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K system? Audio Interfaces
Old 21st August 2007
  #31
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spiderman's Avatar
Very interesting information. I have emailed with B.K. using the link provided at the bottom of his page. He is very open to discussion regarding his concept. I would appreciate it if you were to contact him and discuss these differences to help provide clarity for us youngsters.

Obviously I'm new to all this (hence the name) and I'm learning all the time from people like you and B.K. Your willingness to share in these forums is a major education.

Was I 16 feet from my speakers? NO.... I measured at my listening position. I use nearfields and mix in a small room; typically music.

I did check my mix and averaged a little less than -20db. For a documentary I assume that would be OK. Any thoughts on that?

Do I think the K-system is new? Not any more....
Do I think it would be used at a major soundstage? Not any more....
Did I ever assume that good mixes could NOT be produced without this? No
Did it help my mix process? Heck yea...

BTW - I started a thread in Post Area and someone made the comment that you would be the person to talk to. If you have a minute check this out. small market biznus tactics
Old 21st August 2007
  #32
Gear Head
 

you have to do what the client wants

I'm in a peripheral business to the recording industry and I came into this business because I LOVE to listen to great music that _sounds_ great.

Nowadays it doesn't happen very often that I hear great sounding music. It seems like the more the record company expect to sell of a CD the worse the sound. It used to be that when I upgraded my playback equipment I could hear more and more of the details that enhanced the music and the listening experience - now it's opposite! If you have great playback equipment you hear all the flaws of the abused digital equipment.

It seems like "you have to do what the client wants" is the mantra for a lot of mastering engineers... My question is: Is this the right mindset? Even if it means that they get a bad product?

An example: If you approached a mastering engineer in the late 70's and asked him to put 20 Hz at full level and out of phase on an LP - and btw we need to get 70 minutes on the LP - he would simply say: "you can't do that." Today when someone says I want the digital clip indicator to be on through the whole song it seems engineers are more than happy to say "ok", while the real answer should have been "you can't do that". The "problem" is that, unlike in the LP days the stylus (laser) of today won't jump out and interrupt playback; it creates 10% distortion but no one seems to care. ..Apart from me...

An analogy: if you're building a house and you, as the client, tell the contractor that the roof beams will have to be 2x4's and the span is 30 ft. Who do you blame when the roof falls down? This is about professional integrity! If I think my clients are making big misstakes it is my job to explain to them why it is a bad idea. How can we say ok to things that results in a distorted product?

I believe that there are many engineers (not only mastering) that actually don't understand what goes on during DA, AD and DD conversion and how aliasing and frequency related distortion is introduced when square waves are created from digital clipping. (Reading the documents on www.tcelectronics.com and their Tech Library on this subject should be a start). I believe if they did understand these subjects better they would not allow for, amongst other things, digital clipping.

And about sound being subjective: not really... would you buy an amplifier with 10% distortion? Will anyone say "it sounds great"? Why should we buy CD's with that distortion? This is what we're asked to buy.

How it that pretty much all my CD’s that is are pre-year 2000 sound better than what is released these days? The equipment is better than ever before in audio history!

How many mastering engineers have an Orban radio compressor in their monitor path? Maybe they should have? Then whatever comes in would sound like it will on the radio and the client would be happy before the mastering engineer even touched his compressors.

If this email reads as if I’m - you're right - I am - so many great songs are simply unlisteneable - and the only way I can listen to them is as background music! I have recordings from way back - to the time where stereo was a new thing - that sounds incredible! What would classics like "Dark side of the moon", "Ziggy Stardust", "Rumors", "Breakfast in America", "Synchronicity", "BAD", "SO", "Baby" (Yello) (and the list goes on) be if they sounded like today’s top sellers? (That is: with tons of horrible distortion) Personally I don't believe they would have reached their classic status. Will anyone pick up (ok I’ll do it - I’ll mention a couple of titles) Green Day's "American idiot" or Madonna’s "Confession of a Dance floor" in 30 years and sit down to enjoy the Sonics like they would "Dark side of the moon"?

And please don't take this as being directed at anyone particular that has posted here: It's to pretty much every engineer and mastering engineer out there. ...there are some honorable exeptions though! I'm sure a lot of this comes down to poor practices before it reaches the mastering engineer too. I wish the situation was such that horrible sounding stuff could be turned back for a remix on the mastering engineers recommendation...

