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Old 15th February 2007
  #31
Here for the gear
 

Disc Makers Mastering Service

I realize I am entering this thread several months late but....

I worked in (and help develop) the mastering department at discmakers for over 16 years. I resigned 2 years ago to pursue other opportunity. I can tell you that DMs mastering has been steadily improving year by year for the past several years and at this point they can offer world class professional mastering. The rooms are state of the art and the equipment is on the extreme side of high end -each piece of analog outboard gear I used, for example, was 10 to 14 thousand in cost -no cheap stuff (-avalon, sontec, vintage stuff, like pultec, etc). The monitors , amps, eqs, compressors, converters, etc - everything expensive pro stuff. The room environments have been tweaked to as close to perfection as is possible and they are beautiful!

It's important to remember, however, that the pilot is more important than the plane. If you try DM a few times and get a good engineer -keep on working with that same engineer (request him by name) and he will never do you wrong. Since I am no longer there, I can recommend David Hevalow, Brian Lipski, or Paul Elliott as 3 of the best and you will be pleased with your mastering if you use one of these guys. Mastering is super subjective, of course, and if you hear something you don't like, these guys will bend over backwards to make sure you are happy. They're pros -even though one wears a salary cap now.

If you got a dist'd master in the past, there could have been a dozen unexpected reasons why there was distortion. Someone should have caught that, of course, but mistakes do occasionally happen even in the best mastering houses. Speaking for myself, when there have been no problems with burning a reference for a long long time, and I could hear my mastered files were clean, i'd tend to just pop the ref in to make sure it burned. I guess if we charged an extra hundred bucks you could maybe expect someone to listen to every inch of the ref. But that is what you, the client are supposed to do -listen to the ref.

I assure you that "batch" mastering is not done at discmakers. I personally spent most of an 8 hour shift on a single 10 song master -all that time for just a measly 390 bucks (now 490). The reason it's such a good deal is not that Discmakers sucks, but because they want your duplication and replication business. They do not look to the mastering department to float the company -we charged enough just to pay for our selves and the gear. The mastering is an add-on service and it's just there to "serve you" -You should feel good about this. It's cheap for a reason. But not because no one knows what he is doing or because the gear sucks or the service is lame. Try it again. I think DM mastering is the best deal in the industry.

We engineers also felt weird, by the way, about the studio partner program. It was a conflict of interest for us to serve our clients and at the same time be loyal to their studios. We often had to sell our post production services to a client who already paid one of our studio partners for mastering -they would say "we had that done already" and we would have to be the ones who would say "sorry, it's crap, for $390 we will fix it -as best we can."

Finally in response to another comment in this thread: Yes, it's sad but true, some people will sacrifice quality and clarity for level. The level war in the industry is a difficult thing to battle. I have had clients, who want to compete with their peers, have me deliberately distort thier pre-master just to be the loudest. The trick is for a good engineer to get as close as possible to the dragon without getting burned.
Old 15th February 2007
  #32
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A27Hull's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by juneapple View Post
It's important to remember, however, that the pilot is more important than the plane. If you try DM a few times and get a good engineer -keep on working with that same engineer (request him by name) and he will never do you wrong. Since I am no longer there, I can recommend David Hevalow, Brian Lipski, or Paul Elliott as 3 of the best and you will be pleased with your mastering if you use one of these guys. Mastering is super subjective, of course, and if you hear something you don't like, these guys will bend over backwards to make sure you are happy. They're pros -even though one wears a salary cap now.
Indeed. Thanks for the info!

I still have a DM partnership and will still offer both the replication and the mastering services to my clients.

I appreciate the recommendations too, it gives me a place to start next time a client wants to go with DM exclusively.


-Andrew @ AfaraWayland
Old 15th February 2007
  #33
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A27Hull's Avatar
 

I realize now that I never came back and posted a follow-up after the 2nd disc came back.

