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Asking Mastering Engineers for Advice Plugin Bundles
Old 6 days ago
  #181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
how about we all just leave brian alone with his opinions, since he's clearly not interested in anyone else's.
Please note...no one can ever win an argument with Lucey because he is always right. Just ask him. He has set himself up as THE all knowing mastering engineer sitting on the mastering throne and telling everyone else what to do and how to do it.

Here is what he said to me:

You have asked how to get more work and all you see is better promotion. Sorry that's stupid. Yea, I get my work from promotion, not referrals. lol Are you insane? I mean truly?

Mastering is not a business where you sell yourself. That won't work. Try it sometime. You are so clueless and rude.

The only thing that matters ... is the work. ONLY THING TOM.

I'm from Ohio, just like you, I knew no one, just like you. What is the possible difference between us?

Hmmmm.


But all he does is self promote. Hmmmmmm
Old 6 days ago
  #182
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
Hey if you'd rather I not post
yeah that'd be great, thanks!
Old 6 days ago
  #183
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If you go back to the original post, it is a coherent and complete statement of the OPs point of view. Given the OP’s somewhat unique reaction to all other points of view, this could have and should have been a one post thread. I regret my earlier posts in this thread and am prepared to regret this one. I would advise others to step away from this thread and will now follow that advice.
Old 6 days ago
  #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
You are so clueless and rude.
Oh the irony.

Quote:
The only thing that matters ... is the work. ONLY THING TOM.
Just as in politics where the only thing that matters is policy, right? Wrong! I'm sure YOU believe it is all about the work but that is not how the real world works. That notion is just plain naive.

Quote:
I'm from Ohio, just like you, I knew no one, just like you. What is the possible difference between us?
You shout louder. Some confuse that with confidence and authority.

There is a reason I compared you to Trump. IMO that comparison is absolutely PERFECT!

Alistair

Last edited by UnderTow; 6 days ago at 08:00 AM..
Old 6 days ago
  #185
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Originally Posted by lucey View Post
Yet why does the recorded history of music disagree with your opinion?
I'll give you a more extended response after today's jobs are done but the comment above fit right in with a conversation I had with the cleaner at a client earlier this week: I pointed out to her that it probably wasn't a good idea to use the rag she just used to clean the toilet bowl to also clean the sink and taps. Her response? "Oh but I have always done it this way".

Lucey, you lack imagination and vision and are stuck in old fashioned work methods and approaches and use the simplistic justification that "things have always been done a certain way". That is not wisdom. That is not insight. It is bad logic pure and simple.

Alistair

Last edited by UnderTow; 6 days ago at 08:01 AM.. Reason: Client name removed
Old 6 days ago
  #186
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Its just embarrassing, once again... Boys, we have a wonderful and useful ignore button over here. Please just use it instead of destroying every interesting and useful thread here over and over again. Or get a real life or whatever...
Thanks.
Old 6 days ago
  #187
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Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
I'm sure YOU believe it is all about the work but that is not how the real world works. That notion is just plain naive.
Alistair what is your deal? You seem to be very happy to hate on my work, that you have never experienced. Very odd my friend.

I'm from a small town, never knew anyone. Used to make nothing doing this, had debt double my income in a day job... now make more than most. All on the work's merit. Over the years the work has won more and more people over. Mastering is not a sales game, you can't sell yourself, the work has to be great.

All I can tell you is that my clients send friends in many cases, some send thank you notes, others presents. They include some of the best mixers in the world, some of the newest mixers in the world, everyone in between. More work every year.

You're jealous maybe, or maybe you have never had a great mastering job that takes your work to another level. I have no idea. But whatever is your deal that leads to your attitude, it's all on you.

Great work doesn't have to shout, it's just known by those who matter.

In the real world, more work each year for 17 years, and the credits are easy to look up. Where are your credits that we can look up?
Old 6 days ago
  #188
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
Lucey, you lack imagination and vision and are stuck in old fashioned work methods and approaches and use the simplistic justification that "things have always been done a certain way". That is not wisdom. That is not insight. It is bad logic pure and simple.

Alistair
You are way off subject ... but ...

The way it has always been done is better. We know this by experience in the now. Trial and error.

Each stage has it's part and the process of co creativity makes a result greater than the sum of the parts.

Co creativity is both test marketing and also expanding the possible beyond the control of any one's ego. It's a wonderful blending of skills.

Feel free to dropbox me your record of individual mixes and your best self-mastering. Assuming the mixes are not an overly limited disaster, it should be an easy point to show.

[email protected]
Old 6 days ago
  #189
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Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
If you go back to the original post, it is a coherent and complete statement of the OPs point of view. Given the OP’s somewhat unique reaction to all other points of view, this could have and should have been a one post thread. I regret my earlier posts in this thread and am prepared to regret this one. I would advise others to step away from this thread and will now follow that advice.
Do you have an argument that beats the notion that telling people what to do is teaching them?