And now back to subject of the thread: the k-system. Even with the variations we hear in todays movies: The fact that the movie industry has adopted calibrated monitor levels is why they sound as good as they do. I believe the music industry will have to actually understand the benefits of calibration levels too to get back on track as far as sound quality goes - especially if the record companies want to get into high-res audio formats.

I'll stop now

Best regards
Lars
Old 21st August 2007
  #33
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Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Back to the original point of the thread:

If using the "K System" will help you make better mixes then by all means use it.
Bob hasn't posted here in a bit but you may try emailing him. Maybe he can clear up your confusion for you.

In the meantime concentrate your efforts on making good mixes that are not distorted and you'll have 99% of the battle won.
Old 21st August 2007
  #34
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Blackwood View Post
Ahh, you use the 'A-system' there, eh? I'm partial to the 'B-system' myself...
I've been rockin' the T-system over here for years... it's the secret to great sounding masters!!!!

t
Old 21st August 2007
  #35
Lives for gear
 
spiderman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermind View Post
I've been rockin' the T-system over here for years... it's the secret to great sounding masters!!!!

t

dfegadon every system. I was deemed gifted by GOD in the field of mastering and was born knowing everything. The rest of you are a bunch of newbs.

Now that's funny.
Old 24th August 2007
  #36
Gear Addict
 
starseed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
This was also done to these same levels in the days of Yor before there was any K attached to everything. For classical you always set to -20, for rock -16 to -12 depending on the 'type' of rock (Pop, MOL, Soft, etc...). All my life my systems has been set to -14 and I just compensate depending on the project.

This was standard stuff in the old days and a 'lost art' today. I'm talking about understanding levels here, which really for our industry should be part of Recording 101, sad really.

Want the best sounds and the best mix, start with the right levels. At least you'll be pointed in the right direction.
Nice post, and I agree.
Old 25th August 2007
  #37
Old 25th August 2007
  #38
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
I still think it should your C-System. And I don't mean Cilantro. But, hey, its your system and you will go to hell in your own hand basket.........
Old 26th August 2007
  #39
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
I'm in a peripheral business to the recording industry and I came into this business because I LOVE to listen to great music that _sounds_ great.

Nowadays it doesn't happen very often that I hear great sounding music. It seems like the more the record company expect to sell of a CD the worse the sound. It used to be that when I upgraded my playback equipment I could hear more and more of the details that enhanced the music and the listening experience - now it's opposite! If you have great playback equipment you hear all the flaws of the abused digital equipment.

It seems like "you have to do what the client wants" is the mantra for a lot of mastering engineers... My question is: Is this the right mindset? Even if it means that they get a bad product?

An example: If you approached a mastering engineer in the late 70's and asked him to put 20 Hz at full level and out of phase on an LP - and btw we need to get 70 minutes on the LP - he would simply say: "you can't do that." Today when someone says I want the digital clip indicator to be on through the whole song it seems engineers are more than happy to say "ok", while the real answer should have been "you can't do that". The "problem" is that, unlike in the LP days the stylus (laser) of today won't jump out and interrupt playback; it creates 10% distortion but no one seems to care. ..Apart from me...

An analogy: if you're building a house and you, as the client, tell the contractor that the roof beams will have to be 2x4's and the span is 30 ft. Who do you blame when the roof falls down? This is about professional integrity! If I think my clients are making big misstakes it is my job to explain to them why it is a bad idea. How can we say ok to things that results in a distorted product?

I believe that there are many engineers (not only mastering) that actually don't understand what goes on during DA, AD and DD conversion and how aliasing and frequency related distortion is introduced when square waves are created from digital clipping. (Reading the documents on www.tcelectronics.com and their Tech Library on this subject should be a start). I believe if they did understand these subjects better they would not allow for, amongst other things, digital clipping.

And about sound being subjective: not really... would you buy an amplifier with 10% distortion? Will anyone say "it sounds great"? Why should we buy CD's with that distortion? This is what we're asked to buy.

How it that pretty much all my CD’s that is are pre-year 2000 sound better than what is released these days? The equipment is better than ever before in audio history!

How many mastering engineers have an Orban radio compressor in their monitor path? Maybe they should have? Then whatever comes in would sound like it will on the radio and the client would be happy before the mastering engineer even touched his compressors.

