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Got my first master back...meh.
Old 13th May 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Got my first master back...meh.

Hey all,

I got a trial master (free) track back from an established engineer who has done big names. Not super big names but I found him cause at least I like the artists he's worked with and they're similar to me. He would be known on this board by many people. It was his idea to do it as a sample.

The track is louder and with improved bass. No other clarity or improvement. No notes or suggestions on the mix, though we discussed this would be something he might do.

This is my first experience with a pro engineer. I guess I expected more. I know mastering isn't magic, but is it normally "here you go"? Especially for a new client?

Let's put it this way. I flip back and forth between my mix and his master, and I'm not sure what I should be hearing, but I don't hear much.

Normal?

RD
Old 13th May 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Is it possible that you sent him a great mix?
Old 13th May 2019
  #3
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
Hey all,

I got a trial master (free) track back from an established engineer who has done big names. Not super big names but I found him cause at least I like the artists he's worked with and they're similar to me. He would be known on this board by many people. It was his idea to do it as a sample.

The track is louder and with improved bass. No other clarity or improvement. No notes or suggestions on the mix, though we discussed this would be something he might do.

This is my first experience with a pro engineer. I guess I expected more. I know mastering isn't magic, but is it normally "here you go"? Especially for a new client?

Let's put it this way. I flip back and forth between my mix and his master, and I'm not sure what I should be hearing, but I don't hear much.

Normal?

RD
What did you expect to happen to your mix? In your opinion, what else needed to be improved?
Old 14th May 2019
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.dangamira View Post
What did you expect to happen to your mix? In your opinion, what else needed to be improved?
I thought the vocals had a bit of a strange edge to them, almost a distortion, and that there was an uncomfortable frequency at the outro. I wondered if it was in my head. I mean, isn't some of mastering supposed to be "a second set of ears"? Or other mastering engineers saying they give it the final 10%. Where's the 10%? So now that I have the track back, I still think there's an uncomfortable sound at that outro. As in, I need to turn the volume down because it's piercing. If I'm hearing that...is it my imagination? It's one of those chasing your tail things.

Then I suppose I wondered "What exactly am I spending a hundred bucks a track for?"

I had to edit this to say, mainly I think it's that noise at the outro and that how can it just be in my head? Shouldn't a mastering engineer catch this?

RD
Old 14th May 2019
  #5
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b0se's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
Is it possible that you sent him a great mix?
Or a bad one? :¬)

@ Romdave - anything you can share? Interested as I've used a few different ME's and some put more effort into it than others. No different to any industry really.

What is your monitoring setup?
Old 14th May 2019
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se View Post
Or a bad one? :¬)

@ Romdave - anything you can share? Interested as I've used a few different ME's and some put more effort into it than others. No different to any industry really.

What is your monitoring setup?
I absolutely sent him the worst mix on the album. And I made a point of telling him that. I said I've had trouble with the mix and I feel I'm chasing my tail. Any insights would be great. And I got nothing but "here you go".

My logic was: if I'm trying out a mastering engineer and send him my best mix, then probably nothing will improve. But if I send the worst then something probably will improve. And nothing did apart from some more bass and it was loud.

Monitoring is Yamaha HS7s with AKG-K701 headphones. I've listened on numerous sources over the last few months before sending out for mastering. Car, headphones, on the bus, walks, in mono, etc. Small refinements here and there until I can't honestly say I've got anything better left in me.

Guys I feel like I'm turning this into a whine and will soon get "Well mastering isn't magic." I'm not whining, I'm just trying to understand what I got. Maybe this is how mastering is just supposed to go. But a hundred dollars a track? Really? I feel I can do this myself.

RD
Old 14th May 2019
  #7
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b0se's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
I absolutely sent him the worst mix on the album. And I made a point of telling him that. I said I've had trouble with the mix and I feel I'm chasing my tail. Any insights would be great. And I got nothing but "here you go".

My logic was: if I'm trying out a mastering engineer and send him my best mix, then probably nothing will improve. But if I send the worst then something probably will improve. And nothing did apart from some more bass and it was loud.