Well, now that its been almost a year, anything that happened back then is water underneath the clique'''

The 2nd disc came back fine. The band was/is happy. I was happy to be through with the project, etc....

So, DM is still a go to for my clients if they want. Next time I'll be coming with a little more experience, and a few new ideas.

thanks to all who participated!

Andrew @ AfaraWayland
Old 16th February 2007
  #34
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

One thing to remember is that every mastering engineer will have a different approach to things,,,the key is ignoring the internet hype, the forum experts, and find one you like that shares the same musical vision you have...it can be a time consuming trial and error process...

Another thing to keep in mind is regardless of track record, there are going to be instances in which the client pretty well forced the issue of taking a good mix and turning it into a square wave pile of crap...don't always blame the ME for a bad product, and don't always believe that what an ME says they had to do with a project is actually truthful...

An ME who is an asshole on forums, regardless of alleged credits, will never get my business, though...it still is a people business, in spite of some other's best efforts...and the best MEs on the planet rarely if ever post on the internet, as they have been driven off by childishness, innuendo, and outright hate campaigns.....

Just the opinion of one Jethro...
Old 16th February 2007
  #35
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pelliott's Avatar
 

hey there juneapple!!! and the rest of the gearslutz clan.

man, thanks for getting our backs! Nice to know you still care....

I'm Paul Elliott and I head up the Soundlab @ Disc Makers. Of course, I love what we do and love our engineers and recommend all of them. Let me know if there is ever an issue, we'll get it straightened out. I can be reached @ [email protected] for questions or problems or whatever.

We miss the juneapple though. He's a very good engineer.


Paul
Old 16th February 2007
  #36
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jslevin's Avatar
With all due respect to Paul and "juneapple", this service is not an attractive option for experienced clients. The engineer is the only thing worth choosing in a mastering service, and there's no reason to think that DM will magically assign you a better one than you'd get sifting through recommendations here at GearSlutz.

Disc Makers is a brand name, and a very good one, but that only really has value for novices. An established company to trust to give you a qualified engineer and back up the quality of the service -- nothing less, but certainly nothing more. Same goes for the rates -- these are good rates for novices, but if you're a regular customer of an excellent mastering engineer, you can get comparable rates.

JSL
Old 21st February 2007
  #37
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pelliott's Avatar
 

Hi JSL,

of course I consider myself and the other engineers here as more than just qualified. Otherwise I'd go into another line of work. I would agree that there are many other excellent ME's that will do a great job at comparable rates. We offer a moneyback guarantee on everything we do. If the artist/producer isn't happy then you get the option to allow us to make adjustments or you get your money back to put toward one of the other ME's that could potentially make you happy, such as your place.

I just didn't want a thread that was about our mastering to end with us being referred to as mearly qualified. I think we can provide more than that. Thanks for listening.


Paul

[email protected]
Old 22nd February 2007
  #38
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jslevin's Avatar
Paul,

I don't want to be pissy, and I think it's great that you and the other guy signed up here just to pimp your services in this thread. Fantastic. If only every thread had two people assigned to that thread, and only that thread, just to make sure that it "ends right."

Now if you want to say you're "more than qualified," well, what does that mean? Does it mean you're in-qualified? I wrote that "there's no reason to think that DM will magically assign you a better one than you'd get sifting through recommendations here at GearSlutz." Your response is: "Oh, well, you see, we're actually more than qualified." Which is something short of "a reason to think ..."

By the way, what's wrong with qualified? We're qualified, and we're also highly professional and accountable. Sometimes even charming. These things all have value to our clients. I think the money-back guarantee is great, but again, this is for beginners. As an experienced mastering client, I don't need a guarantee, and yet even so, anyone I would work with would be happy to give me one.

JSL
Old 22nd February 2007
  #39
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pelliott's Avatar
 

I understand you're not being pissy and neither am I - honestly.

