Login / Register
 
What is the ultimate goal of "Mastering"?
New Reply
Subscribe
Nonlinear
Thread Starter
#1
26th February 2012
Old 26th February 2012
  #1
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 413

Thread Starter
Nonlinear is offline
What is the ultimate goal of "Mastering"?

If I send my mix to several different mastering houses it's likely that I would get several different products in return. There would be variations in dynamics, EQ, etc. as the particular ME at each house applies their style.

Now, if these houses were mastering to some universal reference standard it would make sense to me but the process seems a matter of opinion. What makes the mastered version more "right" than the original mix that I thought sounded "right"?

I guess what I am trying to understand is, what is the ultimate goal of mastering?
#2
26th February 2012
Old 26th February 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 643

Papanate is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
what is the ultimate goal of mastering?
It's different today than it was 20 years ago.

But ultimately? A very wide explanation:
An ME is a final set of finely tuned ears to put on the music to identify issues if there are any...(sometimes that means not doing anything)
Then process all the audio to maximize the sound quality for whatever release format is the end product - these days that could be iTunes, CD's, Amazon, Spotify, Vinyl and so on.
Then transfer the audio to the master format - be that again Digital (Harddrive for distribution/uploading) CD etc...
dcollins
Verified Member
#3
26th February 2012
Old 26th February 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
dcollins's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: Hollywood CA
Posts: 3,169

Verified Member
dcollins is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear;7609005
I guess what I am trying to understand is, what is the ultimate goal of mastering?
Same as it ever was. To present the mix in the best possible light.

Of course it's a matter of personal opinion and individual taste.


DC
__________________
Dave Collins Mastering
www.collinsaudio.com
+1 323 467 5570
#4
26th February 2012
Old 26th February 2012
  #4
Gear Head
 
Swift Mastering's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: London
Posts: 49

Send a message via Skype™ to Swift Mastering
Swift Mastering is offline
1. Get coherence amongst all tracks of the album. Some tracks might have been recorded/mixed/produced in different studios by different engineers/producers etc... Ii is therefore important to avoid the album sounding like a compilation.
2. Removing all possible cause of bad reproduction on several systems/ tuning the track to be played in clubs/radio/TV
3. Every engineer deals with these issues in different ways. It is just a matter of taste.

AB
__________________
Alex Balzama
http://www.swiftmastering.co.uk
#5
26th February 2012
Old 26th February 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
wado1942's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Boise, Idaho
Posts: 2,693

wado1942 is offline
You guys are all giving the definition of mastering as it was over a decade ago. Everybody knows the purpose of mastering now is to get the levels as hot as possible so that nothing but square waves are visible on monitors regardless of how it sounds or what the destination medium is.
__________________
Stephen Baldassarre
www.gcmstudio.com
Red Mastering
Verified Member
#6
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Red Mastering's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: london/UK
Posts: 1,991

Verified Member
Red Mastering is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
You guys are all giving the definition of mastering as it was over a decade ago. Everybody knows the purpose of mastering now is to get the levels as hot as possible so that nothing but square waves are visible on monitors regardless of how it sounds or what the destination medium is.
not to mention to clip this square in ad and da
to make it even more louder
__________________
online mastering studio , Professional audio mastering services Mastering Studio London

#7
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #7
Gear Head
 
MechMastering's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 45

MechMastering is offline
The goal? Simply to adjust or alter the stereo image, frequency content, acoustic resonance and dynamic range of an individual composition in a way that is most pleasurable to the human ear and harmonious with modern reproduction systems, in my very humble opinion.
OKB
#8
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #8
OKB
Banned
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 66

OKB is offline
Possibly another "best thread evah" in the making here. One to watch. : )
#9
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #9
Gear maniac
 
tomasrangel's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Atibaia, SP, Brazil
Posts: 248

Send a message via MSN to tomasrangel Send a message via Skype™ to tomasrangel
tomasrangel is offline
Maybe give comfort to the listener hear what the artist wants to display.
#10
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #10
Gear maniac
 
Laarsø's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 222

Laarsø is offline
Hi Nonlinear,
You are understandably confused, since the terminology has migrated in usage to the point of incorrectness. The word, "mastering," means making the disc-shaped object which will directly be used in the creation of parts for pressing copies. The lacquer master and the glass master are such discs. The CD-R, DDPi, or .zip of Cue Wavs are premasters.