Monitoring is Yamaha HS7s with AKG-K701 headphones. I've listened on numerous sources over the last few months before sending out for mastering. Car, headphones, on the bus, walks, in mono, etc. Small refinements here and there until I can't honestly say I've got anything better left in me.

Guys I feel like I'm turning this into a whine and will soon get "Well mastering isn't magic." I'm not whining, I'm just trying to understand what I got. Maybe this is how mastering is just supposed to go. But a hundred dollars a track? Really? I feel I can do this myself.

RD
I ask because I too have been surprised/disappointed in results from a couple of ME's (well known) in the past.

TL;DR

1) Know what you want. Provide a reference track with commentary on how you want the mastered version to sound. Outline concerns / areas for improvement. The more the ME knows, the more they can help you get there *

2) Magic comes from the arrangement, performance, production and mixing.

* not all ME's care about you the same way. Some see you as income, some genuinely want to help you.
Old 14th May 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 
Benoit D's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se View Post

* not all ME's care about you the same way. Some see you as income, some genuinely want to help you.

This is exactly what I wanted to answer, you beat me.
Old 14th May 2019
  #9
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JP__'s Avatar
 

I see a master as an first idea from the ME. Sometimes its not really easy to nail it on first try, especially with new clients, as expectation regarding the process of mastering are really very different. If you are not fully happy or think the direction he has went into isnt what you hoped for just ask for a revision. He is there to serve you, not you him.
We are talking art, not technology here. Its about visions, not wrong or right. But this needs communication, sometimes more, sometimes less. A great master is not an one man show, at least sometimes/often.

So, in short: talk to your ME.
Old 14th May 2019
  #10
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As hinted above, in any service industry different people have different approaches which match well with some people's expectations and not so well with others. It can take some trial and error to find the right match for you and your music. Or, as JP indicated, time to build a working relationship that gets you the results you want.

But yes, do talk to your ME. If it were me I'd want to know if you weren't satisfied.
Old 14th May 2019
  #11
I agree, you guys should have at least exchanged some dialog addressing your concerns and the engineer's work. In the discussion somewhere should be your concerns about the vocal and the outro, which he should give you his feedback on before starting to work on your sample. If it were me I would have either agreed or disagreed with you and proceeded from there. Perhaps it is something you could fix in the mix itself, which would yield a better master. All of that stuff should be discussed to some length before you get your master. Even your best mix should incur some feedback and can often be improved in some way.
Old 14th May 2019
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Thanks guys! Positive and helpful feedback all around. I guess because he's the pro and I'm the wannabe pro I'm a bit intimidated. But I'll just bring up the concerns and well, if he's a jerk about it then I'll know to move on.

RD
Old 14th May 2019
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I know folks who go to a certain bigshot ME because he gives mix notes without being asked. I know other people who won't use that same ME for the same reason. Same thing applies on the non-bigshot level, too. Ask around and find someone who seems like a good fit; it's as important as their ears and gear.
Old 15th May 2019
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I know folks who go to a certain bigshot ME because he gives mix notes without being asked. I know other people who won't use that same ME for the same reason. Same thing applies on the non-bigshot level, too. Ask around and find someone who seems like a good fit; it's as important as their ears and gear.
You are totally on the money. I just got an email from another well-known engineer who had a few paragraphs on mix notes. They were 90% factual and 10% opinion. They offered suggestions and possibilities on how to move forward. They were polite and well written. For me, I think this is going to be the guy.

I mean, what's wrong with a bit of advice from someone who has spent their life analyzing sound?

RD
Old 15th May 2019
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
You are totally on the money. I just got an email from another well-known engineer who had a few paragraphs on mix notes. They were 90% factual and 10% opinion. They offered suggestions and possibilities on how to move forward. They were polite and well written. For me, I think this is going to be the guy.

I mean, what's wrong with a bit of advice from someone who has spent their life analyzing sound?

RD
Nothing wrong with offering advise ... however, you have sent an audio file to the Engineer to be worked on.