I'm just stating that I think we're good at what we do. I thought that you combining that we're "not an attractive option for experienced clients" and "The engineer is the only thing worth choosing in a mastering service" and then referring to us a quality brought the value of "quality" down. (quality engineer= not attractive?) If I'm reading into it, sorry -- but that's the way it reads to me - as a sort of a putdown. If there is nothing wrong with quality then why wouldn't we be attractive for experienced clients? We deal with experienced clients everyday and are able to please them and at the same time we are able to walk inexperienced people through the process. Thanks again

Paul
Old 23rd February 2007
  #40
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jslevin's Avatar
You're right, Paul, and I had no intention of devaluing the word "quality." Anyone who does mastering with us gets a qualified engineer, and I wouldn't claim it as "more than qualified." Reading back through to figure out what it was I was trying to say ... never a good sign ...

I was responding to Juneapple's assertion that DM mastering is an unusually good deal. It may be an unusually great deal for novices, who for lack of knowledge may otherwise end up getting their project mastered by an amateur. Then again, based on this thread alone, other people's experiences with DM mastering has been something of a mixed bag. But I'll give DM the benefit of the doubt on that.

At any rate, an experienced mastering client doesn't have these problems. He/she doesn't need DM to provide a "real" mastering engineer because he/she already knows several "real" mastering engineers, and knows other pros to ask for guidance as well. Doesn't need the great deal because he/she can get a great deal from someone else. Doesn't need to have the mastering house fix the original studio's bad work, because he/she didn't get bad work from the original studio.

So that really would be my main point, that DM at best is offering a reasonable value for experienced folks. That isn't meant to be a slight, but what I am saying is that you haven't demonstrated anything beyond that, from my perspective. What we're not seeing here is other folks -- producers or engineers or studio owners -- stepping up to say, "I've worked with a bunch of mastering engineers, and the people at DM are absolutely top-notch." On this forum, there are probably a dozen or more mastering engineers who people would talk about that way.

Ironically, I think very highly of DiscMakers and (being a Philly guy) have been a DiscMakers customer off and on for over a dozen years, and have known and worked with over a dozen different employees from the trenches up to the executive offices. I think very highly of the company. But as for the mastering, all you've really done here is to show up and announce, "Hey, FYI, we're pretty awesome." Okay, then, message received.

JSL
Old 23rd February 2007
  #41
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
... why not use a regional ME and a disc replicator that you can develop a face to face relationships with?
Because it's not necessarily the best thing to do to get the best quality vs price. Also, some people don't need the touchy feely face-to-face thing. I can see some merits in working with a local ME but applying that business criteria to disc replication is a little overkill.
Old 23rd February 2007
  #42
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pelliott's Avatar
 

Thanks JSL,

I get where you're coming from now and I can respect what you've said. Thanks for taking the time to 'splain.
Old 14th August 2007
  #43
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Old Cane's Avatar
 

I've not used them but looked at the pricing. I didn't know what it was costing these days so I started checking. After looking around I saw they were at the upper middle price of guys I was finding that posted prices online. That's taking a 10 song price and assuming that's about 40 minutes. I was seeing from $300-600 and getting very personal service.

One of the board memebrs who lives here in Nashville charges about the bottom of the prices I found because he has his lab in his house. I'm going to try to use him although we've not spoken yet so I won't name names. Going local means not paying $75 for overnight service from some places. He's just down the road from where I work.

I also found a local replicator about 3 miles from where I live that completes with DM on prices. It's real close. No shipping. I do live next to Music City so I may have an advantage over some.

I just don't think DM guys have time to make it their personal mission to make you a star. They've got to be slammed. I don't mean that to say they aren't good. I just bet they are doing a LOT of jobs and may or may not take the time someone you can get your hands on may be able to. Maybe they do. I think it is a great option for folks that don't know who to turn to and the project can very well turn out great at an average price. One stop shopping does have a quality all it's own.
Old 14th August 2007
  #44
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Classic's Avatar
 

My experience with Discmakers Mastering:

Decided to give them a shot since one of my client's decided to use their printing services. Got the reference CD back, and it sounded muddy, obviously just chopped off the top and bottom with no regards to space and flow of songs as a whole, inconsistent levels song to song, and level-wise, the orignial mixes were just as hot (and there was definitely more room to grow and work with).