The process of processing the audio signals that go on a master is called, mastering, only when cutting grooves into a lacquer master disc and using the eq or limiting or whatever in real time as the disc is cut. If the lacquer master program is prepared in an earlier session - even by the same chick - this, too, would be premastering. By the way, to make a quadrophonic master, the clerk would want to use 16 channels of the identical EQ and limiters, since she would need one for each channel, times 2, for the preview path, and, times 2, again, for A and B switching (during banding). Even a stereo monogroove signal should be mastered with 8 channels of eq and such, unless a manually adjusted feed is used, and/or Global EQ settings. The "hit" to the lacquer cutting studio's acoustic footprint that is presented by an 8-channel console is enough to warrant considering doing premastering, even for lacquer. Compatibility processing can be applied in a more svelte setup.

Finally, since the glass master is used to make the parts for compact disc manufacture, the session before it, which is the one where these guys used their Foote compressors and their Inward Connections EQ, etc..., therefore, is called premastering. In premastering, anything goes. Ok. If making CD, you must put at least 4 seconds between tracks - even if the song is 3 seconds long. You must not exceed 79 minutes program. Etc... Artistically, you are free to explore... But to do it well, you would probably do as little as possible to make the song sound the way you can tell that it's trying to , in the luxury of a revealing sound stage. Then again, if the mix is really sketchy, you might have to do quite a lot - provided no remix would be available...

Mastering, on the other hand, has a lot of requirements that are not subject to opinion. Is there just too much out of phase low frequency content to cut at 0 ref and not risk liftout of the pickup? Does the record have cutover grooves? Did the starting groove and lead-in happen well enough inside the outer diameter to leave room for holding with tongs (during metal mastering), but far enough towards the outer edge to allow an automatic tone arm deployer to drop the repro stylus in the correct spot (on the pressing)? Is the radius of curvature of the highest recorded frequency small enough that, at its recorded level, it risks that a playback stylus on a bent tone arm might skate across? Does the tracing distortion become objectionable by song 4? etc... Yes, there are real guidelines for this and a little bit of "wiggle room." For premastering, it's all opinion, man. Apparently, there is a good amount of consensus over what sounds really good, so, stay thirsty, my friend.



Cheersø,
Laarsø
#11
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 10,252
My Recordings/Credits

Jim Williams is offline
To make my record louder than yours.
#12
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #12
Gear maniac
 
Laarsø's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 222

Laarsø is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp22 View Post
In regards to mastering, I would partially agree with this statement, however, if you're referring to after the fact, personally I disagree with that form of mastering. Meaning, for optimal loudness with less distortion, I believe the music should be as loud as the client can get the initial mix (with minimal distortion) before attempting or having someone master it.

This give it the mastering engineer at -3db nonsense is just not logical in allot of circumstances IMO because it simply doesn't allow the musicians to get their music as loud as they initially want it before the fact.

3db is just too much 'polishing' room and actually just leaves the ME more room to mold to their own specifications or likings, as opposed to the musicians involved.
The mix, before premastering, doesn't have to compete with any other recording's loudness. The way to make a mix play back loud as you please, even though the peak level is, say, -6.02 dBFSD, is to crank up the control room monitor gain knob. By allowing for louder peak levels, the mixist introduces more and more inharmonic distortion - not at all like the practice of slamming into tape for harmonic saturation-distortion. If the mix sounds fantastic as-is, all the premastering clerk has to do is apply clean gain. If the mix which peaks at -6.02 dBFSD doesn't sound quite fantastic (when played at a potentially-exciting monitor gain level), the clerk will be able to alter spectra without having needlessly to alter the SNR before hand (by attenuating) or risk more inharmonic distortion from being objectionably audible (by clippink).



Cheersø,
Laarsø
#13
27th February 2012
Old 27th February 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
bryan k's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 1,159

bryan k is offline
I guess what I am trying to understand is, what is the ultimate goal of mastering?

To make $$$$

but then again, that could be said for ANYONE'S goals.....
__________________
http://www.bryankmusic.com
masteringhouse
Verified Member
#14
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
 
masteringhouse's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: Philadelphia Metropolitan Area
Posts: 1,044

Verified Member
masteringhouse is offline
Other than QA of media before duplication I feel that the main goal of mastering is to add clarity, balance, and "musicality" to a project. All of which are subjective, but that's why it's a good idea to get another objective perspective from a professional.
__________________
Tom Volpicelli
The Mastering House Inc.
www.masteringhouse.com
#15
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Silvertone's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2005
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
Posts: 2,481

Silvertone is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryan k View Post
I guess what I am trying to understand is, what is the ultimate goal of mastering?

