SH Spotlight PART DEUX: Recording and mastering questions asked and (hopefully) answered

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, May 8, 2006.

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  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Not a clue.
     
  2. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Just Joni strumming her guitar; no pops that I've ever heard.

    :ed:
     
  3. Tubeman

    Tubeman New Member In Memoriam

    Location:
    Texas
    Yeah, like they did on the Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Sessions, one of my favorites.
     
  4. Dragun

    Dragun Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Steve, you've said that some of the transfers you've done were flat transfers, while some needed a lot of "massaging." Shouldn't the master tape be just that? A master of what the album should sound like?
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

  6. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    Dragun, one of my favorite stories from these parts, about why a master tape might need so much work done on it, is the story of The Eagles' Hotel California. This album was mixed on a pair of studio monitors (JBL's Steve?) that had a high frequency hump that made everything that came through it sound bright. So, during the mixing process, they compensated for the bright monitors with the EQ. When it came time for Steve to master it, he had a master tape that sounded like someone had thrown a blanket over his speakers. So Steve had to massage it into listenable shape. Some albums are recorded and mixed all over the world, so each individual song may have been compensated for in each studio it was done in. Lotsa work for a mastering engineer. Steve can correct any factual errors I've made on the above, it's late and I should be in bed. :)
     
  7. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    You forgot that the speakers were mounted in the air, providing virtually no bass reinforcement to them, hence the very bass heavy master...
     
  8. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Steve, I was going to ask whether you would consider ever mastering mono and stereo versions of the same songs/albums, but then I read that you had wanted to do this for the DCC "Highway 61 Revisited".

    My thinking is that there are quite a number of historically significant albums that would make this approach worthwhile and where the mono version might be considered superior in some respects, but the stereo version is probably better known and the only version currently available (I'm thinking Dylan, Stones, Sinatra and other Capitol artists late '50s to early '60s, and of course the Beatles, hypothetically). We've seen this approach taken recently with Ted Jensen's Beatles US boxed sets, and I'm thinking that in many cases this may be the only way to get all the mono versions released in this era. Of course, the US Beatles boxed sets could be considered a case of "historical authenticity" that some of us could have done without...

    I know that normally you would be looking for the best versions of tracks, whether they be stereo or mono, but would you be interested in doing mono AND stereo versions of the albums by the artists I mentioned earlier (or other artists of similar importance) as part of the same project?

    Forgive me if this question has been asked before, I have searched through the forums and couldn't find a similar question.
     
  9. Dragun

    Dragun Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    What is the definition of the master tape then? I assumed that it was the reference point for an album.

    His Master's Vice, its surprising to me that nobody at the time would catch and fix such an error, and that too at a studio where major groups record. I recall reading something to the effect that the tape heads used for one of the McCartney solo albums weren't aligned properly.
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

  11. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks Steve, I guess my question was too general. I think I can work what I want to know from what I've read in your interviews :righton:
     
  12. Darles Chickens

    Darles Chickens New Member

    Location:
    Siberia
    Steve, you said in your remixing lesson:
    http://www.stevehoffman.tv/dhinterviews/HoffLesson2.htm

    , that when remixing one should not use any equipment manufactured after 1967. I have two questions about this:

    1. Is this advice only for the remixing of recordings made before 1967 or all remixing projects?

    2. What is so special about equipment manufactured before 1967?
     
  13. JJ75

    JJ75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    I just read that piece, it's not clear, but I would think that the remixing should be carried out using equipment of the same vintage as the original mix, if not the same equipment.

    Don't use 1969 transistor equipment to mix 1967 tapes originally mixed on 1963 tube gear, like they did with the Beatles Anthology cd's. The fact that the console was ex-Abbey Road from the same decade just doesn't 'cut the mustard'.

    Otherwise you're never gonna get the sound of the mix the same as the original, and the mix should be the baseline to work from.

    Any further sweetening/massaging of the sound can be done in the mastering, as would always have been done anyway.

    JJ
     
  14. acjetnut

    acjetnut Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Steve,

    Are there any books/publications on mixing or mastering that you would recommend?
     
