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Plugin for finding vinyl mastering issues
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Plugin for finding vinyl mastering issues

I'm mixing my first record for vinyl and am looking for a plugin or tool that will review the files and determine obvious vinyl mastering issues.

I found a thread about Rebeat Perfect Groove Virtual Cutting Lathe, but it looks like it's not yet released. Someone also mentioned GZ Vinyl but I didn't see any similar tools on their site.

Is there something similar to the Rebeat product out there?

To be clear, I'm not looking for a magical plugin, I know there will be more work done by the engineer. I just want a tool to point out the obvious errors that I've read about - sibilance, phase issues, non-mono bass <150 hZ, etc.

Thanks!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
In my opinion, just create the best record you can make, regardless the format.
At the post production stage, more in mastering, some could be deployed in mixing, those things can be watched for.

Good luck and have fun!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
+1.

If the mixes sound good, they'll transfer to vinyl just fine.

Keep a reign on excessive sibilance and distortion and avoid flat-topped waveforms. Don't sum the bass to mono; that's much rarer an issue than the internet would have us believe. It will be dealt with in cutting if needed.

Other than that, use a good cutting engineer and get a test pressing. That's all you really need to worry about.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
+1.

If the mixes sound good, they'll transfer to vinyl just fine.

Keep a reign on excessive sibilance and distortion and avoid flat-topped waveforms. Don't sum the bass to mono; that's much rarer an issue than the internet would have us believe. It will be dealt with in cutting if needed.

Other than that, use a good cutting engineer and get a test pressing. That's all you really need to worry about.
This !!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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biksonije's Avatar
 

In my opinion finish your music, your track(s) and send them to, as you have already mentioned, GZ as an example.

GZ, just as any other vinyl press plant, have their own proprietary tools (check one of YouTube videos about GZ plant where you can see their own software for prepress duties and a really good interview with their tech staff) for checking audio before making masters.

Anyway, you should not be thinking about such tools because they don't exist in a form you're after but also every audio material which is going to be vinyl pressed highly rely on tech experience, master cutter and overall vinyl preparation staff experience.

I couldn't tell you which is best, making your own master cuts or sending audio to press plant and let them make their masters. I lack experience on that department. What I'm suggesting is merely my own logic.

Every prepress process and master cutter will probavly send you some kind of vinyl like some kind of "proof" material they made from which entire batch will be pressed.

Good luck with your vinyl release!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!!!

Krešo
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
The main thing to check for is excessive sibilance, because alleviating this will improve the sound of your master for all formats, not just vinyl. But don't do anything that you're not certain makes the master sound better, and leave the rest to the cutting engineer.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenVoltage View Post
I'm mixing my first record for vinyl and am looking for a plugin or tool that will review the files and determine obvious vinyl mastering issues.
I hope there is no such plugin. It would only perpetuate misinformation and apply one-size-fits-all measures.

Listen to what SmoothTone told you.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Thank you all for the responses.

One follow-up question.

How much does the engineer tweak individual songs?

I have a couple songs that have synth transitions to the next song (like Steve Miller Band, Book of Dreams) without a pause, but the two songs are pretty different tonally.

Will the engineer paint the record with a wide brush, or detail each song, or something in between?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenVoltage View Post
Thank you all for the responses.

One follow-up question.

How much does the engineer tweak individual songs?

I have a couple songs that have synth transitions to the next song (like Steve Miller Band, Book of Dreams) without a pause, but the two songs are pretty different tonally.

Will the engineer paint the record with a wide brush, or detail each song, or something in between?
If you want this kind of detailed treatment you should hire a mastering engineer. Some pressing plants have in-house mastering engineers, or you could hire an independent.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Head
 
S_mask's Avatar
 

What others have replied is right. Basically, don't give vinyl _any_ thought while mixing, since none of the issues that will affect good vinyl playback are going to be in a well-mixed track. Give the mix, itself, your full attention. The better you make it sound, the better the vinyl will be, and anyone cutting records professionally will know how to shoe-horn your good-sounding mix into the groove. If you're worried it will not be portrayed with satisfactory results, request a reference disk from the cutting studio. If you're not dealing directly with the 'cutterist', perhaps having cutting brokered through the pressing plant (along with everything else), the plant rep may be able at least to have you sent a .wav file of the digitization of a test cut, played from a lacquer. You'll have to evaluate the initial test pressings, too, in order to make sure that the manufacturing of the stampers and the vinyl-pressing didn't add too much noise, but the groove playback sound and performance (i.e., the groove-hiss is not audibly bothersome and the stylus is not skipping and the treatment is not overly-processed - or insufficiently de-essed) can all be evaluated with the reference disk (or its pickup's digital audio capture).