Wouldn't it be also prudent to allow you to FIRST listen to his Mastered work, PRIOR to him offering a critique ?

You are the, 'Producer', or the 'Engineer', or 'Group', that has submitted what [is hoped] to be your best Mix of the Song. A 'Song' that could have been 'Mixed' a thousand different ways.

But it was 'Mixed' the way YOU wanted.

Any offer of 'suggestions', prior to Your listening/evaluating, would be, what ... how He maybe thought it should be Mixed ?

He doesn't have the Multi-tracks, wasn't a part of the Session .... and is NOT the Producer.

Maybe it should have been considered, if not happy with the current Mix, would be to hire a Mix Engineer ... then once approved, sent to Mastering.
Old 15th May 2019
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
Any offer of 'suggestions', prior to Your listening/evaluating, would be, what ... how He maybe thought it should be Mixed ?.
Pretty much. We discussed this and he said he'd do it. Because if a .5db drop on the bass would help then he can mention it. We're not talking artistic vision there, but sonic balance. I can rebalance and re-send.
Old 15th May 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romdave View Post
Pretty much. We discussed this and he said he'd do it. Because if a .5db drop on the bass would help then he can mention it. We're not talking artistic vision there, but sonic balance. I can rebalance and re-send.
Well, it looks like you're totally missing my point ... and with that, I see disappointment in the future cards.

A Mastering Engineers job is to shape the sonic envelope for the widest translation across all the various playback medium.

If there are balance issues of one instrument to another, that is for You to determine.

If you talk with the Engineer, and tell him that the Kick is too loud and it needs more Bass where the Kick sits ... then He may very well respond with Re-Mix suggestions.

More than likely, the Mastering Engineer is working to make YOUR given track translate.

It is your responsibility to listen to the Mastered track, and decide if YOU want to make a Mix change to then be resubmitted for Mastering.

Correct ... this IS Art.

Who is to say, that what you submitted, isn't EXACTLY what you intended for that Track.

Another point ... if you want to have total interaction ... then consider sitting in on the Mastering Session.

It WILL be a valued, learning experience.
Old 15th May 2019
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
Well, it looks like you're totally missing my point ... and with that, I see disappointment in the future cards..
Take it easy man. Let's keep this friendly and polite. And please stop with the all capital letters. You can make your points without them. I can see English isn't your first language, and that's cool, I appreciate the effort, but all capitals appears like you're shouting.
Old 17th May 2019
  #19
Quote:
I guess I expected more
For free, what do you want? I always left mix feedback for paid clients only. I have not done Free sample in years, no need to anymore, But when i did, i never left mix feedback. It takes a lot of time to do that.

So what did you expect for free?

As far as not being happy with your master, i guess you can use another mastering engineer, as you didnt loose any money. So you are good to go.

In my opinion, established mastering engineers do not do free samples
Old 17th May 2019
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
In my opinion, established mastering engineers do not do free samples
You mean "should" not do. But they do. Perhaps he is not the same anymore, and that's why it was free, but he's been working decades and is famous. Or was. I didn't pull his name put of a hat. I did what everyone recommended: search my favorite artists, and go to their guy.

Now, I'm going to another one of those guys.
Old 18th May 2019
  #21
Just like others have said - they are not going to change or fix your mix. They tread lightly, with the intention of making the song work sonically across different distribution platforms. It's respectful.

However, I have found that everyone's ear and room is different. I have used many to date - including the automated systems. Some used harsh brickwall limiters that the waveform looks like an EDM track when done, some with too much dynamics, some that seem like they did nothing. Some had freqs missing that told me their rooms were out of whack. I wanted validation and a double check in the beginning, and thats when I was disappointed. There's a reason it's so inexpensive - there isn't that much time put into it.

Like mentioned above - I can't hear a 2db cut at 30hz in my studio.

I recommend trying multiple mastering labs, and you will find the one that has the touch you're looking for - for your music. Send them the same song. You'll be surprised at the different approaches! It's an excellent education.
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