Just had one of my clients cd's mastered and......

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by J-3, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Hey guys, here is a question for all you M.E.'s out there. I just had one of my clients CD's mastered at one of the most reputable places in town. I've used this company several times before BUT this time instead of using the main ME we used another guy that works there now. (he of course was highly recomended) He did a great job at mastering but perhaps too good?!? The record kinda lost some of it's rock-n-roll edge. Come to find out the guy had like 30 yrs. experiance in Nashville working for big name country guys. To me it kinda sounds like he tried to make this record into a Garth Brooks album. (the band is an odd mixture of rock/jazz/r&b/and roots rock). It sounds good but perhaps too clean. Should we call the ME and let him know and see what he will do? What should we expect from the ME in this case?

    ALSO, while I was there he was giving me compliments on the good job I did blah blah blah, but then I said "hey man I just heard a little pop on that song" and he became somewhat offended and said "no you didn't!"---- "yes I did" ----- "NO, YOU DIDN'T!" and I was like ok....i guess i didn't. I asked the band and of course they heard nothing. Got home, threw in the finished product...guess what I heard....a little pop! I'm shure he can fix this and isn't it his job to do that anyway, make shure there are no little pops or wierdness? (yes, i should have caught it here but he's the final ears).

    Oh and the band requested a hidden song and he didn't really get that right either.... all this for $100 an hour just dosn't seem right.

    Any and all advice from you ME's would be greatly appreciated. THanks
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I'd bitch about it. Gently, of course.
  3. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member


    I would go back and tell that you are not satisfied or it is not the way you wanted it. Tell him why you don't like it and he should be able to get closer to what you are looking for, if it is possible I guess.

    For the pop thing, same thing here. If it is obvious to you, it should be to him as well. Pops could be tricky sometimes, some clients of mine thought that there were pops but it was some noise from the attack of some toms.

  4. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Thanks guys, I'll give them a call. I shure don't want to tarnish my relations with them BUT, I'd rather stick up for my clients than anything else. The pops are definitly mistakes, they arn't anything but. He said since I recorded and mixed the songs that I will always hear things that no one else can hear. But, I told the band there is a pop somewhere in the 1st song and see if they can find it. They called back in 3 minute and said, FOUND IT! Thats not right.

    Also, he faded one song out too early. The drums just fade out real fast, not a natural sounding fade at all.

    How does it work though in this case when he did a great job (other than the aforementioned) but he kinda took a little too much edge off? ie some of the rock n roll aspect has been taken out. It sounds a little too compressed and mellowed out. (i'll try to figure out how to post some tracks) But should the band have to pay anything or are most ME in the "lets get it right and make the client happy" frame of mind?

    Thanks so much guys.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I would certainly hope that most are in a "keep the client happy" frame of mind...

    That being said, if there's a "reasonable" additional charge to change it, that's pretty much between you guys...

    As far as pops & click are concerned, I don't care where they *came* from (on the mix or added somehow during mastering). If they're in the mix and I can't get rid of them, it's a phone call to the client to inform him of the situation.

    If it comes from *my* processing, that's an automatic re-write and ship. I'm surprised he's not ki$$ing some a$$ for sending out a disc with clicks - especially if they weren't there before.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    There are two sides to every story and I would be interested in what the ME has to say about this project. I try very hard to please my clients. I go out of my way to make sure they are satisfied with EVERYTHING about the mastering but sometimes things can happen and I have an upset client. If they have problems with something I have done to their project I try and rectify the problems to the their satisfaction. However sometimes I can do nothing if the project coming in is in bad shape. To really "fix" the problems it would have to be remixed before I could master it Or it maybe the artist wants something done to their material that cannot be done.

    A case in point is a recent artist, a heavy metal band, brought me a John Denver CD and told me that they wanted their material to sound like the CD. Well heavy metal is never going to sound like John Denver so there was not much I could say or do. There idea was that they wanted it LOUD but clean. Unfortunately the mix had already been though a couple of generations of compressors and eq and was already squashed and distorted so to make it sound "clean" would have been impossible. They left with two options either remix it and leave off all the compression and eq or accept what they had. They wanted me to wave the MAGIC WAND of MASTERING over the project and MAKE IT RIGHT. I listened to the project and told them their options, I did not charge them for my time but they were still upset. They had sunk a great deal of money into the project and the tapes they used for the recording had been "rented" from the recording studio and they were no longer available to do another mixdown since they had been recorded over. This is a no win situation. I felt sorry for the group but at that point there was really nothing I could do.

    Another problem with expectations of what mastering can do is that until people come here to listen to their material they may not really have heard all the problems it has such as low frequency sounds or noises. They have spent a lot of money and now they start hearing the problems they never heard in the recording studio such as ticks, pops and hums because of the monitors they were listening to the material on or the acoustics of the studio. They think it is something that was done to their tracks in mastering but all the mastering did was bring out the problems that were buried. Of course if I can get rid of the ticks, pops and hum I will but sometimes there are things in the mix that I cannot remove easily or economically and I inform the artist of that fact. Sometimes the artist doesn't want to hear what I am saying or wants to "pretend" that they were not problems until they brought the tracks to me for mastering. I can usually show them the problems in the original that were hiding and were simply brought out by the mastering process.

    If I were you I would talk to the ME and tell him your concerns. If you don't get anywhere with him then I would talk to his boss. You are the client and they should do everything possible to satisfy your needs if they are legitimate and possible to fix. Depending on the individual studio this may or may not be an additional charge. The decision to go ahead if their is an additional charge is up to you.

