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Mastering for Type 1 cassette: recommended LUFS and RMS values?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Mastering for Type 1 cassette: recommended LUFS and RMS values?

Does anyone have any tried and true values to aim for when mastering tracks for cassette? LUFS seems to be the more accepted value to use these days and I am current aiming for -16 (which yields RMS values between -15 to -19), though I am also reading that I might want to go higher. It doesn't state exactly what value on this site, but the image suggests ~-9: https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/maste...r-cassette.php

The material is quite variable (dry percussive synth to solid fundamental synth drone) and my ears are having a hard time gauging relative volumes, so it would be nice to have some safe numbers to aid me.
Old 4 weeks ago
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Type 1 tape (cassette tape) can hold most volume. If I'm not mistaken, peak level with Dolby engaged is +3 dB. Type 1 tape can hold the most saturation of all 3 tape types. I know, that's not what you asked but still...

European cassette tape formulations are quite different from Japanese. I would search for technical documentation on tape formulations, levels, saturation and all relevant details on this subject with whomever you're delivering for tape replication/duplication.

Interesting post I give you that! Sends me back to cassette tape and recordings on tape. Thanks man! ;-)
Old 4 weeks ago
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

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The digital level is completely irrelevant for cassette duplication - the plant will duplicate to their ideal level to suit the formulation of tape. No need to peak limit or normalise though.
If doing it yourself, set peak input levels (on the cassette deck meters) to ~0VU (and monitor off-tape, not to the input).
Old 4 weeks ago
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
The digital level is completely irrelevant for cassette duplication - the plant will duplicate to their ideal level to suit the formulation of tape.
This exactly. There is no relation between the two.

Quote:
If doing it yourself, set peak input levels (on the cassette deck meters) to ~0VU (and monitor off-tape, not to the input).
Back in my cassette mastering days (late '80s, early '90s) I could insert a cassette deck into my monitoring chain. I would run the program through that deck at the calibrated duplication level on the tape the project was being duped on to hear exactly what it would do in real time (ignoring variations in electronics between the deck and the dupe chain). You learn about tape saturation and over modulation very quickly that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Ruff View Post
The material is quite variable (dry percussive synth to solid fundamental synth drone) and my ears are having a hard time gauging relative volumes, so it would be nice to have some safe numbers to aid me.
Your ears are all that matter. That's all people will be using to listen with.
Old 4 weeks ago
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thanks--I guess I knew in the back of my mind that the tape duplicator would ultimately be setting themselves.

Perhaps the driving issue is that I'm struggling to match up track volumes, and so using LUFS numbers to do that. Since I have to pick a number to aim for, it seemed to make sense to find one applicable for the media (which I guess there isn't!)
Old 4 weeks ago
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
The digital level is completely irrelevant for cassette duplication - the plant will duplicate to their ideal level to suit the formulation of tape. No need to peak limit or normalise though.
If doing it yourself, set peak input levels (on the cassette deck meters) to ~0VU (and monitor off-tape, not to the input).
Word!

QFT!

jt
Old 4 weeks ago
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Ruff View Post
Perhaps the driving issue is that I'm struggling to match up track volumes, and so using LUFS numbers to do that.
That doesn't work. Numbers will lead you astray. Ears are all that matters. Keep struggling until you get it.

Best of luck!
Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
That doesn't work. Numbers will lead you astray. Ears are all that matters. Keep struggling until you get it.

Best of luck!
Thanks! this is what I'm learning. The numbers were helpful for a starting point but in reality I'm still having to make some big (up to 5 dB) volume adjustments. The material is just too diverse and dynamic to apply a single approach.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Dan Popp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Ruff View Post
The material is just too diverse and dynamic to apply a single approach.
More compression is probably your friend here. Back in the day, you would have to expect that the playback environment would be a passenger car. Oof.
Old 4 weeks ago
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Ruff View Post
Does anyone have any tried and true values to aim for when mastering tracks for cassette?
Sorry, one more question. Are you producing/mixing all ITB or analog?

If you're ITB then I'd suggest you DO NOT worry about numbers but do your thing and leave it at cca. -0.5 to -1 dB peak level (LUFS). Tape recorder will do the rest.

Remember, you don't need to 'adjust' levels and freq. response (adjusting to tape norm) which is pretty narrow sort of speak. In general (please guys, don't go anal here) tape has the best freq. response between 200-400 Hz (lower than that doesn't fly that well) and cca. 14k-17k (everything above doesn't fly either). And the most crucial part, most sturation and level tape can handle and give best results are somewhere around 700Hz to 2/3k.

My suggestion would be this - make your music the best as you can (as always, by ears) and tape facility, tale recorder, tape head and tape itself will do it's part.

Sorry for yet another post but this was bugging me so that's why I went for another post on same subject.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biksonije View Post
Sorry, one more question. Are you producing/mixing all ITB or analog?

If you're ITB then I'd suggest you DO NOT worry about numbers but do your thing and leave it at cca. -0.5 to -1 dB peak level (LUFS). Tape recorder will do the rest.

Remember, you don't need to 'adjust' levels and freq. response (adjusting to tape norm) which is pretty narrow sort of speak. In general (please guys, don't go anal here) tape has the best freq. response between 200-400 Hz (lower than that doesn't fly that well) and cca. 14k-17k (everything above doesn't fly either). And the most crucial part, most sturation and level tape can handle and give best results are somewhere around 700Hz to 2/3k.

My suggestion would be this - make your music the best as you can (as always, by ears) and tape facility, tale recorder, tape head and tape itself will do it's part.

Sorry for yet another post but this was bugging me so that's why I went for another post on same subject.
more good points. The source material was originally all analog but track leveling is being done ITB, which is well my concern about LUFS values was coming from. Following what others say, I'm going to match the side volumes as best as I can and then let the tape duplicator worry about the rest!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Ruff View Post
more good points. The source material was originally all analog but track leveling is being done ITB, which is well my concern about LUFS values was coming from. Following what others say, I'm going to match the side volumes as best as I can and then let the tape duplicator worry about the rest!
Yes, exactly. Do the job properly and your job is done. If I were you I'd master the recording at -1 dB FS just to be on a safe side. ;-)

Recording to tape is next step and you don't need to 'target' freq. response and what not yourself. Your recoding must be done right ITB. Downsides of tape itself are what they are (as a medium) and that is something you shouldn't worry about (narrow field, levels, saturation). Of course, if you're in position of being present at some kind of 'first recording' or 'tape master' to hear what's ending up on the tape itself - even better. It is possible to hear that becasue if I can adjust bias and 'hear' recording via my 3rd head on home tape recorder (cassette deck) then I'm pretty sure some best tape equipment used in this process have similar, if not the same, possibilities. Right?

Anyway, good luck. Never done it for the tape but it's not that impossible to do the job right. Hope it turns out nice. Got someone with hands-on experience to ask before finishing by any chance? That would be the best way to go. But you know that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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One important thing to remember with cassette mastering is to expect transients to be softened and to not have high frequencies at high levels on the master. Back in the day cassette deck frequency response was measured at -20dB (where 0dB produced a recorded level of 200nwb/m). If you tried to measure at 0 or even -10dB you would notice a distinct droop at the high end due to saturation.
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