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Mastering Stamina Multi-Ef­fects Plugins
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
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Mastering Stamina

Hello,

I'm just new to the process of mastering and so far I'm loving the art. I just wanted to know from the more experienced ME's here how long do you work on a project on a given day. The reason I am asking is because it seems like I over did it for one day now my ears are abit tired.

Also do you take a day off between projects to reset your ears for the next project?

Thanks in advance.
Old 19th December 2010
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarra View Post
Hello,

I'm just new to the process of mastering and so far I'm loving the art. I just wanted to know from the more experienced ME's here how long do you work on a project on a given day. The reason I am asking is because it seems like I over did it for one day now my ears are abit tired.

Also do you take a day off between projects to reset your ears for the next project?

Thanks in advance.
Nobody comes after you to catch any errors, so mastering isn't the stage at which you want to be doing marathon days. You are the safety net. Take some regular breaks, and limit the listening hours and monitor volume. If editing, cutting parts, or doing QC makes the session longer, that's OK, but try to limit the listening hours. Everybody is different, and experience helps, but I wouldn't want more than 8 hours of listening in any mastering session.
Old 19th December 2010
  #3
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I would agree that listening for 6-8 hours per day, 5 days/week is enough.
Lots of short ear breaks are a good thing.
All through the '90s remember doing many 10-12 hour days running, with very few days off.

JT
Old 19th December 2010
  #4
jdg
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my stamina has lowered alot over the past several years
(twss)

i can do about 5-6hrs max of critical listening, TOPS.. but there are always masters and refs and revisions and invoicing and bookkeeping and etc to do in the other time during the day
Old 19th December 2010
  #5
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Originally Posted by jdg View Post
invoicing and bookkeeping and etc to do in the other time during the day
This is the PITA part of the job!!
Old 19th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSD_Mastering View Post
This is the PITA part of the job!!
i know :(

i have a book keeper to reconcile the accounts and enter bills, but i still have to do everything else..

she uses quickbooks like i've seen some ppl use protools.
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarra View Post
I'm just new to the process of mastering and so far I'm loving the art. I just wanted to know from the more experienced ME's here how long do you work on a project on a given day.
I prefer to work (actively mastering) for a maximum of 6 hours per day.

Play at fairly low and consistent levels. I do the occasional loud/very low check but nothing like when you're mixing.

If you're in the zone try to finish a project/album in one sitting - it'll help you focus and deliver consistent results. But if you're getting fatigued and you don't have a pressing deadline then rest for at least a couple of hours (take a walk) or continue the next day. In my experience it's the better choice since the negative impact of listening fatigue is worse than spreading out the project over two days.

Mastering a track takes about 30 minutes on average, maybe a little longer for the first track (of an album) you're working on, since it often sets the tone for the rest.

Quote:
Also do you take a day off between projects to reset your ears for the next project?
Most mastering engineers work with a variety of projects and genres, and a part of the job is maintaining a certain degree of objectivity.

Personally I'm booked a week or two in advanced, and there's no way I can suddenly take a whole day off between projects, nor do I ever feel the need.

I do plan ahead and take about 1 day off for every 14 days but that's for personal reasons (me-time). ;-)
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
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5-6 hours of listening a day here is about all I can comfortably handle. If I'm swamped with work, I'll use the rest of the day to prep track, do invoicing, update Quickbooks (least favorite part), etc.

I'm a big fan of getting outside for at least a quick walk inbetween projects as well. Getting out of an acoustic environment and getting the blood moving a little bit seems to help reset the ears and keep from fatigue setting in.
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
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I just spent around 90 minutes or so jumping from mix to mix in a project nipping away at rather irritating nasty 'whistlers' between 2.5 and 5kHz.

I've spent just over that amount of time trying to recover so I can get back to work on it.

Normally, I can go easily for 6-10 hours depending on the source. But when something with a lot of fatiguing goofiness comes in, that can burn you out in a hurry.
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
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Originally Posted by MASSIVE Master View Post
Normally, I can go easily for 6-10 hours depending on the source. But when something with a lot of fatiguing goofiness comes in, that can burn you out in a hurry.
If I used the 'crank up the Q and boost then sweep around to find the problem frequency method,' I'd have to take a half hour break each time.