To make $$$$

but then again, that could be said for ANYONE'S goals.....
Only if you want to survive on this earth!

I use this on my posters (it's also on the front page of my website I'm currently working on)...

"Mastering is the end of the artistic process and the beginning of the manufacturing process. It is truly the end of the recording chain—the last chance to affect your music in any way, shape or form artistically."
- Larry DeVivo

Hope the above statement makes sense to you... because that's "what it is".
__________________
------------------------------------------------
Silvertone Mastering, Inc.
PO Box 4582
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-581-8141
http://www.silvertonemastering.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Silve...82560415140525
------------------------------------------------
#16
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Silvertone's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2005
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
Posts: 2,481

Silvertone is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp22 View Post
In regards to mastering, I would partially agree with this statement, however, if you're referring to after the fact, personally I disagree with that form of mastering. Meaning, for optimal loudness with less distortion, I believe the music should be as loud as the client can get the initial mix (with minimal distortion) before attempting or having someone master it.

This give it the mastering engineer at -3db nonsense is just not logical in allot of circumstances IMO because it simply doesn't allow the musicians to get their music as loud as they initially want it before the fact.

3db is just too much 'polishing' room and actually just leaves the ME more room to mold to their own specifications or likings, as opposed to the musicians involved.
3dB ? Try over 40 dB of usable headroom with 24 bit audio. So if we ask for 3dB to have "room" to do our processing we are asking for a lot???

Here is a good chart that might help some of you understand levels better...
Attached Thumbnails
What is the ultimate goal of "Mastering"?-analog-digital-calibration-scale.jpg  
Thomas W. Bethe
Verified Member
#17
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Oberlin, Ohio
Posts: 4,894

Verified Member
Thomas W. Bethe is offline
Mastering does for the client what the CLIENT asks the mastering engineer to do for him or her. It is NOT, IMHO, up to the mastering engineer to make decisions on how the music ultimately sounds by imparting their particular ideas or "set of normal presets" on the musician's music. Every song is different, ever genre different, every person's ideas on what their music should sound like to them is different. A GREAT mastering engineer takes into account all of these factors as he or she masters the clients music while seeking guidance from the person who brought in the mastering job.

I think DC summed it up when he said "Same as it ever was. To present the mix in the best possible light. Of course it's a matter of personal opinion and individual taste."

The ultimate question is of course who's taste and who's opinion??? <GRIN>
__________________
-TOM-

Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room with a View Productions
Oberlin, OH 44074
www.acoustikmusik.com

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Celebrating 19 years in the mastering business in 2014
#18
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Mar 2007
Location: North West, England, UK
Posts: 1,030

DavieB is offline
To take the mixes and sequence them for CD duplication, for MP3 download etc. This might involve slight adjustments to level, tonality etc to get the tracks sounding like an album. To produce a finished CD master.
#19
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #19
Gear addict
 
Ecktronic's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Ayr, Scotland
Posts: 434

Ecktronic is offline
You have to remember mastering is an art as well as a science. So each ME will have a different take on the final outcome.
The main goal of mastering is to get a fresh set of highly trained ears to check over your mix and to make adjustments (if needed) to enhance the mix and also to make the mix play well on a wide variety of sound systems.

G
IIIrd
Verified Member
#20
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
 
IIIrd's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 928

Verified Member
IIIrd is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavieB View Post
To take the mixes and sequence them for CD duplication, for MP3 download etc. This might involve slight adjustments to level, tonality etc to get the tracks sounding like an album. To produce a finished CD master.
"To produce a finished master"

Thats the goal, one thats free from defects and delivered on time. This applied to all formats.

Thats the basis of it, in a nutshell, candy coat it as you wish, all of it is valid. All different roads arriving at the same end. Master...hence the title..

And the result = happy clients
__________________
Splglnie swa rnvee my stnogrpotin

Sean Magee
Abbey Road Studios
#21
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #21
Banned
 
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Portland, Maine
Posts: 1,552

LimpyLoo is offline
Great thread, keep it up!
#22
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,395

Cheebs Goat is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Everybody knows the purpose of mastering now is to get the levels as hot as possible so that nothing but square waves are visible on monitors regardless of how it sounds or what the destination medium is.
I was gonna' say it if you didn't.
#23
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,395

Cheebs Goat is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp22 View Post
This give it the mastering engineer at -3db nonsense is just not logical in allot of circumstances IMO because it simply doesn't allow the musicians to get their music as loud as they initially want it before the fact.

