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Multiple mastering versions?
Old 20th May 2006
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Multiple mastering versions?

For my bands debut release we are toying with the idea of a few versions,

1. "The Album" master, all tracks mastered for smooth sequencing and keeping most of the dynamics range of the individual songs.

2. Promo versions of singles which will contain 2 versions of the single; the A&R master as track one clearly labeled as "A&R master" with the Album master as the second track, clearly marked "for airplay use !"

3. The MP3 versions for download, with a dynamic master used as a basis for low-bit rate files, and and the A&R master used for high bit rate files.(In my limited experience, mp3 perceptual encoding seems to affect hard slammed mixes worse than dynamic mixes).

Opinions?
Old 20th May 2006
  #2
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by guerillamixer
For my bands debut release we are toying with the idea of a few versions,

1. "The Album" master, all tracks mastered for smooth sequencing and keeping most of the dynamics range of the individual songs.

2. Promo versions of singles which will contain 2 versions of the single; the A&R master as track one clearly labeled as "A&R master" with the Album master as the second track, clearly marked "for airplay use !"

3. The MP3 versions for download, with a dynamic master used as a basis for low-bit rate files, and and the A&R master used for high bit rate files.(In my limited experience, mp3 perceptual encoding seems to affect hard slammed mixes worse than dynamic mixes).

Opinions?
Good luck trying to keep them apart! I toyed with that approach to a particularly dynamic album I had just mastered, but in the end they went with the slightly compressed version and I'm glad. Maintaining multiple versions of a master and making sure they end up in the right place is probably impossible. Imagine you made an Itunes version... how do you separate that from the "album version?".

I feel, to quote Bob Ludwig, that "never before in the history of music have we heard music so compressed." If we mix and master music the same way we made LPs in the 60's and 70's there would be no need for multiple versions, period!
Old 20th May 2006
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
this is also being discussed on the "And the war rages on... louder than ever" thread.
It's an interesting concept. Lots of potential pitfalls though.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #4
Gear Nut
 

As far as making sure the right versions go to the right places, this isn't really a big deal for us as independant artists as we will be handling most of the admin ourselves. Keeping the intunes version separate from the album version aint so hard in that respect.

Whether it is worth the trouble artistically I guess it will come down to what works best for indvidual songs, but I am anticipating that in terms of macro dynamics (verse-chorus changes) some songs we hear as singles may benefit from two distinct masters..
Old 22nd May 2006
  #5
Gear Head
 
Nigel Jopson's Avatar
 

At the AES mastering seminar yesterday, Daniel Weiss and Thomas Lund both highlighted the fact that encoding for lossy formats can provoke peak level gains. Thomas suggested that a master should be attenuated by at least 5dB when feeding these codecs.

I've asked many people who they use to encode their iTunes/Napster/Musicmatch tracks and - guess what? - not one producer/ME/A&R could give me an answer. Most artists tracks are probably encoded as part of a batch job by some anonymous employee at a "service provider". In the first quarter of this year, UK consumers downloaded 27.9 million digital albums - albums have only just been included in the charts. Gnarls Barkley became the first act to top the UK singles chart on 31,000 downloads alone (CD single was released later). Since then, Gnarls B have sold 73,000 downloads and 121,000 physical singles.

Taking into account the huge quality difference between various codecs, and the fact that, as Daniel Weiss observed, SRCs can result in unexpected level gains, I suggest that mastering houses should definitely be making the encoded (AAC & WMA) masters for online stores.

I agree with Bob Katz that multiple PCM masters is just an open-door for label confusion and mistakes. Most of us already have personal experience of label muddles over song versions - even with the highest of profile artists - I certainly recall several cases of: "... so ... umm ... which Brick in which Wall is it that you mean, Nigel?"
Old 23rd May 2006
  #6
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by guerillamixer
As far as making sure the right versions go to the right places, this isn't really a big deal for us as independant artists as we will be handling most of the admin ourselves. Keeping the intunes version separate from the album version aint so hard in that respect.
Works for a while, but trying psyching out which version is which in 5 years, unless your memory is better than mine. You could beta-test your labelling procedure by handing all the physical parts and the work parts to an intern and asking him or her to tell you which is the "master".

Documentation helps, as well as only labelling a "master" that which is finished, edited, prepped, and ready for pressing. I'm not a fan of labelling mix tapes or files "master", they should be labelled "mix" in my not so humble opinion. Which is where I differ from the NARAS recommendations. If EVERYTHING is labelled "master tape", how do you find ANYTHING?


BK
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