Im a newbie for this

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by sirchick, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. sirchick

    sirchick Active Member

    I have set myself the task of re-mastering a led zeppelin track for practice as they are fairly quiet on some of the tracks.

    How ever I know very little about mastering.. but I do want to give it a go. Is it all about getting the volumes up or the quality or both?

    Also is it mostly just fiddling with EQ and compressors? Or is there other important factors..
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    This doesn't make a lot of sense...

    You listen to the mix and do what the mix is telling you to do. Every mix is unique, although the holistic benefit of the entire project has to be taken into account during each individual adjustment of each individual mix.

    It has very little to do with "getting the volume up" -- Although that tends to be the latest (incredibly destructive) phase the industry is going through... And it has little to do with "fiddling" with EQ's and compressors -- Although either, or both, may (or may not) be used. Or more than one of each. Or more than two. You do what the mix tells you to do.

    The point is to make a compliant and cohesive production master (that's the core of the whole thing - that's why they call it "mastering"). The audio adjustments made along the way are gravy. Sure, it's important gravy sometimes (okay, most of the time).
  3. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    John, no truer statement has ever been made.

    What are you practicing for, simply the knowledge, or do you have something in the near future that you want to accomplish - a recording of your band, or something along those lines?
  4. sirchick

    sirchick Active Member

    Well I don't know anything about mastering... but when i listened to "re-mastered" albums of artists from the 70ies is mostly boosted bass and high clarity.

    As alot of songs were tape recorded back then the volumes were also lower.... so from what i hear i thought it was as simple as using EQ to boost the song.

    But then what can a song tell some one who doesn't really know alot about mastering in the first place.. for me the song i have sounds too quiet and lacks depth for the bass in particular. So i thought ill change the EQ some what to boost then . And i tried to get some of the guitar parts slightly easier to hear but to be honest after finishing .. at first it sounded alot better in the program but when i exported and listened on itunes it was much worse than the original lol !

    My mates in university were set the challenge and as I am doing the same course next year.. I thought I'd give it a go now. No idea what im really doing though.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    No, no, no, no, no, no...

    Not "lower" - They were NOT SQUASHED TO DEATH as they are today. There's a BIG, HUGE difference.

    Back when music actually sounded "good," recordings came out at reasonable levels that were somewhere around where the recordings "wanted" to be (again, "do what the mix tells you to do"). The engineers, the artists, the labels - They were interested in keeping those levels "good" and "competitive." They weren't interested in taking the recordings they worked so hard to make and trash them in an effort to be a little louder than the last song on some guy's iPod.

    Not like today -- "Competitive" levels are insane - Out the window. Far, FAR beyond what the playback systems are designed to handle.

    And there's nothing "simple" -- I shouldn't say that -- Sometimes, the process is very simple. But that's a rare exception these days...

    If it was as simple as EQ'ing and pushing the volume a bit, there wouldn't be mastering studios around the world who invest tens -- hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the very best sounding production masters possible.

    If you want to take a (already mastered) Zepplin disc and run it through an EQ and a limiter, by all means, go right ahead. But don't expect it to come out truly sounding "better" than it already does. It might be "louder" it might be "brighter" etc., etc. But making A/B comparisons at similar volume will probably show the original having a better core.
  6. sirchick

    sirchick Active Member

    How come the university set the task of re-mastering it then?

    From when i listen to it.. which I am not a fan of their music I don't hear the song telling me anything lol... what do you mean by do what the track tells you.

    But if there are mastering studios... why did they not just master them when recording rather than recording it then getting it all down then getting some one else to re-master is like 5 years down to line only sell the same album.. why not master it from the start.

    I notice that alot of modern songs are much more bassier and louder to old that just because of quality of recording because less people use tape or become of something else?
  7. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    It seems that you don't understand the basic concept of mastering... Nor does the university...

    It's the same reason that you record before you mix. It's a completely different step with a completely different set of tools and a completely different goal in mind.

    Anyway, it already was mastered -- Just the act of assembling the mixes for the replication of the disc is at its most basic definition, "mastering." It was mastered for vinyl when it first came out, it was mastered for CD when the CD came out. What the university wants you to do (I'm only assuming here, but I think I'm on the right track) is to run the mixes through some sort of post-processing and call it "remastering."

