The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Transparency vs. Colour in mastering
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Transparency vs. Colour in mastering

Hi guys!

When doing Mastering, are you often looking to add colour or are you trying to stay as transparent as possible ?

I personally like to stay very transparent to respect the mixing engineer's vision of the tone and colour of the song. So I'm using transparent tools rather than using more colourful tools like Manley and stuff.

What is your view on this ?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelStAmour View Post
Hi guys!

When doing Mastering, are you often looking to add colour or are you trying to stay as transparent as possible ?

I personally like to stay very transparent to respect the mixing engineer's vision of the tone and colour of the song. So I'm using transparent tools rather than using more colourful tools like Manley and stuff.

What is your view on this ?
100% transparent is an illusion.
every intervention is actually loaded with side effects.

so we're trying to find a tool that has the most matching side effects.

more meaningful than "transparent" is IMHO to speak of "fitting" and "unsuitable".
every task needs its tools - you don't use a hammer for screwing, but it fits well to nailing.

but now it is part of the mastering task to bring underemphasized aspects to the front and to get a handle on too loud or uncontrolled signal components.
in addition there is occasionally the discrepancy between the dynamics of the source material and the meaningful dynamics in the expected listening situation.
you should always keep the desired final vision in mind and work towards it.
while in one case a tool is technically quite transparent, but so that the desired parts of the music cannot be balanced, a more coloring tool might be more suitable to get closer to the vision.
example: a rather slow eq (coloring) emphasizes the bass guitar more than the bass drum.
if the bass guitar is now mixed too quietly, I take the slow eq to raise and then lower it again with the fast eq until the desired amount of energy fits into this range.

Last edited by teebaum; 4 weeks ago at 12:52 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
the unik's Avatar
Yes I think it really depends on WHAT and WHO you are doing the Mastering for.. what type of music, quality of the mixdown (the mix), numbers and what kind of instruments etc etc. It also depends on what the client is looking for by working with you. Actually I'm often ask to add some "analog" mojo to the mix, but without changing the way the mix sounds...kind of defeating it's on purpose really but that's what I'm asked to do many many times. I just finished the Mastering of a Piano based 10 tracks album. Well here I used only the most transparent tools I had, and made just slight adjustments here and there. The day before that I mastered a track (stem Mastering) in the "G house" style, were I boosted almost 5 DB on the lows at 45hz with a very colored eq... You need tools for everything.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Yes I agree.
Was just a bit curious about what people thought about that. I recently saw a video of a Mastering engineer online, and he was pretty set on ''Mastering must be as transparent as possible'' using things like Weiss, etc.
Everything we do and everything we use add or remove something, so being ''transparent'' here is not very possible on itself. But I think he was more talking about colour.
I agree with you guys,
I sometime use some very transparent EQ with little change here and there, but sometime I'll use a much more colourful EQ to add some energy and feel.
For me, it always depends on ''what does it needs, and how can I make it''.
But, I guess there is different thought about it
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

You could argue that the more a colour sounds like it was part of the mix, the more transparent it is. Having said that, I tend to err on the side of uncoloured.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
JP__'s Avatar
 

Verified Member
Im with Teebaum here; transparent is a myth.
In mastering its more about balancing out those different colors.
But mixing too much colors easily might result in brown...

PS: I never really understood what "color" means in audio...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Nut
 

I think this is a good question. I also think it's important to understand whether we individually approach the profession as an art or a science. Some may work to impart their own vision on the music as an expression, while others may work to maintain the vision they perceive from the mix. I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer generally speaking, but I do believe there is an approach that works best for each of us. To find our own approach and to feel confident in that approach in the face of critics or clients or forum posters should probably be our goal. Confidence is what people seek out in mastering engineers. Oh and certified gold records. Confidence and gold records.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelStAmour View Post
Hi guys!

When doing Mastering, are you often looking to add colour or are you trying to stay as transparent as possible ?

I personally like to stay very transparent to respect the mixing engineer's vision of the tone and colour of the song. So I'm using transparent tools rather than using more colourful tools like Manley and stuff.

What is your view on this ?
I always ask the client. That's the very first thing I do. If he gives me very clear instructions that the mix is exactly as he/she wants it then I go as transparent as possible (often ITB only). If it's a client that complains about digititis or keeps saying "I need that commercial sound" then it usually translates to "I need way more color and depth to this thing" which is when I bring out the sweet sweet harmonic distortion and every weapon in the arsenal (love these projects ).

If I get a simple "meh.. do what you want" then I go with my gut and just do what I feel is best for the project.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
I always ask the client. That's the very first thing I do. If he gives me very clear instructions that the mix is exactly as he/she wants it then I go as transparent as possible (often ITB only). If it's a client that complains about digititis or keeps saying "I need that commercial sound" then it usually translates to "I need way more color and depth to this thing" which is when I bring out the sweet sweet harmonic distortion and every weapon in the arsenal (love these projects ).

