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What is mastering??? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 18th March 2010
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
1. Matching the tracks to each other.
2. Sequencing and track transitions.
3. "Sweetening" / "Finalizing" the mix. This can and often includes eq'ing, compressing, stereo widening.

The third step often gets the most emphasis - and to the credit of mastering engineers, the good ones really do great things. But 1 & 2 are equally as important.
That's the answer. Along with Quality checking & Error checking. Item #3 gets way to much attention by those not in the know.

How about this question: What is a mastering studio?

A mastering studio is a acoustically well-tuned room; with top notch full-range monitoring; and a few pieces of quality outboard. Many mastering rooms try to have as little gear as possible between the listening position & the speakers. In other words, a control room set up for recording and/or mixing is not a good environment to master in.
Old 18th March 2010
  #62
Quote:
So what is mastering really about? What is mastering for you and what does it involve?
I involves an experienced engineer who knows how to achieve results that will allow the product to compete in the professional market, in a listening environment that will translate well to the widest variety of high end and consumer based systems.

I mainly work with classical music and live recording material. For me it is achieving an appropriate sound stage, a quiet background environment, realistic presence, and most pleasing balance. How I do that depends on the source material.
Old 18th March 2010
  #63
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
I could say that I don't fly helicopters but there is definitely no set way of doing this.
It is really all about... all about... getting in hitting some buttons and going with the wind.
But how but some methods from somebody who knows what he is talking about... Somebody who... you know... does this for a living?
It makes the whole thing more official for me... strange... go figure...
You are asking for something that is NOT absolute. Every mastering engineer has different equipment and has a different listening setup. What works for one mastering engineer may not work at all well for someone else. It is like asking what is love? or what is respect? or what is compassion? and then getting mad a people as they try and define it. Did you read the links I gave and have you read Bob Katz's book yet and have to done some research on this VERY Forum about others who have asked the same or similar questions? If not how about doing that FIRST before dishing people for trying to answer your question when you seem to already KNOW what it is you want the answer to be. Why don't you tell us what MASTERING is NOT! in your eyes maybe that would be a good way to start a discussion on the topic at hand.

Old 18th March 2010
  #64
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Originally Posted by inlinenl View Post
how do you f*ck a kangaroo ...
How do you silence a troll?


SB
Old 18th March 2010
  #65
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Quote:
I mainly work with classical music and live recording material. For me it is achieving an appropriate sound stage, a quiet background environment, realistic presence, and most pleasing balance
.

So how? How do you usually make them violins sound good?
just give us one small example here of the endless possibilities. One glimpse into the world of mastering classical...
Go ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andsonic View Post
That's the answer. Along with Quality checking & Error checking. Item #3 gets way to much attention by those not in the know.

How about this question: What is a mastering studio?

A mastering studio is a acoustically well-tuned room; with top notch full-range monitoring; and a few pieces of quality outboard. Many mastering rooms try to have as little gear as possible between the listening position & the speakers. In other words, a control room set up for recording and/or mixing is not a good environment to master in.
Ok so we are in the mastering room with the big fancy speakers and we are sitting there getting ready to master the record. There is not much gear there to distract us from listening (after all you don't want the sound bouncing off the lexicon reverbs and beer bottles they got in the control room of a recording studio (even though that is tuned too you know) and we are getting ready to master. Now what's next?
What tools will you take out to work with and why?
How do you plan on using them? In what order? Come on now
Give us your rough plan here!
Old 18th March 2010
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caput View Post
How do you silence a troll?


SB
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Old 18th March 2010
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
...What is mastering for you and what does it involve?
Read my first post again.

It involves whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

My experience has been that it is almost never the same twice. My philosophy is don't try to fix what ain't broke. How do I know what ain't broke? Experience doing a lot of listening using first class monitoring.
Old 18th March 2010
  #68
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Mastering involves listening and employing audio tweaks to refine and define an end product.
Old 18th March 2010
  #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misjah View Post
add to ignore list thumbsup
Will do

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Old 18th March 2010
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
(SNIP) all the coin they droped to get the record mastered professionally (SNIP)
Sorry to burst your bubble but the best cds all show up looking round on the frequency analyzer because somebody took the time to fix the spikes. Somebody polished it so there is no ear fatigue. Somebody mastered it. They did that by looking at the frequency curve and then applying a good parametric and fixing the spikes in the audio. You are the mastering engineer should I be telling you this?
1) They "dropped the coin" on getting the record TRACKED. Good sounding albums are good sounding BEFORE they are mastered. If it sounds harsh and fatiguing than the tracking/mixing SUCKS.

