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Well, this is my first time mastering to vinyl and I sure do wish I had some experience from vinyl cutting but I don't. Do I started to read on the subject and came to the conclusion that the cutting to vinyl will take away some low frequencies and add a lot of highs. I started with adding glue with slate digital VTM yo get some roundness also. Then I did some eq processing with adding to the fundamental freq of the kick (60hz) cut 1.5db@6khz to tame the hats with an uad pultec eq. I did a lot of compression with a multiband between 92-182hz to sit the bass into the mix. I also cut 1.5db@ 92hz and around 8khz to tame the bass and cymbals. Next I got my cambridge eq and started cutting everything from 30hz and also a shelf at 17khz to get some high end off. I finnished up with slate digital FG-X just touching the needle with compression and pushed the gain to -10.2RMS as the client wanted it as hot as possible. Brickwalled after that at -1db.

What are your thoughts? To fat/muddy, more high end?


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bouldersound Mon, 09/21/2015 - 12:53

Mastering for vinyl has certain technical requirements, none of which I see addressed in your processing. For example, more loudness means the groove has to be deeper and wider, which determines how much time is available on the side. LF has to be centered to prevent the stylus being tossed right out of the groove. The audio has to incorporate the RIAA LP curve, a very specific cut to the highs and boost to the lows which is reversed on playback. Etc., etc., etc. Mastering for vinyl is not something you can do casually after a Google search.

Nutti Mon, 09/21/2015 - 13:35

And that is exactly the reason I posted this thread :)

With all do respect, I am here to learn and I do not expect to get mastering to vinyl ever right since I don't have access to anyone working with vinyl. I have never done this befor and do not expect to master to vinyl maybe ever again but it just happened to me here and now.

However, I did mono from around 300hz down but forgot to mention that. I have also read about the RIAA and heard samples of what it does to the sound therefor my eq settings, but these are not correct then? I also read about loudness and how it affects the grooves and found somewhere that -10db rms would be the absolute max for vinyl, the guys who wanted me to master it to vinyl said their last production was way to low in volume so that is why I pushed it this hard. Now as I understand it is not up to the guy mastering to determine the amount of volume that can be cutted, but the man cutting the record sets the volume accordingly to the amount of space.

Now to be clear, I assume this is going to be a one time experience since printing to vinyl is not common here in Finland, but is there in some way possible to get some direct pointers to the specific mix? I spent 5hours reading (I know this is like a joke here) around of how to adress mastering to vinyl but since I never have done it, never have heard a master going to vinyl or ever even heard of anyone printing to vinyl around here Im kinda out. I don't know how a digital master translates to a cutted vinyl. That's what I'm sayin. I'd like to learn at least some grounds on the subject. As for the file I uploaded it's totally different from what I would do to a digitally released song. And I guess that's what I'd like to know, if it is totally the opposite way from what I have done to it?

Boswell Mon, 09/21/2015 - 15:36

Assuming you are not running the cutting lathe yourself, you submit a balanced full-range master to the cutting house and they perform the equalisation, low-centering and other processing that is specific to the vinyl process.

The thing you may want to bear in mind is how you position certain instruments in your mix: place kick drum and bass guitar in the centre, avoid loud off-centre transients. You should also check your L-R phase carefully. M-S processing is your friend when mixing for vinyl.

Nutti Mon, 09/21/2015 - 15:53

Alright, thanks! So what about the low and high end eq? I don't need to roll them off like I did?

I just came accross this article by Ian Shepherd stating the vinyl master doesn't need to be any different than the cd master exept for centering the lows, keeping the dr range at minimum of 8db and don't push it too hard. If this is true then I'll need to redo it...

Boswell Mon, 09/21/2015 - 16:08

Most vinyl cutting houses will have their own recommendations about the mixes they would like to receive, so once you have chosen a house, ask them for their preferences. Absolute level is not relevant as they will set that anyway based on the capabilities of their machines and the vinyl side playing time.

My main message is to make good use of M-S processing in your final mix stages. This includes high-passing the S channel and applying any 2-bus EQ at the M-S stage to preserve phase consistency.

DonnyThompson Tue, 09/22/2015 - 05:02

It's been awhile since I sent any mixes out for vinyl - probably 25 years, God, maybe even more than that - but these are some of the things I used to do when mixing for vinyl:

1. Keep the kick and bass centered; avoid having anything with low end transients ( like kick drum) panned off hard to one side or the other.

