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Recommend a UK / Online Cassette Mastering Service
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Recommend a UK / Online Cassette Mastering Service

Hi,

I'm have some music lined up to do multiple releases as singles. I plan to do each one slightly differently to test, practice and give myself exposure to different things.

The first release is a 2 min track that I'm going to put out initially via a short run of cassettes. Anyone that has a cassette will also get access to a digital download.

One thing that I want to tick off on my music bucket list is using Abbey Road, so was planning on using their online mastering service. I could use them for the digital, but they don't offer mastering for cassette that I can see.

A google search for cassette mastering, as well as a search through slutz, doesn't return much at all, so I thought I'd start a thread and ask if anyone here has had music mastered specifically for cassette? If so where did you get it done? Any experiences worth haring?

Appreciate that this may seem a lot of effort for a small number of tapes, but it's art, Man.

Cheers

Ben
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Just a question for you, Why cassette? Cassette is thought to be like the modern day MP3. No one that i have known or currently know, has a cassette player. That makes it that no one will be able to listen to a cassette. Don't you want the most people to listen to your music?

Mastering for cassette is way different form mastering a digital wav file. I wonder if anyone still remembers all the little nuances you need to do, like using Dolby B and handling the mid range and HF saturation. I wonder if i still have my Tascam cassette player?

I'm not knocking you, i'm just curious on why you want a cassette, For promotional stuff?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Just a question for you, Why cassette?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I'm not knocking you, I'm just curious on why you want a cassette, For promotional stuff?
It's a physical format that's cheaper to produce than vinyl, I can transfer 24bit or 32bit uncompressed audio directly to it, cassette sales are on the rise, Madonna/Kylie/Metallica release on it so it's a credible format, they're collectable, and I fancy giving it a go as per OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Cassette is thought to be like the modern day MP3.
I don't know what that means? It makes no sense to me at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
No one that i have known or currently know, has a cassette player. That makes it that no one will be able to listen to a cassette.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I wonder if i still have my Tascam cassette player?
See what happened there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Don't you want the most people to listen to your music?
Not really? 50 people listening to a track 10 times each would be preferable to 500 distinct plays. Even if I did want the "most people" how would I achieve this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Mastering for cassette is way different form mastering a digital wav file.
Acknowledged in the OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I wonder if anyone still remembers all the little nuances you need to do, like using Dolby B and handling the mid range and HF saturation.
So do I. That's why I posted.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Quote:
cassette sales are on the rise, Madonna/Kylie/Metallica release on it so it's a credible format, they're collectable, and I fancy giving it a go as per OP.
Do you have the following of those top artist?
Quote:
Not really? 50 people listening to a track 10 times each would be preferable to 500 distinct plays. Even if I did want the "most people" how would I achieve this?
That doesn't make sense, as you have no control over how many times someone will listen to a song. So your take is that you want the fewest possible people to hear your music.
Quote:
Even if I did want the "most people" how would I achieve this?
Its easy, make it in a format that everyone can play
Quote:
I don't know what that means? It makes no sense to me at all.
Cassette is and was thought to be the worst format to put music on. Just like MP3's today.
Quote:
See what happened there?
Nothing happened, that's the point. If i got handed a cassette form a local band that just happened to be playing at a bar, i would never go through the trouble of digging out an old cassette player and hooking it up just to listen to it. Most people do not even have speakers to hook them up or cables. Most just have ear buds
If it was a CD and the band was AMAZING, it would have more of a chance of being played by myself.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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spaceman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post

Cassette is and was thought to be the worst format to put music on. Just like MP3's today.


.
Yes, but there is a certain comeback for cassettes in some niche markets, just like vinyl( I personally don't like neither cassettes nor vinyl, but that's not the point) . It's mostly in certain electronic genres and alternative rock genres relating to the Lo-Fi aesthetic, Vaporwave, etc..
As additional merchandise, they sell very well ( relatively speaking) for some artists on Bandcamp. So there are definitely collectors for that out there, and the OP's inquiry is not unreasonnable.

Quote:
...Do you have the following of those top artist?
Actually cassettes are far more popular for small underground artists than popular ones. The popular artists are basically just following the trend to look more "hip".
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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I was hoping to get some help rather than further justify my use of cassettes. My thread has gone totally off piste in just a few posts...

It's a useful conversation though, at least for me anyway, so I'll take some time and explain my circumstances, what I'm doing, and why I've picked cassette.

About me

I have been playing, recording and releasing music as part of a bands for a long time. I don't make any money out if it currently. I'm in a niche genre, and in my late 30s with my income coming from and time going to 9-5 office work. Plus I have 4 kids. I record and mix when I can in my home studio.

I have been listening to music for a long time. I am pro-physical release; I like having something to hold in my hand, I find Spotify overwhelming and hard to manage, artists may do better from physical financially, and overall i believe the audio quality is better.

