Mastering engineer said 16 bit wav file will be too loud?

Gazukmale

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Apr 6, 2017
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England
Ok im. confused...
My mastering engineer sent me a 16 bit wav file...I sent this to cdbaby for distribution. CD baby ask for a 16 bit wav file and no other format.
In conversation with the mastering engineer over Facebook chat.
He has said that i shouldn't of sent the 16 bit wav file out for digital release because it was meant for audio cd replication and will be too loud.

I'm really confused because i thought there was no difference in the 16 bit wav file whether it be for replication or to be converted/encoded by music stores to mp3?

Am i missing something or has the mastering engineer messed up and creates a mix too hot and is now trying to change the file ?

Thanks
Gaz
 

pcrecord

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16bit or wav have nothing to do with levels.
What he might be telling you is that the 16bit file he sent you was ment to be replicated on CD and you should have ask other version of your master for diffusion on other medias.
Online streaming, youtube, CD, tv and radio all call for different mastering approach. If he is a professional, that's what he ment.
ask him to clarify in words you can comprehend. I'm sure if you stay calm he will take the time.
 

audiokid

Chris
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I'm really confused because i thought there was no difference in the 16 bit wav file whether it be for replication or to be converted/encoded by music stores to mp3?
I share the same thought.
16/44.1 is the standard for CD but as far as a 16bit file being too loud, I've never heard of that. Before you take my word on that, lets see what the other guys here say when they get done for the day.
 

Gazukmale

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England
16bit or wav have nothing to do with levels.
What he might be telling you is that the 16bit file he sent you was ment to be replicated on CD and you should have ask other version of your master for diffusion on other medias.
Online streaming, youtube, CD, tv and radio all call for different mastering approach. If he is a professional, that's what he ment.
ask him to clarify in words you can comprehend. I'm sure if you stay calm he will take the time.


Thanks for reply
Well i talked to CD baby and they said they have never heard of what the mastering engineer was saying...
CD baby said that the 16 bit file shouldn't effect the levels weather it is for replication or not(but they said they could be wrong) .

Then I talked to the mastering engineer...
He said that the 16 bit wav file can only be used for CD replication as the levels will be too loud for digital use online.
Even if its converted to MP3 it will distort. I then asked if it was DDP . But i said that its not DDP file , its a wav. He then said its the same process as a DDP, but hes created a wav file.

As far as i was aware if something is a 16 bit wav file and is converted to MP3 or other formats, no distortion should occure only quality loss?
Now I'm totally lost? or am I missing something? If hes right , the lack of communication is very bad . And it seems strange as he was asking me how my release was going?

Gaz
 

pcrecord

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I share the same thought.
16/44.1 is the standard for CD but as far as a 16bit file being too loud, I've never heard of that. Before you take my word on that, lets see what the other guys here say when they get done for the day.
Chris, aren't you getting that what the ME said wasn't hat 16bit was too loud but the specific file that he made was ? Of course I might be wrong and it's a fake ME ;)
 

audiokid

Chris
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Chris, aren't you getting that what the ME said wasn't hat 16bit was too loud but the specific file that he made was ? Of course I might be wrong and it's a fake ME ;)
It all sounds a bit weird.
Well that's none sens since he is the one deciding for the level he puts into the file !! LOL !!

Thats what I am thinking as well. Sonically a 24bit may sound a bit smoother but is shouldn't sound louder because its being used as a master to create a CD or MP3 for that matter..
 

Gazukmale

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England
Well that's none sens since he is the one deciding for the level he puts into the file !! LOL !!

Ok so now I asked the ME (to see if he was trying to rectify a mistake)...
"So the first file you sent me for replication is ok to for me to send to the CD replication company, as im having some CD's replicated next week.
And the next file I receive from yourself is to send out to CD baby again"
He answered Yes ...ummm ...
so maybe he is telling the truth. I guess I can always copy a CD on my computer to see?
I listened to my track (The 16 bit wav version apparently for CDreplication only) and there does seem to be some distortion in the sub bass half way through the mastered song that i cant hear on the mix. :-/ this isnt my day , especially when the song has gone out to most stores ..(b#llocks)
 

pcrecord

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Ok so now I asked the ME (to see if he was trying to rectify a mistake)...
"So the first file you sent me for replication is ok to for me to send to the CD replication company, as im having some CD's replicated next week.
And the next file I receive from yourself is to send out to CD baby again"
He answered Yes ...ummm ...
so maybe he is telling the truth. I guess I can always copy a CD on my computer to see?
I listened to my track (The 16 bit wav version apparently for CDreplication only) and there does seem to be some distortion in the sub bass half way through the mastered song that i cant hear on the mix. :-/ this isnt my day , especially when the song has gone out to most stores ..(b#llocks)

Let's assume he knows what he is doing(I'm trying to understand).
One tool most ME use is LUFS metering. This tool mesure and sum the quiet and louder parts of the song and give a better measurements. This means, if there is a long quiet part in the song and none in another song, if you put both at the same LUFS level, the one with quiet parts may get louder on its louder parts compared with another song with less dynamics.
A fact is, streaming sites have their level standards and when we upload to certain sites the level will be changed accordingly. Those sites mostly use LUFS as well.
So, If the ME is aware of all this, he might offer more than one master files to fit the level requirements of different diffusers / medias.

But !!! of all the digital formats, I never heard that one is louder than an other. OK maybe one can be pushed harder, is that it ??
In any case, if I export a song to different format, 24bit, 16bit, mp3 etc.. I'm sure they will be equally loud.

If you could invite him on the forum, I'm sure many of us members would like to know more about those things.. ;)
 

Keith Johnson

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It's a real phenomenon - there have been a few threads and technical explanations over on sound on sound forums recently...I've not got time to search for them right now....I'll check later if my brain remembers.

