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Optimal recording for mastering for vinyl Desktop Synthesizers
Old 7th February 2013
Gear Head

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Optimal recording for mastering for vinyl

Im going to start recording some tracks here and just want to make sure i get the most out of the time invested so heres some questions for you

Synths, drummachines sequenced by ext. sequencer run into a Fireface UC, Ableton Live. The laptop is a 2.26 Intelcore 2 MacBook Pro DUO with 4GB 1067 DDR3 Ram, OSX 10.8.2

Effects will be a mix of VST plugins and hardware effects.

I want to ensure that the recordings will be optimal for mastering for vinyl(most important) and digital release. Whats the best bitrate and samplerate for vinyl and for digital release?

I have heard that samplerate/bitrate conversion isnt optimal, so i would go for the best possible sound for vinyl. Which convertors are the best for this, if i would want to convert it after for cd/digital-mastering?

I want to configure ableton so that i can send recorded tracks and the synths i have not yet recorded to external fx etc and record without loosing sync with the other tracks that i have allready recorded. What latency-settings should i set?

Whats the best settings for keeping optimal sound quality for both external fx and VSTplugins? I guess Buffersize has something to do with this?

I also want to keep optimal midisync between ableton live, interface and the external sequencer. How?

I guess keeping all these things optimal could be ristricted by hardware but i want the best compromise.

If there is anything more i should tend to before i start recording, keep me updated!

Old 7th February 2013
Reptil's Avatar

Verified Member
moved to mastering forum
Old 7th February 2013
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar

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A search for vinyl mastering in these parts should help. Main things:
1. Side length is inversely proportional to the amount of bass and overall level able to be cut (and varies, dependent on whether a 12, 10 or 7 inch, and whether 45rpm or 33rpm).
2. Ideally, all unnecessary digital processing can be avoided (including sample rate conversion) and lacquers cut from high res (eg 24 bit / native sample rate) files.
3. Digital peak level means nothing.
4. Budget for and get test pressings to approve if it's for release.
5. Or just forget all the above and focus on your music, not the technology. i.e.: as with preparing mixes for any mastering and format, just make the mixes sound the best you can - be really happy with them. Allow time to live with them for a bit (I can't stress this enough lately). If unsure about things such as sibilance and bass level, raise the concern with whoever is cutting your lacquers.
Old 7th February 2013
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JTransition's Avatar

Verified Member
What Adam said and attend the cutting session,yeah I know (fill in excuse here)but attending the cut is the best way to learn.
Old 11th February 2013
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar

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Originally Posted by skyy38 View Post
Adam, does the above also apply for TV/Radio Delivery-i.e. don't get "stuck on the stats"-just produce the best recording that you can?
From an artist's & recording point of view - yes. And mono compatible. ; )
Old 11th February 2013
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Cellotron's Avatar

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fwiw I have a list of a few suggestions for mixing to get the best results for a vinyl record release at Tips for Mixing for Vinyl Records

There's a few points in it that I think could use editing (i.e. the maximum LP length suggestions are more indicative of what is possible with DMM than lacquer mastering - and the section on centering bass frequencies could use some clarification describing tools available to the cutting engineer to deal with these issues like elliptical equalizers and vertical amplitude limiters) - but it might give you a few ideas anyway.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 12th February 2013
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar

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Originally Posted by skyy38 View Post
Mono compatible? Why?
Just a few reasons (despite it arguably being less important than it used to be):
1. FM radio is broadcast via sum/difference signals as opposed to left/right. The sum (mono) being the stronger signal is all you'll get in situations of weak radio reception.
2. Ever seen kids share ear buds (I know... but it happens) or listened to a streaming service or radio station via a smart phone speaker? I know of one station locally which has been streaming with a phase error for months - vocals disappear and announcers' voices are inaudible. (But they tell me they're onto it).
3. Better playback compatibility and likelihood of a cleaner cut for vinyl.
4. Often, music simply sounds most engaging when depth is retained, provided by a strong front and center image with a foreground/middle ground/background, which also helps contrast with the right amount of stereo width elements.
5. There are no guarantees on how a permanently installed sound system in a venue etc may be set up, eg - how far apart ceiling speakers may be.

Blog: Mono
Old 29th April 2016
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Arnoud87's Avatar
is it true you are not able to use PANNING?
Old 29th April 2016
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Justin P.'s Avatar

Go one step further than getting a test pressing and request a reference lacquer or at the very least, a digital capture of a lacquer from whoever is cutting it.

This is where you'll know if any serious changes need to happen with your pre-master or perhaps even your mixes.

By the time it's a test pressing, it's way too late to correct anything without significant time and cost involved.

Don't let the pressing plant farm out the lacquer cutting work unless it's a pressing plant that you know does great lacquer cutting 100% of time time. There is only one plant in the US that I think has a good in-house lacquer cutter and it does not start with a U or an R.

In most cases, your best bet is to seek out a dedicated lacquer cutter of your choice to get the most out of your material, and then send it on for plating and pressing.

Last edited by Justin P.; 29th April 2016 at 03:20 PM..
Old 29th April 2016
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Greg Reierson's Avatar

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Originally Posted by Arnoud87 View Post
is it true you are not able to use PANNING?
Stop reading the internet!! (...irony...)

Pan as much as you want. I've had very few cutting problems due to panning. Do exactly whatever you want to do creatively. Hand it off to a good cutting engineer. If it's unworkable then he will let you know and help you find a solution. Don't compromise your sound to solve a problem that may not exist.

The things that cause the most trouble are limiting / clipping / distortion, harsh HF, sibilance and excessively long sides. They can usually be made to work but the worse the problem the greater the compromise. Just about anything else goes.

The internet is full of really bad vinyl advice from people who have never cut a side. Talk to your cutting engineer if you suspect your mix will cause trouble. He'll give it a listen and let you know. Easy.
Old 29th April 2016
Lives for gear
Sort of a similar question, sonically speaking if something is recorded entirely digital is that really any point in going to vinyl? Can an analog mastering add enough mojo that it's work it?
Old 29th April 2016
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Justin P.'s Avatar

Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
sonically speaking if something is recorded entirely digital is that really any point in going to vinyl?
That's really a personal opinion/preference but if everything through the entire process is done well, an all digital recording/mix/master can sound great on vinyl.

Also, a mediocre recording/mix/master cut to vinyl using the loud "CD" master by an average lacquer cutter can sound kind of ****ty. So you can't really make a blanket statement about vinyl. There something somewhat special about original pressings of older albums that are 100% analog but I don't think that's what makes or breaks it.

The original "point" of vinyl wasn't to sound analog or a certain way, it was simply the easiest/best way to distribute and listen to music at the time. Some people still prefer it.

It's really a personal preference as I said but many people are doing it again. I'd say roughly 40% of the albums I master go to vinyl as well these days.

With pressing CDs and digital distribution, there's little to no art involved after it leaves the digital mastering engineer's hands. With vinyl, whoever works on it next can make or break the project and it's also highly dependent on what they're given as a starting point.

I think Greg is right, there are too many generalizations, rumors, and bad info on the internet regarding vinyl. Best to just talk with somebody that does it every day.
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