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Bob Ludwig

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?

Comments

anonymous Fri, 06/22/2001 - 16:29

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

Jon Best Fri, 06/22/2001 - 19:29

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!

anonymous Sat, 06/23/2001 - 22:42

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.

Bob Olhsson Sun, 06/24/2001 - 08:58

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.

anonymous Sun, 06/24/2001 - 14:15

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.

anonymous Sun, 06/24/2001 - 22:15

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

anonymous Mon, 06/25/2001 - 08:24

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!

anonymous Mon, 06/25/2001 - 14:30

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...

anonymous Tue, 06/26/2001 - 04:09

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.

Bob Olhsson Tue, 06/26/2001 - 10:53

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.

audiowkstation Fri, 06/29/2001 - 20:27

I believe in the Golden rule...He who has the gold...makes the rule...But...Bumping a client that is already scedualed is bad buisness. I would never schedual something that I cannot pull off. I have had clients schedualed 2 months in advance and had to turn down other gigs because of it...but that is the way the ball bounces...You win some..you lose some...but never do they get "rained out".

Jon Best Fri, 06/29/2001 - 20:48

An interesting point- when you schedule that far into the the future, are you taking deposits?

Originally posted by Bill Roberts:
I believe in the Golden rule...He who has the gold...makes the rule...But...Bumping a client that is already scedualed is bad buisness. I would never schedual something that I cannot pull off. I have had clients schedualed 2 months in advance and had to turn down other gigs because of it...but that is the way the ball bounces...You win some..you lose some...but never do they get "rained out".

audiowkstation Fri, 06/29/2001 - 21:35

I do take deposits. A flat retainer. We really never know how long a project may take as it depends on the mix...etc.

IF the client keeps open communication, the schedual "can" vary and I can open slots up.

One thing I really dislike is to have to travel to another studio to do a mix that was schedualed 2 months in advance and it keeps getting bumped up. Meanwhile I am idle because I have not schedualed anything at the mastering facility for that period.

Deposits take care of many problems. I have a trip to Hollywood that was supposed to happen in March. It is still unschedualed. Until I get a retainer for that project, my schedual is open. In order to do the Hollywood project, I will need a retainer and 10 days notice. I cannot afford to wait for them nor can I afford to tie up my facility without money changing hands and contract. Someone has to help me pay the bills!!

It is just good business.

So far..no problems.

Mixerman Sat, 06/30/2001 - 20:41

Originally posted by Jon Best:
An interesting point- when you schedule that far into the the future, are you taking deposits?

For me, I take deposits on projects booked in advnce. But I don't master, I either record or mix. So if a project bails on me at the last minute I lose between a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the project.

I don't hold time for anybody without the money. If they can't give me a deposit, it's because they can't guarantee the time will be used, or they can't guarantee that I will do it.

Eric Sarafin

anonymous Sun, 07/01/2001 - 14:00

Bob is a God among mastering engineers, if you studied his list of clients you'd notice that anybody who is anybody uses Bob. Also, you ought to check out his gateway studio, man what a piece of work. The stands that hold his monitors are completly isolated and run all the way down to bedrock, now that's paying attention to detail.

audiokid Sat, 02/26/2011 - 19:41

Mixerman, post: 32889 wrote: 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

Interesting reading this old post from that past. Yet we're trying to make it louder and louder.

Massive Mastering Sun, 02/27/2011 - 09:51

Herbeck, post: 365239 wrote: ME's keeps on fighting there little wars, both in forums and on loudness.
Always blaming someone else.

I don't know of a single mastering engineer that wants to participate in the 'volume war' -- You bet your a$$ we're blaming someone else -- This has always been a pissing contest between artists and labels. The public never asked for it - Mastering engineers never wanted it. We're working "under protest" more than not.

OBVIOUSLY, we need to roll with it to some extent (or we lose our jobs). But you can't drop a sentence like that without a complete misunderstanding of the industry as it is...

Herbeck Sun, 02/27/2011 - 14:10

I think that you are absolutely right.
But I also think that there is an option.
If you take Bob Katz and for example Chris Athens, both very good ME's.
They probably get very different kind off music and different demands on how loud it should be.

There is a lot of non mainstream music that don't care about the loudness war at all.
Chose to work with them, less money but more fun.

Cheers,

Herbeck

Big K Mon, 02/28/2011 - 01:19

You are not running your own business, are you? Millionarer? Starvation Artist?...LOL...

We fight on the good side and win small battles every day...the war is not lost, yet.
Bob and Chris are doing it not much differently to us and will make it loud, as well, if requested.
Unlike some less gifted colleagues, they can make it sound loud AND good. So do we...

And you would be amazed how fast you have a multitude of complaining customers on your heels when you deliver a master that is not on par with the mainstream productions of its genre. Sure, they don't care about loudness, as long as it is there... They might just give the horse another name.

TrilliumSound Mon, 02/28/2011 - 05:46

Just finished another CD for a new unattended client. The FIRST things they have said and ask was: "A little punchier and clearer and PLEASE don't make it LOUD as we are not into this LOUDNESS war!" . When the Mastering was done and they heard it, they have said: "WOW, it's sounds great. Now could you make it louder so it can compete with other CD's?"

...
...
...

Big K Mon, 02/28/2011 - 14:38

Slowly I develope a kind of dislike against you...
It is obvious that you misinterpret our posts on purpose.
It is either because you are lacking insight and knowledge or you just want to muck around.
Please, give us some verifiable info about your professional background, for us to see how seriously we can take your contributions, at all.

Big K Mon, 02/28/2011 - 14:59

Hello Trillium

Exactly... This is the common reaction of "we don't care about loud" customers when presented with a master of wonderful dynamic and smooth sound, albeit less massive and not as llloudd.
At least, chances are good that we get granted to be a little easier on the dynamic of the material. It is much nicer to listen to for certain genres.

Herbeck Mon, 02/28/2011 - 18:15

Big K, post: 365341 wrote: Slowly I develope a kind of dislike against you...
It is obvious that you misinterpret our posts on purpose.
It is either because you are lacking insight and knowledge or you just want to muck around.
Please, give us some verifiable info about your professional background, for us to see how seriously we can take your contributions, at all.

I was just trying to make my point clear.
When business and music mix together there is always compromises.
And when the emphases is to much on the business part, it all gets f**ked up.

Cheers,

Herbeck

audiokid Mon, 02/28/2011 - 20:58

Herbeck, post: 365350 wrote: I was just trying to make my point clear.
When business and music mix together there is always compromises.
And when the emphases is to much on the business part, it all gets f**ked up.

Cheers,

Herbeck

Point well taken, the problem between life and survival. The lucky ones are the ones that never have to compromise honor and principle over money.

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