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Not really. I mean I'm sure there are some out there but you can't really learn this stuff out of a book. You have to learn by doing.
     
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Didn't even see your question. I was answering the other guy.

    I like the best mix of something but audiophiles like STEREO so that would come first.
     
  17. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Phew! Thanks, Steve! :)
     
  18. Sput

    Sput Boilerphile In Memoriam

    Location:
    Not in Michigan
    Have you ever considered writing a book on your career and slant on the music industry?
    I'd find it interesting.

    Maybe a bit of a bio as well. Ofcourse that means there'll have to be that middle section with black and white photos of you in your best suit going to synagogue to age 4 and let's not forget the one of you being held on a pony by Uncle Roy at age 2. That's priceless stuff. :)
     
  19. acjetnut

    acjetnut Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Forget the bio. When your ears go bad write a book about your mastering tricks! (May it be many many years away, of course)
     
  20. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belpre, Ohio
    OK, Steve. No matter whether it is a person like me who has over 1000 CDs or others with thousands more or pure vinyl guys with $100,000 stereos, etc. or someone who can just play a clock radio-- most anybody can spot an amature recording made in a small hometown studio compared to a Ken Scott engineered Supertramp, etc.

    Now I know there are a million answers and this is very broad, but what is it about the overall sound that makes that difference-- even for people who know nothing about recording. Is it too much reverb, mikes sound too thin, too much compression, mike placement.
    You know what I'm talking about and it isn't just the new digital DIY home stuff either. I've heard that local "sound" from local bands on their locally recorded albums, tapes and CD's for years. What separates the men from the boys (true pro recording from local)? Because obviously anyone can buy the same equipment if they could afford it, but it probably wouldn't make any difference.
     
  21. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    It is the two track medium that the final stereo mixes are recorded to. Nothing more. I think that there isn't necessarily a lot of "engineering" going on in some places run by recording engineers. I don't mean to insult their talent or skill, but I figure sometimes aesthetic or convenience choices win over such considerations as whether a speaker has a flat response or a tape machine is set up properly. If they achieve the sound they desire, that's the main concern at that moment. Mastering fixes some of those choices later on. Lots of albums were recorded and mixed on Yamaha NS-1's (I think that's the model number) which are notoriously crappy speakers. Yet, that's what was there in so many studios. It was expected, and engineers learned to work on them. Mastering engineers had to learn how to fix decisions made on those speakers. At least some times. Some places. Other tapes are probably brilliant as is. Some mastering engineers would ruin those as easily as they'd save a poor master. It's a crap shoot.
     
  22. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    It's the players, the room they're playing in, the choice of microphones and technique, the quality of the board they're running through, the quality of the recorders and processors, the quality of reverbs, the level of expertise of the engineer, and a producer who knows how to pull it all together and coax the best possible performance out of all involved.
     
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Doug,

    I know what you are talking about. You can always tell (in the 1960s) when something was "regional" and not recorded at a studio in LA, NYC or other hotbed or professional recording. Always too much reverb, drums recorded badly, singers slightly out of tune, etc. Every garage band recording I've ever heard including Louie Louie. A quaint sound.

    I think because these bands only paid a few dollars and had like an hour to record, there was never time to get the microphones placed correctly, etc. And the engineer tried to smooth things over with too much echo.

    So, I would call it a time constraint thing along with some not so great engineering talent.
     
  24. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    Good question, Doug. I don't have the answer, as so far I've only made my amatuer recording thus far. Thought it sounded okay, but I know exactly what you mean.
     
  25. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belpre, Ohio
    Thanks, Steve. That was exactly the answer I was looking for. And you are correct. While that "quaint sound" as you put is what makes Louie Louie sound so cool now (even if they weren't necessarily going for that, but just a garage band doing a record) I'm glad everything doesn't sound that way. While their are some decent home recordings now, I guess there are no shortcuts and I realize more and more why some bands took a year to make a record. That didn't necessarily help all bands, but some it did. Thanks. I kind of knew, but couldn't put my finger on it like you did!:righton:
     
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