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Mastering for digital vs vinyl Modular Synthesizers
Old 20th March 2017
  #1
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Mastering for digital vs vinyl

Hi all,

I've been doing some research into the differences between mastering for vinyl and mastering for digital releases.

I've done some Googling and based on the info I've found, I have some questions:

1. Some people claim more dynamic masters are good for vinyl and some other people also claim that heavily compressed (less dynamic) masters are good too as there is less chance of needle bounce and are obviously more constant dynamically; for music that is hyper-compressed, like drum and bass for example, which is the preference?

2. Will a well-mastered tune that is designed for digital release translate to a reasonable vinyl master? Are there any things that a good digital master might have that will cause problem for a vinyl master?

Basically, just trying to figure out some rule-of-thumb and definite do's and don'ts for vinyl masters for someone who's only used to doing digital masters.

Cheers!
Old 20th March 2017
  #2
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groovestick View Post
Are there any things that a good digital master might have that will cause problem for a vinyl master?
Bass frequencies that are panned too wide or out of phase
Running length that is too long per side
Vocal sibilance
Excessive stereo widening effects

Remember that a loud digital master doesn't translate to a loud vinyl record, and sometimes an overly loud/limited/smashed digital vinyl pre-master can result in a quieter overall loudness on vinyl.

I don't cut lacquers but have worked with a handful of seasoned lacquer cutting engineers and these IMO are the main points. Maybe some actual cutting engineers will weigh in.

Last edited by Justin P.; 20th March 2017 at 04:03 PM..
Old 20th March 2017
  #3
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Miles Flint's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groovestick View Post
Basically, just trying to figure out some rule-of-thumb and definite do's and don'ts for vinyl masters for someone who's only used to doing digital masters.
the above stated.
... and be happy with the mixes, don't care too much for loudness, the cutter will handle it.
Old 25th March 2017
  #4
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misjah's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin P. View Post
Bass frequencies that are panned too wide or out of phase
Running length that is too long per side
Vocal sibilance
Excessive stereo widening effects

Remember that a loud digital master doesn't translate to a loud vinyl record, and sometimes an overly loud/limited/smashed digital vinyl pre-master can result in a quieter overall loudness on vinyl.

I don't cut lacquers but have worked with a handful of seasoned lacquer cutting engineers and these IMO are the main points. Maybe some actual cutting engineers will weigh in.
This ^^^....but if you're not cutting all you're doing is basically pre pre-mastering. Never ever did I get a "mastered for vinyl" master that could be cut without further adjustments. too many variables that a third party pre-mastering can't foresee.
Old 25th March 2017
  #5
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JTransition's Avatar
 

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Vinyl Where" flat" doesn't mean flat.

There are two scenarios for vinyl manufacture ;
1, Where the master will be cut at the plant.
2,Where the master will be cut by an independent vme

If your client is opting for option 1, then simply back the limiter off and watch out for too much sibilance , supply the plant with minimum 24-441 files.
If it's option 2 then simply supply a version without the limiter ,the vme will do the rest.
Communication is key so a read me doc is usually helpful.
A lot of tracks that I get in that have already been processed by an me are over processed,Please note that a slightly sibilant track may work well on a 4 track 12" as A1 but sound horrible as A2,Vinyl is a complicated medium full of simplifications where even the phrase "flat cut" doesn't mean flat.
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing lol.
Old 25th March 2017
  #6
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JTransition View Post
There are two scenarios for vinyl manufacture ;
1, Where the master will be cut at the plant.
2,Where the master will be cut by an independent vme
Yes, this ties into an article I wrote once because I was tired of typing the same email over and over to my clients. I don't claim to be a cutting engineer or to know much about the intricacies of the process, but I do know that in nearly all cases you're best bet is to choose your own lacquer cutting engineer rather than sending it directly to the plant.

The pressing plants tend to not do the best lacquer cutting work, or they farm out that part of the process to whoever is cheapest/least busy in most cases.