I've been writing music myself, and with those songs am coming into the market as a new artist in a niche genre. My fanbase not having released anything yet is zero fans. If I loaded a song to Spotify today, my plays would be limited to how many of my friends are inquisitive enough to click through a link in a Facebook post to hear my track. Whether i release physical or digital, I'm going to have to work for my plays. Initially I'm going to self release, varying the format and model with each release, having a small limited budget each time. This is to try things out, test ideas, simultaneously finding my audience as well as the format that fits them the best. Hopefully at the same time the project becomes self-financing. It's all theory, and I intend to be quite scientific about things so that I can compare and hopefully find the sweet spot for my audience.

In the niche that I'm in, limited edition cassette releases are one of the things that are popular. I have no idea if those release are mastered professionally in an Abbey Road equivalent or in home studios if at all. This is one of the places I am asking in the hope to understand that more. If it turns out that there's no easy /economical way to get mastering for tape done, then that it turn gives me a quality control challenge.

To answer some of the points raised and help explain...


"That doesn't make sense, as you have no control over how many times someone will listen to a song. So your take is that you want the fewest possible people to hear your music."

You are correct in saying that you can't control over how many times someone listens to a song, but you can influence things by finding targeting people that are more likely to listen more than once. People that appreciate your music. Fans.

What I said is "50 people listening to a track 10 times each would be preferable to 500 distinct plays"

Both examples I gave equal one song getting 500 plays.

The 500 distinct plays model - this is 500 people that don't listen to your song a 2nd time. So they are unlikely to have paid for it the first time. A Spotify subscriber perhaps. Maybe I burn 500 cdrs and give them away, or a DJ plays the song once in a busy club or on the radio, or maybe I'm lucky and my song gets used in TV or film somewhere.

The 50x10 model is not exclusive to cassette, it applies to any physical release - CD, vinyl, cassette. It's about locating 50 people who care enough about your music to buy a physical release. There is an assumption that someone who has spent money on a release will listen to the release more than once (whether it's 5, 50, 500 or 5000 times). Those 50 people are also more likely to buy again as well as promote the music for me by telling other people/playing the music to other people. They will also have something physical in their home other than their phone with my artist name on it.

I'm just genna worry about finding those first 50 people for now.

Its easy, make it in a format that everyone can play

There is no such thing is there?

Do I have the following of Madonna/Metallica/Kylie?

No, I wouldn't be able to handle all that press. I referenced those artists as supporting evidence of the format being credible. The format is still credible regardless of my personal following. I think we're a long way off my contribution to music leading the acceptance and use of a format.

CJ Mastering - you've challenge and criticised a lot, found problems with things, and not really offered any specific solutions that I can see. I am assuming that as you have a business that masters for CD, that you are suggesting I release on CD. My network of people has the same issue with CD as yours does with tape - there's a lack of people with the machines to play them. MacBooks don't come with optical drives, nor did my car. I still use my iPod in the car to hear the stuff from my collection that's not available on Spotify.

We're from different camps which is cool - for this project i'm interested in highest fidelity I can afford with my budget (as I previously said 24bit master direct transfer to cassette tape). You come across as being more about quantity of listeners. I don't know how this translates into something of value of value for an artist. I'd love to understand your view in more detail. You've demoted MP3 - are your comments specific to that digital format, or is it also a quality based comment and so perhaps you're against the lower quality OGG Vorbis used by Spotify too? Plus Spotify is often listened to as OGG Vorbis across 4G through Spotify (which has lossy listenign options in the settings) through phone amp over Bluetooth, through low quality amp and speaker / earbud - very lossy!

I appreciate that tape quality degrades. In most cases that happens because people are listening to the music, which is a good thing!

My final point is really baffling - I might make 50 cassettes, find a committed fan base, sell them all, and none of them ever get played. Instead the people that buy the tapes might all listen to the digital instead. This is the collectable element. People buy buy limited edition physical releases for more than just listening. Could be ornamental, record collecting, an investment where in some cases the releases increase in value over time due to their rarity. Similar principals to someone buying other non-audio merchandise like a band t-shirt. Crazy, huh!

Peace all. Hope this helps clear things up.

