SH Spotlight I was asked "Why do recordings need compression/limiting during recording, mastering?"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. telepicker97

    telepicker97 Got Any Gum?

    Probably not.

    The trick is to just get it right in the first place.

    Labels like DCC, MFSL, AF, et al, the reason why they have to charge such a premium is because they have to license rights for release from the copyright holder (s), then the deal is usually only for a limited run; ergo, the boutique label in question has to turn their profit on the finite number of pressings they're licensed for -- Correct me if I'm wrong, Steve?

    The ideal situation would be for major labels to seek out the services of guys named Hoffman, Gray, Saff, Bellman, etc for initial mastering. Wishful thinking...
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  2. telepicker97

    telepicker97 Got Any Gum?

  3. videoman

    videoman Forum Resident

    Lake Tahoe, NV
    I get it more when there is a physical product and a limited run. Obviously there are fixed costs and an expected number of sales. Hence a certain fixed price.

    But on the hi Rez downloads?
  4. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ CMO (Chief Musical Officer)

    Salem, MA
    I think Steve will tell you that a lot of the cost of these high end pressings are due to the costs of the mastering engineers. For example, Steve requires 18k coated M&Ms and the use of a Lear jet as part of his fees. Right Steve?
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  5. telepicker97

    telepicker97 Got Any Gum?

    Maybe hosting costs on those big files?
    videoman likes this.
  6. telepicker97

    telepicker97 Got Any Gum?

    That's all?

    Shoot, we can give him that to do the next Driving Wheel record ROFL
  7. teag

    teag Forum Resident

    It's the best available but the original recording must be a bit tinny. To me anyway.
  8. jfine

    jfine Forum Resident

    So is compression used for the final mix AND sometimes during mastering? I swear I've heard later digital reissues that seemed to have less compression (but still has) than the original 70's vinyl. Meaning how did that 70's record seemingly have more compression than the later CD issue? That would mean there might've been compression instructions with the master somewhere? Sorry if I'm way off base...
  9. videoman

    videoman Forum Resident

    Lake Tahoe, NV
    The original 70s vinyl would have compression at mastering. Maybe more so due to the limitations of vinyl
  10. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    United States
    Listen to any contemporary pop/country CD. You'll have your answer.
    Tensilversaxes likes this.
  11. Neonbeam

    Neonbeam All Art Was Once Contemporary

    Planet Earth
    I did. See dedicated thread:righton:
    Mazzy likes this.
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Fair question.

    People love vintage vinyl due to the extra compression during cutting. It kept the sound over the noise level of the surface of the record and added PUNCH to the music. Modern recuttings of vintage masters lack that punch sometimes and we notice.
  13. Grant

    Grant That really swings!

    United States
    Eric Carmen decided to try massively compressing "Gio All The Way" because nothing else they did when trying to mix the song was working. Compression did the trick.

    I think Steve was generally referring to pop/rock music.

    A reissue producer decided to use reverb (as opposed to compression) on a reissue campaign. He told me that his goal was to add some depth to the sound of the tapes. The result was very much like compression was used anyway. The transients were smeared, and the overall sound was less clear. he got quite a few complaints about it. Select titles were again remastered without the reverb or compression.

    1) Carousel CD disc changers. People don't like to adjust the volume for each CD, so the loudness was built into the discs.

    2) Artists and A&R people believed that radio programmers took notice of a louder song. Problem is, when everyone does it, it diminishes the intent. Not only that, radio got un-squashed versions to play on the air. The compressors radio uses will simply reduce the volume of an already compressed song because the look-ahead will see the brickwalled sound as something that needs to be attenuated.

    3) Today, the public expects compressed music because they associate it with quality. Sad, but true.

    As you know, back in the late 80s and 90s, remixing 60s hits was all the rage. There were things that were only available in mono, and the stereo guys loved the remixes. Most of them didn't seem to much care that these modern-day remixes didn't sound like the hits. They either added or left out elements, and were 'too clean". All the charm of the hits was removed in favor of squeaky-clean, bone-dry sound. Last decade, Motown went on a remixing craze, with the idea of remixing everything. A lot of these remixes got released with variable results.

    That album is grossly overcooked with compression, and the reverb on the vocal sounds awful, sounds disjointed from the rest of the band. I don't know what they were thinking.

    Bingo! The whole purpose is to make it LOUDER. there's no reason for it!
    Sordel likes this.
  14. Krzysztof Maj

    Krzysztof Maj Well-Known Member

    How you guys evaluate the vinyl cutting from the digital files? I assumed that is could be nicely done especially when the tapes are not in the good shape anymore, but where the compression usually may be applied in the process? First is the tranfer of the tape to digital domain, mastering and final product for the cutter with high frequency limiter, but if compression is needed, probably always is needed here and there, will be applied in digital domain by analogue compressor with conversion back to digital or digitally? Latter one, I suppose is a bad idea, according to Steve's post right?

    Second, does the recording/mastering/cutting from analog is more expensive than digital? I guess so and probably doesn't mean better quality at first, but still some artists are doing analog, what could be their main reason for that?
  15. Claus

    Claus Eating is a need, enjoying is an art.

    The new generation of recording, mixing and mastering engineers are messed up with the Loudness War and compression.
  16. The CD I have isn't brickwalled. Did they remaster it?
  17. Lemon Curry

    Lemon Curry (A) Face In The Crowd

    Mahwah, NJ
    Is that a multi-track deck, or just stereo? If the former I would say mic everything and dont think too much about putting FX in line. Just capture all the pieces and get your "sound" in the final mux.

    If you are going straight to stereo, then you have to think about mixing while recording. And this is where you havevto consider some compression on the pieces that likely will present to most dynamic range: vocals and drums. Without these elements front and present, you'll end up with a powerless recording. And if you over compress them, you'll loose the energy and excitment that comes with dynamic range.

    I tend to always run vocals through a slight amount of compression, say 2db, when doing vocal overdubs. This is before I do final mix compression. I never tried to get a whole band live, though. I would think you'd want a little more than that on both vocals and drums to get it right.

    Most of the electric instruments probably have some compression inline already, so i would grab them dry.

    Dont know if any of this helps. Might be a good idea to research it a bit. The early Beatles recordings are basically live, and they used compression quite liberally to get that recorded sound. Many of my best practices come from reading about what they did.
  18. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    I don't know where it came from, I have it only on the original US LP and the old Anthology 2CD. The original LP is on CD, and that has been reissued in a cut-price CD 5-pack of his original albums, and there are several newer CD comps with the track. That video shows the CD "Chronicles" cover, so likely that. Is that the CD you have?
  19. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    Thanks. It's a stereo deck, so I'll be using a mixer. I'll probably do a dry-run this weekend, then figure out ways to tweak what I capture. I appreciate your comments. Ron
  20. mando_dan

    mando_dan Forum Resident

    Beverly, MA
    True I you listen to rock and country exclusive ly. If you escape those confines there's a *ton* of great sounding music waiting for you, some DDD, both old and new.
  21. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Greater Vancouver
    ... And impossible to undo once done.
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  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Custom color M&Ms, yes. Each one fed to me by a beautiful virgin handmaiden.
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  23. this thread is full of awesome info!
    Front 242 Addict likes this.
  24. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ CMO (Chief Musical Officer)

    Salem, MA
    The virgin handmaiden is a must. I'm not so big on the virgin footmaiden.
  25. George P

    George P Forum Resident

    They all have charisma.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016

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