I'm saying that teaching them how to listen and decide for themselves is faster and better FOR THEM and THE MUSIC than telling them what to do. Telling them what to do empowers the ME, and weakens the mixer. A mixer here agreed, saying that 4 records in he was still asking about his low end ... and said he liked it!

Your turn, go for it


Is telling people what to do teaching them how to be a better mixer?
Old 6 days ago
  #190
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Ref. jPs comment above:

Amen

Talented people are often going to have strong views and their unique perspective. Also, artists are a special breed (will insert a fantastic joeq quote here later). Constant back and forth with non-subtle personal insults are unnecessary, sure we go there every once in a while but one would hope after a cool off period we reconsider, take a breath, recognise what we can and can't change, and move on.

That to me feels most likely to retain the talent on this board.

One mixerman is enough for the music world surely
Old 6 days ago
  #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
lol. Better idea.

Yet anything your mix needs in your view you can do in mixing. Once you approve the mix then mastering enhances that vision from you. If you have issues, we adjust.

To enter a mastering room (where everything sounds good and you have no sense of the subtleties) and cripple the skill of the ME, is depriving yourself and your client of their perspective on your approved work.

I work 100% unattended. Revision included. Everyone wins.

Mixers mix. Mastering enhances. Revisions find the balance. We are all not just engineers, we are the test market, and when everyone is happy, the music has a real chance to connect.
Totally valid approach.

I prefer to find someone who I like on a personal level, do attended sessions, and elbow myself into the sweetspot. I like the collaborative aspect of it. This is not about crippling the mastering engineer, it's about staying true to the mix. And avoiding misunderstandings.
Old 6 days ago
  #192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Just for another take on this subject suggest others here watch this.YouTube it is a mastering interview with Warren Sokol...
Interesting, and he seems like a smart, conscientious guy.

As per the (moving target) subject of this thread, right at 33:00, he talks about a hypothetical "harsh cymbal in the third chorus" and his ability to "fix" it.

Would you, as a mastering engineer...

• Just fix it.

• Assume that's what the artist wants, and leave it alone.

• Tell the artist there's a problem.

• Ask the artist if they think there's a problem.

Eh?
Old 6 days ago
  #193
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Bob Katz has about 700 album credits in various capacities. My post didn’t assert (or didn’t INTEND to assert) that he was the end-all, mic drop authority on all things mastering, but that he seemed to me a credible source. The posters in this thread who use their real names don’t strike me as being authorities far beyond Mr. Katz, thus my post. If you actually ARE far more of a credible authority on mastering than Bob, you need to work on your name recognition. Perhaps you should write a book.

Also, the thread is not about who is the very best mastering engineer ever, it is about what should be the ME’s interaction with clients about the particulars of their mixes. 700 credits isn’t enough to get a little respect for his opinion on that? OK.
Unfortunately, Mr Katz says some strange things these days ...
Old 6 days ago
  #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
Talented people are often going to have strong views and their unique perspective.
and most of them are able to communicate those views and perspectives in a polite, respectful manner.

it really isn't difficult.
Old 6 days ago
  #195
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Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
Totally valid approach.

I prefer to find someone who I like on a personal level, do attended sessions, and elbow myself into the sweetspot. I like the collaborative aspect of it. This is not about crippling the mastering engineer, it's about staying true to the mix. And avoiding misunderstandings.
What kind of misunderstandings are you talking about?

We are 100% unattended here, and true to the mix is a given or the work would be rejected. Mixes only better, that's mastering, right?

Sounds like you have fear they will screw up and you want to sit in the chair and control their work. How is that "collaborative"?

Is the collaboration of you mix, they master, you guide revisions, not FAR more collaborative? More risk, more reward?

The opportunity cost of your approach is worth considering. What is lost? You can't know.
Old 6 days ago
  #196
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Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
and most of them are able to communicate those views and perspectives in a polite, respectful manner.

it really isn't difficult.
So you are always polite and respectful? No.


Admittedly I'm challenging folks, politely, to think about the process and principles and to MAKE THEIR CASE.

Not always popular to challenge, I get it.

Last edited by lucey; 6 days ago at 07:09 PM..
Old 6 days ago
  #197
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Would you, as a mastering engineer...

• Just fix it.

• Assume that's what the artist wants, and leave it alone.

• Tell the artist there's a problem.

• Ask the artist if they think there's a problem.

Eh?

Fixes

Problems



Are there no other options ?

These are the ideas of perfectionists, not music makers.
Old 6 days ago
  #198
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Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Sure. A sizzly hi hat that pops out over everything else in the high end. If some brightening EQ will be used in mastering then the hi hat could get painful. I can mitigate that but it's better if I don't have to. If the client asked for a mix critique then I'd mention that. If it were really pronounced then I might ask the client about it unprompted. It's not imposing my will, just communicating. My only goal is always to serve the client the best I can. Sometimes that means pointing things out. It's almost always when working with inexperienced mixers with limited monitoring.
It does not serve the client to tell them their approved mix is not to your standards. Generic results come from this, and they don't learn their taste, they learn yours.

