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Author Topic: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform  (Read 7994 times)

Ben F

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To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« on: April 15, 2010, 08:13:24 pm »

Sometimes on 12" EPs my hands are tied. 1 track done elsewhere and clipped, I can't do much about it. The others I do as normal with only a small amount of limiting and headroom. It must be quite common these days with the amount of DIY clipping.

If you receive a file that has been very clipped instead of limited, how does this affect the cutting process?

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TotalSonic

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2010, 10:27:15 pm »

Generally the thing that happens is it gets cut at a quieter level than it would otherwise need to be if it was unclipped if you want to avoid distortion on playback.  How much dB difference this ends up being is totally dependent on the specific program and the cutting level being aimed for.  Often the side length is dictating cutting level first - so if it's a long side this might not if fact create an issue at all.  

i.e. The pre-masters I got from Bob Ludwig when I cut the Foo Fighters "In Your Honor" 4LP set were definitely clipped throughout - but because the cutting level was kept around +2dBVU at the peaks, at least 20% of the inner diameters were not used, and it was cut at 45rpm this ended up being a clean transfer (Bob's excellent eq job helped as well).

If it's a 12" DJ oriented where the client is wanting maximum possible level this can definitely effect things though.  i.e. I cut masters for a Japanese special edition reissue of Wayne Wonder "No Letting Go" 12" single which had a tenor vocal that was heavily processed and then over all levels clipped on the pre-master - and there simply wasn't any way to get it to playback cleanly at the +4dBVU (or more if I could get it) levels being requested.  The client thought the problem was because the cut I had done was on DMM - and had it recut on lacquer - only to have the test pressings for these come out actually sounding worst.  He ended up coming back to me to recut a 3rd time - sourcing a German version of the pre-master that was a tiny bit less clipped, we did some small upper midrange cuts, and turned down the level for the whole side - and he ended up reluctantly being ok with this compromise.  

So - clipped material can indeed be cut - but in my experience you can get better sound (and level) for the vinyl if it's not clipped.

Best regards,
Steve Berson  

Ben F

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2010, 11:09:01 pm »

Thanks Steve.

It's a tough one as you know some tracks only really sound good with a bit of clipping over any other method, and there is always the super quiet (or loud)one on an EP that I have to deal with.

Is there any difference cutting do DMM over the traditional lacquer? Or do the standard headroom and not too much out of phase bass technical aspects apply?
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TotalSonic

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2010, 11:38:52 pm »

Ben F wrote on Thu, 15 April 2010 23:09

Thanks Steve.

It's a tough one as you know some tracks only really sound good with a bit of clipping over any other method, and there is always the super quiet (or loud)one on an EP that I have to deal with.


I'd say your absolute best bet if there are any questions regarding the pre-master is to have the client get a reference acetate (aka "dub plate") made first for there approval prior to taking on the expense of lacquers, stampers and tests being made.  That way if there's any issues they can be addressed first without having to spend more money and time than otherwise necessary.  

Main thing is not to over think things too much - make the pre-master sound good to you, keep it on the "warm" side if you can, and it will likely translate well to vinyl.

Quote:


Is there any difference cutting do DMM over the traditional lacquer? Or do the standard headroom and not too much out of phase bass technical aspects apply?


The same issues apply.  DMM in general has less pre-echo, greater high frequency definition - but tighter depth tolerances than lacquer - and there's definitely some folks who prefer lacquer over DMM -  but when I was cutting (can't believe this was 5 years ago already) I never found a program that I couldn't get sounding to the client's satisfaction with it.

fwiw - the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings latest LP that just got released was cut to DMM at Abbey Road from 24bit/88.2kHz premasters that I made - and I think it sounds pretty darn nice!

Best regards,
Steve Berson  

Gold

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2010, 12:34:37 am »

I haven't found clipping in and of itself to be much of a problem. Audible distortion is a problem no matter what the cause.
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Paul Gold
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Macc

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2010, 07:13:01 am »

TotalSonic wrote on Fri, 16 April 2010 04:38


fwiw - the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings latest LP that just got released was cut to DMM at Abbey Road from 24bit/88.2kHz premasters that I made - and I think it sounds pretty darn nice!




