Teaching Them Why To, "Have It Professionally Maste

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by dbeng@bellsouth.net, Jul 15, 2001.

  1. I know the importance of mastering by a mastering engineer. But trying to tell most of my clients this is like speaking to them in Latin. My mastering guy has given me some good things to say that helps, but most of them really don't get it, all they hear is what it cost and all things considered it's pretty cheap. They see the Finalizer and Masterlink and say won't that do?

    What am I missing? Do I need to throw away that stuff, if I have to master, I use a Avalon 737sp and its EQ the Finalizer's converters and soft limit as front end to the Masterlink then increase and limit levels thats it, NO OTHER DSP! Hey it's better than nothing!

    What's the best way to teach them!
     
  2. JingleJungle

    JingleJungle Guest

    Just show them some good commercial CD's and show them the fine print.. "Mastered by Bernie Grundman at.........", etc..

    Tell'em that the final product is equal parts mixing AND mastering, and that who mixes cannot master (and viceversa), because his/her ears know the material too well to be objective about the final dynamics and coloration.


    Tell'em that all cool bands do it as soon as they have some money to spare, if that sways them...

    Tell'em that if isntruments such as the Marterlink and the Finalizer have been invented it's because usually a mix Needs to Be Mastered (otherwise it would be totally senseless for TC to build the Finalizer - innnit?)...

    It's not a lost cause...it just takes some effort to get people to part with their pennies...

    My 2 swiss francs' worth... :)
    Paul
     
  3. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Mastering means preperation of a master copy for replication.

    Traditionally, mastering is performed by a specialized facility using custom and/or high-end monitoring, playback and signal processing gear to correct whatever shortcomings are found in the tonal balance and dynamics. A mastering engineer's job is to bring out the very best in a recording.

    The major components of mastering are quality control, experience evaluating how effectively one's work will compete in the marketplace and the technical skills and facilities necessary to make such judgements and then utilize them to create a competitive, technically bullet-proof master.

    Most mastering engineers are former employees that were trained by the major labels or by the independent mastering houses that work for the major labels. Broadcasting is another, although less common background that some mastering engineers have.

    Audio manufacturers and software developers have redefined the term lately to put an impressive-sounding spin on their advertising rhetoric. Transfering, signal processing and burning CDs are purely incidental to mastering.
     
  4. Mastering is the finishing touches on the sound right? What if there is no real problem with the mix as far as tonal balance is concerned? Some mixes have problems because of the person and equipment who did them. In that case they should get it out into the hands of someone who has the room, the ears, and the monitors and gear to correct it.

    If the mix is good, there should not be any correction needed, just enhancement.
    If your work is good, there really is no reason why you can't or should not do it your self, especially if you have the gear and the room for it.

    I personaly have heard some masters done by well known facilities that were not that impressive. One had missed some mud in the low mids and it was boomy. I've also heard some major releases that were smastered. Not an impressive sound at all.

    If the band is not all that good, the sonic quality is not very good, I don't think a high end mastering facility is worth it. Save the band a few bucks and do it yourself. The mix and or band, has to be worthy of a high dollor engineer.
     
  5. Rog

    Rog Member

    I think you miss the point Jeremy. You are essentially paying for another set of ears - ears that do nothing but master.

    99.99% of the time you are too close to the material, you know what processing was applied there, how tracks were layered up, etc.

    All this is important in the tracking/mixing process but completely irrelevant when it comes to tweaking that final 2 track master. I'm sure there are terrible mastering engineers out there just as I'm know there are great ones. I'd say that if you are not happy with the results, get them to do it again or use someone who is good.

    I think it's worth it if at all possible - not for the expensive monitors, signal chain, etc. Just for letting someone with good ears give it a second opinion and maybe even correct things you missed.

    Just my opinion ...
     
  6. Rog

    Rog Member

  7. Example: A friend of mine did a CD in Nashville somewhere, not a major facility, recorded on adats, mixed on an analog board.
    He asked me about this mastering facility, a big name place, their rates were extremly high. I told him I could to it for a fraction of the cost. But he decieded to do it there.

    I finally got a copy of the CD. It sounded lifeless, bland, and low-fi. I never heard the pre-master but I could not believe that it could have been that bad. He wasted alot of money going there. It was not worth what he payed.

    I think you miss my point, if the material is not worthy of a high dollor facility, it's not worth it. As the saying goes, you can't polish a terd, no matter what gear you have.

    As far as what I do i'd rather master it. For one, i'd rather be making the money, two, I think I can do as good a job for the money.

    Mastering while a/bing to a commercial release that the band likes helps to put the sound into perspective. I say do it yourself.
     
  8. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Certainly many recordings probably shouldn't be mastered. It really depends on the size of the investment especially on the promotion side. If $800 to $2000 for mastering is a huge proportion of the overall budget, I generally wouldn't have it mastered. If not, it's pretty silly to not have it mastered.

    Also, there is no such thing as "do it yourself mastering," the whole point is having somebody else do it.
     
