PMCD vs. CD-R for duplication?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by dakivak, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. dakivak

    dakivak Guest


    I just had my CD mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC. I plan on having 1000 pressed and printed at one of the plants (discmakers or groove house records maybe). There are some level adjustements I would like made based on their reference CD (I'd like one song raised up and the overall level higher). So here's my two questions:

    1.Can I have my CD duplicated from the reference CD they gave me or is it worth the extra cash (no small amount) to get the PMCD from them.

    2.Are level adjustments something that Sterling can do better than my producer/engineer in his studio with Mastering Software.

    I'm not looking to further compress the songs, just raise the levels, which it's my understanding is a seperate process.


  2. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    I think this is a no brainer. You just had your project worked on at one of the best mastering facilities in the world (who was your engineer?). Do you really think that your producer can do a better job than Sterling as far as making adjustments? I'm sure Sterling CAN do them better.

    There are a number of ways to go about the "simple" raising of levels. Find out from Sterling why they have the levels where they do. Was there a reason? Please see our thread on ultra loud CDs on this mastering site. Maybe they did what they thought was proper to preserve the dynamics of your music.

    Find out from Sterling what the difference is, besides the $, between a Reference & a finished PMCD. They should tell you.

    Please consider contacting me for CD replication. Europadisk does complete in-house replication & can provide you with a completely retail ready CD.

    Trust Sterling, They do good work. If Your'e in the NY area, give me a call & we can look at it together.
  3. Doug Milton

    Doug Milton Active Member

    Sep 23, 2002

    I’m almost positive that Sterling does bit accurate analysis on PMCDs that they probably don’t do on a ref disc. Part of the price of a PMCD is the assurance that it won’t be rejected at the plant for any reason.

    Don’s right. You paid good money to have a top studio master your music. Now follow through. No telling what sonic compromises you will be making by having your producer load it into his system to burn a disc.
  4. dakivak

    dakivak Guest

    Tis True Tis True.

    Thanks for the responses. Greg Calbi was the main man in the mastering seat. He did a great job and I am happy, except for the levels. I would like the overall to go up 2db to be on par with the CD's that I enjoy listening too.

    I think you guys are right about having Sterling make the changes, it's just that my budget isn't bottomless, so that's why I'm questioning things. In the end I think I'm going to have them finnish out the project for piece of mind.

    I have 3 of my pre-mastered songs (maximized in the computer) on my mp3 page if you guys are interested...

    Thanks again,

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Herein lies the problem.... "'Cause Schmuk Faces CD is too loud, I want mine to be too loud also." It's this kind of reasoning that is causing the whole volume wars phenomenon. At what point will people realize that normalizing everything to be as loud as possible is destructive to the musical dynamic? The mastering house tries to retain dynamics, but the paying customer insists it's not as loud as other CDs he has. (Why is that such a big deal?) So at some point the mastering house has to "give up" and just start printing everything "hot,hot,hot!" ... Just to avoid returns and customer complaints.
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  6. Prolab

    Prolab Guest

    Sterlings engineer put the CD where it was:

    A. The best overall sound quality for the music.
    B. As loud as professionally feasable and maintain high quality
    C. As loud as it ever should be without clipping the tops of the peaks
    D. At the loudest point they were comfortable with for all consumer CD's systems to play it back.

    I have CD's that are unplayable at any volume on a CD walkman. The CD's overload the output circuitry of the CD player before the volume control and headphone amplifier.

    These CD's are not mastered properly.

    If you want it louder than it already is, then be prepared to sacrifice your dynamics, tone, musicality, deep bass response, clarity, definition, character and vibe.

    I am sure that Sterling had some Peaks limited to the maximum allowed for redbook reproduction. Do a transfer to wav file and look at the peak levels. I can almost gurantee that the CD contains some 0.0dB peaks.

