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Is Full Range necessary for mastering? Studio Monitors
Old 3rd January 2011
  #1
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Is Full Range necessary for mastering?

Would seem like it's necessary but I thought I heard that it might not be...

A studio monitor I have in mind goes down to 45 hz...everything above it is great.

An interesting thing I've noticed is that some songs sound very full on these studio monitors while other songs you can tell it's not full range.

It makes you wonder if it's better mastering when you can make a studio monitor sound full range?
Old 3rd January 2011
  #2
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Cellotron's Avatar
 

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Very often the problems that need to be addressed in mastering are due to the fact that the tracks were mixed on monitors where the mixer needed to "guess" as to what is actually happening in the low end - particularly for the very bottom octave. So - I'd say you do in fact need to have as close to full range and accurate lower frequency extension for any monitoring environment you use for mastering in order for any processing decisions made at this stage to be most effective and optimal.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 3rd January 2011
  #3
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Guessing should not be part of the mastering process.


GR
Old 3rd January 2011
  #4
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Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 

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+1. You can't fix what you can't hear, so it's best to have all base's covered. Full range speakers in an untreated/unbalanced room can give problems as well, so that as well as speaker and listening position will also come in to play.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #5
t_d
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i don't use full range monitors but i do use Focal Twins with the Focal Sub6 and am VERY happy with my results (as are my clients). the Twins, although they're great monitors, really shined when i got the sub. it's not to pump out massive amounts of bass, it's to just have enough to hear what's going on down there.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #6
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I think the answers missed the point of the original question...

Without having heard your monitors I cannot really say that you are correct...some could argue that the masters you liked over there, are bass heavy etc.
I guess the question you need to ask yourself is : Does it really sound better?

FWIW many clients feel that the bass (mainly what lives under 80Hz) comes very well balanced after the mastering session, which allows most speakers to perform better.(it is part of what we call good translation outside the studio)
Old 4th January 2011
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioaddict View Post
.. some songs sound very full on these studio monitors while other songs you can tell it's not full range
Doesn't this tell it all?


Quote:
Originally Posted by audioaddict View Post
It makes you wonder if it's better mastering when you can make a studio monitor sound full range?
Unless the same stuff sounds overly hyped when actually played on a full range set.

Sure, to some extent it can be proof of great mastering (amongst others!) when a production sounds big on 2-way monitors.
But it really comes down to a reliable (known, time tested) reference which according to most M.E.'s will include full range monitoring.
Then you'll know at instant if something works under all conditions or not.
Old 4th January 2011
  #8
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If your budget or some other factor doesn't allow for full-range monitoring but you're otherwise happy with the speakers, you could use a good set of headphones to check the low end. I wouldn't recommend that as a permanent solution but it might help for the time being: otherwise, I'd wait until you can get something with more bandwidth.

The speakers I have here (PMC AML1s) are usable to about 30Hz without a sub, and are the smallest I've heard that are suitable for mastering. They've worked well for me in terms of being able to identify and fix LF problems, in their translation to other systems and also because attending customers relate to them easily and don't tend to have surprises when they get their ref. CD home.
Old 4th January 2011
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
If your budget or some other factor doesn't allow for full-range monitoring but you're otherwise happy with the speakers, you could use a good set of headphones to check the low end. I wouldn't recommend that as a permanent solution but it might help for the time being: otherwise, I'd wait until you can get something with more bandwidth.
I think this is a valid approach, especially with headphones producing natural, deep bass - but those aren't so common; hyped bass and treble seem about as common in the headphone world as in that of box speakers.

Here is what seems to be the current champion for deep clean bass - see the waterfall graph on page two or three of this review and note the frequency range carefully. I have never seen so little overhang at those low frequencies, nor have I seen anything like the square wave reproduction these are apparently capable of:
6moons audio reviews: Audez'e LCD-2

I am tempted to move up to these myself.
Old 4th January 2011
  #10
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Necessary??? No......just ask DC......he cuts great masters on his Questeds (midfilelds if I'm not mistaken)....

