Reference audio CD's- Primer needed.

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by jm2, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. jm2

    jm2 Active Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    I seem to recall reading somewhere about reference CD's, perhaps containing certain program material, pure tones, acoustic phenomena, etc., presumably to allow for certain kinds of monitoring calibration or observation.

    As is typical, I neglected to make a careful note at the time. I would be grateful if someone could provide some specific information in this regard.
  2. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    A reference track is simply program material that you are familiar with. For example, your favorite song in the genre that you are mixing. What are you looking to do with it?
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    there are a few reference discs out there. I've bought a couple over the years. 1 was complete junk, the other was ok. I won't name names because I forget which one was junk. Anyway, it has things on it like tones, white noise, pink noise, SMPTE timecode. I think you can get a DAW to pretty much do all of the things on the disc.

    There was/is also a disc set called Golden Ears (I think) that was designed for ear training.

    I think mix magazine sells most of this stuff.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    My best teachers are my reference CDs that I use, wherever I go. It's musical content pertinent to the genre of what I'm working on. Many famous engineers. Many I know. Some I've worked with. And my own engineering which I happen to like very much. A few cuts listened to his all you need for a calibration reference. You know what the recording sound like. At least you should know what they sound like on everything you've been listening to them on throughout your existence. It becomes really easy to figure out what's good and bad about the monitors your working on and how to work around whatever isn't quite kosher. Not a perfect world is it? But that will do better than any tones, Brown, pink, white noise. All that will do is give you a headache. Now if your music reference CDs do that to you? You may have to evaluate your monitoring system or the quality of those recordings?

    Use old-fashioned famous stuff. It teaches you more about what things are supposed to sound like. I'm talking about 1970s/eighties stuff. Yeah, all that stuff recorded in analog. Then you can have fun trying to make your digital stuff sound like that. And you'll get there. Or the square ?

    Octagonal Audio a rack, no phobics, just good sound.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Still using "dark Side of the Moon"!!!
  6. JensenBohren

    JensenBohren Guest

    So what other CDs are good reference albums for others?

    I use Dark Side of the Moon, Bat Out Of Hell, and Rollins Band's Nice, but there's several genres that I don't know of any 'perfectly recorded' CDs that I should be using.
  7. Dozer

    Dozer Active Member

    Nov 21, 2006
    Home Page:
    How about a good reference for Pop-Dance-Rap-Hiphop.
    I know I seen a site somewhere.
    It listed the Hall of Shame albums that went all out in the loudness wars.
  8. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    Reference tones and noise I just generate.

    I have sort of a wierd list of music that I listen to for references but it's all stuff that I've listened to A LOT and it works for me!

    Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene
    Jamiroquai - Traveling Without Moving
    The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land
    Tori Amos - Under the Pink
    The Who - Who's Next
    Rush - Moving Pictures
    Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth

    Sting, Floyd, Zepplin, U2, Midge Ure...
  9. BushmasterM4

    BushmasterM4 Active Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    Oh yes. Use the older stuff like Remy said. Most new stuff is so compressed and limited to the extreme that its no longer hi-fidelity. :)
  10. BrianaW

    BrianaW Active Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    New York
    I like Surfer Rosa by The Pixies for drum referencing. I always strive for a very roomy sound because I can pull the OH's down or room mics down if I want a tighter/closer sound. That record is sort of famous for it's drum sound and definitely helped put Steve Albini on the map. As far as overall production, I'd say a great reference for me is the debut album by a band called Toy Matinee. Possibly one of the best recordings I've ever heard. Then there's Ben Kweller's "On My Way" if your looking for natural and dynamic.

    I do have a couple of reference CD's that give you ideas as to what individual instruments should sound like... ballpark. Behringer makes one. Hi-Fi News has a reference disc for vinyl (maybe they make a digital one as well?). And I have another CD with all sorts of test tones and whatnot, but it's a burn so I don't know who the manufacturer is. But I do believe it's all a matter of preference. New and unique recordings are always the ones that catch my attention... even if they would be considered "poor sound quality" (i.e. The Strokes). Again, it all depends on your project and what you are going for. For the most part, my preferences are the same as Remy's... clean and natural recordings with dynamics, but it is not uncommon for me to smash the heck out of something with a brickwall limiter to get the modern rockers to give me their money. Guh... I feel like a cheap prostitute just admitting that. ;)
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    I used to carry around a whole stack of reference CDs, but I came down to using just two main ones for most rock/blues/jazz gigs:

    Matt Schofield Pack it up from CD Ear to the Ground
    This is one of the best engineered blues tracks I have ever heard. Sample:

    Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris All the Roadrunning
    This CD has great engineering and is also one of Bob Ludwig's wonder masterings. If I had been the producer I would have got the two singers to do more vocal cuts until I could hear all the ends of the words (what's "beachco" - a surf shop?), but it's a small criticism.
  12. hackenslash

    hackenslash Active Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    People's Republic Of Mancunia
    Ozric Tentacles - Strangitude
  13. Dozer

    Dozer Active Member

    Nov 21, 2006
    Home Page:
    Ahha found it.
    (Dead Link Removed)
  14. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Me too!!
  15. DonGrossinger

    DonGrossinger Active Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    Home Page:
    A reference CD can be almost any disc that you know so well through repeated listenings that you really "know" it's sound. That way it can reveal the wierdness of the chain of gear you're evaluating.

    I have a bunch of discs that I mastered that are useful to me in that respect but might be useless to anyone else.

    Find good, well recorded programs that reveal different aspects of the frequency range: male vocal. female vocal, solo piano, string quartet, orchestral, R&R, hip hop or dance (if you live in that world). Find a half dozen songs, stick with them and they will be useful to you for years.

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