Bottom line is that the MP3 conversion process can add intersample peaks that can result in audible distortion if the initial level of the source file is too high...so it's recommended that the peak level of any digital file that's going to be converted is left with 2 to 3 dB of headroom.
 

Gazukmale

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Apr 6, 2017
Location
England
It's a real phenomenon - there have been a few threads and technical explanations over on sound on sound forums recently...I've not got time to search for them right now....I'll check later if my brain remembers.

Bottom line is that the MP3 conversion process can add intersample peaks that can result in audible distortion if the initial level of the source file is too high...so it's recommended that the peak level of any digital file that's going to be converted is left with 2 to 3 dB of headroom.

Thanks ..So that would mean that the file to be used for audio replication could peak when converted. That makes sense actually now.
 

DonnyThompson

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The bit resolution itself has nothing to do with the amplitude level of the content. Now... The FORMAT can - as Keith (@Keith Johnson ) mentioned - intersample peaking has been known to occur in the conversion from wave to MP3 ... but that's caused more by the codec "rounding" down or up; so Keith mentioning that a headroom of 2db -3db being allowed for that format is a good idea...

That being said...Probably what happened, is that the ME made one PCM 16 Bit (Redbook) master for CD replication, which - by and large - would have a LUFS level of around -12db, with peaks just below 0db.
Using this same LUFS level could prove to be problematic for other types of distribution, like internet streaming, or for MP3 download services like iTunes, where they have different LUFS level requirements. Some want a LUFS level of -16, while others want it as low as -23db (The EBU has an actual broadcast standard of this level, it's referred to as EBU128)
I don't think your M.E. was "conning" you... it just appears that he wasn't explaining himself very clearly to you as to why he did what he did.
It's not at all uncommon for there to be different masters for different uses, especially these days, when there are so many digital avenues in which to release and have your music heard and sold.
FWIW
-d
 

bouldersound

Real guitars are for old people.
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It's a real phenomenon - there have been a few threads and technical explanations over on sound on sound forums recently...I've not got time to search for them right now....I'll check later if my brain remembers.

Bottom line is that the MP3 conversion process can add intersample peaks that can result in audible distortion if the initial level of the source file is too high...so it's recommended that the peak level of any digital file that's going to be converted is left with 2 to 3 dB of headroom.

Yep, try it yourself. Lossy compression can shift peaks around, and some of those will be higher than the uncompressed file. Actually, you can do the same with eq. Normalize a mix file to -1dB, high pass it, then check the peak level. It will likely clip.
 

audiokid

Chris
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I'm not a professional ME and never want that job but have some pro gear and a fine monitor system to do mastering as a business. I only mention this so we get the drift that I'm not missing the point because of gear quality.

That being said, I've mastered hundreds of tracks for myself, friends, clients for the hell of it, for fun etc etc etc.. and have never had this problem once. I mean... I have never heard something magically appear online that I didn't recognize as audible ("ah, there it is :oops:") on my system. I have missed the cues many times as this is part of my learning and listening curve to improving and recognizing cause and effects. This is why Mastering Engineers need an excellent monitoring system and DAW that doesn't BS.

The only thing I can think of that creates this type of distortion in a file is when I have pushed level too hot that becomes more obvious after its been reduced to mp3. But its not like something blindly appears in the MP3 that you can't go back to your wave file and hear it there too.

I don't blame bad work on the MP3 or upload process. I know we blame online for many of the bad sonics but experience tells me that I missed it happening in my DAW. A good wave file never ends up distorting after its been uploaded if I did it right in the first place.

I think he missed it which happens to the best of us.

Something to look forward for in the next year or so, Anything that is being processed, bounced down, MP3 etc... an indicator (big red bell goes off!) when distortion is detected. These issues will all be gone one day. Kind of like autopilot. One day we won't have to even listen to the final mix lol. It will all be rendered and wrapped up all pretty with a bow around it. Artificial Intelligence.

I think he or someone missed it.
 

pcrecord

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The only thing I can think of that creates this type of distortion in a file is when I have pushed level too hot that becomes more obvious after its been reduced to mp3. But its not like something blindly appears in the MP3 that you can't go back to your wave file and hear it there too.
That's the thing with the loudness war, some are still Under the impression louder is good. Pretty sad.
Thing is, this discussion made me Wonder if I won't change my pseudo mastering end levels.
I'm currently putting Pro-L with an output of -1db and pushing the level up to the LUFS reading of my choice (depending where the file will go).
I'm just thinking, should I put the max peaks to -3db ??
What do you think ?
 

audiokid

Chris
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Converting wav to mp3 changes peak values. Whether it's audible on a given system is a separate question.
So what you are saying is the peak values are added after the sum and ideally we should be listening and finalizing, mastering the MP3 (not mastering a 16bit wave) so we don't miss what is creating this peak one step back?

Realtime AAC/MP3 audition plug-in?
 

bouldersound

Real guitars are for old people.
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So what you are saying is the peak values are added after the sum and ideally we should be listening and finalizing, mastering the MP3 (not mastering a 16bit wave) so we don't miss what is creating this peak one step back?

Realtime AAC/MP3 audition plug-in?

How you handle it is up to you. As far as I know it's a matter of: render the wav file, convert to mp3, check for clipping, go back and lower the peaks in the wav file if needed until the mp3 doesn't clip. But there may be tools that simplify the process. A plugin that could tell in real time when something would clip after a given type of compression would be helpful, especially for situations where you're uploading a wav and letting the streaming site convert it. Otherwise it would be a time consuming process and metering the result would be a pain.
 
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