SH Spotlight Recording and Mastering Questions---Answered here. Any more?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Well, in the old days (the 1950's and '60's) all there was to mix on to was 1/4" 15 ips tape, either mono full track or two-track.

    In the 1970's, some studios went to 30 ips to get a better signal to noise to avoid having to use the dreaded Dolby A. After that, some machines were modded to use wider 1/2" tape (normally used for three or four track recording) for even more signal on to the tape. Problem is, the faster the speed, the worse the bass response suffers. So, for me, a good mix tape situation would be 15 ips 1/2" tape, non-Dolby.

    Note that most of the music that we talk about endlessly here was mixed on 1/4" non-Dolby analog tape running at 15 ips. Sounds wonderful that way, yes?
    Grant likes this.
  2. Sean Keane

    Sean Keane Pre-Mono record collector In Memoriam

    When mastering or remastering a live concert, is it ever difficult to decide as to where the next track should begin on the CD (0:00), as some have applause that continues right to that track.
  3. jdw

    jdw Forum Resident

    Steve, in a July 2005 thread titled "Mastering CD's as if they were vinyl," you wrote;

    >>Other than summing the bass under 70 cycles, I master everything the same,
    >>LP or CD mainly.

    Can you describe the process and equipment used to sum the bass for LP cutting? Is it a capability of the cutting lathe? Are there any problems (with phase, etcetera) caused by doing it?


    Vancouver BC
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    I seldom do live stuff. Anyone else have an answer?
  5. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    That's very easy to do. You just listen to the whole concert and watch your timer. Write down where you want track breaks. So, it will look like,

    1. 3:04
    2. 6:31
    3: 12:01
    4: 21:33
    5: 25:51

    Until your program is done. Then just write up a cue file and test it. Use EAC to burn?
  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    I'd say it's just a judgement call. Whatever seems right at the time...
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Well, if the bass wasn't summed, an LP side would only last about 7 minutes. Bass coming from one channel or another uses up groove space very rapidly. When your bass info is coming from the center (as on most pop records mixed after 1969) there really is no need to sum the bass to the center.

    The bass summing control is part of the cutting console. There is a choice to sum higher or lower.. No one ever notices. I've not received a question about bass summing in 24 years of doing this. But, it makes it possible to cut 23 minute sides instead of 7 minute sides. ;)
  8. Sean Keane

    Sean Keane Pre-Mono record collector In Memoriam

    Steve, I asked because I noticed that your Sinatra Seattle '57 has slightly differing track intros than the unofficial 1995 Ed O'Brien CD.
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Just a judgment call as Luke mentioned..
  10. Ere

    Ere Forum Resident

    Silver Spring MD
    Actually I was thinking of what I understood to have happened on one of the Who's Next remasters done over in London last decade, where certain tracks are supposed to have been remixed and the whole album remastered. Would one having access to multitracks be applying EQ to a particular one or ones in preparing it for dubbing to a master, or would that be reserved for adjustments during the mastering?

    Re. EQ being changes to tonality: when one "turns up the bass" on a EQ are they not raising the volume of that end of the spectrum?

    Thanks, Steve, for this thread!
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Remixing involves EQ'ing the various channels. Since I can't stand the remix I can't tell you if they did that or not. I'm sure they did. No modern engineer knows how to mix without futzing with the console EQ channels.

    When one turns up the bass, yes the volume goes up. You have to turn the volume back down again to compensate. Just one of the ways that over-EQ'ing can really screw things up.

  12. At what reference level to 250nw/m?

    I've had problems with printing at the suggested +9/250. Ampex 499 used to take +4 or +5 very well but these newer tapes at +9 just compress the hell out of things.
  13. Steve,

    What do you do about aligning azimuth when remastering? Are those old tapes usually on when played back on a properly aligned machine?

    Also, what about tape speed? How do you make sure it's right? Do you use a tuner? strobe light of some sort? Compare it with other issues of the album?
  14. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Forum Resident

    Pleasantville, NY
    Steve, Would you mind answering a question about record pressing in this thread.

