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"Perfect mix doesn't need mastering." but I thought...
Old 6th May 2006
  #1
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crabtwins's Avatar
 

"Perfect mix doesn't need mastering." but I thought...

Once again I was glad to read in the Mastering Audio text that a "perfect mix doesnt need mastering." So that got me to thinking if the mastering engineer is also the mixing engineer thats good right? Well but more to the point. What do mastering engineers usually get then only a few "stems?"

As I understand it stems contain one or two bounced tracks(submix). I was under the impression that the mix engineer or producer would send all the tracks separate?
Is this not the case most of the time?

.thanks
Old 6th May 2006
  #2
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That perfect mix happens 1 out of 1000 mixes you will do. If that!!! But I think every mix needs mastering. Not some ITB cheap mastering that you can do yourself but real mastering. Big mastering places do majic!!!!

And yes a stem is a subgroup of drums, guitars, others, vox.... the usual. But idealy they are brought up in mastering at unity gain! They really are not there to be mixed.... but the option is there!

But what do I know??
Old 6th May 2006
  #3
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MASSIVE Master's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Well technically, the "perfect mix" would require *no processing* during mastering.

It would still require being assembled with the other mixes into a compliant production master (which is where the name of the process came from in the first place).
Old 6th May 2006
  #4
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Darius van H's Avatar
 

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If you're mixing ITB you can even bring your computer to the mastering session to master directly from your mix - this has some pitfalls but can also deliver great reults and can even be a life saver (because of the possibility to fix problems "at source").
Old 6th May 2006
  #5
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rlnyc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crabtwins
Once again I was glad to read in the Mastering Audio text that a "perfect mix doesnt need mastering." So that got me to thinking if the mastering engineer is also the mixing engineer thats good right? Well but more to the point. What do mastering engineers usually get then only a few "stems?"

As I understand it stems contain one or two bounced tracks(submix). I was under the impression that the mix engineer or producer would send all the tracks separate?
Is this not the case most of the time?

.thanks
mastering engineers are usually sent only the two track master mixes. sometimes five stems for movie soundtracks. sometimes other things, but mostly just two tracks.

mastering engineers do not always make good mixers - a whole different set of skills are required. a ME learns to polish stereo program material, NOT to balance 24-96 tracks. whoa. a guy who is GREAT at shining up a stereo 2-track and doing all possible to get the final record to sound great is NOT defacto the guy to mix multitrack recordings. different animal entirely. same reason why in most cases the mix engineer should NOT master himself. the MEs spend ALL DAY doing just one thing - getting stereo 2-tracks to sound best.

regards,
rlnyc.
Old 6th May 2006
  #6
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crabtwins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MASSIVE Master
Well technically, the "perfect mix" would require *no processing* during mastering.

It would still require being assembled with the other mixes into a compliant production master (which is where the name of the process came from in the first place).
This makes sense. Massivious. Still not sure about the rest of the reasoning. By that I mean the other comments (not hating) reflect the idea that it is just a fact. I know that it is said that the one (MixE) can't be the other (MasE), but I just don't want to believe it.tutt


Well now that you mention it, I guess this is in the same league as you cant master audio if you dont have really really expensive monitors...I love the thought of that......(sarcasm)......


Here is a link I found on the subject, glad to see nothing is set in stone. OR is it? I joke No I dont....what?
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/11209/0/
Old 7th May 2006
  #7
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crabtwins
I know that it is said that the one (MixE) can't be the other (MasE), but I just don't want to believe it.tutt
Why not? They are two very different processes.

Quote:
Well now that you mention it, I guess this is in the same league as you cant master audio if you dont have really really expensive monitors...I love the thought of that......(sarcasm)......
Well, I wouldn't trust my mixes to anyone with subpar monitoring! Likewise, I wouldn't attempt to master anything if I didn't have great monitoring- it's indispensible for mastering.