3db is just too much 'polishing' room and actually just leaves the ME more room to mold to their own specifications or likings, as opposed to the musicians involved.
If you don't want the mastering guy to dick with your sound AT ALL, don't send it to a mastering guy. Fade and dither it yourself and be done.

If you want the mastering guy to dick with your sound, even a little, even just to do some EQ, they need headroom or the signal will clip as soon as they turn a knob.
__________________
- Mike Tate
Live sound guy
Wilmington De
#24
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 2,343

James Meeker is offline
Ultimate goal of mastering? To work on a project that attracts more projects to master.

Technically? To create an error-free, reproducible product that conforms to multiple media formats; CD audio, MP3 being the most important right now.

Aesthetically? To preserve the artist's vision while crafting a coherent sonic signature spanning 2 seconds before the listener hears a single sound until 2 seconds after it ends. To pay attention to the overall picture of an album as a single work through an attention to the minutest details including the use of silence between tracks, pacing, length and style of fades or swells, to preserve dynamic range while conforming to current standards of depth, width, volume and response.
Ged
#25
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #25
Ged
Lives for gear
 
Ged's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2010
Location: Scotland
Posts: 1,385
My Recordings/Credits

Ged is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
Same as it ever was. To present the mix in the best possible light

DC
What? Dave are you feeling ok? load up that 8 band multiband cut that CD and quit spreading these audio myths........jeeez......
#26
3rd March 2012
Old 3rd March 2012
  #26
Gear maniac
 
tomasrangel's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Atibaia, SP, Brazil
Posts: 248

Send a message via MSN to tomasrangel Send a message via Skype™ to tomasrangel
tomasrangel is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
To make my record louder than yours.

The mastering engineering can improve the understanding between the artists and listeners... Shouting is really not the way.. But vitality sounds good and make people pay attention. Same as a good coffee effect... Energy...Purity...Naturalism... or any other desirable effect for your client.. Someone here in GS said before: - If you pass the signal thru a dead fish and sounds like he would.. do it..

Thats what the goal of mastering is in my opinion. Experience to know what to do or not to do between tools and ideas.
__________________
Tomas Rangel
#27
3rd March 2012
Old 3rd March 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Vegas, Norcal
Posts: 3,728

Beyersound is offline
Total awareness, and achieving the Zen concept of the oneness of all things............
#28
3rd March 2012
Old 3rd March 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Vegas, Norcal
Posts: 3,728

Beyersound is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by losslessone View Post
Yes, I agree, that's a great way to start the day.

Then on to the mastering, as it were, eh?
Sorry, got confused about what was being mastered......
masteringhouse
Verified Member
#29
3rd March 2012
Old 3rd March 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
masteringhouse's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: Philadelphia Metropolitan Area
Posts: 1,044

Verified Member
masteringhouse is offline
I thought that this video might be of interest with regard to the thread. IMHO mastering is more than simply copying the mix as accurately as possible. Mastering engineers are audio consultants, providing their perspective on how mixes might be taken to the next level or if in fact they need no further enhancement. When you hire an ME you are also hiring them for their tastes and musical aesthetic. Of course they do not have the final word but should service the needs of their clients; but if you don't respect their opinions you shouldn't be hiring them in the first place.

Bob Ludwig "Mastering" (Mobile 7) - YouTube
#30
4th March 2012
Old 4th March 2012
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Philly/New York
Posts: 5,788

Storyville is offline
"Mastering" doesn't do anything. Neither does "mixing." Mastering engineers do something. Mix engineers do something. What that something is, really really depends on the engineer.

There is no such thing as unmixed. A record is always mixed once it's recorded. The question is whether or not the mix sucks. But as long as all the audio stems come down to the designated number of channels for final playback (usually 2) - it's mixed. Mastering - same idea. If it functions for the medium it is intended and can thusly be replicated for that medium - it's mastered. Might not be mastered well though...

Could your sound be better? Yes? That's where engineers come in.
__________________


Mixing tutorials: Mixing Hip-Hop and Mixing with Compression

Drum samples: The Maio Collection

Mixing articles: The Pro Audio Files

Website: Weiss Sound
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Tubelover / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
19
AlexLakis / So much gear, so little time!
65
I.R.Baboon / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
14
FFTT / Geekslutz forum
43
Simon Lomax / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
68

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.