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Having fun learning the trade!
Old 20th May 2017
  #1
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Having fun learning the trade!

So I run a little indie label, and we are preparing a new VA release. First we had it sent to a pro-budget ME but werent fully satisfied. Then we tried a Pro-Expencive ME but still it turend out not as we wanted it. Our budget went empty, so I decided to give it a go myself, as I wanted to learn this trade, and also thought I had the basics covered: a critical analythical mindset, aparently a good sense of musicality and dynmics (people tell me), 20+ production and mixing years, a good room and great fullrange monitors.

Its amazing to study and learn this while having the same music mastered already by 2 other very pro guys! The way I go forth is having 2 software mastering chains. (Plus 1 external vca comp for final dynamics before limiter) First I do the first chain, then the other and finally I A/B them to find the best one of those, and also might take some from the other. They have each some different type of plugins. First is more broad strokes 3band eqs etc, second is more details aka Equlibrium and some other stuf. When the best chain edit is chosen, I go out to the compressor and then back in the box, and finally adjusting the limiter as good as I can.

On track 2 in the daw I have the same original unmastered piece which I level match to my mastered version using a limiter.

On track 3 and 4 I have the previously externaly mastered versions.

If the master on track 1 is an improvement to track 2, then I start checking them against track 3 and 4. The goal is to become better then thouse if possible! Also great source to try learn and steal the good stuf, though most of the time im usually prefering my first revisions. But not always.

Finally on the rest of the following daw tracks I might have done earlier revisions that I wasnt fully satisfied with, so those are good to A/B aswell to make sure I actually improve on the previous versions and dont spend time un nessesarily.

Following after these tracks I fill up with the final masters of the VA I have done up until now, to check the balance between them all as a collection.

I work about 1 hour on each revision, and after each session I take a break to rest and reset my ears and mind. If I feel tired or not fully focused I dont work.


If you have tips on anything else I could do to improve the workflow, then please let me know! So far im learning new things every session and its great.
Old 20th May 2017
  #2
What was wrong with external mastering engineers? Did you tell them what kind of matter or reference records had in mind? Asked for a revision?

Otherwise I use to A/B matched level between mix and master using aux sends.

The most useful trick for me is:
Take 10 minutes break every hour or anytime I don't hear any improvement.
Even when I finished mastering I don't print it until next day. Waiting 24 hours is crucial for me. If it still sounds great then it's great.
Old 20th May 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leitmo View Post
What was wrong with external mastering engineers? Did you tell them what kind of matter or reference records had in mind? Asked for a revision?

Otherwise I use to A/B matched level between mix and master using aux sends.

The most useful trick for me is:
Take 10 minutes break every hour or anytime I don't hear any improvement.
Even when I finished mastering I don't print it until next day. Waiting 24 hours is crucial for me. If it still sounds great then it's great.
Its a long story, and I dont really want to elaboate on it. Its in the past, now looking to the future. No free revisons from the expensive guy though he offered a nice discount. The budget guy we did before him and its like a year ago so no revisions there either, plus he did only parts of the collection, so we would have to pay more for the total collection. Dont want to speak negative as I respect both those guys and really there is no negative to say. More a matter of taste and style. Its just me that is super picky, and im sure they feel the same way about me.


24h before print, ok seems smart, but what about hardware! I print at end of each session because of the analog comp. If im not satisfied next day I make a new revision. Guess I could take photos of the comp settings. everything else I do, for now, is stored and recallable with plugins.

Being 43 I have a little dificulty judging the ammount of very high freq. Basicly cant hear above 17k, and my left ear has a hm - hf damage with sort of a high shelf roughly -3db. Curious how others with similar situations solve it.. So far im testing it on my 10 year younger label partner.
Old 20th May 2017
  #4
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I would say you completly overthink it. Great masters comes from experience (means doing all kind of real masters for a real market day in and day out). Its just such a focussing thing and nothi g you can learn while doing it beside other production work.
Its not about the "right settings" at a comp and not about some hearing loss at 20k, for sure.
Theres no perfection in art. Do your releases and learn while you do it. But just do it...
Old 20th May 2017
  #5
I don't think hearing loss as an excuse. I know a lot of middle age live sound guys who also do recording, mixing and mastering with great results.

About hardware I tend to use it on one project at a time. If I'm using it on mixing and mastering on a project and I feel tired on this I switch to a new project where I just edit, do mutes, fades, cuts and basic filtering.