Discmakers did keep their promise of a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Their print work is top-notch, but I definitely can't recommend them for mastering.
Old 8th February 2008
  #45
Here for the gear
 

Disc Makers

Hello.... I'm currently involved with Dics Makers and their mastering service. I spent the last 3 years putting together my home studio CD and it's now ready for mastering. I'm more of a musician than mixer/producer, so I had to learn as I went. One thing I did was to mix my CD with stereo multi-limiting on the final stereo mix. Seamed like a good idea at the time. Anyways, Disc Makers said to take the multi-limiting out of my tracks to send in for mastering. I sent them copies both ways....in & out. They used the "raw" version. The first reference disc they sent me sounded "OK" (not great) for the most part with the exception of 3 tracks. Some instruments on those 3 tracks were way too loud.... some were too soft. I'm having to remix the 3 tracks and send them back to Disc Makers for an additional $100. I think my home multi/limited tracks sound brighter and better than what Disc Makers sent back to me. The rep at Disc Makers uses the term for their mastering process as "radio friendly".
Can a good mastering engineer tweek my multi-limited mixes and give them the necessary "radio friendly" magic? I'm considering remixing all of my tracks without the stereo multi-limiter in and finding another mastering house to do the job right. The only problem with that is it will take another couple of months to complete because of time restraints. I have 12 Tracks. I live in Reno, NV. Is there someone out there who could kick ass with the mastering of these tracks at a reasonable price? .... someone earlier mentioned $50 a song.
Old 8th February 2008
  #46
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jslevin's Avatar
You could make it easier for folks to contact you by allowing private messages or e-mail.

The truth is, an experienced engineer (mix or mastering) probably has a far more objective view of what "normal" sounds like than you do, so the people you worked with weren't necessarily wrong. What you did to your mixes might sound "right" to you, but you may not be able to hear that there are also things about it that sound wrong.

We'd tell you the same thing, to take the multi-limiting off the stereo mix buss. I think just about anyone who had the slightest idea what they were talking about would say the same. That effect is doing the some of the same things that are supposed to happen during mastering -- but they're not happening during mastering (not being applied with an eye to consistency) and they're not being applied by a professional mastering engineer.

I would not trust anyone who told you that they'd be happy to help you and there's nothing wrong with what you're doing. The best mastering process is a collaboration between mix and mastering engineers and can be a great learning process, too. PM if you want more help.

JSL
Old 20th June 2008
  #47
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guitarweirdo's Avatar
 

Hi, I just had my very first mastering experience with Discmakers. I paid for the full deal, Post Production EQ/Compression ($490). From all that I had heard about mastering, and had heard on their Soundlab examples, I was expecting to be wow'd but was disappointed until I had a better understanding of what was done.

At first hearing, it appeared that nothing had been done EQ-wise to my disc, although the levels were definitely louder. It wasn't just my ears, as others in the band could not tell the difference either. I checked a before/after analysis with Har-Bal software and the EQ curve was almost identical visually for all ten songs as well. (more on this later).

One of the things that bothered me about Discmakers is that I did not have contact with the mastering engineer. The disc was sent without any notes as to what had been done. My initial reaction was "did I just pay $490 to have my mix made louder?"

