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Can you use the same room to mixdown and master?
Old 7th May 2006
  #1
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alexstringer's Avatar
 

Can you use the same room to mixdown and master?

When i visit the site of most big tickets studio, they usually have one or more studio for tracking/mix down and then a mastering room.
Can you consider doing the tracking and mastering in the same room?
I'm assuming a mastering room should be totally noise and hum free which is rarely the case of a tracking room due to the presence of a considerable amount of outboard gear used in the process (It seems like the gear used in a mastering room is limited to few essential pieces), however if you don't have the same budget as those big studios to build a facility but want to offer credible services, could you consider doing the mixdown and mastering in the same room?
Old 7th May 2006
  #2
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexstringer
When i visit the site of most big tickets studio, they usually have one or more studio for tracking/mix down and then a mastering room.
Can you consider doing the tracking and mastering in the same room?
I'm assuming a mastering room should be totally noise and hum free which is rarely the case of a tracking room due to the presence of a considerable amount of outboard gear used in the process (It seems like the gear used in a mastering room is limited to few essential pieces), however if you don't have the same budget as those big studios to build a facility but want to offer credible services, could you consider doing the mixdown and mastering in the same room?

It's VERY VERY difficult to do mixing and mastering in the same room because the amount of equipment needed to mix and the size of the console make it difficult to have the precise acoustics needed to master. But it is conceivable to produce a dedicated room that would be suitable for both, with extreme care in the acoustical design, the use of a very small (probably digital) mixing console with layers, and with equipment racks located where they do not reflect back to the listener. I would not recommend it; a good mastering studio should have a true reflection-free and comb-filter-free zone for listening, and that's real hard to accomplish in a mixing environment with racks and racks of outboard gear.
Old 7th May 2006
  #3
Craneslut
 
Brad Blackwood's Avatar
 

Verified Member
The main obstacle I see is this - no room is perfect, so any mix issues that were influenced by the room/monitoring won't be heard during mastering. No way around that one, as far as I can see...
Old 7th May 2006
  #4
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pingu's Avatar
 

What if when he masters in the same room but hangs up side down.
Old 7th May 2006
  #5
Gear Addict
 
skygod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pingu
What if when he masters in the same room he hangs up side down.
I'm not sure, but gravity might be a distractor to the mixdown process.
Bummer huh?
Old 7th May 2006
  #6
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
It's VERY VERY difficult to do mixing and mastering in the same room because the amount of equipment needed to mix and the size of the console make it difficult to have the precise acoustics needed to master. But it is conceivable to produce a dedicated room that would be suitable for both, with extreme care in the acoustical design, the use of a very small (probably digital) mixing console with layers, and with equipment racks located where they do not reflect back to the listener. I would not recommend it; a good mastering studio should have a true reflection-free and comb-filter-free zone for listening, and that's real hard to accomplish in a mixing environment with racks and racks of outboard gear.
Well, I do mostly agree with the proponents of the separate mix/mastering studios but we do both successfully in our single control room studio.

However, the whole process has been carefully thought out and, if you are going to combine the two functions, I don't think it can be done any better!

Firstly, I am the owner/mastering engineer and the room is designed and equipped for mastering. I also have bought a few pieces of gear specific for recording and mixing, such as a Distressor, Manley & Millenia pre-amps, etc.

The mixing that is done here is in-the-box with outboard options. Someone who wants to use an SSL or Neave console is not going to mix here. Immediately, this eliminates the acoustical problem of trying to master with a big board in front of one's speakers. It should also be kept in mind that, there are many, many fine sounding albums and hits that have been mixed studios like ours.

Price point is also a compelling consideration and we offer our studio for mixing, with experienced engineer, for about $60. US per hour. We also have a couple of (carefully selected!) freelance mix engineers who use our facility after hours, with no house engineer, for $30. US. per hour.

One of the main reasons that our approach works is that we strictly follow the traditional engineering approach in that I never mix and none of the recording mix engineers master here.

The mix engineers can also set up alternate speakers, such as NS-10s or Genelecs if they don't wish to use my mastering monitors. However, two of the three mix engineers that work here do prefer the full-range mastering set-up.

My line to prospective clients is that one shouldn't master in a recording/mixing studio but why not mix in a mastering room? After all, we have a fully loaded Pro Tools set-up available plus the engineers get to use any of my outboard mastering units which can be made accessible via patch bay or digital inserts.

Most mix engineers love the idea of being able to run their final mixes out of PTs through our Dangerous 2-Bus plus maybe a Manley Vari-mu, Massive Passive, ets., with LavryGold A to D conversion. Although due to timing problems, they can't use the Weiss digital gear or the ATR/Spitz 102 1/2" tape deck on individual tracks in real time, the more enterprising guys that work here will run selected tracks through a combo of outboard gear/tape and record it back into PTs, line it up, and use that version in the final mix. Sure it takes a little extra time but is often worth it for shaping a major track in the mix, such as a lead vocal.

And then, since we offer an engineer who only masters (me), we still keep the highly desirable "fresh ears" approach. As Brad Blackwell says in an earlier post, all rooms have their own peculiarities but I rarely hear the mixes before the actual mastering session so at least the mix really is getting an objective listen at the mastering level not to mention that the client, by this time, has taken the mixes out of our studio and come back for the requisite touch-ups. Most understand, after going through that process, the difference between our room and the other environments that they usually listen in.

By taking this approach, I feel we have eliminated the major objections to the mix/master in the same room approach. Would I like to have a separate studio for mixing? Yes, but I never will as we have a very cost effective, reasonably priced setup doing it this way for over a dozen years, keep the room very busy and continue to have a very steady flow of new and regular clients. Our slogan here could be "master by day, mix by night" and on the good days, the studio is working 15 hours a day.

Also, if it's any measure of success, we have mixed and mastered several albums for major labels here, Universal and BMG/SONY, plus many more for indies with major distribution, which have been well received by the labels and artist.

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.
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