If this email reads as if I’m - you're right - I am - so many great songs are simply unlisteneable - and the only way I can listen to them is as background music! I have recordings from way back - to the time where stereo was a new thing - that sounds incredible! What would classics like "Dark side of the moon", "Ziggy Stardust", "Rumors", "Breakfast in America", "Synchronicity", "BAD", "SO", "Baby" (Yello) (and the list goes on) be if they sounded like today’s top sellers? (That is: with tons of horrible distortion) Personally I don't believe they would have reached their classic status. Will anyone pick up (ok I’ll do it - I’ll mention a couple of titles) Green Day's "American idiot" or Madonna’s "Confession of a Dance floor" in 30 years and sit down to enjoy the Sonics like they would "Dark side of the moon"?

And please don't take this as being directed at anyone particular that has posted here: It's to pretty much every engineer and mastering engineer out there. ...there are some honorable exeptions though! I'm sure a lot of this comes down to poor practices before it reaches the mastering engineer too. I wish the situation was such that horrible sounding stuff could be turned back for a remix on the mastering engineers recommendation...

And now back to subject of the thread: the k-system. Even with the variations we hear in todays movies: The fact that the movie industry has adopted calibrated monitor levels is why they sound as good as they do. I believe the music industry will have to actually understand the benefits of calibration levels too to get back on track as far as sound quality goes - especially if the record companies want to get into high-res audio formats.

I'll stop now

Best regards
Lars
I am with you on a lot of what you say. The problem is that if I won't do what the client wants he will leave and go down the street or on to the WWW and get someone who will. I guess it boils down to economics.

As to why CDs don't sound better than they did.

The list is endless but a few of them are....

The artist no longer has to learn how to play or use their instrument correctly. There are now programs like Pro Tools that can take a drummer who can't play two notes in tempo and make him sound like a classical percussionist. There are programs that can take a singer who is constantly off key and make her or him sound like an opera star with perfect pitch.

We have traded VOLUME for quality. Everyone wants everything "louder than anyone else" and he he!! with what it sounds like.

I don't know if you have noticed this but there are more reissues in the CD stores lately and that speaks volumes about the record companies prediciment. They are losing sales, the artist wants more and more money, they don't take the chances on new artists that they once did and it is always easier to reissue something that is popular than it is to put out something that may or may not make it.

People no longer sit and listen to music it has become a background sound to mask the traffic noise or something to listen to when running or working out. In the old days people actually took time to listen to music in their living rooms now the only thing they listen to in their living rooms or "media" rooms is the soundtrack from the movie they are watching.

Record companies have priced the CDs so high in relation to their perceived value that most people don't purchase CDs any more.

Why is it that you can by a DVD with 7 hours of entertainment on it for $14.99 or less and a CD with less than 45 minutes costs $18.99? In the old days when you bought a CD or vinyl record there were plenty of songs to listen to. Today most CDs have one or two good songs on them and the rest are "filler material" that the record companies put on to fill out the CD.

ETC, ETC, ETC.

How does the "K" system fit into all of this? It could be a way for artist and engineers to finally be able to collaborate on levels and maybe the loudness wars could finally go away. I know for one I would like that a lot....

FWIW and MTCW
Old 26th August 2007
  #40
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StephenMarsh's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post

This is classic LOL --Steph
Old 27th August 2007
  #41
Gear Head
 

clients leaving ??!!

[QUOTE=Thomas W. Bethe;1459835]I am with you on a lot of what you say. The problem is that if I won't do what the client wants he will leave and go down the street or on to the WWW and get someone who will. I guess it boils down to economics.

Mr. Bethe:

It is not true that the client will leave.

An engineer, producer or whatever your title may be is all about instilling confidance in your customer. This business of saying that he'll leave IS THE problem. It is not the clients who are forcing this industry to bow to thier wishes but rather the lack of clear minded confidance that we are supposed to have and it is our job.

The often told "we have to or else... blah, blah, blah is a falsehood and it should stop.

Last edited by philmagnotta; 27th August 2007 at 02:35 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 27th August 2007
  #42
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
[QUOTE=philmagnotta;1461507]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I am with you on a lot of what you say. The problem is that if I won't do what the client wants he will leave and go down the street or on to the WWW and get someone who will. I guess it boils down to economics.

Mr. Bethe:

It is not true that the client will leave.