2) What you think sounds good and what a professional thinks sounds good are probably two vastly different things...with your perception being the inferior, and not for personal reasons.

3) The purpose of mastering is to transfer a recording from one medium to another in a way that best represents the original medium, with minimal loss, while at the same time utilizing the destination media in the most efficient and sonically convincing/pleasing way and to the fullest of its potential. Obviously some creative tidbits sneak in there such as track order, transitions, filler, compression/limiting, genre specific EQ tweak, etc etc etc. All of the creative stuff is dynamic and application specific, however.

4) The only reason to ever fix a bad mix with EQ in the mastering stage is to make money and get a rid of a pestering know it all artist who doesn't listen when you tell him to REMIX or RETRACK, or doesn't have the ability to do so.

5) YOU NEED TO WATCH SOME OF BOB KATZ'S VIDEOS AT THE VERY LEAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Old 18th March 2010
  #71
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I'll give you the benefit of an honest answer in case that's what you want...

Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
What is mastering for you? What does it involve? How do you approach mastering? No beating around the bush please... Give us mere mortals some insight into the process of mastering....
We all deserve to know.


Like '''First I listen to the record the if I hear this I use this then I usually patch in this then I use this or I use that depending on... then I patch in that and I use this this way.... I make sure I do that'' type of vibe.

You get the picture...

Tell me...
What is mastering?
I listen to the mixes, start with three analogue EQs and a compressor in circuit followed by a digital limiter. Fiddle with any appropriate controls until it sounds as good as I can make it (which could turn out to be everything in bypass). Occasionally patch in something extra digital (usually a Weiss for de-essing or notching) or try some MS trickery, or a different D/A or A/D, or putting compression pre- rather than post-EQ. Unpatch everything that's flat (unless it sounds better in circuit). Record. Usually top and tail, dither, sequence, PQ, add ISRCs, QC.

That's the minimum necessary for me to end up with an album. For major label chart stuff I'll push the level up, but otherwise I'll be a bit more conservative (unless asked otherwise). There are uncountable other processes that could happen, including noise reduction, plugins, varispeeding, reverb, extra edits, crossfades, working with stems, but none of that is very likely to happen without someone asking me to (occasionally I'll decide to do some CEDAR processing on a quiet passage if it seems appropriate). Going from tape or to vinyl will obviously require more things to happen.

I prefer to start with all analogue kit in circuit so I can quickly make changes choosing the most appropriate EQ instead of having to patch it in first. But there's no reason not to start with nothing patched in and connect stuff as necessary, or to do it all ITB. But this is my method, and when I worked in a different studio I did pretty much the same thing, just with different gear.

I'm not sure what you mean by "if I hear this I use this". If I hear something with too much at 300Hz I'll cut at 300Hz, or if I hear something with too little at 10kHz I'll boost at 10kHz. The same goes for any control on any piece of gear, although obviously it's a bit harder to put into words for compression.
Old 18th March 2010
  #72
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The best analogy I've ever heard for a ME's trained ear is that mechanics can tell whats wrong with a car just by listening. They KNOW WHAT TO LISTEN FOR.

Some things a ME might listen for and not in any order:

1)Overall tonality (is it just plain wrong (ie missing information, masking, etc.), why, and suggest how to remix/retrack better if possible)
2)backround noise, both digital and analog
3)anomalies/artefacts/distortion/clipping
4)poor ambience (too much, lack of, fake/sterile sounding)
5)perception of volume
6)volume dynamics (are the chorus's louder than the verses, is the lead upfront, etc etc) really this is the mixers job, but half of them don't know that apparently.

The mastering engineer can't FIX THE MUSIC (that includes mix and tonality issues from a bad performance or tracking session).
the lines between an audiophile music critic/collector, and a mastering engineer are simple, the mastering engineer has the tools to correct/hide any apparent problems which detract from the musical experience while transfering media, without affecting it. The audiophile can only complain about it and spend more money.
Old 18th March 2010
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
6)volume dynamics (are the chorus's louder than the verses
That's a problem that I like fixing because it's easy to do and makes such a big difference on (usually amateur) mixes. A bit of creative level automation on playback can do wonders.
Old 18th March 2010
  #74
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+1 on that.
Old 19th March 2010
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
Homeboy your ears ain't gonna tell you how to smooth out the eq curve.
They ain't. This is why you use a frequency analyzer you see the curve with all the spikes in the audio and where they at exactly frequency wise and how wide they are and then you patch in a parametric and smooth it out.