    "Doing what the mix is telling you" is just that - You listen, you fabricate a game plan (it needs a little less 400Hz and a couple dB of gain reduction and some sibilance control on the cymbals perhaps to make it fit better with the rest of the album), you do.

    It's the tracking engineer's job to capture the core sounds as good as possible. It's the mixing engineer's job to take those individual elements and make them sound as good as possible in the holistic concept of what's best for the mix as a whole. It's the mastering engineer's job to take that collection of mixes and objectively establish what it will take to make those mixes translate well to the widest possible selection of playback options while "bringing out the best" in each mix in a way that it flatters the album as a whole.

    In that regard, you "do what the mix tells you to do." If you're not hearing what they're telling you to do (which is actually typical after getting attached to a project - which is why it's typical for the mastering engineer to be different from the mixing engineer), you send it to someone who will. Objectivity is key -- Not being "a fan" is actually an advantage... Once I start "tapping my foot" to a project, it usually means that I've lost the objectivity that I would've had on the first listen.

    Without trying to sound like an "audio snob" or a purist, most mastering engineers are people with a life-long fascination with the most minute intricacies of audio -- people who equate a 1/2dB adjustment at one frequency to be the difference between "good" and "bad" in some cases.

    I understand that they're not trying to crank out "mastering engineers" overnight at the U, but it seems like either (A) I'm not clear on the assignment, or (B) they're not clear on the concept.
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    May I suggest you go crack a book on Andy or Glynn Johns, read what they've done (and continue to do) over the years. I think you'll find the time spent reading up on these two gentlemen alone will tell you far more than "Fiddling with EQ' and the like.
  9. sirchick

    sirchick Active Member

    Well im at the staff where I don't really know how to regocnise 400Hz as i listen to a song.... do you develop that naturally over time being able to say what part needs a bit more/less of something?

    I wouldn't have a clue if i was listening to a track... you guys should become teachers ! lol

    I think I'll need to find some one who can teach me at home aswell encase my university do not know what they are talking about.
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    sirchik; no offense meant here, but in reading this thread again, it's clear you're really in no position to start on any kind of "Mastering" work.

    I'm not saying it's an elitist position per se; but if you've got to ask the kinds of questions you're asking (and you can't recognize 400 hz), then you're not ready - on any level - to delve into mastering, and what it entails. The best guys in mastering have come up through the ranks, over the years, listening and learning in all parts of the industry. There is no "Shortcut" and there's no easy-button to get into the club. This is the kind of work - not unlike sculpture, painting, or even surgery - that does not lend itself to just jumping in and doing it. It takes years of listening, learning, tweaking, going back over things again, comparitive analysis, triumphs and failures, and so on, to blend it all into the kind of ears (and experience) that a good mastering engineer brings to the table.

    To continue the medical analogy: You're asking to be allowed to do major surgery on a patient when you've just entered pre-med. It just doesn't happen this way, not even in our push-botton, "everyone can do it in their bedroom" DAW mentality.

    Sorry, but you must crawl before you can walk or run. Please keep at it, but dont' expect to be at the head of the line any time soon. You WILL get there, if you're serious about it and keep digging, but it's going to take a lot more than some university 101 program telling you to mess with someone else's success. :cool:
  11. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    At risk of sounding even more discouraging - or maybe I'm out on a limb here because I don't even know what course this is that you're taking next year -- But assuming it's some sort of audio course, are you sure you're cut out for such a thing?

    It's not a big deal if you're not -- Most people (including a lot of people who go through years of training only to find out that they're not) aren't.

    But in any case, critical listening skills are going to be the absolutely most important tool you (will EVER) have. I'd work on that for a while (it could take several years, it could take a decade, it might not ever develop) before even going to school for audio. You could go through a whole lot of time and money just to find out that it's "not your thing."

    Heck, I used to love to paint - Still do occasionally - But I suck at it. :lol:

    And I can't roll my "r's" -- Four years of coaching - Opera, folk, rock styles -- Can't roll those r's to save my life. Voice coach said it's because I "haven't allowed myself to learn how" -- I said it's because "I can't do it and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
  12. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member

    Theres a Course on like 8 CD's called golden ears. It teaches to recongnize all the frequencies in the sound spectrum. By the end of the course you'll know what frequency was boosted or compressed on the triangle from a death metal tune. Warning though the course is extremely dry. Its good though to have if you can build a study group to learn it.

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