An engineer, producer or whatever your title may be is all about instilling confidance in your customer. This business of saying that he'll leave IS THE problem. It is not the clients who are forcing this industry to bow to thier wishes but rather the lack of clear minded confidance that we are supposed to have and it is our job.

The often told "we have to or else... blah, blah, blah is a falsehood and it should stop.

Not to rain on your parade but in this part of the country (Northern Ohio area) the clients are very fickle to say the least and if you won't squash their material or make it distorted then they will walk and find someone that will. Everything here revolves around price and most people who want to master are looking for the cheapest price PERIOD. They could care less about quality or the experience of the mastering engineer. I get three or four calls a week from local artists wanting to do mastering and many of them say "I have $200 to do the mastering and I have (insert number) songs to master and I want to know if you can do the mastering for that amount" or " how much does it cost to master (insert number) songs?" When I tell them our rates they say "too expensive". "There is a recording studio in Cleveland that charges $25.00 per hour and I am going to use them" Fine no problem.....use who you want.

I have 38 years in the professional audio business, I have about 300K invested in my equipment and facilities and people want to pay minimum wage for my services. I am sorry but that does not make any sense to me. So if the money is the most important thing and if they want their stuff squashed beyond recognition then I will try and do what they want AFTER explaining the problems with what they want done. If I can't do what they want then they are free to search out someone who will.

We have tried to get more indie business by having special lower rates for independents but they are still too high for what people around here want to pay and they tell me that "Joe's Recording and Mastering Emporium" will do the mastering for $15.00 per hour. If that is what is driving their decisions then they will get EXACTLY what they are paying for.

Your logic is good and I thank you for your comments but it simply does not work when people are motivated not by quality and professional level work but are instead motivated by money.

I have really good ears and a really good monitoring setup that was professionally designed and constructed. I can hear things in my system that most people cannot and when I offer my opinion it is based of what I am hearing and my 38 years in the business. When a artist turns to me and says it isn't loud enough and our RMS to Peak ratio is below 4 dB in dynamic range I wonder what it is that they are indeed looking for.

FWIW and MTCW
Old 27th August 2007
  #43
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I think it is colossally important to know what level you are monitoring at but I also think it's colossally important to monitor at a variety of levels because, unlike a film mix, our listeners are virtually never going to be listening in a calibrated environment.
Old 27th August 2007
  #44
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

I think part of the benefit of something like the K system is that you get your monitor gain staging correct by its use. If you have -14 on your meters (using pink noise), and that corresponds to a comfortable listening level on your monitors, then you will likely mix with enough headroom to avoid clipping at the 2 bus, etc. Also, listening at 87db RMS, you're hearing a pretty flat eq curve. Nearfield monitors should be able to produce this level easily (at near field distances, like 3-4 feet), without clipping, or other significant artifacts. Also, your ears naturally react differently at different volumes, look up Fletcher-Munson for more info.

I usually find that when I'm mixing, I can adjust the volume to 'comfortable', pull out my SPL meter (cheap radio shack model), set it to slow, and it's almost always right at 87db or so.

So, I'm hearing a mix that sounds about right, volume wise, without pushing the faders up farther than I should be. I also monitor loud and quiet, but a good percentage of my listening is at 87 or so.
Old 27th August 2007
  #45
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Cellotron's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I think it is colossally important to know what level you are monitoring at but I also think it's colossally important to monitor at a variety of levels because, unlike a film mix, our listeners are virtually never going to be listening in a calibrated environment.
That's the beauty of the "D-System" to me - 1 setting (dunno if it's supposed to be the setting labeled "pushrod" or "cilantro" but guess either will do) is for general monitoring somewhere around 85dBspl - another is LOUD heading towards the upper 90's, a third at quieter say somewhere around 70, and finally a fourth is muted so you can phone in your lunch order.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 27th August 2007
  #46
Gear Guru
 
UnderTow's Avatar
 

Verified Member
My main problem with the K-System is that my mixes these days end up quite a bit above K-12. The track I am working on now is K-12 +4.1 dB.

That might sound horrible to some of you but there is only about a dB of compression on the master bus. There is a limiter there but it only catches 0.3 dB (and then sends out at 0.3 dB so turning it off would just give me a peak sample value of 0 dB FS). There is only a couple compressors on the individual tracks.

So K-6 would be useful. Then my masters would only show about +1 on the meter instead of +7. heh

Alistair
Old 27th August 2007
  #47
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Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
... The track I am working on now is K-12 +4.1 dB.