But it can help......
Old 4th January 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Dawkins View Post
Here is what seems to be the current champion for deep clean bass
Thanks for drawing my attention to the LCD-2s, Russell. I have an old pair of Beyer DT990 Pros that I love but will eventually need to be replaced, and these look like a potential contender - albeit for quite a bit more cash!
Old 4th January 2011
  #12
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I have both mids and full range B&W's to master on.

You really need full range to hear EVERYTHING that is going on. Or at least it makes the job a whole lot easier...

I mastered for years on B&W N805's with Velodyne subs... it was good but nothing like when I put the N802's in there. Now I master on them and reference on the N805's which are in my mixing room. Means I have to get out of my chain and walk into another room but the experience always tells me something.

So can you master on a smaller system?... if set up correctly with a sub then I would say yes. But with no sub or full range system you are really guessing as to what is happening in the low end.

Good luck.
Old 4th January 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
So can you master on a smaller system?... if set up correctly with a sub then I would say yes.
Quoted for Truth. Especially for the headphone crowd you have to make sure the subsonics don't pile up as they make stuff very muddy very quickly.
Old 4th January 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Especially for the headphone crowd you have to make sure the subsonics don't pile up as they make stuff very muddy very quickly.
What does this mean?
Old 4th January 2011
  #15
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Any kind of compression or limiting will generate subharmonics to a certain extent. If these are not kept under control they will make the song sound "muddy" on full range systems, the bass loses punch, there's a pileup of very low frequencies that make the bass messy. They also may appear to modulate the rest of the audio if the signal clips at some point.

Quick guideline: When you hear something that sounds better with a 40Hz highpass on, it's obvious that they overlooked this aspect.
Old 4th January 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
I have both mids and full range B&W's to master on.

You really need full range to hear EVERYTHING that is going on. Or at least it makes the job a whole lot easier...

I mastered for years on B&W N805's with Velodyne subs... it was good but nothing like when I put the N802's in there. Now I master on them and reference on the N805's which are in my mixing room. Means I have to get out of my chain and walk into another room but the experience always tells me something.

So can you master on a smaller system?... if set up correctly with a sub then I would say yes. But with no sub or full range system you are really guessing as to what is happening in the low end.

Good luck.
Just look at an RTA.
Old 4th January 2011
  #17
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Any kind of compression or limiting will generate subharmonics to a certain extent.
Does it? Is this your opinion, or do you have documentary proof to back it up?
Old 4th January 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
Does it? Is this your opinion, or do you have documentary proof to back it up?
Use any audio editing software with built-in spectrum analyzer and see for yourself.
Old 4th January 2011
  #19
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Use any audio editing software with built-in spectrum analyzer and see for yourself.
I guess it's your opinion then. Anyone else care to contribute, preferably with some properly researched evidence such as an AES paper? I'll freely admit it's news to me, but maybe I'll actually learn something :-)

Mods, please move to a new thread or delete as appropriate if too off-topic, though there's relevance to this thread in the idea that non-full-range monitoring impairs one's ability to hear the sub buildup that Mr. Unique is talking about.

The motion is the following assertion:

'Any kind of compression or limiting will generate subharmonics'.

Bring on in interesting debate.
Old 5th January 2011
  #20
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No. Not in my experience. Compression, limiting and a whole lot of other processes cause harmonic distortion which can affect the amount of perceived bass but certainly there shouldn't be any large boosts in subs.

The act of compressing or limiting should not add nor produce extra subs. If this is the case then the hardware or software might have some issues that need to be fixed.

Cheers!
bManic
Old 5th January 2011
  #21
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I'll tell you, I thought my monitors were wide ranged enough. Then I bought a sub that extended the low end down to 20Hz and it paid for itself in the first week. I fixed so many issues I never would have heard without it!
Old 6th January 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Any kind of compression or limiting will generate subharmonics to a certain extent. If these are not kept under control they will make the song sound "muddy" on full range systems, the bass loses punch, there's a pileup of very low frequencies that make the bass messy. They also may appear to modulate the rest of the audio if the signal clips at some point.