Quote:
Here is a link I found on the subject, glad to see nothing is set in stone. OR is it? I joke No I dont....what?
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/11209/0/
I'm not sure precisely what you are asking... Do you want to master your own mixes but you're not sure if you trust yourself to? I'd say a good rule of thumb is to follow the formula that pretty much every sucessful release follows- if you're mixing an album, mix it so that it will be as perfect as you can make it, then send a stereo file of the mix to a mastering engineer whose work you are familar with and/or has a good track record of music you like and let them take care of the rest.

There might be quite a few people out there who want to break with this formula, but I don't think it's a very good idea. Probably not a good way to gain a reputation as a mix engineer if you attempt to master the mixes that you do, and for sure it's not a good idea to try to start a mastering business if you don't have the experience, equipment or monitoring to do so since guaranteed that without these things you will botch some people's stuff and word will get around.
Old 7th May 2006
  #8
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lucey's Avatar
Mixing is one totally unique step.

Mastering is another specialized act.

Even assuming a great room with gear for both and a great engineer of discipline, it's NEARLY impossible to nail a mix as well as mixing and mastering it... and even then the levels and slight EQ tilt may not suit the record so some mastering is always required for assembly.
Old 7th May 2006
  #9
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MASSIVE Master
Well technically, the "perfect mix" would require *no processing* during mastering.
It would still require being assembled with the other mixes into a compliant production master (which is where the name of the process came from in the first place).
I alway though that this is what's mastering's all about. Making an album out of a buch of individual songs.

It seems that a lot of people expect the ME to work miracles and/or act purely as a sonic crusher.
Old 7th May 2006
  #10
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crabtwins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante
Why not? They are two very different processes.


Gigante,
I appreciate your comments. I guess im coming from an idealistic viewpoint. I like producing my mixes with the master in mind. And since I am a DIY home studio guy, I just want to get my arms around it all.

Knowing about mastering somehow feeds my mixing skills. I think I put too much stake in what other people say about this topic. One not being able to be the other, I think some might be looking at it from a professional/industry viewpoint in which the Master E has nothing to do with the mix. I m looking at it from a self taught wanting to learn it all viewpoint. I like mastering and mixing. If I have to decide on one I guess I'll have to wait and see which one chooses me.

thanks for the comments
Old 7th May 2006
  #11
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker
I alway though that this is what's mastering's all about. Making an album out of a buch of individual songs.

It seems that a lot of people expect the ME to work miracles and/or act purely as a sonic crusher.

I once read an article that made me throw up, that "mastering is all about making your record louder".

No, it's not....
Old 7th May 2006
  #12
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Verified Member
I totally subscribe to the idea that a perfect mix doesn't need mastering.

Where this gets complex is the question of context. Is it at the right level relative to the song before or the song after? Does it sound like the same singer or band? Should it?

These are subtle presentation issues that involve minor tweaks that would be pointless if the song were only going to be heard alone. They still can make a significant difference in the listener's experience of an album or of a single when played next to others in the same genre.

I'll repeat my mantra: Mastering is about the presentation of the mix. The mix is about the presentation of the song, the artist and the music.
Old 8th May 2006
  #13
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crabtwins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
I'll repeat my mantra: Mastering is about the presentation of the mix. The mix is about the presentation of the song, the artist and the music.
I like the sound of that Mantra Bob. OMmmmmmmmm
Old 8th May 2006
  #14
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Nigel Jopson's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=crabtwins] And since I am a DIY home studio guy, I just want to get my arms around it all.
/QUOTE]

Perhaps because you are asking questions on a mastering forum, you're seeking some opinions on finishing your work?

That's what mastering is: objective finishing. How much it costs, and how much it brings to the music, depends on the overall budget and politics of the project.

As the recording process has broken free of label-owned studios, and been distributed to home and 'project' facilities, the quality control burden has fallen more and more on the artist's own shoulders. So the importance of mastering with some objective and professional ears, the last chance in the production chain for a qc check, has risen.
Old 8th May 2006
  #15
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crabtwins
Gigante,
I appreciate your comments. I guess im coming from an idealistic viewpoint. I like producing my mixes with the master in mind. And since I am a DIY home studio guy, I just want to get my arms around it all.