More here:
https://theproaudiofiles.com/the-imp...ing-for-vinyl/
Old 25th March 2017
  #7
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groovestick View Post
1. Some people claim more dynamic masters are good for vinyl and some other people also claim that heavily compressed (less dynamic) masters are good too as there is less chance of needle bounce and are obviously more constant dynamically; for music that is hyper-compressed, like drum and bass for example, which is the preference?
I cut a ton of doom metal where the VU meters barely move for 10 minutes at a time. That's the sound of the genre and it's super easy to cut because the pitch computer doesn't have to do anything. But don't compress beyond what you think sounds best to 'help' the cutting guy. Consider than when vinyl was king, compressors were rare in studios. Not like the 'compressor on every channel' world we live in now.

Limiting buys you nothing and usually just costs you sound quality. Clipping is a PITA for cutting.

Quote:
2. Will a well-mastered tune that is designed for digital release translate to a reasonable vinyl master? Are there any things that a good digital master might have that will cause problem for a vinyl master?
It depends on what you think a well mastered tune should sound like. Digital is an essentially linear medium. It will store and reproduce anything in it's bandwidth. Vinyl is a lossy format and it has serious level-dependent frequency limitations that get progressively worse towards the center of the disc. You can have sibilance at 0dBFS on digital that would either kill the recording head or distort like crazy on vinyl. Don't worry about bass. Pay attention to sibilance and distortion. They are the primary killers of sound on vinyl.
Old 25th March 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post

Limiting buys you nothing and usually just costs you sound quality. Clipping is a PITA for cutting.
Hi Greg. Great to hear your (and everyone else) input regarding this.
I often master aggressive type of metal that ends up on vinyl and cassette tape where I often use a little soft clipping in my master but roughly 1dB or less on the limiter for the audio I send to the cutting. Does a little soft clipping cause headache for you who do the cuttings? It's never clipping the body, more very transient "samples" more then anything.
Old 25th March 2017
  #9
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By clipping I mean a flat-topped waveforms for many samples in a row. Soft clippers tend to be a bit more gentle and 1dB of anything is not going to be a problem. Snipping off a few transients is fine but if it gets too harsh then you can run into trouble on vinyl.

The metal stuff I do is often very aggressive in nature but the top end is well under control. Good tracking and mixing. Makes cutting so much easier.
Old 26th March 2017
  #10
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Thank you for that!
Old 26th March 2017
  #11
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dietrich10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post

. You can have sibilance at 0dBFS on digital that would either kill the recording head or distort like crazy on vinyl. Don't worry about bass. Pay attention to sibilance and distortion. They are the primary killers of sound on vinyl.

Everyone please listen to the words above. Often there is sibilance that cannot be tamed at the vinyl cutting stage which means either you roll off more of the entire top end resulting in a dull sounding record or cut the overall record a few dB down which is not good for surface noise(and the artist complaint...'why is my record so quiet?")
Old 17th April 2017
  #12
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sat159p1's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by melopie View Post
I often master aggressive type of metal that ends up on vinyl and cassette tape where I often use a little soft clipping in my master but roughly 1dB or less on the limiter for the audio I send to the cutting. Does a little soft clipping cause headache for you who do the cuttings? It's never clipping the body, more very transient "samples" more then anything.
But question is, why do you want to apply soft-clipping to music which is (in general) non-dynamic? Leave it off. Limit (not clip) only loudest peaks.

I've cut over 3000 records. Mastered hundreds. Loud masters sent to vinyl cutting results (on the record) always quieter than dynamic masters. Because distortion will kill the sound.

My girlfirend bought latest Disturbed album on LP few weeks ago. This is not my type of music, but I thought, well it will sound BAD... then: jaw-dropping. This record is full of high-end, modern production, loud distorted guitars, heavy drums etc. But it sounds GREAT on vinyl and it's a real pleasure to listen. Even last tracks on sides which always are a victim of IGD. Someone did great job (sorry, forgot the credits.)