  9. "if you want it to sound good no matter what stereo you put it in, get it professionally mastered"

    That should work
     
  10. Oh yes there is, I do it all the time dude...
     
  11. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    I have seen the disappointed client, had a client say to ME once;” It’s all there, it’s just not HI-FI”. I must have spent several months trying to figure that out, and felt rather pitiful too. I realized that, at the time our studio was doing mostly rock, and the unhappy client’s music was “very good” bluegrass. So I played, and played around, and finally realized, that had I suggested mastering (vinyl days), or got that second set of ears, that might have made the difference. The client could tell something was wrong, but didn’t know what it was that the music needed, turns out a tweak here, and there, in the right places, made all the difference. That group was great, and deserved a good master. What if the client is not so great? Is a quality-mastering job worth the suggestion, and the extra bucks? I have heard works that I could honestly say sound great, but that’s all I could say.
    If you are trying to sell a client on the need for mastering, tell them right up front, “They are worth it”. If you find it a constant debate, include it in your package, with a waiver option.
    Sorry for the babble,
    --Rick
     
  12. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    This is a very touchy and loaded subject. I feel the studio I run is on a higher level than the mastering room I run in my home. I do believe though that I can add to the quality of the final product if I master it on my system, which currently exists in a computer, (I hate the D word!). I'm in a small town and rarely have clients who are full time players. Budgets are pushed, and often passed before the mix is complete. I offer an affordable final stage. Some projects don't get mastered. They are usually done in a weekend and still end up with a client strapped for cash. Others spend a little more and I master it here and some others figure out a way to go to a "proper" mastering house in Chicago. If you can offer an in-between for clients, you are providing a useful and helpful service for people that you promised to give the best product that you could, while working within their means.

    I hope I am not rambling. I do believe that I can add to a project. I don't think I'm Misters Ludwig, Grundman, Wienberg et al...
     
  13. Blake, it could also "not sound good no matter what stereo you put it on". Sorry but most of the major releases coming out these day's that i've heard that were "professionaly" mastered i'm not to impressed with. Have you heard AeroSmiths latest, Push and Play?

    It's a sonic disaster. No dynamic's, everything pushed to the limit, harsh, toxic, and unlistenable at higher volumes.
    It was mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC.
    Is that not a "professional" mastering facility?
     
  14. brad

    brad Guest

    ....
     
  15. The Question was not should they master, it was how do you make them understand that In Most Cases Mastering is the next step. We all know those who come in that have recording experience, (most) know when it applies. But when your dealing with non label acts we have the responsibility of teaching them. In the thread "Questions for the future: as digital improves" Bob talked about the lack of comunity:

    The other problem this created is that there are no longer very many studio-based communities where people can learn from others and more important, ABOUT each other.

    Which is what's missing as well as adding to the decline of quality recordings!


    I most certainly would not send my work to someone that could not do the job. The only way to know that is to find an engineer that does good work, DUH! And my guy does very good work! The other issue is I want MY work to be the best it can be, that = satified clients = repeat business = good reputation = more new work = paying the bills at the end of the month!

    I think WE should be there to teach them about the recording process and have the ability to explain in ways that they understand. Bob described it best:
    Mastering means preperation of a master copy for
    replication.
    Traditionally, mastering is performed by a specialized facility
    using custom and/or high-end monitoring, playback and
    signal processing gear to correct whatever shortcomings are
    found in the tonal balance and dynamics. A mastering
    engineer's job is to bring out the very best in a recording.
    The major components of mastering are quality control,
    experience evaluating how effectively one's work will
    compete in the marketplace and the technical skills and
    facilities necessary to make such judgements and then
    utilize them to create a competitive, technically bullet-proof
    master.
    Most mastering engineers are former employees that were
    trained by the major labels or by the independent mastering
    houses that work for the major labels. Broadcasting is
    another, although less common background that some
    mastering engineers have.

    I printed this out to put in a packet for my clients.
     
  16. Also finding the Facility and engineer who does the KIND OF WORK you like. Mastering to me is still a subjective art. Just read about someone who didn't like Bob Ludwig's work on an album. It's not that he didn't do the job but the person didn't like his work.]
     
  17. hargerst

    hargerst Distinguished Member

    Originally posted by jeremy hesford:
    Oh yes there is, I do it all the time dude...So Bob Olhsson is just a "dude" to you? LOL.
     
  18. My situation is that i'm also a recording studio. The typical client I deal with can't afford a mastering facility. I've only had 2 clients over a 5 year period that took there project to what would be considered a Mastering Engineer in my area. I sat in on one session. It was interesting.

    I'm working off a digital console and mix-mastering directly into my PC, never leaving the digital realm. The board is automated and has total recall so it never goes to a dat. I'm also able to save settings in the Finalizer and recall them. So tweeking the mix, and putting the finishing touches on the overall sound can be done over a period of time.

    So there is such a thing as "do it yourself mastering". Ask Paul, he does it all the time..... dude.
     
  19. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Originally posted by jeremy hesford:
    tweeking the mix, and putting the finishing touches on the overall sound can be done over a period of time.

    So there is such a thing as "do it yourself mastering". Ask Paul, he does it all the time..... dude.


    Do you really believe that any serious mixing engineer does NOT tweak and put as many finishing touches on every mix as they can find and that the budget allows?

    The reason many of us don't consider that process "mastering" is because it is using both the same monitoring environment as the mix and the same person's ears. The problem with this is simply that you are in no position to catch any ADDITIONAL problems than those that should have already been addressed in the mixing process. Again what you are doing is totally appropriate for many projects. It just isn't what is traditionally meant by the term "mastering."

    I do both mixing and mastering. I just don't master my own mix work and many of my mixes have never been mastered when they weren't going to be sold into stores or played on the air competing with other music in the same genre.
     
  20. Bob, with all due respect, that's a load of bull. "simply in no postion to catch ANY additional problems", is not true if you have a good room and monitors.

    That's were "over a period of time" comes in. You can catch things by hearing the mix a week later, it helps to put the sound into perspective.Also listening to it on another completely different system tied into the console, is as different as being in another room.

    I also relize that most mastering engineers (guy's who's only job is mastering, period, and have dedicated gear for that purpose)
    frown and or look down on those who have equipment like the TC gear for that purpose.

    I just don't buy into your deffinition of (another room), another (set of ears) as being "real" mastering.
    Some most deffinately need another room to correct problems do to the limitations of there room, but not all.
     

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