newbie mastering question

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Dex 242, May 30, 2002.

  1. Dex 242

    Dex 242 Guest

    O.K., I kinda have the hang of mixing (at leat I understand the principles of it) and I get pretty decent mixes. But now I need to learn how do mastering, but other than making my CDs louder and having that punch that commercial CDs have, I'm not even sure what I should be really be looking for, what I should be useing, the whole thing. Is there any online tutorials I should check out? Please keep in mind I'm not an engineer, I'm a musician (well not really, I make electronic music ;) ) Anyway, I'm using a Power Mac G4 with ProTools Digi001. I'm told that I don't need addtional software, what do you guys think? Any advice would be appeciated.
     
  2. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    My advice is to take it to someone who is a mastering engineer. It's not as simple as running your songs through a box and out comes the proper mastering version. If you really care and are serious about your music use the talent of engineers to make your music sound it's best.
    There are articles to help you understand mastering. But it's like learning to mix or paint, they can only do so much. Without working with an experienced engineer you are not goiing to get the best results.

    If you want to try and master it yourself there is plenty of mastering software and hardware tools available that you will find in any Mix or EQ magazine.
     
  3. Dex 242

    Dex 242 Guest

    I think I'll follow your adivice. I did some research on the web on mastering houses, I only found one that specialized in electronic music (Corrosive Audio) but, is it important to find a mastering engineer that specializes in a particular type of music? What places do you reccomend? I was also looking to have my four song CD not only professionally mastered but also have a limited amount pressed professionally (about 1000 of them). Any suggestions appreciated.
     
  4. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Dex, Hope this helps to reinforce what Mr. Lambert says..

    So as a mastering engineer..I get a mix to work. First thing, you must alreay have a complete understanding of electronics and acoustics. The loudspeaker design (since it needs to sound coherent on all loudspeakers/systems) and understanding the physics behing all the loudspeaker designs and acoustic environments. Then, musically, you must be able to vibe with the intention. Mastering engineers gaols is to put EVERYONE amongst the musicians...while co esisting with the consumer electronics. A full working realum of the entire recording industry is in order as well...like what happens when your track hits Muzak satts, Radio airplay, consumer CD, so bozo remastering it to a different format down the road, High fidelity audiophile systems upwards of 300K for playback, and the lowly boombox from radio shack or walmart. It all has to Jell. It is a huge "mind undertaking" to fit proper artist, genre, and vibe into that entire box without compormising the vibe. Mastering engineers have thousands of hours of experience before they start to get the whole sequnce of events to fold togeather...now lightning is less that a mile away..I hear static coming through the tweeters with every close pop...so it is time to end this..before my sacred system is toast..(tropical south florida storm)
     
  5. paulpreamble

    paulpreamble Member

    I understand what you guys are saying and I too realize that Mastering is an artform. But how would you guys have got into Mastering if someone would have told you that? No doubt about it, it takes a proffesional to get good results in a timely manner but anyone with enought interest and enought time can achive simular results with some of today's top-notch products (T-Racks, or even a freebee www.digitalfishphones.com) and MUCH, MUCH, MUCH trial and error. If you are working on your own music you can invest tons of time into getting a good final; if you are paying someone then it's different. I've created my own process with very good results. I'll create a cd with one song on it as many times as it will fit. Each version is created after changing compression settings, EQ cuts/ boost etc. I then will play that cd, every song, on every system I can get my hands on. Take it to BestBuy, try out some highend stuff, lowend, etc - taking many notes on what I liked and disliked about each track, etc. Probably my best test is to compare it against a CD that I have listen too almost daily since it's release, one of the best mastering jobs I've ever heard - Moving Pictures by Rush (Ludwig is a God). Now this takes many hours but each time you do it you build skills and before you know it - you can get good results in just a few hours work.
    Thanks guys
     
  6. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Good for you!!!

    Something you may not be including though..

    Never has one of my mastering jobs ever sounded the same as after it is glassed and relased on CD. Mastering involves compensating for that as well. For a test, I mastered something in T-racks. Sounded as good as my big stuff in here...right?? Wrong. The CD's that were pressed (by Sony) came back sounding like ass. No comparison to the master on the hard drive. Supposed to have been "no transfer changes" but you bet when they run a 1610 U-matic of your project..or an inferior skill glass mastering job, the differences are wholesale. It takes the really big guns to get your project to translate through glass mastering. Ask anyone who has sent out projects for 10K, 100K or even a Million pressings..if the production CD is as good as the Premaster mastering session. It NEVER sounds the same.