P.S. if anyone does know about mastering for cassette, please chip in
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
Will depend on cassette type and copy methode.
Really all comes down to adjusting the master to fit the medium (s/n, frequency response and saturation).
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Quote:
I am assuming that as you have a business that masters for CD, that you are suggesting I release on CD. My network of people has the same issue with CD
YOU assumed wrong: We master for everything, from Vinyl (which is my favorite by the way to master) to digital for internet playback

I never once said release in CD format. It was just a compare the 2 mediums. CD's are also fading out, if not already. I was just curious as to why cassette and not something else, maybe like a 45. That would be cool and you would get more people to potentially play it. Sometimes i just like to know why people make certain decisions, That's all
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
YOU assumed wrong: We master for everything, from Vinyl (which is my favorite by the way to master) to digital for internet playback
I made the assumption after checking out your website. Both of the 2 mastering packages that I came across were specifically CD. I didn't see anything about vinyl, but i only did a quick scan of your site so probably missed it.

http://www.audio-mastering-mixing.com/mastering/

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I never once said release in CD format. It was just a compare the 2 mediums. CD's are also fading out, if not already. I was just curious as to why cassette and not something else, maybe like a 45. That would be cool and you would get more people to potentially play it. Sometimes i just like to know why people make certain decisions, That's all
You didn't suggest any format, that was my point. You suggested I use a format other than cassette and mp3, but didn't say what. So I looked at what you had written and the services in your sig. link and took a guess that CD was your preference.

Good to hear you like vinyl, it's great.

It's likely that I'll do a 45 release at some point after I've gotten the cassette out of the way.

All the best, Man!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
I like cassettes and even released my solo stuff on them, didn't do anything specific to the sound before transfer and it sounds fine
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Just a question for you, Why cassette? Cassette is thought to be like the modern day MP3. No one that i have known or currently know, has a cassette player. That makes it that no one will be able to listen to a cassette. Don't you want the most people to listen to your music?

Mastering for cassette is way different form mastering a digital wav file. I wonder if anyone still remembers all the little nuances you need to do, like using Dolby B and handling the mid range and HF saturation. I wonder if i still have my Tascam cassette player?

I'm not knocking you, i'm just curious on why you want a cassette, For promotional stuff?
It’s a hipster thing... there’s no real “reason” to do it. For those of us old enough to have worked with that medium, all of us combined couldn’t come with one good reason to use cassette... well, except Madonna

Also, I don’t know that using AR’s online mastering service is the same league as having stuff actually done at AR on the house gear by their ME staff... I could be wrong, though
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyjanopan View Post
I like cassettes and even released my solo stuff on them, didn't do anything specific to the sound before transfer and it sounds fine
Thanks dude. Who did your duplication out of interest?

Cheers

Ben
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt_Ethyl View Post
Thanks dude. Who did your duplication out of interest?

Cheers

Ben
No idea as the label took care of it, but it was in UK for sure
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Also, I don’t know that using AR’s online mastering service is the same league as having stuff actually done at AR on the house gear by their ME staff... I could be wrong, though
You can select the engineer and as far as I can see it goes through the Abbey Road gear

"Abbey Road's unrivalled combination of Grammy award-winning engineers and unique portfolio of vintage and state-of-the-art equipment, including the legendary TG 12410 Mastering Console developed in-house, has seen us become a leader in audio mastering and one of most trusted mastering houses in the world."

I did make an online enquiry re. mastering for tape, and was advised to use the standard Wav service for tape. I've replied asking about cassette specific eq twiddling. I'll see what I get back.

Cheers!
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt_Ethyl View Post
I

CJ Mastering - you've challenge and criticised a lot, found problems with things, and not really offered any specific solutions that I can see.
He (i'm assuming it's a he) did the same to my post.
You're lucky this he didn't keep repeating the mantra Talent and Skill ad infinitum.... apparently that's the answer to any question the universe might propose
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperElectric View Post
He (i'm assuming it's a he) did the same to my post.
You're lucky this he didn't keep repeating the mantra Talent and Skill ad infinitum.... apparently that's the answer to any question the universe might propose
I think it must be a different account in your thread as that guy won’t stfu about cassettes.

Your post has given me some car listening for this weeks commutes ?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt_Ethyl View Post
I think it must be a different account in your thread as that guy won’t stfu about cassettes.

Your post has given me some car listening for this weeks commutes ?
Nah, it's him.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt_Ethyl View Post
...

The first release is a 2 min track that I'm going to put out initially via a short run of cassettes. Anyone that has a cassette will also get access to a digital download.

...
You dont have to thin k about mastering for cassettes, because cassettes are so ****ty, it doesnt matter what you do or not in mastering.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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jproc's Avatar
Mastering for cassette is certainly a thing, and I probably master at least two or three projects a month specifically for cassette releases.
CJ has obviously missed the trend, as there are several cassette only labels right now doing quite well, and there’s a huge resurgence of popularity among the millennial crowd.

There are certain cassette specific considerations to take into account - tape type/bias, alignment and noise reduction being the most important.
We provide masters specific for the target tape type formulation I,II, or IV(metal) and the desired noise reduction standard.
Our masters are provided as both a digital master of each side, and a physical reference cassette including the appropriate gaps for decks with auto track skip.
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