Knowing about mastering somehow feeds my mixing skills. I think I put too much stake in what other people say about this topic. One not being able to be the other, I think some might be looking at it from a professional/industry viewpoint in which the Master E has nothing to do with the mix. I m looking at it from a self taught wanting to learn it all viewpoint. I like mastering and mixing. If I have to decide on one I guess I'll have to wait and see which one chooses me.

thanks for the comments
What you're saying makes sense. The way I look at it is if you feel like you need maximum control over the sound of a project that you are working on, it would be smart to invest most of your energy in the arrangement and tracking stages, and then the mix. If you decide to send it be mastered, the mastering engineer should ideally not be trying to change the sound of the mix so much as trying to get rid of the problems that get in the way of what you're trying to get across in the mix, not remix the song.

That's why the perfect mix wouldn't need more processing (besides stuff to get it 'loud' in the unfortunate case that the client insists on 'loud') at the mastering stage, because ideally there wouldn't be problems that the mastering engineer would have to address. However, it's tough to pull off a mix like that, especially in a room and with monitoring that might be masking problems in the mix or making you boost or cut the wrong freq's in your mix to compensate for room/monitoring problems. Also, if one is orchestrating the process from the tracking/arrangement stages, objectivity is lost.

But for sure learning all about the mastering process will improve your skills in other areas, and likewise skill and experience in the other areas will give you knowledge about what works and what doesn't if you decide that mastering is what you want to do.
Old 9th May 2006
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crabtwins
This makes sense. Massivious. Still not sure about the rest of the reasoning. By that I mean the other comments (not hating) reflect the idea that it is just a fact. I know that it is said that the one (MixE) can't be the other (MasE), but I just don't want to believe it.....
The way I always looked at D.I.Y. mastering is that if you're trying to tweak the final 2 track yourself, you at least shouldn't do it in the same room with the same monitors. You can do all your assembling obviously, and create a master disk, but I think the mastering process requires a second set of ears and a fresh environment.

On the flip side, you obvioulsy wouldn't want to take it to another project studio that has its own monitoring pitfalls that you're not familiar with... that leaves you worse-off.

This is not to say it's a set rule that one person cannot do both effectively...


But hey, you gotta work w/in the budget, right?
Old 9th May 2006
  #17
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I would not agree that mastering is not needed if the mix is right, but more that mastering is needed to be able to confirm that the mix is right. Mastering is about preparing for use, something you don't think that much about when you are mixing a song to sound great. The perfect mix is a beautiful idea and possibly a little naive as well, the mastering process is about adding a perspective on a song to optimize it for a certain type of context. That makes it a very important step in the record production process.
Old 13th May 2006
  #18
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"Perfect mix doesn't need mastering." but I thought...

I look at it like this; I remixed "Oye Como Va" by and for Tito Puente Jr. personally. My entire mixdown sounded perfect, so perfect, I thought it didn't need to be mastered; i.e., the highs sounded crisp, the bottom end was just perfect, etc. But when I put it up against other tracks in the same genre, I heard some notable differences; harmonics were missing. So I went back, attentuated some individual tracks and then mastered the track. When I was finished, that track got spun in clubs by myself and other DJ's, on the radio during a radio interview that a station did with Tito Puente Jr. himself, and the finished project that I mixed and mastered sounded like it came right out of a mastering facility. The point to all this is clear; a perfect mix always need some type of mastering to buff up and add polish to your master piece, and YES, mix engineers can definitely master a project especially if they specialize in a specific genre that he or she produces and/or mixes. But my advise to those of you who want to master your own projects, Don't begin mastering the moment you bounce your mixdown. Wait 2 - 3 day's so your ears freshen up, make sure you have the right tools; i.e., the right plugins, the right outboard gear (analog and digital), and always, reference from CD's that are already on the market to find out if your music is ready or not. Let me know if this information works out for you.

