interning for a ME... i disagree with him... shed some light.

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by theycallmebrown, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    I started interning in a studio where the head RE would sometimes also master. i have heard its a no no to master something you recorded but he prefers it and this is why. he says he is aware of what his mastering can do to a mix and so he mixes with the intent to *fix* things in mastering. his theory is that he should have everything almost clipping its so loud while mixing (meaning limiters and compressors galore) and then turn down the master fader up to or more than -20b so that he can boost it back up in mastering.

    i disagree strongly with that, but i'm not an ME. in my opinion you should mix as if mastering doesn't exist. make the song sound as amazing as it possibly can without worrying about loudness too much, and then AFTER you have done everything you can do in mixing to make it fantastic without concern for loudness, you send it to get mastered. or even if your mastering yourself, your starting point should be as close to finished as possible.... but definitely 2 separate projects, not a continuation of mixing...

    my issue with this is, he doesnt focous on making cymbals shine, or making the kick really punch you in the face, and so while mixing, the song generally feels pretty bad, but somehow he does end up making it sound good in mastering.

    for all you ME's here, is this something i should be taking note of in a positive way or a "ill be sure not to do that" kind of way..?
  2. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    Well I am just a pawn in the royal chessboard of square wave mastering, but I do think that what this guy is doing is the norm these days. I understand from others that do similar techniques (in the Box) of mastering and is the norm these dayz. If it sounds good then that is what really matters. It really is about getting a set of functions(plugin chains) that makes the distortions sound tolerable. But is that good for your ears? I don't like things that are mastered to be loud and typically if it is louder than -10rms on avg then it usually is too much for me. I listen on headphones and it just sounds horrible after a while. Trying to get the "cymbals to shine" and the "bass drum to punch" is not what modern (in the box) mastering is about. It is about creating a new sound of psychoacoustic loudness that somehow makes something sound ok. But does it ever sound great anymore? Is it dark side of the moon? or any Vintage mastering techniques? Or Is it just an assault on my ears? It seems to me this ME is really giving a lifelong lesson early on here in their course...
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Whatever he's calling it it's still part of his mix process. I would call that finalizing the mix. If it works it's a good thing. True mastering is about creative sonic processing than the less glamorous details of PQ, error lists, ISRC etc. for CD, or RIAA curve, stylus velocity etc. for vinyl.
  4. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    the problem with it is that i dont think it sounds good at all while he is mixing, in fact his bounces sound terrible, then when he imports them into his other system for mastering he has to tweak the hell out of it to get it to sound right again...
    maybe hes cutting frequencies in mixing so he can replace them in mastering with his vintage manley eq's... but still, the guitar tone was great coming from the amp, and greater through the crowley ribbon and vintage neve mic pres, paired with an Apogee ad16x into a protools HD card.. soo, why would you ruin what sounds good, so that you can make it sound ok again in mastering? he uses the same outboard eq's and compressers in mixing as he does in mastering... he just keeps saying "trust me, it will sound better"
    and it does, but i dont understand why you would do that....
  5. BassFuzz

    BassFuzz Active Member

    I'm not sure either, I would call what you are describing still a mix process, but if it works for him to get the sound he wants... Usually great mixes make great masters and mediocre mixes make mediocre masters (polishing the ol turd). Sounds like he "mastering" in the same room he's mixing in? If so sounds pretty far from traditional mastering concepts/practices (separate room, speaks, hopefully both better then the mixing room, and fresh set of ears to (hopefully) bring perspective to the mix!).
  6. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    There is no valid reason why you should not master your own mixes or recordings if you now what you do and you are not tempting to to master right after the mix has been done by you.
    Your ears and your brain will tell you wild stories and it usually ends up in a big mess and waisted time...

    The workflow of your fellow engineer is somewhat odd, but what can you say if it works well....Does it??...
    I would always try to get the best mix possible before mastering, but without overdoing the mix bus compression and limiting, etc.
    To tease out the right amount of sparkle and adequate loudness ( I am also no fan of squashing!! ) in a mix, as well as adjusting the overall sound to make a nice homogenous CD is what I do when mastering. I had no problems, yet, to master my own mixes, but, as I said, allow some time to free mind and ears...
    If you can't agree with the way they work at this place don't try to copy it..find your own workflow.. Not even books can tell you exactly how it works best for you...

    Look at starred chefs..they wandered from one gourmet temple to another to learn from different masters de cuisine... So do we...figuratively...just don't munch too
  7. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    Thank you for the replys. What would you say of his peculiar "gain stage"principle while mixing? Is there a benifit to pushing track faders above unity, and pulling the master faded down? In protools HD.
  8. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Well, during mixing it happens that the overall level of the sum becomes too high.
    Instead of re-adjusting all faders you surely can just lower the master fader.
    It's been done with analog consoles and with DAWs at 24-bit there should be even less degradation of sound.
    Pushing the channel levels harder on purpose ( other then to achieve a certain effect with compressors, asf.) would make more sense in the analog world, allthough, I would not want a mixer with such poor behaviour.
    Mind you, if you work in 24 or 32 bit (float) you have to squeeze it real hard to overload the sum due to the huge dynamic range. Just the D/A converters will scream and
    But that you hear immediately.. awful...
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I always thought that the "master fader" was a post-summing volume control. So the post-channel-fader sends and buses all get piled into the bus, and then scaled by the master fader. Lowering it will not increase your headroom inside the summing circuit/algorithm but simply increase headroom coming out of it.
    Unless I'm way off whack on how summing works.
  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Correct. However, a modern native DAW will still be using floating point maths for the mix bus and master fader, so there is a vast amount of potential headroom above 0dBFS and 'overs' will not actually be clipped.
  11. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    At 32 bit float you just can't clip anything internally...
    Look at this formula:

