Breaking the mold

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by audiowkstation, Aug 10, 2001.

  1. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Ok....as many of you have learned.. my primary function is mastering.

    Now through this long and eventful career....I have done just about all of it. FOH, Vox production/punches, huge live mixes (75+channels), huge studio mixes (90+channels)...worked in the 70's/80's/90's...00's too.


    Now...here is the point:

    It is pretty universal that the mixdown engineer passes off the work(s) to the mastering engineer. I accept that...and have done it so many times. What got me into mastering so much was some of the lousy mastering I have received of some really sweet mixes...so I opted to do it myself.

    Now a mix engineer that masters too??? Is the Heresy??

    I think not.

    Reason:

    When I mix...I am thinking about mastering....taloring my mixes for the best mastering results by me.

    Anyone else met this delima??

    I know their are some mighty fine mastering engineers out there...and mighty fine mixing engineers. The whole purpose is top get a different "non worn out" , "non partial" set of ears on the mix.

    I will do specific things during a mix...thinking of the mastering direction I need to use.

    Anyone else do the long thinking in this area?

    I am just curious to this.

    It is said that a musician cannot mix...but studio engineers play...sometimes damn good.

    How bout....mixing for your particular way of mastering?


    Just wanted to hear some responses from those who have sent a kick ass mix of to be mastered ...and it came back really not so good.
     
  2. For What Its Worth! :roll:

    First of all I don't claim to have ever worked on any "major" projects. And I know that 90% of the time this would not be possible for most mix eng's but, the mastering house that I use is in my area and I always try to go and set in on the mastering because I also do things that I anticipate being done during mastering. It's the best of both worlds (for me)!
     
  3. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    I think retaining objectivity is the biggest challenge in recording. I've been really sorry in the long haul every time I've let somebody talk me into mastering my own mixing unless the mix was really trivial.

    Five years later it's usually pretty obvious to me why the mastering engineer did what they did and why I blew the ones I tried to master myself. If I miss something in mixing, it's almost guaranteed that I am going to miss it once again in mastering. (I ALWAYS try to mix so it doesn't require mastering other than a little peak limiting and volume tweaks.) Luckily in a few cases I've gotten to fix some of my disasters in reissues but it still leaves me feeling like we've really let the artist down in a misguided effort to save them a pittance.

    The other thing about mastering is that I always learn so much by going to a mastering session. It makes me a better mixer AND a better mastering engineer for others' mixing.
     
  4. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    I Really appreciate the responses David and Bob!

    Thie is a fine line between being really balanced, having the music sound real, having entertaining vibe intact, AND being able to sound really nice on as many systems as possible.

    I cut some music for a demo that Sounded "hot"...not bright or fatiqueing..but dynamic, involving and really fun. Then I listened to some Britney Spears...(since it has sold so much...I guess because of her belly button...amongst other things (plural)).

    The Britney sounded (sonics only) like ass. Really not a top filight production like what Bruce did with Michael Jackson..or the 1814 Janet Jackson Album...or any of the live jazz I record....etc..

    I want a cabasa to sound like a real cabasa...even if 60+ channels are rolling...and all other sounds to have freedom from masking...but balanced and smooth. My point being...when I added my vox to the demo...the sounds was uncanny on the vox...and actually made the "hot" track sound tame and veiled. This was not a problem...I just had to tame the vox some...but I feel that the aural direction of the mixers intention (Bob...it is great to attend mastering sessions...agreed)should remain mainly intact.

    Bob...And David...Yopu answered an important question which all should take note:

    Mixing engineers *Should* attend the mastering session. Be a part of it. I think this was the direction I was going as well in my inquiry...but since I do both..and am quite happy with how it works...I just cringe at the thought of sending a project off and spending the money (if it is one that I am in production also)..to get lackluster results. It would be great if mastering engineers provided the service of send them one track...and see where they are with their skills on your mix...for a very small cost as a consultation. Sometimes it is just impractical to schedual a session with a mastering engineer..if you do mastering yourself. I think I will look at providing a service for consultation purposes...at little or no charge...and I would hope others would look into doing it too. It would definitly free up some time...after some of my mix projects to have a trusted mastering engineer...that could do somethink I may miss...or perhaps verify my direction..one way or another.

    You guys should try your hand at the mastering disc that we are going to do in september....at least we can see where your translation lies...even if you don't do mastering per se.

    I really believe the whole state of this art can go to a higher quality than what we are feed mainstreme and otherwise (classical and jazz, folk too). I guess first priority is to get the levels and dynamics back to where they belong...and use digital headroom for what it is worth...not crunched to death.

    Sorry for the ramble.

    I really appreciate your responses... guys!
     
  5. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    should you have to pay if the mastering job totally sucks balls?


    i like the single song "tryout" idea. i would LOVE to have bob ludwig master one of my tracks. i emailed gateway asking if they do such a thing but no answer... oh well. i have 2.5 albums im mixing right now and no mastering person. ugh!
     
  6. Aaron-Carey

    Aaron-Carey Active Member

    I gotta give probs to Matt Merman and Roger Seibel at SAE here in phoenix AZ. They kick ass! I always sit in on the mastering sessions( wouldnt dream of missing it!). I always think the album is done, but when were done at the lab, its like nite and day! Amazing work.

    Dont know if Im out of line posting their number on here, if so maderators please delete it, but if you want a nice mastering job done, SAE is (602)242-0022.
     
  7. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    Bill,
    I also master many of my own mixes. This is a way to offer clients here in a small town an affordable option. I consider it "project mastering" but I think I can take another step. I also thing of mastering while I'm mixing. Like thinking of mixing while tracking etc...
     
  8. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Mastering should always be a collaboration, not just somebody else playing "god" with signal processing with you expected to live with the results.

    The idea is to throw higher quality monitoring and fresh ears at achieving the producer and artist's intentions. If BOTH the mastering engineer and I think something sounds about as good as it can, that's probably a good sign. If one of us doesn't like something, it simply means more work is needed and a decision needs to be made between remixing and "stepping on" the existing mix with signal processing. Time and money usually determine which way you go.
     
  9. rpowell

    rpowell Guest

    well...i end up mixing and mastering a lot of the time..but even then..i make sure i bring others in during mastering to listen... i like the idea of a separate mastering engineer (who you trust,etc) because it's a 2nd set of ears..who can be objective.. and might notice things that the mix engineer didn't (not major things here..but i do know of mix engineers who have had some sick phase issues go unnoticed due to bad control rooms...but that's a different story)
     
  10. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    You should only *not* have to pay for a crappy mastering job if the engineer was given firm direction and departed from it completely, and only if you weren't there for the session!

    I've found a handful of guys I like the work of, and as far as I remember, they have all offered to do one track as a test shot.

    These guys are Dave Davis at QCA in Cincinnati, Jonathan Wyner at M-Works in Boston, Brent Lambert at The Kitchen in Raleigh, and Jay Frigoletto at (uh, was 'Atlanta Digital,' but now he's in LA and I don't know if he's changed the name...).

    Most other mastering guys would probably do the same, at least the midlevel, affordable ones- I think probably the really top end guys are booked forever, and just don't have the time.

    Originally posted by alphajerk:
    should you have to pay if the mastering job totally sucks balls?


    i like the single song "tryout" idea. i would LOVE to have bob ludwig master one of my tracks. i emailed gateway asking if they do such a thing but no answer... oh well. i have 2.5 albums im mixing right now and no mastering person. ugh!
     

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