You are assuming that a boost in the high end AND a cut in the HH range are not possible at the same time. That's a skill issue.

If we begin pointing things out, when do we stop? There is no way to go partly into a mix critique, and not then shift your mindset to mixer. I could critique a mix for an hour, but it is what it is. The trick is to enhance anything and everything.

Enhancing deals with everything at once. They have sent approved mixes, just get on with it. No?
Old 6 days ago
  #199
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@lucey I'm curious about your take on the earlier hi-hat question. In this case I think I understand what you're saying (about something like a hi-hat poking out of the mix more or less, not the skill needed to tame it).

I have heard songs that were mixed and mastered by top engineers where I found the hi-hats obscenely loud for my taste and in some cases also too bright—to the point where it annoyed me and I didn't want to listen to the song. That was their taste, not mine. I would have mixed them lower and darker or asked for the same if it was my song and hired engineers. Ditto a flimsy snare or a weak kick. Not my taste.

In the case of experienced engineers/producers/artists who all decided on this loud/bright hat mix vs some amateur/hobbyist, I can see why you would not question it. You have a near certainty that they chose for it to sound like that. Others seem they would point them out as a possible mistake to avoid unnecessary revision, even to professionals, from them being abnormally high/bright compared to all of their experience in mastering music and how hi-hats typically sound. Some seem like they would be more inclined to point them out to amateurs (or those asking advice) while you would not make any recommendation regardless of the experience level and assume it by default as a creative choice.

However, are you saying that if someone sent you a mix with a hi-hat that was actually a problem—some twangy, digital hat full of noise, 15dB+ too loud, clipping, making the tweeter freak out, was ear-piercing and interfering with the mix where it was audibly disturbing and they are an amateur, would you not offer a suggestion to pull it back or at least question them about it? To me that would be the definition of a problem for anyone who listened to it and at least warrants a brief inquiry.

If that's not what you meant feel free to correct me. Most everyone seems to disagree with your approach but I'm trying to understand if there's a line you draw between something that really sounds like a serious problem vs artistic vision, because I can understand in a lot of cases why your approach makes sense even if it allows for errors to slip through occasionally.

I'm sure there could also be a few stragglers out there who want their hi-hats 15dB over the vocal and clipping, but that would probably be a rare anomaly or maybe they're broke and their speakers have broken tweeters or they're mixing on a laptop or with 10-year-old earbuds. I chose hi-hats because they were mentioned but it could easily be some really bad sub build-up that they couldn't hear on their tiny speakers and was not intentional.
Old 6 days ago
  #200
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Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
...I have heard songs that were mixed and mastered by top engineers where I found the hi-hats obscenely loud for my taste and in some cases also too bright—to the point where it annoyed me and I didn't want to listen to the song. That was their taste, not mine. I would have mixed them lower and darker or asked for the same if it was my song and hired engineers. Ditto a flimsy snare or a weak kick. Not my taste...
I wouldn't assume they didn't try to fix it. It's quite common for attempts at fixes to lose the vibe of the original mix with the producer and artist deciding it's hurting the song more than it helps. You really can't judge a mix or any production decision out of context.
Old 6 days ago
  #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I wouldn't assume they didn't try to fix it. It's quite common for attempts at fixes to lose the vibe of the original mix with the producer and artist deciding it's hurting the song more than it helps. You really can't judge a mix or any production decision out of context.
I was only judging it purely as a listener of the music. The only context we have as listeners without an inside scoop is the end result, which was not pleasant to me so I moved on to another song. That's the closest thing I could relate to when lucey mentioned creative choices that MEs should not interfere with as if they are subjective mistakes—the balancing of things in the mix.
Old 6 days ago
  #202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
What kind of misunderstandings are you talking about?

We are 100% unattended here, and true to the mix is a given or the work would be rejected. Mixes only better, that's mastering, right?

Sounds like you have fear they will screw up and you want to sit in the chair and control their work. How is that "collaborative"?

Is the collaboration of you mix, they master, you guide revisions, not FAR more collaborative? More risk, more reward?

The opportunity cost of your approach is worth considering. What is lost? You can't know.
Not fear based, more of an opportunity to be creative and have fun. I actually LIKE mastering, I also self master.

Misunderstandings can easily come up if I have very specific need regarding sequencing and so forth. It's just easier to be at the studio, and explain. Can also come up regarding odd frequency choices that are supposed to be a certain way.. and. A hundred other things.
Old 6 days ago
  #203
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We don't need to assume anything if we establish an open dialogue about it. Communicating what we hear and clarifying their intentions is not telling people how to mix.
Old 6 days ago
  #204
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Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
@lucey I'm curious about your take on the earlier hi-hat question. In this case I think I understand what you're saying (about something like a hi-hat poking out of the mix more or less, not the skill needed to tame it).

I have heard songs that were mixed and mastered by top engineers where I found the hi-hats obscenely loud for my taste and in some cases also too bright—to the point where it annoyed me and I didn't want to listen to the song. That was their taste, not mine. I would have mixed them lower and darker or asked for the same if it was my song and hired engineers. Ditto a flimsy snare or a weak kick. Not my taste.