As for having program span the gap between bands on a side, it's not a problem. Just send a note that you want banding to happen at a certain time, even though silence isn't there. It will be hard for someone to cue such a segue, but if you're making a statement on an LP, you have such poetic license, and I'm already thinking about the sound of the dirigible-like synth drone, with spectral glide (or 'wah') and Doppler effect (as if it's passing overhead), playing during the banding between 'Friends' and 'Celebration Day' on Led Zeppelin III.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Your best best is to hire a mastering engineer that cuts vinyl. Work with them to ensure your mixes are ready to master. Don't just send your audio to the plant! Most plants with in house cutting facilities are focused on playability above audio quality and you'll often get a safe, middle of the road result...especially with the European plant that uses their proprietary audio processing on every cut.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
Your best best is to hire a mastering engineer that cuts vinyl. Work with them to ensure your mixes are ready to master. Don't just send your audio to the plant! Most plants with in house cutting facilities are focused on playability above audio quality and you'll often get a safe, middle of the road result...especially with the European plant that uses their proprietary audio processing on every cut.
+1 Million
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

The plugin you want is a phase meter. Your DAW may already have one built-in but if not there are some excellent plugins out there like the free T-Racks one. Get it, read a bit on what it tells you, and watch it when you're mixing.

You can do all the things you are supposed to do, keeping the bass guitar and the kick drum in the center of the mix, avoiding lots of transients on the songs at the end of each side, and so forth, and then accidentally wind up with ultrasonic noise that you don't hear or an imbalance between the two channels. Metering will tell you these things are wrong before the mastering guy does.

Then, as pointed out, have a mastering engineer who actually does the mastering... actually doing the processing in the same room where he is cutting the lacquer. Don't hand it off to one guy to pre-process it and then to another guy to cut the lacquers because the two guys never know exactly what the other one is thinking and able to do. If at all possible get an attended mastering session... it will cost you more money to be at the session and it'll probably cost you some travel time and maybe a hotel stay overnight, but it will be a phenomenally educational experience and after doing it you'll find it a lot easier to mix for vinyl.
--scott
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Verified Member
Devil's Advocate here..

It's all good us MEs going round telling people what to not do when it comes to Vinyl premastering, but one of the biggest brokers in the UK is sending out sheets with a long list of things to and check and we can't be telling our customers off for following the rules set by someone they are doing thousands of quid worth of business with, as much as it might upset our mastering engineer brains..
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Mixing for vinyl is where the greatest benefit lies.

I remember needing to mark the actual center of pan pots with a grease pencil. That way the bass kick and snare could be dead center where they needed to be so I could minimize cutting problems. If I was lucky, the console was an older one with buss switches so pan pots could be avoided all together. De-essing vocals is critical because they also can cause skips. In today's DAW world, it's trivial to pan things dead center so mono LF filtering is strictly an aesthetic choice. We also have incredibly more transparent de-essing available. A mix doesn't require a brick-wall limiter so that cutting problem is eliminated.

I do pre-mastering for vinyl by making sure there are no potential problems however simply leaving off brick wall limiting and undoing any eq. compensation for it are my main steps.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Head
 
S_mask's Avatar
 

If your mix sounds better to have the kick or bass, or anything else, low in frequency, panned a little, or even fully, to one side, it can certainly be cut that way, no problem, since we can obviously cut radical stereo mixes where the entire drum set is only in the left channel, and the bass and voice are only in the right. Early stereo pressings of Aretha Franklin and ...Beatles come to mind. They generally lacked low bass, however, which I shouldn't wish to roll off, unless it was excessive aesthetically on the master 'tape'.

Radical stereo and/or one-sided booms, bass notes, or lead vox tend to affect the playback-time that's possible on a side at the target intensity since it will require a depth increase compared to passages where the low and/or loud frequencies are dead-center-panned and, therefore, could have been cut laterally, rather than diagonally... {It would have to be 100% out of phase for the cut to become 'vertical'.} The channel-panned part shows up as a difference signal that, if it's loud midrange, or simply low enough in frequency, can become the automation's 'L/V' control signal. It makes a depth increase (by further energizing the solenoid which pushes the back of the yoke up, pushing the front of the saddle down) and adds charge carriers to the pitch (or carriage-feed) current, while it's at it... {Correlated signals, which are 'double-mono', don't need to increase the depth, but are cut merely laterally and get used as the automation's 'L/L' control signal.}

The reason such panning may affect playback-time is that, unless there's already too much unused land between the groove-turns, depth increases require pitch increases in order for the outer walls of the groove not to touch each other at the same sector of the disk. A widening of the groove, caused naturally by any depth increase, makes the edges of adjacent groove turns closer together. If we're going to run out of room on a side, we can either cut with less intensity, or we can cut additional sides for the release, if the manufacturer is so inclined, but this affects costs, obviously. Sometimes, the art is so good that the double or triple vinyl release will be merrier to have than a single vinyl release by the same artist. All Things Must Pass is a classic triple-vinyl. And Songs in the Key of Life had two LPs, plus a bonus 4-song, 7" EP... Might be hard to hawk at a merch table without the name-recognition of those artists, but it's not out of the vinyl equation.