If I get a simple "meh.. do what you want" then I go with my gut and just do what I feel is best for the project.
most of the time the music explains itself, but i have some special tools that are strongly aesthetically influencing and when i have an attended session, i let the client hear this option (if i find it useful) to see if he responds to it or would rather have a more neutral treatment.

just these special tools have already given me one or the other regular customers.

but you can also get yourself off the hook with it - that's why it can happen that i offer a new customer (whose preferences I don't know well yet) the option for a song in advance and wait for his feeback.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Hermetech Mastering's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelStAmour View Post
When doing Mastering, are you often looking to add colour or are you trying to stay as transparent as possible?
Completely depends on the client and their brief. Ideally you have the gear to cover both eventualities and everything in between.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
JP__'s Avatar
 

Verified Member
I sometimes offer two or more different master versions (e.g. for the first track of an album) to see what route the clients prefer more. But I still would not say one is more colored as the other then, they are just different perspectives of a possible musical enhancement.
Its still the approach of trying to balance out all these different colors/aretfacts that comes with every processing in a musical way. A clean solid state EQ might pronounce some annoying aspects in the music under processing (from the processing itself or from its boxtone) which can get even out by a more characterful EQ (or its boxtone). In the end we have a still quite transparent processing result which hasnt destroyed important musicality (like a lot of "clean" tools tend to in my ears).

So my philosophy is to normally process as transparent as possible, but as with enough "color" as needed to retain the musicality of a track. Correction moves that leads to an musical enhancement, not correction moves that leads to... mmmh... just "technical correction"...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
I guess color in mastering roughly translates glue to mixing.

Its ok to ask a ME to add glue to the mix but I don't think that happens often. If the ME's hardware already has too much "color" by default that would scare me as it will likely impact in a negative way to a mix balance just by running through.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 

In the past few years I've actually impressed most clients with "removing glue" from their mixes, that is, getting details and separation of elements back. It seems to be very common to do a lot of bus processing with plugins and thus quite a few mixes get very congested, not just by frequency overlap but in the micro dynamics as well. I've got a whole slew of custom tools here that tackle that particular problem.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
JP__'s Avatar
 

Verified Member
To me its about glue AND details and separation. A vocal thats sitting well in the mix, but at the same time comes with the illusion its right in front of you. A denser mix without loosing snare punch. Healthy transients and 3D without nervous spikey peaks. Organic, airy low mids without getting muddy...
Something that definitly needs a HQ analog chain and tubes. Is that because of color or clean...?

I think tubes are a good example talking "color" as to most people its a tool for coloring mainly as a lot of developers use them to easilycolor their gear. But in the end they could also deliver "clean" very well, maybe even better than IC-circuits (depending on the artefact you are focussing at).
Another thing are transformers. Most awfully smeary and colored, but a few are just beautifully enhancing if used right.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Nut
 
duende's Avatar
 

Haven't posted here in awhile. But for my .02. Definitely not trying to add color, and have long since given up on the notion of "transparency". If the gear inline doesn't contribute negative artifacts, but gets the job done in a solid manner, then that's transparent enough for me these days.

Personally, I think the job of the mastering engineer is to balance out the mixes frequency-wise, bring it up to a good reference level, and essentially free the music from the speakers.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
When I started mastering long ago I didn't know exactly what "coloration" was made up of or how certain gear achieved it. But what I did assume was that most clients wanted it. If they were going to pay for mastering then they wanted the ME to bring something special to the table. To enhance the sound beyond just frequency response and level. They wanted to hear some significant difference or benefit for their money.

Working under that assumption I set about a long process of trial and error until I found a chain of outboard gear that makes my ears happy just by passing audio through. It worked out well for me, so I think my original assumption was mostly correct. Or at least correct enough for the clients who became repeat customers and gave referrals. In that way my client base developed naturally out of people who enjoy the same sound that I enjoy. Those who prefer "transparent" likely gravitated to someone else. So be it. All is as it should be.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
For me, the question is a different one that I ask myself when mastering.

first i try to find out what the vision of the artists (or producer) is for this song.

then i try to get as close as possible to this vision with my methods.

sometimes it's self-explanatory, sometimes you need some input from the artist / producer.

it's most difficult when he didn't have a vision on his own or the workmanship is so bad that it's impossible to recognize it...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Addict
 
gorka's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post

it's most difficult when he didn't have a vision on his own or the workmanship is so bad that it's impossible to recognize it...
Or even worse when the vision is Man City and the mix is Dover Athletic ...
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
The Press Desk / Product Alerts older than 2 months
20
Mario Martinez / Mastering forum
39
drumdrum / Mastering forum
15
Joe_caithness / Mastering forum
20

Forum Jump
Forum Jump