-DJ Spinn-

Old 13th May 2006
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm
I would not agree that mastering is not needed if the mix is right, but more that mastering is needed to be able to confirm that the mix is right.

Dude this has got to be the biggest B.S. i've read yet.


The only person that needs to give confirmation is the person paying for it.


If they think the mix is fine than its fine.

Case closed.

Everyone and their mother can have their opinions on how they can make it better but bottomn line they aren't paying for it.


We don't mix for each others approval, we mix to convey the idea of the creators of the song.


What happens afterwards is up to them.
Old 14th May 2006
  #20
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"Dude" you know what, you're absolutley right - the only person to give confirmation is the person paying for it. But, my story, suggestions and opinions are for those people who ASK for help and/or suggestions with mixes and/or mastering - what they do in the end is totally up to them. If their project sounds hot, good, if it doesn't, still good - we don't mix for each others approval, but like I said, some people need suggestions and in the end it's totally up to them.
Old 14th May 2006
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
The only person that needs to give confirmation is the person paying for it.
Yes, but... often times the last person you want making any creative desicions is the "Exectutive Producer" aka Mr. Moneybags. Usually they know less about musical quaility than anyone else involved in a project. They do have the function of paying the bills, and reminding everyone else not to go over-budget and past deadlines... practical matters.

Now if the Artist or Producer, is paying the bills... ok.

The Mastering session is not the time to tighten the budget...

Maybe it was the caviar, champagne, limos, massages, and cartage during tracking! ; )

JT
Old 14th May 2006
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
Dude this has got to be the biggest B.S. i've read yet.


The only person that needs to give confirmation is the person paying for it.


If they think the mix is fine than its fine.

Case closed.

Everyone and their mother can have their opinions on how they can make it better but bottomn line they aren't paying for it.


We don't mix for each others approval, we mix to convey the idea of the creators of the song.


What happens afterwards is up to them.
I don't agree about that. Mastering is unnecessary if the result is not something better. Better in this context is defined by the mastering engineer. In that process he is automatically confirming that the consumption of the mix sound field is most efficient by using his definition on that. When not he does what he does to make it efficient enough, that's his role to meet certain needs related to the final product. This is what makes him valuable for the production process.
Old 14th May 2006
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm
I don't agree about that. Mastering is unnecessary if the result is not something better. Better in this context is defined by the mastering engineer. In that process he is automatically confirming that the consumption of the mix sound field is most efficient by using his definition on that. When not he does what he does to make it efficient enough, that's his role to meet certain needs related to the final product. This is what makes him valuable for the production process.

Again that is your opinion.


I mix for a living and i don't mix for Mastering engineers(even though some are good friends).


I mix for the client.


What he/she decides to do after with it is up to them.


Its their property and they can do as they choose with it.


I think people have gotten into their heads that there is this regimented way records are done.


This so called protocol that everything has to be done "by the book"of the engineers union.


Man if no one's gotten it yet records aren't made for us.


They are made for public consumption.


Records are meant to entertain people just like a movie, a broadway show, a comic book, a sports event, a mystery novel. etc.


How it gets to the public doesn't really matter.


Always keep in mind that we are just part of that process.


We aren't the process though and i think that's where i am afraid some Engineers have gone to.
Old 14th May 2006
  #24
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lucey's Avatar
I'm confused as to what's the disagreement between you fellas?


And to me this topic is silly ... for one thing, there is no "perfect mix" only the one a client approves ... or the "best" effort of the mixer.

And as to what any project "needs" ... that too is in the hands of the client/artist/producer.





If we define 'need' as the minimum effort to hear the song, than a rough mix is fine. If we want the best possible product, some mastering is almost always going to happen.

Is it more complicated than this?
Old 15th May 2006
  #25
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Absolute's Avatar
 

show me a perfect mix *after masteringtutt
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