In the case of experienced engineers/producers/artists who all decided on this loud/bright hat mix vs some amateur/hobbyist, I can see why you would not question it. You have a near certainty that they chose for it to sound like that. Others seem they would point them out as a possible mistake to avoid unnecessary revision, even to professionals, from them being abnormally high/bright compared to all of their experience in mastering music and how hi-hats typically sound. Some seem like they would be more inclined to point them out to amateurs (or those asking advice) while you would not make any recommendation regardless of the experience level and assume it by default as a creative choice.

However, are you saying that if someone sent you a mix with a hi-hat that was actually a problem—some twangy, digital hat full of noise, 15dB+ too loud, clipping, making the tweeter freak out, was ear-piercing and interfering with the mix where it was audibly disturbing and they are an amateur, would you not offer a suggestion to pull it back or at least question them about it? To me that would be the definition of a problem for anyone who listened to it and at least warrants a brief inquiry.

If that's not what you meant feel free to correct me. Most everyone seems to disagree with your approach but I'm trying to understand if there's a line you draw between something that really sounds like a serious problem vs artistic vision, because I can understand in a lot of cases why your approach makes sense even if it allows for errors to slip through occasionally.

I'm sure there could also be a few stragglers out there who want their hi-hats 15dB over the vocal and clipping, but that would probably be a rare anomaly or maybe they're broke and their speakers have broken tweeters or they're mixing on a laptop or with 10-year-old earbuds. I chose hi-hats because they were mentioned but it could easily be some really bad sub build-up that they couldn't hear on their tiny speakers and was not intentional.
Great question ... it could be anything, that's the point. Anything in a mix could be seen as a mistake, or a unique feature.

As to your set up ... I've been asked to critique mixes by some of the best mixers out there. David Bianco even asked, and his mixes were maybe the "best" meaning needed the least. R.I.P. Dave. Beginners usually say, "can you listen and give a critique to make sure it's good to go?" and my reply is usually some short version of the thread here.

For example: "Be sure and listen to the mixes in the car, the house, the studio and make sure everyone is happy. A/B your mix against the mastered material in your genre (volume adjusted) and get it as close as you can in every way except the volume. I will have no issue with anything you all have approved."

What are the assumptions in this?

1. The mixer/artist/production team knows their musical vision best and they need to trust themselves AND come to a clear vision before mastering.
2. I can positively deal with anything they approve.
3. If they do their work the HH will never be 15db ahead of the rest. It won't happen. I trust people, I don't think they are stupid or powerless and need my directions and my taste to mix their music.


If I was to start into a mix critique, I'll ask you this, where should it stop? Every mix needs help IMO. Every one.

"The vocals are a bit out of tune, do you want that? The kick is really thin and loud, do you want that? Snare right on the beat, seems like for this style NORMALLY it should be behind the beat, are you sure? The CH sections are so heavily compressed that the volume is dropping, are you sure you want that? I can hear that your monitors are really narrow, so the mix is too wide, no power, can you remix? Why not pan the CH guitars wider for more effect, do you want it so weak in the 2nd CH impact? The song is not great for this style IMO, are you sure you can't cut the intro by half and add a better bridge? Can you re-track the drums, the room was not great, maybe get a better drummer? Etc"

These are production decisions.

The goal is to intuit what they wanted in what they approve. Or even to hear more than what they want. And to go there. We NEED THEIR APPROVED vision to begin, as that is the building block of our work. Not our version of acceptable, that's generic and egocentric for the ME. Or course people are upset with me for calling it that. They think they're helping.

Every mix I hear needs help in some form or another. Even the "best" ones can be improved. I can relate to any mix and I can critique it at the same time. That is the perspective to begin musical mastering. Embrace, Respect and then Enhance. Technical mastering is more about perfectionism and norms, "fixing" things, not screwing it up, etc.

There is no generic standard for a good HH or an appropriate anything, that is on them. This is art, it's not a science project. The vision and confidence of the team is everything.

My aim, when asked to use my experience and taste to tear into their work, is to encourage their process and confidence. Not to make them codependent, and start into a mix critique that could have no end, teach them nothing, and would leave the mix neutered of it's unique vision.
Old 6 days ago
  #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
Not fear based, more of an opportunity to be creative and have fun. I actually LIKE mastering, I also self master.

Misunderstandings can easily come up if I have very specific need regarding sequencing and so forth. It's just easier to be at the studio, and explain. Can also come up regarding odd frequency choices that are supposed to be a certain way.. and. A hundred other things.
Sequencing is easy, just send a mp3 ref mock up.

When you say "supposed to be a certain way" ... it sounds like you've never had a mastering job that blew your mind. Exceeded your expectation, was a real collaboration.

Also seems like you want to mix and master your work, just need the room and gear so you can drive. I was there once, I get it.
Old 6 days ago
  #206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post

Lucey, you lack imagination and vision and are stuck in old fashioned work methods and approaches and use the simplistic justification that "things have always been done a certain way". That is not wisdom. That is not insight. It is bad logic pure and simple.