If you play a commercial cd from a major release and look at the curve of the eq you see its smooth and round coz somebody mastered it. If you play a cd mastered at joe blows mastering who ''just used his ears'' you see all the horrible spikes all over the place like lol here is a guy who thinks he is a mastering engineer. See those spikes over there? Give me my money back!
Listen up homeboy.
don't ask about mastering and how to do it if you think you already know the answers. I've been mastering for 20 years and never used a frequency analyzer once to master a track. I'll keep using my ears and trusting my monitoring if that's ok with you.
and yes, I have mastered gold and platimun albums "just using my ears". who'd have thought that ****ing possible???!!!
Old 19th March 2010
  #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
Homeboy your ears ain't gonna tell you how to smooth out the eq curve.
They ain't. This is why you use a frequency analyzer you see the curve with all the spikes in the audio and where they at exactly frequency wise and how wide they are and then you patch in a parametric and smooth it out.

If you play a commercial cd from a major release and look at the curve of the eq you see its smooth and round coz somebody mastered it. If you play a cd mastered at joe blows mastering who ''just used his ears'' you see all the horrible spikes all over the place like lol here is a guy who thinks he is a mastering engineer. See those spikes over there? Give me my money back!
You are starting to sound a lot like another person who also was enamored with RTAs and smoothing out EQ curves. Since you already have multiple IDs on Gearslutz it is hard to tell who you really are.
Old 19th March 2010
  #77
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Y'all are wasting your time.
Old 19th March 2010
  #78
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Quote:
Listen up homeboy.
don't ask about mastering and how to do it if you think you already know the answers. I've been mastering for 20 years and never used a frequency analyzer once to master a track. I'll keep using my ears and trusting my monitoring if that's ok with you.
and yes, I have mastered gold and platimun albums "just using my ears". who'd have thought that ****ing possible???!!!
So frequency analyzers should not be used in mastering?
Old 19th March 2010
  #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haberdasher View Post
I'll give you the benefit of an honest answer in case that's what you want...


I listen to the mixes, start with three analogue EQs and a compressor in circuit followed by a digital limiter. Fiddle with any appropriate controls until it sounds as good as I can make it (which could turn out to be everything in bypass). Occasionally patch in something extra digital (usually a Weiss for de-essing or notching) or try some MS trickery, or a different D/A or A/D, or putting compression pre- rather than post-EQ. Unpatch everything that's flat (unless it sounds better in circuit). Record. Usually top and tail, dither, sequence, PQ, add ISRCs, QC.

That's the minimum necessary for me to end up with an album. For major label chart stuff I'll push the level up, but otherwise I'll be a bit more conservative (unless asked otherwise). There are uncountable other processes that could happen, including noise reduction, plugins, varispeeding, reverb, extra edits, crossfades, working with stems, but none of that is very likely to happen without someone asking me to (occasionally I'll decide to do some CEDAR processing on a quiet passage if it seems appropriate). Going from tape or to vinyl will obviously require more things to happen.

I prefer to start with all analogue kit in circuit so I can quickly make changes choosing the most appropriate EQ instead of having to patch it in first. But there's no reason not to start with nothing patched in and connect stuff as necessary, or to do it all ITB. But this is my method, and when I worked in a different studio I did pretty much the same thing, just with different gear.

I'm not sure what you mean by "if I hear this I use this". If I hear something with too much at 300Hz I'll cut at 300Hz, or if I hear something with too little at 10kHz I'll boost at 10kHz. The same goes for any control on any piece of gear, although obviously it's a bit harder to put into words for compression.

Wow an actual answer! Thanks.
Old 19th March 2010
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So frequency analyzers should not be used in mastering?
What is mastering???-nmordor.png



heh
Old 19th March 2010
  #81
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Old 19th March 2010
  #82
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I love how the OP's name is "one more time", and he keeps asking the same question over and over again after recieving a answer. Do you really think these guys are gonna tell you their exact signal chain??
Old 19th March 2010
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubbakron View Post
Do you really think these guys are gonna tell you their exact signal chain??

Why not? Is that some trade secret or something? Some ancient knowledge that only a few possess?

Like '' they are going to know I use this compressor and there goes my secret Oh no! Now what am I going to do? ''

Here is a tip for you champ...