I prefer to wait 24 hours before printing than being forced to print a second revision next day just because I made a wrong decision the day before.

Don't have to talk about your experience with mastering engineers in the past but I can say my most valuable knowledge, tip or trick in this business is communication. When recording, mixing or mastering I talk with clients (having a drink, phone, email...) about their feelings on music, reference albums, overall sound...

JP said it great. Don't over think. I'd add: let your guts and instinct guide and be confident but don't expect your guts are always right.
Old 20th May 2017
  #6
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Thanks guys. And I agree with your input!
Old 21st May 2017
  #7
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I do keep on learning.. Today I learned the hard way that when working on a compilation or album its a good idea to export the masters with 1-2 db more headroom on the limiter then what it can take, so to have some headroom to adjust (with only limiter) the seperate tracks as a collection without having to redo the whole process. :P
Old 21st May 2017
  #8
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ideally you would be listening to (and working on) all the separate tracks as part of an album BEFORE they're hitting the limiter or being exported.
Old 21st May 2017
  #9
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i'm confused about the "expensive ME" you used. according to what you've said, it seems he/she wouldn't do a free revision for you even though you were unsatisfied with the results, and also apparently charged you for something you didn't like?? ("Our budget went empty...")
I don't get that. That's terrible practice. If you don't like the work, you either get a revision or you don't pay. If you prepaid, it should be refunded.
Old 21st May 2017
  #10
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Hey Dave. Hows it going with your own ME startup?

Unfortunately some of the high-end/high profile guys do it like this. Anyway, this thread is not ment to be about them. PM if you want.
Old 21st May 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
ideally you would be listening to (and working on) all the separate tracks as part of an album BEFORE they're hitting the limiter or being exported.
I do but still on this VA the mixes are so wildly different and its hard to get the compilation balance feeling of them before eq is done. On albums its easier.
Old 22nd May 2017
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimotei View Post
Hey Dave. Hows it going with your own ME startup?

Unfortunately some of the high-end/high profile guys do it like this. Anyway, this thread is not meant to be about them. PM if you want.
Not my experience. Most of the top tier mastering guys are great to work with and really care about what they are doing. If you found someone who did not treat you well then that is not good.

Your post is about the 100th post on this forum where I read. "I sent this material out to a pro mastering engineer and I did not like what he did so I did it myself and it turned out great" I am wondering if all these people sent their materials to the same individual or if there are really 100 BAD mastering engineers who are taking people's money and not doing revisions and turning out bad mastering.

FWIW
Old 23rd May 2017
  #13
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First of they all treated me well and I respect them, as I said.

Hehe. I dont know man. All I know is that we, tiny indie label, havent been fully satisfied with almost anyone, not personally but the end product obviously, in our specific scene within the edm scene. Most of those MEs are bedroom producers though with little to no room treatment. You have no idea how many amature "MEs" there are in some of these edm scenes, and almost all the producers know about nothing else, and often they are senior producers in the same sceene retiering on ME work. Only worked with one "high-end" guy so far, and to be honest its a little out of our label budget. Hes previous 2nd revision of an earlier release was great but the next release was same story again, and this time we could not aford another revision.

I have spent the last 3 years building my curent studio with guidence from 2 well known acoustitians, its good, it measures good, monitoring is great, and I wanted to get into ME land anyway so it was just the trigger effect so to speak. I want steal your clients I promise! I only want to do a little inhouse stuf mainly for our own label, and maybe a few others from time to time. My main job for now is doing gigs.

But by all means tell me I cant do it! I love that. Been underdog all my life and resistense is pure inspiration to me.


------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
ALL YOUR CLIENTS ARE BELONGS TO US
Old 23rd May 2017
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimotei View Post

But by all means tell me I cant do it! I love that. Been underdog all my life and resistense is pure inspiration to me.

I don't think he's telling you you can't do it. I think he's just confused cus in his myopic bubble of a world-- as well as mine-- if someone doesn't like the masters they don't pay. That seems inherent to consumerism, like a return policy, and it's disheartening to read that there are so called "ME's" out there not adhering to this basic tenet of customer satisfaction.
Old 25th May 2017
  #15
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I read it again and I see I was over reacting. Just so used to MEs telling us new commers we cant and should not do it and my sarcasm went on autopilot. :P

I know a lot ot the old timers are loosing clients and many of them complain all day about it here. I understand the frustration.