    True mastering takes in that mastering aspect as well..sometimes I have to overshoot something to make it sound right on the glass-up. Knowing what happens in glass mastering is essential to knowing the direction of your final project. This is a key step of professional mastering houses. Having over 900 projects pressed up glass..It took a while to learn the varibles..but they certainly exist.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag...going to get them pressed?? The one off (if burned) is not going to really show the problem..for it could be premaster spoofing. I always get a glass one off to compare to. This is the proof..then I remaster to fix those problems.

    Now for a non-serious demo for buddys...t-racks is fine. It is not a replacement for using the (literally hundreds of stages)app"RO"ach that give the glass to premaster relationship its translation.

    T-Racks is a nifty home studio device that will help many areas..but we mastering engineers actually go back to analog to get the real deal to happen. Involves many systems that we have control over...(with me..6 systems for years??)..unless you lived with the best buy system for months..it is sudo-judging at best. Glass-up has not been heard. Sux when you pay 4 grand for 5000 CD's and they sound like ass.

    I hope this has shed some light on on of the "secrets" of proper mastering.

    Glossary..

    Original master is the mix
    Premaster is what you do once mastering is finalized.
    Master is the glass master (out of your hands)..unless you have a huge multimillion dollar duplication plant.
     
  7. Marcmage

    Marcmage Guest

    Leanardo da vinci never had an art teacher ,,,,,,,experiment , tis what makes good music :]

    marc
     
  8. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    I would never tell you not to experiment. Thats what it's all about. I will say to put the quality of the project before your own desires. What I mean is if you are mixing a record for a band that wants to get a record deal It's in the bands best interest (and yours) to have it profesionally mastered. It makes you both look (sound) better. This is not a time to experiment its a time to make the most of your mixes and the bands talents.

    If your serious about learning mastering. Do what all good mastering engineers did and thats intern or aprentice with someone who is great at it.

    By the way if a place tells you they only master 1 kind of music, go some place else!
     
  9. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    This directed at Bill Roberts. I'm new to mastering. I'm learning from a recording engineer who has now begun to specialize in mastering. He told me that the computer is the perfect tool for mastering. The reason being that with analog, every device that you connect in the signal chain generates it's own background noise. You keep adding background noise on top of background noise which creates more work for you in the end with noise reduction. In a computer, it doesn't matter how many plugins you add in a chain to get the desired result; if you know how to use them correctly, you don't add background noise. Give me your opinion on this. Thank you.
     
  10. kent powell

    kent powell Active Member

    I'm not Bill so I won't try to answer your question. Except to say that while all devices add some measure of noise to a signal, some of the classic analog ones have yet to be equalled in a software version, and their sonic gain outweighs the price of a little extra noise. Whether it is worth it is a judgement to be made by very experienced ears.

    Which is how one gets very good at mastering. Recording engineers who've just begun to specialize in mastering may not have as much to offer a student as perhaps someone who has worked in a dedicated mastering-only facility with its rooms tuned by an acoustic engineer listening on a system that costs more than my parents' house and having mastered hundreds of projects over a period of years.
    -kent
     
  11. kent powell

    kent powell Active Member

    Ooops, nearly forgot. Whileplug-insmay or may not add noise, each digital process applied does degrade the signal somewhat. No free lunch anywhere.
    -kent
     
  12. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    IF my accumlative noise floor is more than 10dB under the Original master...noise I am "adding" will not affect the signal in inappropriate ways. So far, the noisiest things in my system (I leave them out of the loop of course when mastering) is my Mic Pre's at -83dB The analog console with everything at 0 is -91dB sans mic pre's.

    The digital workstation has many tools I use..but if my analog gear were to dissapear, my mastering would not be at it's maximum potential.

    Cliche'
    IF you want to go fast...you need speed rated tires and brakes!!
     
  13. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    Ok, I follow the logic of it being more in my interest to work with somebody that has specialized at mastering for a long time. I'm in NYC. Can anybody recommend someone here that is a specialist and has a little extra time on their hands to teach me?

    Also, If I wanted to put together an analog system that's really going to show a noticable improvement in performance over my PC; what name brands/components should I get that will not wind up costing me the price of a NYC house?
    Or if it turns out that this solution is really too expensive for me at this time, are there any DIY kits or schematics for quality analog equipment out there?
     