Stop thinking like that
Old 19th March 2010
  #84
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Mastering is like many other things in life.

You can talk about it,

read about it,

think about it,

listen to it,

watch it on video

or even attend a live event,

but there's nothing, nothing at all like doing it.

experience is the best teacher.

JT
Old 19th March 2010
  #85
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
Mastering is like many other things in life.

You can talk about it,

read about it,

think about it,

listen to it,

watch it on video

or even attend a live event,

but there's nothing, nothing at all like doing it.

experience is the best teacher.

JT
What is mastering for you and what does it involve?
Old 19th March 2010
  #86
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...Champ.
Old 19th March 2010
  #87
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Old 19th March 2010
  #88
jdg
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[IMG]http://img376.imageshack.us/img376/9008/dog****copydc8.jpg[/IMG]
Old 19th March 2010
  #89
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I think this thread was already summed up here: YouTube - Mastering: The Movie (gearslutz)
Old 19th March 2010
  #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
Now picture this. You are getting way more work than you can handle and now you have to train somebody to do mastering in your studio. What do you patch in when and why?
Been there, done that. The first thing I try to impart to the new guy is that mastering does not equal processing. That is but one part of it. You can have an album mastered with minimal, or very occasionally no processing, and it is no less valuable a part of the album-making process. Get the other stuff under hand before you worry about processing.

The question "what do you patch in and why" is not the right question to ask first. So many important details are lost in the marketing hype and erroneous pop knowledge. Don't shortchange the important stuff for eagerness to play with flashy toys.

The first thing to do is listen, and to do that, you need the right monitoring environment. Mastering is the last chance to catch any problems and to have an impact on the creative vision.

Don't underestimate the significance of a clean transfer. That is mastering at its core. It comes in as one thing, and leaves as another. Getting it there with the least degradation is paramount. This can mean anything from proper D/A-A/D conversion, sample rate conversion, wordlength reduction, tape path (heads, electronics, transport), processing chain (issues may include in analog, ground loops, noise, impedance mismatch - in digital, dithering, sample rate, upsampling...) and more. In the end, it needs to end up cleanly on a properly formatted master that will go to the plant and not need any tweaking, transferring (other than onto the server that feeds the LBR) etc. And the importance QC (Quality control) can not be understated. Do you want to get 100,000 coasters back?

But everybody except mastering engineers wants to focus on the processing, as if it's the only thing. The most important lesson here for the budding engineer is to do only as much as is necessary. Sure, this occasionally includes a long signal chain and some heroic measures, but often a few tweaks of the EQ and a touch of limiting is all that is called for. It's where you make those changes, and sum of several seemingly small details that really set apart an outstanding job. Start small, and add as necessary. Don't start big and take away. Every box or plug you add has inherent degradation. Make sure you gain more than you lose.

You may be shocked how seldom the fancy tools like M/S, multi-band, stereo wideners, enhancers etc. come out in professional mastering situations. Clients often ask what kind of stereo widener I used, and my answer is that I chose the right EQ and dynamics processing. No joke. Do that right, and it gets a lot wider, along with cleaner, punchier, more engaging and so on.

Experience really is the key. One can't list the basic steps because every situation is different. It's the experience that you draw upon to know what to do with the task at hand. There's no shortcut to experience. You need to have been in the trenches for a while and seen a bunch of stuff. And remember, you don't want to make it sound good only where you are, but good on as many systems in as many environments as possible. You aren't aiming for just a car, a boom box, an audiophile system, a television, a radio broadcast, or a studio. You are aiming for all simultaneously, and that's not an easy task.

As a concrete first step, listen. Needle drop all the songs (quick listen to a bit of all tracks) to get an idea about the overall vision of the project, and how the song you are about to work on fits into the context of the whole. Then just listen. What's your first impression? That's the most important thing. That's what the mix engineer, artist, producer, and bass player's girlfriend can't have: a fresh perspective. You can only hear it for the first time once. There is no baggage attached, things you got used to, desensitized to, or fed up with.

Put up the track, and pay attention to your first impression. Every time you play something, within seconds you have a first impression. It can be bad or good. It's thin, it's boomy, it's shrill, it's muddy, I can't hear the vocal, I can't hear anything but the vocal... it's got a great groove, the guitar player is awesome, what a great vocalist... That first impression is golden. Go with it. What you feel is wrong is probably what other people will feel is wrong. Fix it. What makes the song special is what other people will likely also respond to. Feature it. That's the best place to get started.
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