I find 6 - 8 hours about the max, and am always surprised to see posts about people that do 136 tracks in a 25 hour stretch. I don't see how you could be doing a good job on the last, say, 120.


DC
Old 20th December 2010
  #11
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2 albums ran down and assembled in around 8 hours, is my absolute max, then I'm totally done!
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
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Between ear fatigue and ADD I'm good for 4-5 hours.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
always surprised to see posts about people that do 136 tracks in a 25 hour stretch. I don't see how you could be doing a good job on the last, say, 120.
People doing 136 tracks like that aren't doing anything resembling mastering, more like digital batch processing with tweaked presets.

On that note, every year when the annual Eurovision Song Competition deadline is up I get a call from the biggest publisher in Denmark: master 40-50 tracks in one day. I almost always charge per track and not per hour but this is the exception.

Everybody's late and everything has to be done in the last minute (the songs even trickle in during the day) - one year we were packing CD's until the wee hours.

Naturally they know - and I tell them - that it's not going to be real mastering but more like a quick but decent brush up. The last two years it's only been digital processing and offline bouncing in order to meet the deadline.
Old 20th December 2010
  #14
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I cannot do two albums a day, there's just no way I can handle that. An album and a short EP a day is the absolute max.

This December has been absolutely crazy. The December always is, but this year the studio build has reduced the number of available mastering dates, and somehow I managed to overbook. I feel like my service & quality has suffered during the last 3-4 weeks (from literally no revisions to small touch-ups in many projects), so I started to refuse taking in more work.

Only two weeks left at the old studio, the last of 2010 and the first of 2011. Those weeks I've booked a little lighter, and after that I'm taking two weeks off for setting up the new room. That's going to feel like a vacation to me.

Starting next year, I am going to be much more careful in booking, and learn to say "no" more often.

Jay Frigoletto is right in that we need to be well rested to do our job right.
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
..Everybody is different...
i'm not



anyway, 6 hrs preferably which can be difficult sometimes on attended sessions as they often require extra concentration.
Old 20th December 2010
  #16
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5-6 hours per day with lots of little breaks in between. completely silent studio helps a lot...
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
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I notice that many in this thread mention working and completing an album in a day.

When preparing an album, I like to do separate, shorter sessions across 3 days if time permits.
1st day, bulk of listening and processing.
2nd day, Album sequencing, final levelling and audio QC.
3rd day, Produce masters, QC, admin.

I have done albums in a few hours straight before where turnaround time was an issue and I would continue to do so, but it feels rushed to me and I feel I stay more objective and a bit 'fresher' throughout the project if I split it this way.
Does anybody else work like this from time to time?
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
^ time permitted, yes indeed. completely agreed.
Maybe not 3 days but a second day to re-check the overall sound with fresh ears is something i'd prefer too.
Old 20th December 2010
  #19
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^ Yep, I like 2 shorter sessions per album. First session is loading material, sequencing, and roughing in levels and settings. Second session (attended, if requested) I get to start fresh on the detail work, and will proceed through cutting reference DDP or CDs.

The side benefit is fresh ears; carpal/radial tunnel issues factor heavily into this pace.

-s
Old 20th December 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt View Post
People doing 136 tracks like that aren't doing anything resembling mastering, more like digital batch processing with tweaked presets.
Unless you get some of these classical pieces in where some of the "tracks" are 15 - 18 sec. long!!

Just had a classical piece in last week where total length was 73 min, but had 51 "tracks"! Took me 2 days.
Old 20th December 2010
  #21
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I tend to do two 4 hour sessions a day with quite a long "lunch" break in between. It almost feels like another day once I get back.
Old 20th December 2010
  #22
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I usually work five to six hours a day, taking fifteen minute breaks after every couple of hours. I also try to leave a day of rest between projects whenever possible. So, if I get four mastering jobs scheduled for the week, I won't work on them all together so I can have the weekend free, I'll try to put a day between them. I also don't generally listen super loud for very long, just as spot checks.

Exceptions: I have some projects that are more long-term deals, like a concert I'm mixing doesn't have a deadline for several months so I'll work on it maybe an hour a day whenever I get time. Also, if I get a rush job, I'll just try to get it done as quickly as possible without compromising quality. That may mean getting started on it at the end of my day one day, then hitting it first thing in the morning the next day for final tweaking.
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