  14. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    This is for Bill:

    Now, you've really got my curiousity going about the difference between the hard drive master and the glass master. I would like you to share what exactly are all those variables that you've experienced and how to compensate for them in the process. At least try talking about the variables the you can in a text format. I know somethings you just can't write about; you have to actually hear the difference.

    Also, If you can refer me to websites that discuss more of those difference variables, it would be helpful.

    Is it a big deal ,in terms of money, to get a glass mastering facility to create a glass master for you, just to hear the difference?
     
  15. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    By the way, what website/forum is Bob Ludwig on? Ha , Ha!
     
  16. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    You Wrote...

    Can anybody recommend someone here that is a specialist and has a little extra time on their hands to teach me?

    You are here! Volumes of pages in the archives and questions are answered by many who are knowlegeable with different degrees of experience. This is the place.

    You Wrote:

    If I wanted to put together an analog system that's really going to show a noticable improvement in performance over my PC; what name brands/components should I get that will not wind up costing me the price of a NYC house?

    Well if you cannot afford an SSL, Neve, MCI, Amek, or Sony..then look for a Ramsa. They are very workable and can bee modded with SSL parts (mic pres, eq's) as money allows. You will need to be competant in power supply design and implication. Snakes can be DIY...keep them short.

    You Wrote:

    Or if it turns out that this solution is really too expensive for me at this time, are there any DIY kits or schematics for quality analog equipment out there?

    Go to http://www.bottlehead.com and look at the foreplay line amplifier. The tube stage can work wonders for your analog line stage..and it is a kit, adaptable to balanced connections..and less than 250 for the kit and a few mods..they have a dynamite forum as well. It is under "products".

    Mine is dead quiet and very nice..but I use it only when I feel it is appropriate.

    You Wrote:

    Now, you've really got my curiousity going about the difference between the hard drive master and the glass master. I would like you to share what exactly are all those variables that you've experienced and how to compensate for them in the process. At least try talking about the variables the you can in a text format. I know somethings you just can't write about; you have to actually hear the difference.

    Also, If you can refer me to websites that discuss more of those difference variables, it would be helpful.

    Is it a big deal ,in terms of money, to get a glass mastering facility to create a glass master for you, just to hear the difference?

    Depends on the x fer house and the care taken. Disk Makers sounds about 80% as good as the master...acceptible or not...it is common. BGrittle sound on highs, soundstage is closer together, blurry background instead of black velvet..etc.. It is not hi rez to use a transfer glass up house where you cannot be there supervision the x fer. On all important projects if the pay is right, I will supervise the process and even bring some of my own equipment.

    Glass mastering (the glass mother is destroyed in the process) sets you back around 300 for a one off. Order 1000 for 800 or so bucks get your moneys worth.

    Here is a "Bob" Link..

    He does good work, so do I. Link
     
  17. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    to: Bill

    Thanks for all the info.. You gave me a lot to keep me busy for a while. Also, I got to see your picture and your mini-bio on at enjoythemusic.com

    Some questions though: Why put up with the aggravation of having an outside mass production house make your glass master with little to no supervision? Why doesn't your company create the glass master itself and give it to a mass production place instead?
     
  18. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Simply, because it cost 14 million dollars to facilitate glass mastering; got an underwriter for me? Of course my burned CD's to me are superior to the copys that I have had pressed. Many people do not (distrubution) take works seriously unless they have been reproduced by a replication (pressing not burning) facility.

    I forget the number but somewhere I read that only 4 such facilities are in the USA. Comanys like disc makers send them out...as they are a middleman.
     
  19. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    I get these high end audio catalogs for audiophiles. Are there similar catalogs/websites of analog equipment aimed at the the audio professional. (Ex. compressors, limiters, parametric or sweep EQs.)What/Where are they? :p
     
  20. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    To bill:

    The CD replicator houses are asking for material to be submitted to them in the DDP format. As I understand it, this format eliminates all error when they rebuild the audio on their end.
    So, why are the glass masters still poor quality in comparison to the harddrive originals?

    Also, do you know of any PC based software titles that can create DDP 1.0 , 2.0 and CRM 1.0 (a.k.a. DDP 2.1) with out having to go out and buy another DAW?
     

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