...That might sound horrible to some of you but ...
What's horrible is that you're callin' it K-12+4.1dB.


Kidding.
Sort of.
Old 27th August 2007
  #48
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Sunbreak Music's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterer View Post
What's horrible is that you're callin' it K-12+4.1dB.


Kidding.
Sort of.
By my math that's K-7.9db

Old 27th August 2007
  #49
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UnderTow's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterer View Post
What's horrible is that you're callin' it K-12+4.1dB.


Kidding.
Sort of.
Lol. I don't usually look at the meters much but this thread made me check ... and then chuckle when the meter reported +4.1dB on K-12 setting...

Alistair
Old 27th August 2007
  #50
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Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
Lol. I don't usually look at the meters much but this thread made me check ... and then chuckle when the meter reported +4.1dB on K-12 setting...

Alistair
Long as it sounds good, right bro?
Old 27th August 2007
  #51
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UnderTow's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterer View Post
Long as it sounds good, right bro?
Indeed indeed...

Alistair
Old 4th September 2007
  #52
Gear Head
 

indeed, i've notice such ugly music in today's modren world. everything is just overdriven, dull and compress. I've never have had (maybe a few) square waveforms. Which is in fact what i try NOT TO DO.
Such sonic intrigty(SP?) is important to me. Listening to the newly remastered King crimson starless and bible black sounded horrible on a junky tv speakers, but when I put it on to my KRK it sounds amazing. so I guess everything depends from system to system. I think as far as good mixing goes it all depends on the people and ear to ear. Personaly i think Old three six mafia rap music was horribly mixed. but now they are grammy winners and what not...

My problem is that i've been making MIX's for my personal pleasure.... which infact is probably my biggest problem thus far and i tend to fix that.
Old 11th September 2007
  #53
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
a) I am with you on a lot of what you say. The problem is that if I won't do what the client wants he will leave and go down the street or on to the WWW and get someone who will. I guess it boils down to economics.

[snip]
b) The artist no longer has to learn how to play or use their instrument correctly.

[snip]
c) We have traded VOLUME for quality. Everyone wants everything "louder than anyone else" and he he!! with what it sounds like.

d) I don't know if you have noticed this but there are more reissues in the CD stores lately and that speaks volumes about the record companies prediciment. They are losing sales, the artist wants more and more money, they don't take the chances on new artists that they once did and it is always easier to reissue something that is popular than it is to put out something that may or may not make it.

e) People no longer sit and listen to music it has become a background sound to mask the traffic noise or something to listen to when running or working out. In the old days people actually took time to listen to music in their living rooms now the only thing they listen to in their living rooms or "media" rooms is the soundtrack from the movie they are watching.
a) Well if they do it is their loss. Isn't it every mastering engineers dream to be well known for quality? How can you get there if you continue to give in to demands from people who (obviously) doesn't know any better? Good quality is a sales job.

b) You're touching on something important here, even if I'm not even talking about the abilities to perform. The music can be the worst crap ever and have exelent sound qulity - the problem today is that a lot of music is very good but the sound quality makes it unlistenable.

c) This is psycho acoustics: Our hearing is developed for a natural environment. We instinctively know that drums are louder than someone whispering. A Marshall stack SHOULD sound loud in comparison to both voices and drums. In most mixes now everything is equaly loud and we're, from mother nature, not able to believe what we hear.

d and e) I buy a lot of old CD's nowadays. It's the only thing I enjoy listening to. The times I find myself buying a new CD I more often than not, find that I can't listen to it.
I've been wondering if this is the reason why people don't sit down to listen anymore. I mean: Why would you sit down to listen to something that is completely flat and on the sonical level has noting to offer that will enhance the musical experience?

I believe that if, for example, Chesky had recorded the latest Madonna or Green Day's "American Idiot" they would have sold a lot more CD's - So my opinion is that artists are selling CD's despite their absurd level and not because of it.

Don't you guys remember when Yello (Baby), Michael Jacksons Bad, and such CD's came out and you just had to listen to them because they sounded so great? ...and the music is great too! To me that combination is unbeatable.

Until someone records something that is actually worthy of 24/96 I will continue to listen to new music on the radio and enjoy listening to old CD's when I feel like a music experience.

Regards
H

(no rules without exeption)
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