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Not Sure about client's ME choice....
Old 6th September 2011
  #1
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steveschizoid's Avatar
 

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Not Sure about client's ME choice....

I (a tracking and mix engineer) have a client who has chosen a Mastering Engineer based upon the fact that he has worked with some particular artists and the fact that he is relatively inexpensive. My client has provided me with some examples of said ME's work.

I don't like it at all.

Granted, the issues may have everything to do with the tracking and mixing results, but one issue in particular concerns the low end, which, in the 3 examples, seems to be all over the map and generally insufficient.

Thoughts?

example 1.mp3

example 2.mp3

example 3.mp3
Old 6th September 2011
  #2
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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What does your client want the master to sound like?

All mastering engineers work to please our clients and most of us want to redo anything that isn't more than satisfactory. Mastering should always be a collaboration.
Old 6th September 2011
  #3
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Absolutely! We're all in the business of service and collaboration.

But by the time I am done mixing a record, my objectivity (to the extent that there is such a thing) is seriously compromised, I usually don't want to listen to it much more, and I am perfectly willing to defer to a fresh, hopefully skilled and experienced perspective - if there is some grounds for trusting that perspective.

The examples above sound weak and thin to my ears, and the stereo imaging is often distracting. To me they scream amateur. Perhaps it's totally wrong to blame the ME - I don't know.

The client may not know enough to know exactly what he wants. He likes the mixes, and I would guess that, like me, he wants them louder and QA'd (and if necessary manipulated) for maximum impact, musicality and translation.

Isn't that the modern definition of the ME's job?
Old 6th September 2011
  #4
What Bob said...

It's hard to say based on a record the ME did, who knows how bad the mix was, who knows if the client was adamant that the records essentially stay as is, or their super bassy listening environment lead them to demand the bass be lowered. A good ME should be able to find a middle ground, and work the record until as Bob said it's more than satisfactory to all involved, but if you weren't in the room, you never know what happened.

If he's easily accessible, it might make you feel better to see if he'd send you a sample of some records he's done that he thinks are great. If he sends you samples, and they still aren't to your liking, then you might want to question the bands choice, and address this, but it's hard to say, "well his name is on this record and it doesn't sound good ergo he's no good." I know there's a few records out there with my name on, that I don't love, and would prefer potential clients don't listen too, (We all have to make a living, and I'm not turning down paying clients) but there's also a lot of records, more than not, that I would proudly show a client.

That being said it's usually pretty easy between talking with an ME, seeing their studio, and looking/listening to their discography to tell the hacks from the pros.
Old 6th September 2011
  #5
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Red Mastering's Avatar
 

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the one who pays the bill - decides what he/she wants..
I am with you, and I understand your concern, that your mixes, which I presume you spend a lot of time and work - will be [email protected]$% up by the last man in chain,
there's nothing you can do, except convincing your clients

that's a part of our job which I don't like - we are servants, and even when someone says this is black - on white, you just have to swallow it,

peace
Old 6th September 2011
  #6
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ed littman's Avatar
 

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I'll never forget when the client wanted me to push 10k beond my comfort zone.....hey it's the clients ears that gives final approvel & thier wallet that pays the bills.
With that said, I would agree with your obsevations of those samples.

My general rule is:
If the final product is weak, one may not be sure at what stage of production most of the flaws come from.

If the final product is great, you know it was great mastering as the ME knew to do as little or as much as needed to retain or raise it to greatness.

Ed
Old 6th September 2011
  #7
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ritelec's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
Granted, the issues may have everything to do with the tracking and mixing results, but one issue in particular concerns the low end, which, in the 3 examples, seems to be all over the map and generally insufficient.

Talking is good. Thou shalt communicate.
(yes, thin and weak)


Hope things work out.
Old 6th September 2011
  #8
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maybe the mastering engineer made it way better than it was originally, impossible to know if you weren't there. I've had good mixes leave my studio and the band sit in on mastering session making bad calls and forcing the ME to do things he normally would never do, you just never know....

Harry
Old 7th September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
I (a tracking and mix engineer) have a client who has chosen a Mastering Engineer based upon the fact that he has worked with some particular artists and the fact that he is relatively inexpensive. My client has provided me with some examples of said ME's work.

I don't like it at all.

Granted, the issues may have everything to do with the tracking and mixing results, but one issue in particular concerns the low end, which, in the 3 examples, seems to be all over the map and generally insufficient.

Thoughts?
butt out

doesnt matter what you like

if you were the producer you could pick the ME

if all you did is mix then the choice belongs to them.
Old 7th September 2011
  #10
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steveschizoid's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
butt out
The client asked my opinion.

Thanks (everyone else) for the constructive responses!
Old 7th September 2011
  #11
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ritelec's Avatar
 

ha ha ha ha,

Don't sweat it Steve. "But out" may have been a bit harsh, but "old" may be on to something.

I've caught his comments here and there in other posts and I don't think it's anything personal.


ha ha ha ha.
Old 7th September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed littman View Post

My general rule is:
If the final product is weak, one may not be sure at what stage of production most of the flaws come from.

If the final product is great, you know it was great mastering as the ME knew to do as little or as much as needed to retain or raise it to greatness.

Ed
Cool.
So it's never the ME's fault. Good general rule if you are a mastering guy. No responsibility.

To the OP: If it's about mastering an album, let the guy master one song and see if you like it.
Then you'll know.
Old 7th September 2011
  #13
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ritelec's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ed littman View Post
knew to do as little as needed to retain or raise it to greatness.
Ed
Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
Cool.
Good general rule if you are a mastering guy. No responsibility.
That's why I'm trying to get into this business. Do little, get payed, and no responsibility.

Works for me!




(only playing gents)


Wait a minute. There may be some truth in this.
Old 7th September 2011
  #14
It can be the ME's fault, but there's no way to tell once the record has been released. (barring crazy level changes, unaddressed clicks/pops, or other extremes) Same way you can't assume the mixer's terrible because a guitar or a vocal is blaring. If the artist/producer is paying the bills, and they say do it or else... You'd have to be stupid (or rich) not to. Now if you have a great mix, send it to the ME, and it comes back somehow lacking, then you can start to question, if revisions don't address the issue, then you can certainly blame the ME.

I like (most of) my clients, and they don't usually push me other than general aesthetics, or notes on songs, but if Rick Rubin came in and said, make that **** way louder or I'm out... You better believe it's going to be louder.
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