    Best of luck!
  7. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    I 100% agree with you Tom. The pops/clicks I hear are/were punch in's done during tracking. Our mixing sessions were done twice as fast as I normaly like to. I typicaly go thru mixes with a very fine toothed comb before the ME get's it. I can hear the clicks in the mix on my monitors (after hearing it first at the mastering house). If I had more time on the mix I'm shure I would have caught it. When the mastering process was done the clicks jumped out more as things tend to do post mastering. What gets me is that the ME didn't hear this. I sat down in his "cockpit" chair which was presented to me in an almost "rite of passage" kinda way for a job well done. "Sit, have a seat, you did a great job on this project, it sounds fantastic, I can't believe your getting these sounds, what are your monitoring on? How'd you get that to sound like this? What kind of pre's/mics are you using etc" were his words........So I made it 3 minutes into the tune thinking WoW! this does sound pretty damn good then -----click----- . HEY, I heard a click...... Talk about burst my bubble. He then proceded to kinda make me feel like an ass that's hearing things that arn't there. Well, Its DEFINITLY there.

    Should I have caught it. Yes!
    Would 99.9% of the world hear the pop? No way.
    Will I hear it every time and be driven crazy by it? YES!!
    Should he have heard it and fixed it? Absolutly.
    Can he fix it easily....(i'll tell you in a few hours b/c I forced them to slide me in between two clients to get this fixed)

    Will it all work out in the end? Of course.
    What could have been done to prevent this? He could have taken me seriously when I said I heard something, listend to it. Heard it, fixed it and none of this would have happend.

    What did I learn? Always go thru everything with a fine toothed comb, clean and crossfade everything as you I track, and if I hear anything at mastering...MAKE the guy backup and listen if he dosn't offer.

    I fixed it on my end and I'm taking it to him. He can either fix it on his side or reload the tune and remaster it with out the pops. You can bet I'll be there this time for the whole session, and with my ears on extra sensitive/anti-pop mode.

    Take care my friends and thankyou all very much.
  8. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Ok, so I had to come back and finish the story. I went to the mastering studio again today to have the pop removed and the guy still could not hear it. I pointed out exactly where it was and he still thinks I'm nuts. They at first tried to charge me, then decided to make me just buy the $25 Master CD, then said well I'll just give ya the non-master for $10 He said it's the exact same thing. Is it?? I hope 'cause that's what I got. Crazy $*^t.
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    This sounds like a place to not go to anymore...

    Chances are, the disc is fine. I'd have it error-checked and certified before replicating... Did he give you a PQ log? You can rip & compare on that...

    Did he ever get rid of the pop he couldn't hear?!? :?
  10. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    This seems like a weird way to treat a client...I take it it's a pop from a punch in from a digital recording, right? What about SEEING the pop in whatever program they are using to record the audio into the computer/burn the CD? These kind of pops are fairly easy to "see" and often not too hard to "redraw" to smooth out.

    I think at the root there is some miscommunication going on. If you're happy with anything else, I doubt it's incompetence. The good news, is that if you said that 99.9% of people won't hear it, even if the artist sells 100,000 CDs, only 100 people will know that there's a mistake. A lot fewer than if a word is misspelled on the CD insert. :)
  11. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    Did you talk to the Boss ? It is not because you got an ME like this one that you have to accept this CD if there is an obvious mistake or error.

    Interestingly, several years ago, I went to a Mastering studio to get one album that I produced to get Masterized and I got into the same kind of experience. The ME told me that he knew what he had to do and I should shut the f$% up. I was so mad, almost histeric and I am not going to say what I told this guy, but I went to see HIS boss (which his Boss thought that this ME was God) and told him that this guy is having an attitude problem and I am not going to pay to get insulted and getting out with a bad product in my hands.

    I suggest to go back and talk to the Boss. Plus, if you are a regular client, why don't you give a listen of that cd to your regular ME and see what he is going to say... or hear ??

  12. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Yes the pop was from a digital punch in. My bad. The guy wasn't rude at all (other than calling me crazy, ((I've been called worse))). The bean counters (the owner/head engineer and his wife) were the ones kinda weird about it. They acted like it wasn't an odd occurance and that I should pay for it. In fact she still wants me to go by Monday and pay $25 for a "master" cd. (that's on top of the $10 that I was charged for the reference cd and they also tried to make me pay for the hour it took the guy to fix the problem) I just fixed the punch on my end and burned him another disk. I asked him to simply zoom in and re draw but he said because the pop was quieter than the audio that it was impossible for him to take out in any way. I'd have to call bull $*^t on that. I'm just glad it's over and I have already begun looking for a good ME. It not the whole pop thing, it's that they're so anal and trying to nickle and dime me to death over something the ME should have fixed right in the first place!

    Heres to no more pops!
  13. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    That's a rough one... I run into a lot of clicks & pops that aren't able to be dealt with well... Some of them just linger too long. Sometimes a cut & crossfade works well, but sometimes the duration is so long that it screws up the tempo.

    Not to defend - Just saying that it happens.
  14. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    definately happens. sometimes punches on beats are hard to tell if you aren't familiar with how it's supposed to be. You of coarse know it because you did it. The more of the story I hear, the more I'm starting to lean towards the ME. maybe it's an easy fix for you to correct, but he still has to do the work again because of your mistake.
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Sometimes a client will notice something that I will not notice because I am unfamiliar with the song but most of the time I find all the mistakes without having to be shown them. The problem I see here is that this "mistake" is something that you hear and the ME does not hear. In this case I think it maybe a toss up as to who owes who for what and you may need to pay for the redo since you did not mention it in the original session. It is hard to second guess what is going on since we are only hearing your side of the story and as I stated in my previous post there are always two sides to every story. The main thing here is to get the project done and to the replication facility asap. If this was happening here I would just take care of it and be done with it as there is nothing to be gained from prolonged finger pointing.

    MTCW and FWIW

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