Alistair
But, I have to say- the times I've sent my mixes to Brian, they have come back undeniably better, more musical, etc.

I've worked with several of the top mastering guys, and a bunch of the middle tier, and on projects with a wide range of budgets. major label, indie label, and unsigned.

Brian turns things around quick, they sound amazing, and he's super easy to communicate with. I'd send him all my mixes if I could.
Old 5 days ago
  #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
Great question ... it could be anything, that's the point. Anything in a mix could be seen as a mistake, or a unique feature.
Thanks for the in-depth response. Some of it you had answered previously so thanks for that. I do want to respond in kind so this may be get a bit lengthy. The rest of you can save your eyes and scroll past.

Quote:
For example: "Be sure and listen to the mixes in the car, the house, the studio and make sure everyone is happy. A/B your mix against the mastered material in your genre (volume adjusted) and get it as close as you can in every way except the volume. I will have no issue with anything you all have approved."
I think this is great direction. It encourages people not be lazy and try their mix on different systems to see how they translate and make any changes before it hits your desk. It allows them to reflect on what they've done and catch things they might not have.

I would ask this: If after listening, making revisions and deciding on the best version, would you accept their direction in reaching the goal they could not after numerous attempts? They can hear what's wrong but they just can't achieve it. Example: "My system/room/experience is just not there yet. I've done my best but I can't tighten up the lows or smooth the highs as much as I want. Can you enhance X/Y/Z to the best of your ability given my mix?" In that case would you do your best given the mix or give more advice since they actually know what they want?

Quote:
If I was to start into a mix critique, I'll ask you this, where should it stop?
I think this is the heart of where your reluctance to give advice comes from. You could start off genuinely wanting to give a small hint and it could domino to where you're making them not only second-guess that one thing but other things, everything, and not only themselves, but the people they hired and trusted (if it is a situation where they hired engineers/producer/etc or if they are the engineer) which could cause even more doubt and conflict, among others or internally. I think this is where some of the other MEs diverge from your view, especially with someone who is alone, because they really want to help them get that better result. To me that's a tough decision because they may not be able to do better given their situation and experience. (more on this below).

As someone who has led projects with designers where my job was to critique and art direct, even I could take things too far at times if I wasn't careful. Drastically different to music in ways as in that situation the artists are trying to get out the client's/director's creative vision and part of my job was helping to steer them and trying to get all of us to create that vision. Too much or too little advice and I could confuse them or steer them inadvertently into left field. It's amazing how quickly morale can drop after someone has put in a lot of hard work. Part of doing design work like this is being able to take critiques (sometimes very harsh ones) and not be demotivated or second-guess how good you are. Not everyone can handle it.

Quote:
The goal is to intuit what they wanted in what they approve. Or even to hear more than what they want. And to go there. We NEED THEIR APPROVED vision to begin, as that is the building block of our work.
This to me is where the experience and talent of the ME trumps everything. Having to instantly recall a million nuances over your lifetime and understand where the mix was going even if it fell a bit short in spots. When I sat in on one mastering session I could not hear the subtle difference of some things when changed but I heard the overall change.

I have similar experience doing this with other forms of art. I could tell where an artist was trying to take something and then refine it—such as with color correction/grading. Again, different industry so sometimes they would be required to do the change. There were times though where I taught them techniques or just told them how to look at things from a different angle, especially with those coming right out of school, which allowed them to reach that end repeatedly without my help. I pointed out the other paths instead of holding their hand down each one. I even developed a project designed to make them fail, but it taught them reams and they all thanked me for it

Quote:
Embrace, Respect and then Enhance. Technical mastering is more about perfectionism and norms, "fixing" things, not screwing it up, etc.
This is a better explanation to me—how is the approach, the overarching view of the process. Are you taking something inferior and fixing it or simply bringing out what is great about it to begin with.

One analogy is photography. I love it and one thing I do is to try and photograph the mundane and make it beautiful. I'm not changing anything about it, just displaying it's inherent, subtle beauty so other's can see what I see.

Another analogy I can make is taking RAW footage shot in LOG by a whole team of talented people on set over the course of a day or more. All the greatness was already captured in those moments due to sometimes dozens of people or more. It looks high quality but is a bit bland. Adjusting the contrast and other things to bring out those rich shadows, subtle hues and gorgeous highlights to make it show off that brilliance that was already there to begin with was all that was needed.

Might be a stretch, but there ya go.

Quote:
There is no generic standard for a good HH or an appropriate anything, that is on them. This is art, it's not a science project. The vision and confidence of the team is everything.
This I understand. Trying to explain music or any form of art with words is very difficult and usually gets muddy. It's like when someone asks, "How did you draw that?" The only reasonable answer I could come up with was, "I started drawing it until I felt it was done." I was just trying to get at what you were saying. Analogies were probably lacking.