Greg told everything: dont worry about the bass, vme will do it, dont worry about high end, DO worry about not overcompressing it, do not limit (only highest peaks), do not clip (as it will multiply on the record). Put in a simple words - make it sound balanced with de-esser on vocals.
Old 18th April 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sat159p1 View Post
But question is, why do you want to apply soft-clipping to music which is (in general) non-dynamic? Leave it off. Limit (not clip) only loudest peaks.

I've cut over 3000 records. Mastered hundreds. Loud masters sent to vinyl cutting results (on the record) always quieter than dynamic masters. Because distortion will kill the sound.

My girlfirend bought latest Disturbed album on LP few weeks ago. This is not my type of music, but I thought, well it will sound BAD... then: jaw-dropping. This record is full of high-end, modern production, loud distorted guitars, heavy drums etc. But it sounds GREAT on vinyl and it's a real pleasure to listen. Even last tracks on sides which always are a victim of IGD. Someone did great job (sorry, forgot the credits.)

Greg told everything: dont worry about the bass, vme will do it, dont worry about high end, DO worry about not overcompressing it, do not limit (only highest peaks), do not clip (as it will multiply on the record). Put in a simple words - make it sound balanced with de-esser on vocals.
Thanks for your insight.

To answer your question why I apply soft clipping, it's as simple as I find it sounding better to shave away a couple of the highest peaks instead of letting the limiter do more gain reduction. For some reason, even with modern powerhouse limiters like Limitless, they still manage to touch some of the RMS body of the music while cutting the peaks. A tiny bit of soft clip in symbiosis seems to be more transparent and safe. Note that this is for music that will be released as both CD - stream - and vinyl. If a tiny bit of soft clipping on the peaks indeed gives issues I'll take the advice to work around it.
Old 18th April 2017
  #14
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sat159p1's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by melopie View Post
To answer your question why I apply soft clipping, it's as simple as I find it sounding better to shave away a couple of the highest peaks instead of letting the limiter do more gain reduction. For some reason, even with modern powerhouse limiters like Limitless, they still manage to touch some of the RMS body of the music while cutting the peaks. A tiny bit of soft clip in symbiosis seems to be more transparent and safe. Note that this is for music that will be released as both CD - stream - and vinyl. If a tiny bit of soft clipping on the peaks indeed gives issues I'll take the advice to work around it.
I get it, melopie. Thanks for explaining.

From my side, I always have better results with clean peak-limiter than clipper.
I've tried also hardware - Rosetta 200 clipper, HEDD, Culture Vulture etc. but switched back to transparent limiter, but you know, it's only shaving some highest peaks out there...
Old 25th April 2017
  #15
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jono's Avatar
 

I lathe-cut short runs for clients - 1-50 copies. Same principles apply - I get all kinds of stuff that people want cut, some mastered, some not, great --> awful. my 2 cents:

- don't worry about bass, I can handle that. The issue I've found most often (still rare), is low end material spread really wide - like a huge sub-kick sample with lots of very wide verb on it. It's easy to handle by cutting low end in the sides

-for some reason people seem to believe that the overall level should be reduced for vinyl. I get masters that are down 6db in level from the 'normal' master. forget about that. Don't know where that information comes from.

- very occasionally I get material that's blitzed in the sides. Nasty digital distortion...very obvious when soloing the sides - kinda lives in the mix when listening to mids and sides. it sucks. Have to cut those frequencies out of the sides...

- masters without final peak limiting do definitely sound better. But if you don't have a master with it removed, it's OK.

- EQ on the top - I have had people under all these assumptions: nothing on vinyl survives past 8k, you should cut at 18k, you should cut at 16k, etc etc. Don't worry about it.

- De-ess those vocals at the source or when mixing. They are by far the worst offenders in a mix. Hi hat, cymbals etc not so problematic. Still, I don't have to de-ess that often....

- The biggest problems by far are, 1. run times too long (18 minute sides at 33 1/3 are great, 25 minute sides not so much) and, 2. the playback systems that people have to listen to vinyl many times are not even close to their phone with earbuds. As in, Crosley suitcase turntables, etc.
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