file in perfect sync. I've seen programs that presumably just put down stereo for civilian use, and there are programs that appear to offer dozens of tracks and layers and layers of effects and features for people who are recording and spiffing performances....but neither of these seems to be what I need.

    Is there a plain, low-effort, low-distraction 4- or 8- track hi-quality computer recorder suitable for for sending out submixes in some form that mastering services would want to receive?

    Or would I be that much better off to get a performance program with a big basket of features figuring that someday I'll want to use some of them? Does -that- yield submixes in some form that mastering services would want to receive? Which suite would be most coherent with my desire for simplicity?

    My preference is to make it to my grave without ever having to mouse through menus while I'm trying to play music. You can tell me I'm a jerk if you want, I'm used to it.

    Thank you kindly.

    H
     
  2. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    More info please.

    What is your tape format? 1/4", 2", 15ips, 30ips?? Are the four channels a quad mix, or do they contain multi-track info that need mixing? Give the details.
     
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    well depending on how much money you would like to spend on doing the transfer, there are several options. Like zilla said, more info please.
     
  4. Hilary

    Hilary Guest

    I guess this is where the annoying part begins. The recording was made on a pretty heavily modified Tascam 388 (1/4") and the tape is not really portable. What I want to do is create a stereo mix, a vocals track, and a drum track. That's four.

    The reason for this is that I believe that whatever level I set drums and vox for in the studio, after the vagaries of mastering, the drum and vox levels might not be really right anymore. I thought that the mastering guy might just want to be able to get his hands on these levels for whatever correction he'd want to apply.

    Of course if I am worrying about something that I shouldn't be worried about, I can send two tracks and my problem goes away. But you guys know about this stuff and I don't, so whatever you tell me I'll go with.

    Moneywise, I an distinctly not flush.

    H
     
  5. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    The best bet would be to send just the stereo mix that you like, have your ME give their take on it and see what changes could be made by you. I don't know many ME's that like to get stems, which is what you described. Another thing you can do if you are insisting on making stems, is you can put a click, can be just one hit, at the top of the song so that it plays at the same spot each time. Print your stems as stereo mixes. The ME can then just line up the click for each stem and everything will be in sync. This is the dirty way of doing it but it works. That's why the film guys use those clapper things before each shot.
     
  6. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    If you're looking for a good set of converters, you're not going to find them for the money it would be worth to put into this project...since you are not flush.

    Where are you? If you are near an urban area, you may be able to rent a system, or my other suggestion is to buy something used, do the transfers, then sell it. You could also get your mixes just the way you want them, go to a studio and knock out the transfers in a short period of time.

    You can obviously send a stereo master, what options do you have for a converter there?

    Last year, I had a project recorded on a four-track in an attic that I mixed, and the band sent me the tapes AND the four track UPS. The singer then drove to Chicago when I got the mixes close to their liking, and we finished the CD, he drove back to Ohio. There are always different solutions if you just look around a bit.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Hilary

    Hilary Guest

    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your kind responses.


    The best bet would be to send just the stereo mix that you like, have your ME give their take on it and see what changes could be made by you. I don't know many ME's that like to get stems, which is what you described.

    That's a great idea, to let the guy decide. I thought that stems is what they wanted but I guess not.

    So now I need some kind of good 2-channel sound card (M Audio Audiophile?) and some kind of simple recording software (I have no idea...)

    Will be happy to hear any opinions on this, as mine is pretty inexperienced.

    Best Wishes

    H
     
  8. dendanna

    dendanna Guest

    what you need is some studio time with a recording engineer that will get the job done for you
     
  9. John Vestman

    John Vestman Guest

    Mastering options

    As I see it, you're looking at two issues here: You have an analog recording that needs to get professionally mastered - and you need to have a format that you can bring into the mastering studio so your final product can be completed.

    Let's start with your format options. You could:

    • Get your 4-track mixed to 2-track stereo - either analog or digital. Tale your stereo mixdown to a mastering studio that can make you a CDR master. You can now listen to it at home and decide if everything is to your liking. The mastering engineer indeed may be able to make some mixing suggestions, in which case you may or may not want to go back and make those changes, have another 2-track mix made, and then have the new mix mastered.

    • Get a reasonably priced computer Digital Audio Workstation and an A-D/D-A unit (like a MOTU) or a all-in-one mixer/recorder like the Roland or Tascam units. Play all four of your analog tracks at the same time into 4 Analog to Digital converters (MOTU or the mixer/recorder). Using a click or other "cue" at the beginning of each track is ok but not perfect in every case. Analog wow and flutter can make the end of the song NOT in sync even though the beginning IS.

    Mix the tracks yourself. Now you can either bring your stereo mix or your whole digital setup into a mastering room. By bringing your digital setup into mastering, you can change the mix in the mastering studio - getting the mastering engineer's suggestions first hand - which then can translate to your final master. You also get to keep all this gear and use it in subsequent projects - along with the updates and learning time associated with such systems. A large music store like Sam Ash can help you pick out gear that suits your needs.

    • Have someone convert your 4-tracks into digital files, or convert them yourself as just described. Send (or bring) in your separate four files (one for each track) on disc to a mastering studio that in fact will accept "Separations" - which are related to but not always the same as stems. Have the mastering engineer recombine them for you. You can call it mixing, or rebalancing, or whatever you like. It's an expert helping you get the sound you like in a proven monitoring environment on amazing equipment. You can do the same thing by simply taking in your 4-track machine and having the mastering engineer do extremely high quality analog-to-digital conversion for you on their gear. You'll hear the mix, get the feedback and take home a CDR master. The studio will be able to recall all your settings if you desire creative changes. If you go in prepared you'll come out very pleased.

    These options allow you to choose how you spend your time and money, and each lead to you getting a CDR master that you'll value. We at Vestman Mastering encourage people to deliver "Separations" for mastering - it always makes the end result considerably better. Check here http://www.vestmanmastering.com/separations.htm We encourage inquiries and have email links if you have further questions.

    Best wishes!
    John Vestman
     
  10. Hilary

    Hilary Guest

    what you need is some studio time with a recording engineer that will get the job done for you...

    As I see it, you're looking at two issues here: You have an analog recording that needs to get professionally mastered - and you need to have a format that you can bring into the mastering studio so your final product can be completed...



    Two clear, and clearly stated, choices.

    I think I am leaning toward mixing some material to "stereo" and getting the mastering man's take on what direction I need to lean into to have them come out right.

    I think that I get the separations thing, and that seems to be my original idea -- that you wouldn't want to treat the drums and vocals the same as you'd treat all the other stuff. But that might be a bit much for just this, just now.

    Again, thank you, gentlemen.


    H
     
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    You're welcome.
     

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