    D =20log ( 3,401038 ) 1530 dB dynamic range
    .............. 1,181038
  12. WaltzMastering

    WaltzMastering Active Member

    ...until it has to come back down to a real world sample rate. What goes up must come down.
  13. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    i love this forum. thank you to all who responded. =]
    now if i can just figure out how to convince him to mix to taste...
    he has this notion that his way is the only way, but the band that came in wants their album to sound like the Anberlin - New Surrender record, and the engineer is convinced he can make it more marketable by mixing another style... but thats for another day. haha
  14. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Who said anything about samplerate? We were talking about word length / bit depth. And anyway, if the floating point signal is scaled down below 0dBFS before truncating to an integer format, there will still be no clipping.
  15. WaltzMastering

    WaltzMastering Active Member

    ^ You're right. I meant to say sample rate and bit depth. As long as you stay in a 32 bit floating point environment and use plugs that are also 32 bits, clipping is not possible.

    But that comfort disappears when the signal must be converted down, to 24 or 16 -bit or when it enters a plugin that doesn't support the higher bit rate, or is routed to external gear via DA/AD converters.
  16. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    There are many ways to reach good results. Sorry to say, there are even more to mess it up.
    If one thinks he has the only right solution then all he found is a way how HE can do it best for himself.
    Why do you want to convince him? It will only end up in an argument in which an intern is usually pulling the shorter stick.
    See what he's got and what you can learn and mix the way you think sound good.
    With most bands I recorded it would have been a bad idea to give them a sound they do not want. If you really feel, the band would be better off with your interpretation of their music, then make an additional alternative mix and let them decide. If they like it: ok. If hey should like it but are too stubborn to accept it, then they still deserve the best mix -their way.
    One smartass piece of advice: If you ever get inflexible and impervious to new ways, sounds, techniques, technologies or styles.. try to get a job as a bookie.
    That is a respectable profession, too, that mostly deals with clear regulations and forms.
  17. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Just to add an alternative perspective to your situation. It is possible that he is actually trying to feed you misinformation; deliberately performing odd overs and then pulling them back under later. He may be trying to disguise the fact that he perceives you as future competition or he may be trying to impress you with his knowledge by giving you very audible examples of his 'wizardry'. He may in fact be doing quite clever things that you are not understanding fully (this doesn't sound likely, but don't rule it out). Whatever the case; you just met him on the way up; be polite and discreet as you'll meet him on the way back down too..... ask intelligent questions and avoid ending up in a direct confrontation and the best you can say is that you have learnt from the situation.
  18. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    thats a good point too jeemy, i have heard other records he recorded/mixed/mastered and they sound great, thats why i wanted to intern for him. i have been taking note of what he is doing and when i vocally disagree with him I'm very careful not to bruise his ego. and waltzmastering, he is using waves plugins (both tdm and rtas) as well as routing out to his manley EQ's, and chandler compressors. he is in protools HD 7 and maybe I'm totally mis-informed but i didn't know protools was floating point? i know that SONAR uses floating point calculations but on protools you still have to use dithering plugs on the master fader when bouncing so you don't truncate those vital bits.... we run sessions in 44.1/24bit, protools uses 32 bit (on protools 8 LE [where im more comfortable].. i imagine 7 HD too? maybe I'm wrong?)

    when mastering he uses a few different programs but mainly Cubase on a different machine with different AD/DA converters, and he routes the final master back into protools for the final bounce.

    i just want him to master THIS album already, im sick of guessing if he is on crack or not. i got the band calling and texting me trying to get me to push my ideas on him, and i got him trying to get me to tell the band to quit telling him how to do his job... im sitting in the middle playing messenger and i hate that.

    one thing I've learned, don't promise mediocre musicians a professional record, unless they promise you a professional performance.
  19. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    you are in the lower position in this situation. Your job is to work for him, not guide him or teach him. It's his client, he earned it, he can do it anyway he wants and your job is to smile and help make that possible. Agreeing or not agreeing with how he works should not be part of the equation.

    With that, you can also learn what to do and not do. because he does something a certain way, doesn't mean you have to when the time comes. Learn from him, both the good and bad.
  20. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I disagree with what he is doing as well. His methods seem to be counter to everything that I have found sounds good and I think it shows poor gain staging. Don't take the bus around town when your destination is across the street. I also agree that it isn't your place to disagree with him. Hell, I'm such an asshole myself that I would tell him to make a copy and I'd make a copy doing it my way and let the client choose blindly. Then again, that is most likely the WRONG thing to do in a situation like that and I wouldn't advise it if you would like to keep your job.

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