    Hats off to Sterling for trying to do the right thing.
  7. dakivak

    dakivak Guest

    All I can say to this is that I enjoy listening to the CD's I like. I don't consider myself an audiophile with exceptionally perceptive hearing (as many of you may well be), so I don't cringe at diminished dynamics as you might. To me it sounds great and I want my music to sound like that. Do you hate me and feel I'm corrupting the integrity of music because of this?

    When I think about it, I agree with you to some extent (what's the big deal)...but as a new artist trying to get his foot in the door, I want to be as competitive as possible. Part of this (to me) means having a CD that can be in rotation with other major label artists and NOT have to be turned up. That's my take on it.

  8. Prolab

    Prolab Guest

    I understand your feelings.

    Point is, did you know your "quieter" CD will actually be "louder" than the rotation due to having some headroom?

    The media outlets all have compressors and this is what happens.

    For radio play, TV, XM, Cirius, Sattilite...all of these will make the CD appear louder...the Sterling master. They take them to MP3 anyway, and then to their compressor.

    That is precisely the point.

    Who cars if someone has to turn their car stereo up on your CD, it is the airplay that hits millions of listeners at one time.

    Fellows, am I correct??
  9. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    Any concers you have should always be taken up with the engineer who did the work! I agree with everything being said here about the process. Of course the mastering engineer should make any changes. Percieved volume changes can be "fixed" in different ways, maybe its an EQ or dynamic range issue not just turning it up. If it needs to be changed at all.

    Yes the PMCD is well worth it. For more reasons than I have time to go into. But at least you know it has the right $!#$ material on it!

    Greg is one of the best in the business, tell him your thoughts and see what he thinks. I'm sure He did a fine job.

    I would like to know what CD's you're listening too that you like. Has Greg worked on any of them. Is this part of the reason you chose him?

    Let me know
  10. dakivak

    dakivak Guest

    Thanks everybody for you input.

    I compared my CD to Before These Crowded Streets (Dave Matthews), the solo Ben Folds Five album, This Desert Life (counting crows), Steady Pull (Jonatha Brooke), David Gray's latest and a few others. The only CD which seemed to be at the same level as mine was Edwin Mccain's first CD. Everything else was noticeably louder by maybe 2db or so. And I've never felt like these CD's didn't have vibe or were missing anything.

    I did check the waves on my tunes vs dave matthews's songs, and his were clearly maxed out with truncated peaks compared to mine.

    I knew that Greg has and does work with the some the best musicians around, even though he hasn't worked on any of my latest favorite CD's. I felt priviliged just to have him work on my project.

    I'm going to talk to him.


  11. paulpreamble

    paulpreamble Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    Greg Calbi??? Same guy who worked on the new Korn CD??? Have a listen - not overdone, nice level but nice air to it. If yours is even close then you can't go wrong.
  12. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    Thanks for the info. I don't think your concerns are unique by any means. Many projects no matter who the engineer is need to be revised.

    Your next step should be to let Greg know your feelings. I'm sure he will do whatever is necessary to take care of you.
  13. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Well, for customer sakes, if he needs to inch it up for you, then the customer is boss.

    As long as you are happy, it is broadcast ready, then we all hope it goes far for you.

    My cautions were not without merit because I do this day in a day out and I know he does as well and basically, maybe perhaps, he found the point where "anything more" was something less.

    Let us know where we can get a copy when you are pleased with it.
  14. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    I'm not saying that making it louder is necessary. I haven't heard it so I can't comment. I'm saying you should let the engineer know your thoughts and go from there.

    Beleive me I am not one to just make it as loud as I can for no reason!
  15. Ed Littman

    Ed Littman Guest

    Hi folks,
    I recently found this site & this is my first post.
    I thought pmcd is actually a proprietary cut part from sonic solutions. With the pq codes to be on the outside rim of the cd. Isn't it more important to error check with the clover system or simlar to guaranty no rejection at the plant?

    What is the actual process & differences in the bigger houses when distinguishing reference & master?
    In my case My references are cut at 24x & masters at 1or 2X depending on the length.

    Hope to hear from all of you.

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