Quote:
My aim, when asked to use my experience and taste to tear into their work, is to encourage their process and confidence. Not to make them codependent, and start into a mix critique that could have no end, teach them nothing, and would leave the mix neutered of it's unique vision.
This is what I'd like to really know. What do/would you tell them about the process that would encourage them and allow them to improve without giving them a critique?

So to sum up...

I think you honestly care deeply about the music and the people who create it and you want to help foster their development, but your perceived arrogance, inflexibility and curtness blind people to what you're saying. I don't mean that as an insult. I'm arrogant in ways too or may come across like that when I don't sugar coat **** and I can very opinionated. But I do approach what I do wanting to see everyone succeed and improve and based on experience. I don't really care who's ego is swelling more as far as this conversation is concerned. Even the world's biggest asshole may have some knowledge to share. This is why I keep asking questions, because I agree with most of what you're saying and want to get at your reasoning.

I think what some are struggling with is this: "Who is going to help that person who needs it if I don't give them my advice?" Doubly so if the person is requesting help. After all, the ME might be the only professional they can afford to get advice from. They could be struggling to survive and get their music out there doing everything themselves. You not giving advice and others giving advice is both coming from the same place of wanting to help. I suppose it would depend on what the advice is and how it's relayed.

I personally have never been in the situation to learn much from audio professionals. I started off playing by ear when I was a toddler and had a crude DAW by 12 and a better one by 16. I had no mentors and wasn't pushed very much by family even though there was good reason to. From then until now I wasn't in positions to learn or get advice from many engineers short of a brief stint at one college in between working. A few years ago I started practicing mixing as I had time to kill—to try to improve my skills even though I don't plan on being an engineer. It's helped me with songwriting/arranging as well. The best advice I've gotten from other engineers I've talked to on here and elsewhere on the web was about technique. Honestly it was way better for me and I made huge improvements. Understanding how to approach the tools forced me to listen harder and apply those techniques and learn why I was doing it, which in turn helped me write things for different instruments better understanding how I could balance them sonically when mixing. I still had reached the limits of my equipment and could only go so far, but I was finally able to hear those problems myself. Currently I'm killing myself trying to get what I know I need to take further steps.

This whole thread reminds me of, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life." Cliché as all hell but it fits to me. The gray area with music is when the person you want to see succeed can barely afford the bait and made his pole out of a bent twig. Sometimes there is only so much we are capable of given our situation. Perhaps your suggestion is that it is not the MEs place to give the sort of advice that others have bought up and that's where the disconnect is.

Also, as one last side note, I would NOT want to master my own mixes, even if I get to the point where I can mix as good as some of the best. It's the same reason I don't want to really mix my own songs. I learned long ago it helps to have a second set of eyes, ears or hands on things and is no insult to the artist. I've taken it to where I can get it and now I pass it off to someone I trust to help release the rest of that inner beauty.

And with that, I'm going to go dip my knuckles in some ice.
Old 5 days ago
  #208
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan jetter View Post
But, I have to say- the times I've sent my mixes to Brian, they have come back undeniably better, more musical, etc.

I've worked with several of the top mastering guys, and a bunch of the middle tier, and on projects with a wide range of budgets. major label, indie label, and unsigned.

Brian turns things around quick, they sound amazing, and he's super easy to communicate with. I'd send him all my mixes if I could.
Thank you. Not sure why that dude decided to make this thread about me personally or mastering in general as a mix fixer and thus overblown or useless when the mix is superb, but thanks.
Old 5 days ago
  #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
Thanks for the in-depth response. Some of it you had answered previously so thanks for that. I do want to respond in kind so this may be get a bit lengthy. The rest of you can save your eyes and scroll past.
great advice ... SCROLL PAST is this is not your cup of tea, big internet out there


Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
I think this is great direction. It encourages people not be lazy and try their mix on different systems to see how they translate and make any changes before it hits your desk. It allows them to reflect on what they've done and catch things they might not have.

I would ask this: If after listening, making revisions and deciding on the best version, would you accept their direction in reaching the goal they could not after numerous attempts? They can hear what's wrong but they just can't achieve it. Example: "My system/room/experience is just not there yet. I've done my best but I can't tighten up the lows or smooth the highs as much as I want. Can you enhance X/Y/Z to the best of your ability given my mix?" In that case would you do your best given the mix or give more advice since they actually know what they want?
It's so much easier and more than you are asking. I hear things quickly and can do more than they could explain. So sure, maybe they say something specific, or send a ref for volume and tone, but the main way people want me to work is just do a pass, then they will comment.

The mastering mindset is not the mixing mindset, it's not about parts it's about EVERYTHING as a whole, and the parts come along for the ride.

