A question for Ted Jensen and Steve Hoffman

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by robby, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. robby

    robby Member

    Hello. Ever since I'm 13 years old, I've been wanting to "fix" the sound of the cd's i've bought. Some of them sounded bad to me. It's been 13 years since that, and I've been a huge follower of the best sound in the stuff I listen. I studied communications in college, and I've been praised by my friends and colleagues for getting sounds in the music that they have never heard before. I want to pursue professionally the sound mastering field. Specially the remastering of old material. I want to know what steps I have to make, so I can start in this field. It would mean the life to me if both of you and other mastering engineers would answer me this. Thanks for reading :)
  2. LowRideDuh

    LowRideDuh Member

    Location:
    Missoula , Montana
    Robby . . . I Wish You the Best in Your Endeavor (bump)
  3. Grant

    Grant Proud Nerd

    I once asked that question of several people, including member Ron Frrmanek. His main answer, and the same one all of them stated is that you have to be at the right place at the right time. It's also best to live on one of the coasts, because that's where the record industry is, New York, or Los Angles, or thereabouts. Off the record, they said that knowing someone is always a plus!

    I don'r see myself and my wife moving to LA or NYC anytime soon...so...too expensive!
  4. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    There are basically several ways to do this. One is as Grant says which is to be in the right place at the right time. That usually means working your way up from answering the phones, being an assistant, and eventually having somebody hand you the reigns. Probably going to a school that specializes in audio production would be a help, and possibly they help place their graduates in jobs. When I was younger there were no schools for this, but now there are. One of our members, ninohernes, is currently enrolled at Columbia, in Chicago and majoring in audio. However, he is already experienced as an audio engineer and a mastering engineer as well. How he has achieved so much at his young age is surely a mystery to many, but he does indeed have quite a bit of knowledge under his belt. I have little doubt that he will make a big name for himself in this industry down the road.

    The other way is to do it yourself, but this is rather an expensive and lengthy proposition. There is nothing stopping anybody from building their own mastering studio. The problems are several. First of all the equipment is not cheap. Secondly, the experience will take a lot of time to accumulate. And third, it will be tough to get good projects without a proven track record, which of course is hard to get without experience. Kind of a paradox of sorts.

    In any event, you made a wise decision to check us out here. There is a ton of knowledge here which can surely help you make better informed decisions regarding these issues. Good luck to you. :righton:
  5. Grant

    Grant Proud Nerd

    I attempted the school thing, but decided, at the urging of my friend, that this was the way to go. Problem now is, getting capital.
  6. I got my first job through an internship. Seems the easiest way to get into the industry. Then I worked my way up for a few years.

    It is easier if you're in a music center, but no necessarily limited to NY, LA and Nashville. There are well respected (and active)mastering facilities all over... Kansas City, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, etc... You could always look for a local place and ask to just hang out. That's how they used to do it.
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Mastering Your Host

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    What they said.
  8. robby

    robby Member

    My God!!! Thank you very much for all your words and wisdom. It gives me some ideas as to what I can do to achieve my goal. So, who knows, maybe someday one of my projects will be important enough to be mentioned here...(I hope)... :)
  9. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    The most important thing is that you have a love for music! Also, the more live music you can be exposed to, the better. You need to have that idea in the back of your head, of what a musical instrument really sounds like, so that you may re-create that in your recordings. Also, save your money and build yourself an entry level audiophile system, so that you can really hear your recordings, and begin to really distinguish what is good and what is bad. All of us here will be glad to assist you in setting up a nice little system, so that you may have maximum musical enjoyment.

    As far as getting in the industry, you really have to be at the right place at the right time. I had been experimenting with recording for many years before I got my first real job. I have been working for about 6 years now. I got my first job doing live sound for a local church. Then my school hired me to run their spring musicals. I got my first big job recording for a chamber music group in my area, who I ended up working with for 4 years! There was another engineer (from NPR) who wanted the job, but I got it! The musical director thought that my analog recording methods brought the listener closer to the performance than he had ever heard before. This earned me a lot of credibility, and I am very proud of the recordings that I did with that group.

    Here in Chicago, I work for a live sound company, where I will have the opportunity to work on some very large scale shows. I am also freelancing out of a recording studio here, so my studio work is also progressing. This January, I am going to be part of a very large recording and live sound project, with a harpist. I will be doing direct to two track analog recording. In the live sound space, we are going to recreate a concert hall, using no computers or software! All hardware!! Various magazines will be here, including ProSound News/Web, Live Sound International, Mix Magazine, Possibly Stereophile. Also, the local AES chapter will be here. MFSL will also be eying my recordings, and lacquers.

    I will be mastering my recordings to CD, vinyl and hopefully SACD. And yes, I did say vinyl. Our department just got a Neumann lathe with the SX-74 cutterhead. I have never cut lacquers before, but hopefully Steve will give me a few tips ;)

    Now, the bad news...
    It is unrealistic to think that you can make it in the audio field as just one person. In todays industry, you must be able to do everything. Live sound, recording/mastering, sound contracting etc. Steve and Ted, are allready VERY well established in the industry. There are very few people like them. The rest of us must be very versitile, in order to keep our heads above water, unless we turn out to be the best, at one specific thing. The idea of a salary paid engineer is gone. Notice that Steve is a freelance engineer, he no longer "works" for a company. That is what I am. I am a freelance general sound technician. I prefer working in the studio, mixing and mastering and such, but I am fully capable of doing live sound, monitors or FOH. There might also be gaps of time between work. That is the situation I am in now. When I am not doing live sound, I do installs, or studio work. When I am not doing any studio work, I do live sound. Or when I am not mixing, I will do mastering, or vise-versa. OR if everything is clicking along nicely, I will be doing a little bit of everything. The only time everything gets put on hold, is if I am doing live sound for a touring group, then I must focus only on that (for obvious reasons!!).

    Anyhoo...
    Good luck to you, and your carrier! The most important thing is to stay dedicated, and don't give up. It is really hard to get started, but once you do, it can be very rewarding!
  10. robby

    robby Member

    I'm very aware of that, Joe. I have been working freelance too as a concert mixer in some local music shows, in college, and medical conventions (speeches, etc). I was also a radio D.J. on a national Top 40 station. I quit that job, because I won a scholarship to make a Master's degree in Communications at FIU, which I just finished last August. I'm also helping mixing, editing (I'm excellent at it..At least, that's what everybody says) and mastering jingles for an Oldies radio station, where I also make consultory work for the Programming director as for the best sounding sources for the music of the station. Sometimes I have to restore the audio quality of some songs, which have been a sonic wreck. I have an 80's rock show which will hopefully start on January, and a 60's show is planned. I'm a freelance cameraman for the Young & Rubicam Ad Agency. I made some work at a TV Station as video editor, archive coordinator, and reporter. So I know a little about diversity. The thing is that I love everything I have done, even though it hasn't been financially great. But if it makes your heart happy, I guess it's alright. That's why I want to take the next step towards the audio mastering field.

    I'm reading these posts in a very detailed manner, so I can learn from you guys. Thanks again. :cool: