Bob Ludwig

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51 years 4 months
Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 06/21/2001 - 19:38
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i hear so much about him and when i look at his client list it's like war and peace, but what is it that makes him so good? I heard two different albums of a band, one mastered by bob and the earlier album was someone else, and all i could tell was that bob cranked it really loud and it was less open than the earlier album(but of course it would sound good on the radio...yippie). I really prefered the earlier guy the band got that gave them a more open dynamic album. This is only one instance of his work, but is this generally the case? Do people go to him for a hot mix?

Actually, loud _doesn't_ sound better on the radio. That's a myth. Listen for yourself, the dynamic music sounds better on the radio.

Louder isn't better. It mushes up the bottom, and removes all depth and impact from mixes.

Mixerman

really, i've always been told differently

Yup for sure bout overcompressed tracks being somehow less on the radio, In my experience it's like, the optimod etc sees a whole loud signal rather than a modulating signal w dynamic, and so it just effectively clamps onto the offending frequencies or even worse the whole track, turning it all down. Gulp.

BTW It seems that this list is devoted to Rock and mainstream hits. While that is I guess the staple of the moderators and the ppl here, Will dub & Drum and Bass oriented questions be appropriate?

tia GERM

Originally posted by blake eat world:
really, i've always been told differently

Time for some listening! Do you have a DAW? Dump some stuff in there of varied levels, picking something that you think sounds really, really good from the 60's-70's, and something new and pop (Red Hot Chili Peppers new one, any of the boy/girl bands, really any top 40 recent thing). The next step is important- _equalize volume_ (quick and dirty is pan one left and one right and get a balance that way). Now do some comparative listening. Do this with a few different albums, and draw your own conclusions!

That's awesome that slamming a mix isn't the way to make it sound better on the radio, I always hated that myth. I also found out that the album ludwig did was recorded completly in pro tools, while the earlier was done on a 2" Studer. Now i use pro tools but i also know that a 2" Studer is gonna have a better chance at sounding more open than recording to pro tools, i believe this was the cause for my discontentment.

Back in LP days, just about every time an LP's sound totally knocked me out, it turned out to have been mastered by Bob Ludwig. The first time I had the budget to take one of my west coast projects to the east coast for mastering, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Bob at Masterdisk.

At the time, I had worked with just about every "name" in Hollywood and been extremely impressed by several. Still this experience did not prepare me for the level of attention to detail that Bob aggressively applies to every project I've seen him work on no matter what level the artist's profile is. Watching as an old hand at mastering myself, it was a no-brainer why Bob got the results that he got and from those results the reputation he still enjoys. It was a case of no-BS pushing the envelopes of both technology and skills. I learned a ton that I could apply to my own work which is exactly what I've heard from everybody I know who has also worked with Bob.

Bob still frequently does gorgeous work on obscure projects but like all of the rest of us, his first loyalty must be to the people paying the bills who generally want "competitive" levels. The result has been his name winding up on a lot of pretty mediocre-sounding projects that I have no doubt still sound really good for the levels of compression expected and the quality of masters provided. Still it's sad that so few people are willing to sacrifice a couple dB of level to support the incredible quality of work that Bob and a number of our other top mastering engineers are capable of.

........but i also know that a 2" Studer is gonna have a better chance at sounding more open than recording to pro tools,

Oh yes?? And how do you KNOW this?

I recorded and mixed an album that Bob was supposed to master. His people called and asked if we would mind being bumped. My client said "yes, we would". We got bumped anyway. I understand that Bob has to please the "big boys", but that wasn't cool. I think the client went to Bernie. I would have liked to have heard what BL would'a done.

You've always had to book Bob way in advance compared with other people. Many major projects can't wait for him.

Did Bob actually bump you or did the label slip another project in using your time? I've seen that happen and even once had a label bump somebody else for my project to get in.

Originally posted by germ:

Oh yes?? And how do you KNOW this?

Because it's absolutely true. The only way it's not true is if the Pro Tools system had all top end db converters. How people can argue this is absolutely beyond me. You obviously haven't heard the way PT degredates sound compared to 2". Even my wife can hear the difference.

The only way to minimize the degradation is to leave the faders at unity gain in PT and mix on a good analog console.

Eric

It never fail to amazme me that people still challenge this. PT (and other DAWs) do not sound very good compared to top-end analog gear.

Using it as a glorified ADAT with editing facilities is one thing, mixing on it is something else entirely.

Bob,

No, Bob L himself (or more correctly an assitant to BL) did the bumping. They asked first ...as if there was really a choice....then said "sorry"....how about in a few more months. Part of me understands the economics of blowing off the little guy...and part of me gets a bit pissed. I have never bumped anybody...not to say that I haven't said "look, I've got this project that came up that I'd really like to do....how about if I do your project in 2 weeks and give you X discount or so many free CDs or something. This is why I'm adding a new room on to my place. Now if I can just get the cloning thing going!

Brad,

The client was paying $500.00/hr. To me, it does not matter. If I say I'm going to do something... I'll do it. Certainly not the best business decision, but the one
that I can live with. I have lost "higher profile" clients because I wasn't willing to bump a "lower profile" client. I had situation in which I was offered some nice
record company $, but the month was already booked with a local band. I did a lot of rescheduling (volunteer) and gave them a bit of extra time (for the previously agreed upon amount). I prolly would'a lost the national act if I couldn't move the local one, but I pulled it off. Granted Bob is waaaaayyy busier than I am, but this was not an easy thing to do....just the right thing to do..IMHO. I still have *tons* of respect for Bob as an engineer, and I realize that there are people who make some of these decisions for him. This won't cost him any Grammies, that's for sure...

Brad,

And besides, I have a studio manager who books gigs for me - there's no way I could handle my workload without a studio manager and an assistant - and I'm quite
sure Bob doesn't book his own gigs. It might not have been his decision - in fact, he might not have known about it.

That may be what happened, although anyone who owns/runs a company should make sure it's run in a way that's in line with their professional/personal values. I
own my own studio and am responsible for my actions....and the actions of my employees.

I just don't want to criticize him or his operation based on one bumped session.

Gosh Brad, I certainly wasn't asking/hinting/hoping that you criticize anyone. I simply expressed my disappointment in the way the situation was handled. I
would have loved to have heard what he would have done. I'm certainly not going to start an anti BL thread and with this post I'm done with any more talk (on my part) on BL's scheduling practices.

High profile clients are a real challenge.

Once you take on a project for them, they expect to be able to make a lot of changes, singles, substitute mixes, etc. with the mastering facility able to turn on a dime exactly the way an in-house facility would be able to. Major labels and high-profile artists want (and willingly pay for) Service with a capitol S. You can easily end up doing a day or two every month per blockbuster title for a year or more. The challenge is that you also need to be able to develop new clients and take on the new projects of your existing clients.

Doug Sax always dealt with this by flatly not taking on new clients for extended periods of time. Bob has always been a lot more open to new clients but there is always the risk of getting shuffled around. The way I have dealt with it was to just send Bob my non-major label projects to do when he could fit them in rather than attempting to coordinate a session with both of our schedules.