My PM there eventually got me the mastering notes, and with that I was able to re-listen with a discerning ear (and an expensive set of studio quality headphones). This was my first mastering experience and I do not have the most ideal listening environment in my home studio, so I missed the subtle details that had been done when listening blindly. Something that helped was using Har-Bal to match the loudness of the "before" mix with the "after". With this, I could do a A/B test and the differences were more discernable. I also noticed that EQ had been applied when the levels were matched (on the Har-Bal screen the two frequency curves were laid on top of each other, which made it easier to see where it was applied.) The EQ was especially different in the frequency range below 40Hz, where a low cut filter was apparently applied. The kick drum was more focused sounding with the master. The highs, above 10K, were also sculpted slightly, which reduced the brashness of the cymbals. The guitars were more "airy" sounding, not as flat sounding as they were before the master.

Other non-EQ items were shown on the notes, and some of these items I had trouble hearing. I understand the mixes were run through a tube line amp "for warmth", some d-essing and declicking had also been applied.

I've since read on some blogs that the sign of a good mastering is that you can't tell the difference, and that was certainly the case with my project. I can see that would be a good thing for some folks. And maybe it was good for my project as well. I'd like to think that I did a good job with the original mix, so there wasn't much that needed to be done. (Or I suppose it could mean the opposite: the mix was so bad that anything done would have made it even worse).

Granted, this was my first project that required mastering, so I cannot compare it to other mastering houses. But I think having contact with an engineer is essential.

Other than that, my experience with Discmakers as been wonderful. Top notch customer service.

Last edited by guitarweirdo; 24th June 2008 at 08:10 PM.. Reason: Received mastering notes; re-listening.
Old 21st June 2008
  #48
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ed littman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by A27Hull View Post
Hi All,

I would prefer to suggest local professional mastering services to all my clients, yet most of my recent clients don't have label support or recording budgets yet.

I just signed up for the Disc Makers Studio Partner Program, and recently found out I can offer them sizeable discounts on the DM mastering service.

Have you ever used Disc Makers Mastering Services for any of your/your clients' projects? If so, did you like the service? If you have done professional mastering elsewhere, can the work of Disc Makers be compared?

I realize that every project has different circumstances. I've seen A-list acts spend more on mastering multiple versions of a song than my clients spend on an entire project. So, for those of us working with "aspiring" artists, who consequently have little money, does Disc Makers fit the bill?

Thanks for your responses,

Andrew Wayland @ AfaraWayland
I don't know the details, but just this week I received two new clients expressing dissatisfaction about DM mastering service one stating that they were looking for better customer service & the other saying that they could not work from separate L/R bounces from Protools.
It does not make sense to me, but I certainly can offer both of these requests without hesitation.
Ed
Old 23rd June 2008
  #49
Gear Maniac
 
pelliott's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ed littman View Post
the other saying that they could not work from separate L/R bounces from Protools.
Ed
For the record, this is not true. We can accept these files.
Old 24th June 2008
  #50
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guitarweirdo's Avatar
 

I received a list of the work that was done to my Discmakers project from the mastering engineer through my project manager. I learned some things, and edited my previous post. Details there. Thanks DM for clearing up a misconception that I had.
Old 3rd October 2008
  #51
dax
Gear Head
 

discmakers mastering

I'm know I'm late to this party but I just finished a project with Discmakers mastering. I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. I worked with Graham Goldman. He and I spoke several times over the course of the project. After his initial run on it, I had two revisions made, which he and I talked about before hand. I also sent in a reference track for volume. He's done a fantastic job! There was no feeling of trying to "get it done" or "batch processing". He really worked hard on my project and wanted to make sure I was happy. He never was off putting or annoyed when I had revisions or questions. I'm used to spending $1000-$1500, I know what to expect and what proper mastering should sound like. For $390 I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Discmakers to anyone. It is comparable to the high-dollar facilities. I think something people should keep in mind is that 1) this stuff is VERY subjective, what clearly sounds like crap to you might be sonic nirvana to someone else and, 2) Don't be afraid to make revisions, also be as specific as possible regarding how you want it to sound, I think reference for volume is necessary especially in this day and age of "The Loudness Wars". Obviously my tips are for those who are new to mastering. Once again, I think they've done a great job.
-Dax
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