But the reality is that the internet revolution happened already over 10 years ago. Small edm indie labels that sold 10.000 to 30.000 copies of vinyl eps and cd VAs on a monthly basis now strugle to sell 500. The golden days are gone a long time ago. There are no more big money.

So naturally the budget studios is where 99% of artists and indie labels have to go now. And yes unfortunatly a lot of those budget bedroom MEs are not doing a good job at all.

We have to educate the artists and the thousands if indie labels, because 95% of them dont know what mastering really is about. They see some artist that have a name in the scene and is offering "mastering" (hundreds of these guys in every little edm genra) services in his/her untreated bedroom "studio" with cheep small nearfields. But most of the artists and labels dont know any better, especially the post 2000 mp3 generation. And they belive that because its a some what famous and respected artist in the scene, he must surely know how to make a good master?
Old 26th May 2017
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimotei View Post
I read it again and I see I was over reacting. Just so used to MEs telling us new commers we cant and should not do it and my sarcasm went on autopilot. :P

I know a lot ot the old timers are loosing clients and many of them complain all day about it here. I understand the frustration.

But the reality is that the internet revolution happened already over 10 years ago. Small edm indie labels that sold 10.000 to 30.000 copies of vinyl eps and cd VAs on a monthly basis now struggle to sell 500. The golden days are gone a long time ago. There is no more big money.

So naturally the budget studios is where 99% of artists and indie labels have to go now. And yes unfortunately a lot of those budget bedroom MEs are not doing a good job at all.

We have to educate the artists and the thousands if indie labels, because 95% of them don't know what mastering really is about. They see some artist that have a name in the scene and is offering "mastering" (hundreds of these guys in every little edm genre) services in his/her untreated bedroom "studio" with cheep small near fields. But most of the artists and labels don't know any better, especially the post 2000 mp3 generation. And they believe that because its a some what famous and respected artist in the scene, he must surely know how to make a good master?
I understand what you are saying. The problem is that today EVERYONE seems to want to be a "mastering engineer" for whatever reason. The upper level mastering engineers never post on these forms so it is hard to know what they are doing or thinking. Are they having the same problems that are talked about here or are they insulated from the "bedroom studios" enough that they don't have to worry about when and where their next clients are coming from. Most of the people who post here are mid level mastering engineers or wannabees. I was a classical music recording engineer for 26 years before I opened my mastering studio in 1995. Things were much different then and we were able to make a good living off doing mastering since the field was not so crowded as it is now and there was not a "mastering studio" seemingly on every street.

10 years ago I saw the trend with the birth of the musician DIY'er who no longer needed anyone else because they did everything themselves from recording to mixing to mastering to duplicating and printing the CDs. So we diversified and it was a good thing we did as our mastering business all but tanked up for a while. It bounced back but it was a bit scary since I have three interns I pay to learn the craft of mastering and no money from mastering was coming in.

There are studios around here who offer EVERYTHING just like the DIY'er from recording to mixing to mastering to promotion and marketing. Once they have the client in their clutches they do not want to let that client go before they have sucked out all their money. We also have studios that advertise that they guarantee that their work will get the artist noticed which is a hard thing to prove since noticed is a lot different from "making it".

I, unlike some others here, tell it like it is. I don't sugar coat what is happening to me and don't tell everyone one this forum that "we are so busy we have to turn work away" which I see a lot a lot of people saying.

I love mastering and working with clients and I would be happy doing that 40+ hours a week if it were possible but unfortunately it is not possible with the current climate in the music business.

FWIW

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 26th May 2017 at 12:37 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 26th May 2017
  #17
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I know. But remember that this mp3/diy/streaming generation with no record sales, are also growing up, and some will be more sucsessfull then others, and as they grow they will naturally start looking for the next step to improve with their increased budgets. I belive here they will start looking for guys like you, much like I did and some other guys I know that have steped up tremendously the last years, coming from the low budget bedroom background now rocking high end gear in very good studios.

Though this "new" generation lives on social media, so to get connected with them it is a good idea to do so through their channels, mainly facebook and youtube. Through the forums like this you will only reach like 3% of your potential. So I belive with the internet post 2000 generation it is vital to stay active on social media, almost at a daily basis. Once a week is not enough! Build up a large friends list of connections on fb, and post interesting valuable things, not jibber jabber on your wall, and people will remember that it is worth to click on your news notification that pops up on their side. If you master someone, help then promote it by reposting it on your fb wall, and keep it fresh a few days by making a few strategic comments on it. You will get a few more friend requests from this, add those that seem real, and you just increased your circle. One of these guys might be a potential new client, or someone that will repost your post on his wall, effectly enlarging your promotion circle. After a year already you should almost certainly have some noticable growth. Few good advices: try to keep politics and drama out of it, be positive and respectfull, dont write to much but also not to little, keep the focus on the task, and everyone loves some basic good manners. Peanuts really.