Quick guideline: When you hear something that sounds better with a 40Hz highpass on, it's obvious that they overlooked this aspect.
This is a fantastic point...

One some rap I noticed when I listened to it full range, there was an unnecessary boost in the sub 30 hz range. Added nothing to the bass quality, and made the sound boomy.

Another good point regarding headphones....definitely not meant to handle subharmonics to that level. Car stereos too benefit as well....subs will be fine, but the door woofers don't need to recreate an unhealthy boost at 30 hz.
Old 6th January 2011
  #23
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioaddict View Post
This is a fantastic point...

One some rap I noticed when I listened to it full range, there was an unnecessary boost in the sub 30 hz range. Added nothing to the bass quality, and made the sound boomy.
I assume these are mastered versions you're referring to. OK, isn't it possible this is due to choices made at the mixing and/or mastering stage simply because people involved couldn't hear the sub region properly, and isn't in fact sub buildup caused by compression/limiting?

I would like nothing better than for someone who believes 'SBCBC/L' exists to demonstrate to me in some rational way the mechanism by which this is supposed to occur. For the moment my BS detector is still pinned.
Old 6th January 2011
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioaddict View Post
Another good point regarding headphones....definitely not meant to handle subharmonics to that level.
Some are - such as the type I referenced earlier.
Old 6th January 2011
  #25
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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Some of the most important places that a client's CD will be heard are full range sound systems at live gigs. You also can't assume important reviewers or promoters won't have full range systems. I think it's pretty important that somebody at least check a new CD on a full range system before investing in replication and marketing.
Old 6th January 2011
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
I would like nothing better than for someone who believes SBCBCL exists to demonstrate to me in some rational way the mechanism by which this is supposed to occur. For the moment my BS detector is still pinned.
It took me a few seconds to figure out what SBCBCL meant

I M W U though Nigel.
Old 7th January 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macc View Post
It took me a few seconds to figure out what SBCBCL meant
Now edited for clarity.

Quote:
I M W U though Nigel.
Since AFAIK you're one of the few here who has any serious knowledge of physics, Bob, that's encouraging.
Old 7th January 2011
  #28
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OK, after a good night's sleep I'm ready to blow 'compression and limiting generates subharmonics' out of the water.

1. Surely this is a simple confusion of cause and effect: 'A and B regularly occur together, therefore A is the cause of B' or 'I observe a buildup of LF content in material which has been limited/compressed, therefore compression/limiting causes the buildup'.

2. The simplest explanation is often the best, Occam's Razor. Which is therefore more likely: i) that there is a mysterious side-effect of compressors and limiters whereby they actively generate subharmonics in operation, causing a buildup of LF content, or ii) that if you don't have a full-range monitoring you probably won't hear what's going on in the sub region and therefore can't correct it?
Old 7th January 2011
  #29
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I was thinking about this, and the only way I can think of it happening would be due to intermodulation distortion products reaching down into the sub region.

The thing is that for it to be audible/visible on an analyser at any rational level, you'd have to smash the audio so hard it would be completely unlistenable. And I mean, really totally unlistenable, not just 'modern loud'. I mean reeeeeeally smashed, with very short release times and lots of bass.

Someone who is more in practice with their physics might be able to correct me or expand on this...
Old 8th January 2011
  #30
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William Bowden's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Any kind of compression or limiting will generate subharmonics to a certain extent.
I've not found this to be the case. Sure if you target your compression a certain way you can 'favour' frequency ranges, but many compressors or limiters tend to bring out the tops and mids long before the sub bass area becomes problematical.

Perhaps what your hearing is in fact sub bass boosts applied in mastering (or mixing)? Maybe even something like the SPL vitalizer..? Or cuts higher up in the bass region exposing the subs a bit more?

The King
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