Are Mastering Engineers Responsible For Bad Mastering Demands?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ChrisPineo, Oct 23, 2011.

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  1. Grant

    Grant Audiophile and Music Fan

    Location:
    United States
    But, Steve did not add it.
     
  2. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Forum Resident

    From a Time magazine article on the history of Motown:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    I recognize that most of us find the purposely "loud" Motown sound more pleasurable than modern masterings designed for earbud listening, but I'm not sure much has really changed in that the average listener had always encountered music on cheap, lo-fi playback equipment.
     
  3. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    When I worked on the Motown 40 show about 10 years ago for ABC, we interviewed one of the 1960s staff engineers who said that Berry Gordy specifically would not listen to tapes of new proposed hits in his office. He had to have them transferred to lacquers first, then they were played on a $29 Sears Silvertone record player -- on the assumption that this represented their average listener.

    I've heard quite a few 1960s Motown pressings that were loud to the point of distortion. "Clean" was not how I'd call those recordings. But they definitely had impact, and there's a big difference between analog compression during the old days and digital compression & limiting today. The big villain to me are multiband limiters like the Waves L3 and the TC Electronics Finalizer, which can really wreak havoc when you "turn them up to 11."
     
  4. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    The thing is, the cheap, lo-fi equipment the average listener has today sounds much better than that tiny tinny radio...
     
  5. Beech

    Beech Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    This leads back to what I have constantly said in recent times. We have got to start thinking about mastering specifically for the different formats. At least in the 60's there was less variation in playback systems. How the heck can we expect something that's mastered for earbud / ipod listeners to sound good on cd or vinyl? Or visa versa! It's impossible. They have to be mastered separately.

    Problem is, who's going to pay for more then one mastering of a project? :shake:
     
  6. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Right. But perhaps the same thing has been happening to other mastering engineers too?
     
  7. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    Hi Daire! Some of my clients, who are usually independant artists, want two different masterings to do things right, one for CD/Hi-Res and another for vinyl. So the big labels could do the same... if they didn't take the cheap route.
     
  8. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    Well, it happened to me on two occasions. Same tracks I mastered for a comp were re-mastered without my knowledge, same thing happened for a vinyl, although each time I specifically asked for a flat transfer of my files.
    I guess some people don't know what it means.
     
  9. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    'one for the CD/Hi-res and another for vinyl...' Yes, i notice, however, more and more the best mastering is going to vinyl and the worst to my beloved CD... :( Not that strange more and more people are thinking (wrongly) vinyl is better than CD... It 's, of course, all in the mastering.
     
  10. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    Be reassured, that's not what I meant. I take the same care for the CD than for the vinyl mastering.
     
  11. Grant

    Grant Audiophile and Music Fan

    Location:
    United States
    It is. Sometimes the original ME for a project doesn't even know his work is di<ked with until it is brought to his attention.
     
  12. kevintomb

    kevintomb Forum Resident

    Im not so sure its about the "same care", as you say, but that CD is a lot more able to be compressed and done really loud, as where vinyl has several built in "rules" or "limitations" that MUST be adhered to. Vinyl is harder to ruin in some of the ways that CD is easy to ruin.
     
  13. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    You're very right! As an independent ME, I can refuse to compress or limit something to death, but because I deal with artists directly rather than record execs, I'm not usually asked to make things LOUD. When an ME works for a label or studio, they don't have a choice if they want to keep their jobs. I don't think I'd do very well in that situation! Also, there are many here that feel that any compression is evil, and that's just not true. A little compression isn't a bad thing and is used A LOT and no one even notices. Overusing it or limiting is when things get bad. If the industry was run by music lovers rather than people with business degrees, we might not even have the loudness wars.
     
  14. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    Actually IME, it is harder to get a vinyl *just right* than a CD. More variables.

    What I meant was I won't brickwall the CD version just because it is a CD.
     
  15. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    That's also my philosophy. Preach on! :righton:
     
  16. Beech

    Beech Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    Hi Tom! I'm sure it must be fairly standard practice to do some things differently when mastering for vinyl. However, since it seems that vinyl constitutes about 0.2% of all music sales, what I really meant is that the focus might be better directed towards making a second mastering for mp3. There seems to be little doubt that if you don't minimize the dynamic range of the music, people are going to struggle to hear it properly in noisy situations (on earbuds!). Or car stereos for that matter.

    In reality what appears to be happening is some MEs are actually preparing music for mp3 ... but in actual fact it's ending up on CD!! If you could draw a graph showing the rise in popularity of mp3 and another graph of the increase in overall loudness of cd, I'd bet the would look very similar.

    The fact that that this topic is now being discussed I believe has started to bring the loudness war into the open. :goodie:
     
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