If the nasty HH is musically in the way, it gets treated heavily, if it's par for the track it gets less. Etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
I think this is the heart of where your reluctance to give advice comes from. You could start off genuinely wanting to give a small hint and it could domino to where you're making them not only second-guess that one thing but other things, everything, and not only themselves, but the people they hired and trusted (if it is a situation where they hired engineers/producer/etc or if they are the engineer) which could cause even more doubt and conflict, among others or internally. I think this is where some of the other MEs diverge from your view, especially with someone who is alone, because they really want to help them get that better result. To me that's a tough decision because they may not be able to do better given their situation and experience. (more on this below).
I want the best result, for sure. I'm saying that if they have listened and approved there is nothing I need to say about the mix. As you said, it's messy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
As someone who has led projects with designers where my job was to critique and art direct, even I could take things too far at times if I wasn't careful. Drastically different to music in ways as in that situation the artists are trying to get out the client's/director's creative vision and part of my job was helping to steer them and trying to get all of us to create that vision. Too much or too little advice and I could confuse them or steer them inadvertently into left field. It's amazing how quickly morale can drop after someone has put in a lot of hard work. Part of doing design work like this is being able to take critiques (sometimes very harsh ones) and not be demotivated or second-guess how good you are. Not everyone can handle it.
Momentum is the name of the game, not perfectionism which is at root, fear based.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
This to me is where the experience and talent of the ME trumps everything. Having to instantly recall a million nuances over your lifetime and understand where the mix was going even if it fell a bit short in spots. When I sat in on one mastering session I could not hear the subtle difference of some things when changed but I heard the overall change.
Sometimes it's a lot of subtle things that add up in a big way, sometimes it's heavy lifting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
I have similar experience doing this with other forms of art. I could tell where an artist was trying to take something and then refine it—such as with color correction/grading. Again, different industry so sometimes they would be required to do the change. There were times though where I taught them techniques or just told them how to look at things from a different angle, especially with those coming right out of school, which allowed them to reach that end repeatedly without my help. I pointed out the other paths instead of holding their hand down each one. I even developed a project designed to make them fail, but it taught them reams and they all thanked me for it
Nice. Color correction is not a bad analogy, on some levels at least.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
This is a better explanation to me—how is the approach, the overarching view of the process. Are you taking something inferior and fixing it or simply bringing out what is great about it to begin with.
Yes. The warts are the charm, in potential. Nothing is broken, nothing is fixed, it's a work in progress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
One analogy is photography. I love it and one thing I do is to try and photograph the mundane and make it beautiful. I'm not changing anything about it, just displaying it's inherent, subtle beauty so other's can see what I see.

Another analogy I can make is taking RAW footage shot in LOG by a whole team of talented people on set over the course of a day or more. All the greatness was already captured in those moments due to sometimes dozens of people or more. It looks high quality but is a bit bland. Adjusting the contrast and other things to bring out those rich shadows, subtle hues and gorgeous highlights to make it show off that brilliance that was already there to begin with was all that was needed.

Might be a stretch, but there ya go.

This I understand. Trying to explain music or any form of art with words is very difficult and usually gets muddy. It's like when someone asks, "How did you draw that?" The only reasonable answer I could come up with was, "I started drawing it until I felt it was done." I was just trying to get at what you were saying. Analogies were probably lacking.


This is what I'd like to really know. What do/would you tell them about the process that would encourage them and allow them to improve without giving them a critique?

Improve your room, improve your monitors, then mostly work on improving your listening skill. That's the big one.

Meditation to chill the mind and relax the body, so we can listen better.

Endless A/B of things, so we have a frame of reference

Listening on many systems to learn the room we are in


Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
So to sum up...

I think you honestly care deeply about the music and the people who create it and you want to help foster their development, but your perceived arrogance, inflexibility and curtness blind people to what you're saying. I don't mean that as an insult. I'm arrogant in ways too or may come across like that when I don't sugar coat **** and I can very opinionated. But I do approach what I do wanting to see everyone succeed and improve and based on experience. I don't really care who's ego is swelling more as far as this conversation is concerned. Even the world's biggest asshole may have some knowledge to share. This is why I keep asking questions, because I agree with most of what you're saying and want to get at your reasoning.
I'm a service provider, there is no ego in that. It's about making the best possible music. Best possible, means no short cuts, for anyone.

Arrogance is what people call skill and confidence when they lack both and can't see the service component in what I'm saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
I think what some are struggling with is this: "Who is going to help that person who needs it if I don't give them my advice?" Doubly so if the person is requesting help. After all, the ME might be the only professional they can afford to get advice from. They could be struggling to survive and get their music out there doing everything themselves. You not giving advice and others giving advice is both coming from the same place of wanting to help. I suppose it would depend on what the advice is and how it's relayed.
The internet is full of advice, free and paid. There is more info than ever. What is lacking is doing the hard work of listening.