If one of your clients later makes a youtube music video, repost that on your facebook wall with the comment: mastered by your company.

If you dont feel comfortable using the social media environment, maybe assign one of your interns to do it, or wife etc.

Just some thoughts, dont mean to preach. This is the world im living in now is all im saying. Im 43 btw and started in early 90ties so I know all about the crazy transition with massive decrease in record sales. However in my case it was a blessing, not a burden. I had some talent but extremely low budget with the most crappy gear in my bedroom with cheep hifi speakers only, and strugled to get record deals back then. It seemed like utopia to be able to release and be noticed.

However the vst revolution with the mp3 revolution alowed me to create and spread my music quickly across the world, and the rest is history. For years now I have had a long line of labels asking for my music.

Im one of the "seniors" of this generation. The 30'something guys, aka the first really big major wave of this generation is just about to hit the shore now. I intend to take advantage and be part of that, and I encurage you to do the same!

Its all about networking online with this crowd.


Best of luck,
Kim

Last edited by Kimotei; 26th May 2017 at 03:31 PM..
Old 26th May 2017
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I, unlike some others here, tell it like it is. I don't sugar coat what is happening to me and don't tell everyone one this forum that "we are so busy we have to turn work away" which I see a lot a lot of people saying.
so you are calling your peers and colleagues liars. great. really charming.
Old 26th May 2017
  #19
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He can answare for himself, but it doesnt seem to me that he meant it like that. I think he is just frustrated about the curent state of the biz, and pulled out some of the far worst examples of explotation of this situation. Im in contact with hundreds of producers and indie labels, and I never herd about something that extreme, so I dont think this spesific example is a very valid concern for frustration. Well its not to me atlest. Im trying to explane what I think is the main source of concern, and suggest how it could be solved.

Times are a changing.
Old 26th May 2017
  #20
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he's made the same general accusation before and it's super irritating.
Old 26th May 2017
  #21
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Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
he's made the same general accusation before and it's super irritating.
I never said it was about you but you always seem to take it personally so maybe...???

There are a lot of posers on this mastering forum. Since in a lot of cases you never know who you are really talking to (it might be a famous mastering engineer who is posting incognito or it could be some 14 year old siting in his underwear in his bedroom "mastering studio" with his dirty laundry piled up as his "acoustical mass") it is hard to understand how they could be doing as well as they want people to believe when most of the mastering engineers I know are not doing well. I have seen the profession in the best of times and I am now seeing it in it's "decline" and it upsets me.

Again if you are doing well more power to you.

It is hard for me to run a business where I have three part time interns to pay and also pay for my business expenses and still make ends meet. If you took on some paid interns to help you and took time to teach them how to do mastering then maybe you would understand where I am coming from.

I live in one of the most depressed counties in the state of Ohio and one of the poorest in the US and I get a lot more people who cannot afford to their materials mastered but want it anyways and they are always looking for the ultimate deal or for me to do it for free.

I really don't know where to find the clients who a lot of people talk about here . I do have some great clients but I also have a lot of, to use the vernacular, bottom feeders and they want top drawer service for a cheap price and want to have their "music" mastered so they can become famous. It really gets old after a while.

If you don't want to listen to me I suggest you stop reading my posts.

FWIW
Old 26th May 2017
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I really don't know where to find the clients who a lot of people talk about here

....I also have a lot of, to use the vernacular, bottom feeders and they want top drawer service for a cheap price and want to have their "music" mastered so they can become famous. It really gets old after a while.
Well I just told you where I get mine atleast. If you want to get more involved with the younger generation, its a good idea to comunicate with them, where they are. Facebook and youtube. Do a tutorial video or just a tour through your studio. Make sure the audio is good and loud so people dont skip the video. Do gear reviews if you like that sort of thing. Celphone camera is good enough.

There are many ways, but mostly these days I would say its within social media in some shape or form.


About those who want free stuf or ridiculously cheep deals, those are ok to kindly and politely decline. Why politely? Because these days ruomers either fals or true travel faster then fire in dry gras, through social media.
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