    When the lacquer is cut on the lathe it is then plated up to form a positive metal copy of the lacquer. I believe this positive metal copy is called the metal master (MM). Is it true that for very small production runs the MM is used as the stamper? For larger runs I believe a metal negative copy of the MM is made and then that metal negative copy is used to make the metal stampers (which are positive copies). Is this how it works and what is the intermediate negative metal copy called?
  15. JJ75

    JJ75 Active Member

    London UK
    Well here's another, what happens with those wonky old 60's mixes where they go mad and pan the bass all over to one side and drums the other, for example?

    No point in summing the channels here, do you have to just cut the sub 70Hz bass altogether.

    This is a great thread, BTW, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

  16. Sput

    Sput Boilerphile In Memoriam

    Not in Michigan
    Yes, I have a mastering question. This may sound odd but why do I have to turn up the volume on cds you've mastered. I'm serious as a heartattack. Things you've mastered are consistantly better sounding but require more volume than....those other peoples stuff. Why so?
  17. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    For an extreme example of this listen to Mother's Little Helper on the Aftermath SACD. Listen to the right channel only. Notice how there's all the bottom end from the rhythm track in the left channel?

    Now listen to the right channel of the London CD - total separation.

    Most instances of this on LP aren't quite so extreme, but that one is easy to spot.
  18. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Nashville, TN, USA
    Sput, I believe it's because Steve doesn't compress the music to death when he is mastering. Most new Cds are as loud as they are due to excessive limiting and compressing. The modern mode of thought with Cds is "louder is better" but the music will suffer from over use of compression and limiting.

    Frank R
  19. SonicZone

    SonicZone Forum Resident

    Upland, CA
    Steve, can you elaborate further on what you said before about bad bass response with faster tape speeds? I've never really understood why this would be so; seems like the only real change would be in the high end (for the better, in that case -- additional "headroom" in effect to more accurately accomodate that part of the signal, plus the benefit of much less noise on that generation of tape). Why exactly would that change the way the bass portions store and/or reproduce on those faster tapes, or are there other unrelated factor(s) that attribute to that?
  20. JJ75

    JJ75 Active Member

    London UK
    Luke you're right,

    I compared both when the SACD's came out, you can hear some weird bass effect going on there, especially on the SACD Paint It Black.
    Although with all the screwing around that occured with Aftermath, its difficult to tell quite why we hear what we hear.

    Is it simply narrowed stereo or is just the low bass centred by filtering and combining with the opposite channel, or a bit of both. Who Knows?

    Im half sure when cutting the original vinyl, they didn't filter the low bass and pan it to the opposite channel to achieve mono bass did they?? (although I dont have a Decca stereo to refer to)

  21. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

  22. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    United States
    Even when I do studio stuff with crossfades, it's a judgement call.
  23. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    United States
    This is what we, on, always gripe about...the lack of dynamics in todays CDs. A tape with a lot of dynamics will sound that way on the CD if steps to alter that are not used. So, the CD will be quieter because the quieter portions will be quieter in contrast to the louder spots. Did that make sense?

    Todays CDs are typically boosted with compression. Steve does not do this. Be glad.
    Paul Lancaster likes this.
  24. Bath209

    Bath209 New Member

    New Jersey
    Thanks for doing this Steve -- I have ALWAYS wanted to ask you the following:

    You advertise that your work on The Eagles Greatest Hits and Ronstadt etc are from "the origional master tapes" But isn't that a misnomer? -- how can there be a master tape for a greatest hits package? -- it would assume that some engineer pulls the "hits" off of the origional masters and assembles a new tape -- but it's all 2nd generaltion, at least. AND -- who knows that when preparing the greatest hits package that the origional tapes were used in the first place? -- a greatest hits package could easily be assembled from 3rd or 4th generation tapes thereby creating a greatest hits master that is far from the origional source.

    Isn't it true that the only way to do a greatest hits package properly is to revisit the actual masters of the actual albums?
  25. Joel1963

    Joel1963 Forum Resident

    I believe that's what Steve did.

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