People are wanting someone else to be the authority and that is a losing strategy for the mixer or their music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
I personally have never been in the situation to learn much from audio professionals. I started off playing by ear when I was a toddler and had a crude DAW by 12 and a better one by 16. I had no mentors and wasn't pushed very much by family even though there was good reason to. From then until now I wasn't in positions to learn or get advice from many engineers short of a brief stint at one college in between working. A few years ago I started practicing mixing as I had time to kill—to try to improve my skills even though I don't plan on being an engineer. It's helped me with songwriting/arranging as well. The best advice I've gotten from other engineers I've talked to on here and elsewhere on the web was about technique. Honestly it was way better for me and I made huge improvements. Understanding how to approach the tools forced me to listen harder and apply those techniques and learn why I was doing it, which in turn helped me write things for different instruments better understanding how I could balance them sonically when mixing. I still had reached the limits of my equipment and could only go so far, but I was finally able to hear those problems myself. Currently I'm killing myself trying to get what I know I need to take further steps.
Room, monitors, then hard pan everything and find a way to make it work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
This whole thread reminds me of, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life." Cliché as all hell but it fits to me.
Exactly. Give a person a fish and they won't push themselves to the promised land of their potential. But they will come back to you repeatedly for advice.

That's enabling co-dependency. Unethical IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
The gray area with music is when the person you want to see succeed can barely afford the bait and made his pole out of a bent twig. Sometimes there is only so much we are capable of given our situation. Perhaps your suggestion is that it is not the MEs place to give the sort of advice that others have bought up and that's where the disconnect is.
I'm saying there is no advice a ME can give that is not availableto the mixer who puts inthe work. And the advice given MAY WELL be detrimental to the music as it's always from a place of generic standards not connected to this unique work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradivus View Post
Also, as one last side note, I would NOT want to master my own mixes, even if I get to the point where I can mix as good as some of the best. It's the same reason I don't want to really mix my own songs. I learned long ago it helps to have a second set of eyes, ears or hands on things and is no insult to the artist. I've taken it to where I can get it and now I pass it off to someone I trust to help release the rest of that inner beauty.

And with that, I'm going to go dip my knuckles in some ice.
I can change my oil, or paint my house, or clean my teeth too. DIY becomes rather "arrogant" and narcissistic at a point.

What is it we do? Focus on that become great. Pay people who are great to collaborate with us. That's co-creating.

That's a good life.
Old 5 days ago
  #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
The mastering mindset is not the mixing mindset, it's not about parts it's about EVERYTHING as a whole, and the parts come along for the ride. If the nasty HH is musically in the way, it gets treated heavily, if it's par for the track it gets less. Etc.
It feels like a different mindset. My ears definitely jump to the parts. I think it would take a lot of time comparing completed mixes to masters and doing it myself regularly. Last time I did a collaboration with someone and they asked me to do a "rough master" (basically slap a multi-band limiter on it and an EQ) and it was very hard to even know where to begin, partly because I had just mixed it. A few things eventually made sense when I came back the next day but it felt like listening in a different way. When I compared the two I ended up changing the mix a bit and then the new master sounded better.

Quote:
Momentum is the name of the game, not perfectionism which is at root, fear based.
Same in the art world. I used to use that line from Wag The Dog to keep people moving: "A good plan today is better than the perfect plan tomorrow." Things that are mathematically perfect tend to be boring, even sterile, and take too much time or just blend in like background noise.

Quote:
Improve your room, improve your monitors, then mostly work on improving your listening skill. That's the big one.
This is the conclusion I came to and where I'm currently at. Listening skill is an organic process to me and it happens without realizing it. Can't be forced. Just comes more natural with practice. I'm trying to improve the space I have as much as I can so I can listen to what the hell is really there.

Quote:
Meditation to chill the mind and relax the body, so we can listen better.
I agree with this very much. Your environment can really affect your creativity and motivation. I did this in the past with great results and am currently doing it again. Even the colors around you and the lighting can change your mood. Stress in itself can be tough to deal with to have that clarity of mind so you can focus properly.

Quote:
Arrogance is what people call skill and confidence when they lack both and can't see the service component in what I'm saying. I can change my oil, or paint my house, or clean my teeth too. DIY becomes rather "arrogant" and narcissistic at a point.
I think arrogance is another gamut, but I've been there before in both senses. When you achieve a certain level of skill some things don't even require conscious thought and how you view and approach things is vastly different. It's hard to explain and outsiders may think you're just a dick (which sometimes we all are guilty of anyway). I got to a point after working many years where I only took on those things I knew I was qualified for and handed off the rest to others more qualified for those tasks. The result was way better. I also had to step back sometimes and remind myself I was providing a service for someone and helping them achieve what they wanted was the goal.

In fact, with my own music I have been holding off for that same reason and just continue to write. Many would disagree and say to just do it all myself, put it out and hope for the best, throw on youtube and soundcloud... but I know what my vision is and I can't achieve that right now and refuse to settle. It's very difficult at times, but it still feels like the right choice. So I'm working toward it. Right or wrong I have to have to pursue it and reach for that greatness as I see it and I have no need and no time to try and put someone in my shoes. It's not perfection in the technical sense though there is a technical aspect to some of it.

Quote:
What is it we do? Focus on that become great. Pay people who are great to collaborate with us. That's co-creating.

That's a good life.
That's what I'm striving for. It's one of the few things that keeps me going.

Thanks for the back and forth. I have a much clearer idea of what you meant now.
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