When I listen to tracks that end up making louder sibilance on (groove-)pickup than on the original master tape, despite the normal application of treble-limiting during the cut, in each case, I can hear that de-essing should have been done during the mixing for aesthetic reasons, alone - not because it sounds (even) worse from the tone arm... There already was too much of it, even though it got approved that way. It's likely that people aren't paying as much attention when not cutting a groove (since there's no danger when burning a CD or bouncing a .wav file) and then get used to the sound of excessive sibilance, allowing it to be approved that way, and then when it gets sent for a 'flat' cut without a sensitive listener operating the lacquer channel processors, we get releases like 'Maggie May' );...and that's still a good song when wearing ear plugs.

When cutting grooves, we're definitely thinking about how sibilance will translate for pickup by the end user because we want the 's' sound to be heard, since we like high fidelity to musical reality to be on a record, but we don't want to use too much current (and loud sibilance or Roger/Zapp-like loud 'clap' sounds can require thousands of Earth-G's of acceleration, btw, needing hundreds of Watts per channel, instead of only a few, like for low bass) and risk overheating the drive coils, nor do we want the record player of the listeners to distort through 'pinch effect' or even temporarily 'skating' over the tightly-packed s-curves while trying to trace (and/or scan) the passage, especially as the tone arm is pulled towards the inner radii where the land-speed is much slower, causing the esses to be packed ever-more-closely together.

Every time this has been an issue in terms of groove playback, it's been a problem in the approved mix or premaster sent to be cut, but there are several options for treating it in the cutting studio, so, as long as you get a reference cut (or .wav of its playback) to evaluate, you can benefit from a bespoke disk mastering session. Yet if the mix had been superlative to begin with, while there would have been _some_ sibilance (since that's just the sound of the letter, 's'), it wouldn't have been excessive, and the normal control-signal-cued stereo treble limiter, with shoot-through of the leading edge, would have been adequate protection against high sustained currents, while cutting, and objectionable playback distortion, after pressings are made.

I respectfully maintain, there's never a need to worry about vinyl _until_ mastering, unless your program is long enough that you'll probably need to go to more than one disk per album. And, even then, I hope you don't let one of your several delivery media these days dictate any of the aesthetics of your art, and, besides, ME's are already worrying about this for you. Just mix. And do take your time. I suggest that it should take you 8 - 12 hours to mix one song, and that's if you're as good as Joe Chiccarelli or Ken Lewis, having muchos Grammys on your credits. If you have less experience and are using less well-designed rooms and less expensive gear(s), it might take even days to get a mix properly 'nailed'. And then, you won't be coming to mastering for 'coloration' or 'vibe' to be added. You'll be demanding a very faithful treatment, which it will richly deserve, panning and sibilance notwithstanding.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Mixing for vinyl is where the greatest benefit lies.

I remember needing to mark the actual center of pan pots with a grease pencil. That way the bass kick and snare could be dead center where they needed to be so I could minimize cutting problems. If I was lucky, the console was an older one with buss switches so pan pots could be avoided all together. De-essing vocals is critical because they also can cause skips. In today's DAW world, it's trivial to pan things dead center so mono LF filtering is strictly an aesthetic choice. We also have incredibly more transparent de-essing available. A mix doesn't require a brick-wall limiter so that cutting problem is eliminated.
THIS is why I love having a phase scope parked on top of the console! I can just bring the kick up and look at the screen and see that the center really is centered!

Then I can bring up the guitar and see that the kick isn't centered any more because of the kick leakage into the guitar, and I can compensate for that and recenter it! This is something I never would have known without having the meter up.
--scott
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
5 Reviews written
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenVoltage View Post
Thank you all for the responses.How much does the engineer tweak individual songs?

I have a couple songs that have synth transitions to the next song (like Steve Miller Band, Book of Dreams) without a pause, but the two songs are pretty different tonally.

Will the engineer paint the record with a wide brush, or detail each song, or something in between?
These are two separate processes and it depends on what you're paying to have done. If you are hiring a mastering engineer to master AND cut then yes, each song is mastered and optimized for digital / vinyl. OTOH, if you are sending mastered files to a cutting engineer then you aren't hiring the cutting engineer to re-engineer the record. Just to optimize and translate what you give them to the groove. They can be done by the same engineer but they are usually separate things.
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