2. As far as making everything mono on your mix from 300Hz and down...? I personally wouldn't do that; the reason is that this number may be far too high; it may be that the disc cutter only needs the mix to be to mono from 150 down, or maybe even in some cases, as low as 70-80Hz. The main thing about mono-ing up that high, is that you could cloud the imaging of your mix, because now, the low to low mid of everything else that also resides in that range - which would include guitars, pianos, B'3's, and even vocals - will now automatically be shot to dead center, which can result in wiping out any space, imaging, separation, and definition that you've tried to get in your mix. Check with the cutting facility. Ask them before you choose an arbitrary number and commit that setting to the final mix.

3. I would stay away from using any dramatic spatial or stereo "enhancement" processors, because these can mess with the phase ( I don't really use them much anyway, regardless of what format I'm mixing for).
Phase coherency is really important when mixing for vinyl. Most modern DAWs have phase correlation meters that will tell you when you are getting too far outside.

4. I absolutely agree with Bos regarding M-S processing; it's more "vinyl friendly".

5. Check your mixes in mono... often. Make sure that nothing suddenly "disappears" in the mix when you switch over to mono.

6. Watch out for sibilance on vocals. These frequencies - generally 5k - 8k ( but which will vary depending on the vocalist) can end up sounding distorted through a typical stylus. If you think that there's even a trace of too much sibilance, then De-ess them, tame them back as much as you can. You don't have to make all the S's and T's disappear completely, but you should rein them in if they are noticeable to you ... listen to your vocal tracks at around 85db for a quick reference, and if you think these consonants are too hot, then they probably are. Modern/Digital mixing trends tend to be much more top-end heavy, which is fine for CD because it can reproduce them clearly, but sibilance can wreak havoc on vinyl, because of its inability to reproduce those frequencies without also introducing distortion as well.

7. Your best bet at this point is to put together a list of questions and call the disc cutting facility. They'll let you know what need to do - and what you don't. But it shouldn't be anything all that specialized - it's nothing you would need any special tools for, if you are using a modern DAW platform.

For the most part, get the mix that you like - the way you'd want it to sound on any format - and then make a call and find out about those little things you could possibly do to make the job easier for the lacquer mastering/cutting engineer.

My bet is that you will probably find out that it will likely be more about the things that they don't want you to do.

I've tried to remember all that I could - as I said above, it's been a very long time since I mixed for vinyl. But there was a time when vinyl ( and later, cassette) is all we mixed for. I had been working in the business for 6 years before I had a mix go to CD.
(And with that statement, I think I just let the cat out of the bag on my age. LOL)

If I've left something out - which is certainly possible - perhaps one of our other resident veteran engineers - those who are also old enough to have experience mixing for vinyl - could chime in and offer further suggestions (or corrections). ;)



bouldersound Tue, 09/22/2015 - 09:31

It would seem to me that the vinyl cutting house would be able, probably better able, to do the vinyl-specific 2-track processing like the RIAA curve, summing LF etc. If I were doing such a project I would probably stick to mixing and let the rest be done by people who do it all the time. It's like car repair. I'm pretty handy with a wrench and back in the day I did some pretty serious work. It was fun and I learned a lot, but now if I want it done right I go to the professional mechanic.

Thomas W. Bethel Tue, 09/22/2015 - 11:50

I have done a number of vinyl masters but then I send them to a cutting engineer who cuts the Acetates. Go easy on the compression and limiting. Don't send a master that has a lot of really hi frequencies boosted. Do a normal mastering job that is well balanced and you should be fine. This is the record and playback RIAA curves. plus some information that is always good to know. I think you are trying to do somethings that would be better left undone. As usual Donny has some excellent advice.

Best of luck!

Nutti Wed, 09/23/2015 - 03:35

Thanks for the reply. The main thing I misunderstod was that I thought it's up to me to do all the preperations of the track and that's why I did all kinds of crazy moves.

I started all over and did the master as I would normally do but with softer highs and more controlled lows. I backed the mono filter to 120hz as I found no details of other instruments than kick and bass beneth that frequency. The bass is poking alot in the low end so I did compress 92-180hz to get some control of it. I think the guy who mixed the song did not sit the bass in the mix properly but this is an old recording and I have no access to stems.

I'm not compressing the mix now more than with slatedigital VTM and about 0.5db with the FG-X compressor. Now with the limiter, I don't need to have it set for -1db? I thought that was one of the specific things about mixing for vinyl, but again I might have missunderstood that.


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