OT but huge Daptone fan here - waiting for my copy of the CD to arrive. Did you do that as well, could I ask?
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Bob Macciochi

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TotalSonic

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2010, 12:26:40 pm »

Macc wrote on Fri, 16 April 2010 07:13

TotalSonic wrote on Fri, 16 April 2010 04:38


fwiw - the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings latest LP that just got released was cut to DMM at Abbey Road from 24bit/88.2kHz premasters that I made - and I think it sounds pretty darn nice!




OT but huge Daptone fan here - waiting for my copy of the CD to arrive. Did you do that as well, could I ask?


Yup - I did all the mastering for "I Learned The Hard Way" except for the transfer to DMM.  It was a really fun album to work on.

Anyway - I've mastered most of the Daptone releases from the past 3 years with the exception of Naomi Shelton (mastered by Paul Gold) and "100 Days, 100 Nights" (mastered by Scott Hull), and some of the 45's (for which I've pre-mastered a few, but most were by done by either George Ingram at Nashville Record Productions or Paul Gold).  The earlier releases were all mastered by Don Grossinger.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

bigaudioblowhard

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2010, 03:48:56 pm »

TotalSonic wrote on Thu, 15 April 2010 21:38

...
fwiw - the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings latest LP that just got released was cut to DMM at Abbey Road from 24bit/88.2kHz premasters that I made - and I think it sounds pretty darn nice!

Best regards,
Steve Berson  


Which album is that Steve?

I've got SJ & TDK "100 Days, 100 Nights" here, with Scott Hull listed as ME. Its cut pretty low. Sounds good to me.

bab

TotalSonic

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 04:10:52 pm »

bigaudioblowhard wrote on Fri, 16 April 2010 15:48

TotalSonic wrote on Thu, 15 April 2010 21:38

...
fwiw - the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings latest LP that just got released was cut to DMM at Abbey Road from 24bit/88.2kHz premasters that I made - and I think it sounds pretty darn nice!

Best regards,
Steve Berson  


Which album is that Steve?


"I Learned The Hard Way" - released 4/6/2010 -
http://www.sharonjonesandthedapkings.com
- just debuted at #15 on the Billboard album charts.

Quote:


I've got SJ & TDK "100 Days, 100 Nights" here, with Scott Hull listed as ME. Its cut pretty low. Sounds good to me.



I like what Scott did on that one - I don't think he used any digital limiting at all and just kept the mids forward to still give it some presence.   There was a little bit of limiting used on some of the tracks for this new one (at the very most a dB of gain reduction - and a few don't have any)  but I'd say it's been kept way more dynamic than the vast majority of releases these days.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Fenris Wulf

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2010, 10:34:55 pm »

I had to pre-master some very badly recorded material for vinyl. It had severe clipping from the ADC. The waveform literally looked like a brick and I was worried about what it might do to the cutter amp. I used EQ and a multi-band expander on it to try to restore it to some semblance of a normal waveform, and left a few dB of extra headroom so the RMS was at a normal level.

When some ADC's are clipped, they produce a burst of energy right at the Nyquist frequency. It's a good idea to cut it with a notch filter or LPF.
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jason goz

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 12:05:20 pm »

Fenris Wulf wrote on Tue, 20 April 2010 03:34

I had to pre-master some very badly recorded material for vinyl. It had severe clipping from the ADC. The waveform literally looked like a brick and I was worried about what it might do to the cutter amp. I used EQ and a multi-band expander on it to try to restore it to some semblance of a normal waveform, and left a few dB of extra headroom so the RMS was at a normal level.

When some ADC's are clipped, they produce a burst of energy right at the Nyquist frequency. It's a good idea to cut it with a notch filter or LPF.

Did you do any test cuts before deciding on this coarse of action?

TotalSonic

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2010, 03:04:31 pm »

Jason Goz wrote on Tue, 20 April 2010 12:05

Fenris Wulf wrote on Tue, 20 April 2010 03:34

I had to pre-master some very badly recorded material for vinyl. It had severe clipping from the ADC. The waveform literally looked like a brick and I was worried about what it might do to the cutter amp. I used EQ and a multi-band expander on it to try to restore it to some semblance of a normal waveform, and left a few dB of extra headroom so the RMS was at a normal level.

When some ADC's are clipped, they produce a burst of energy right at the Nyquist frequency. It's a good idea to cut it with a notch filter or LPF.

Did you do any test cuts before deciding on this coarse of action?


Good question -
With pre-mastering for vinyl it's so easy to over think things as to what might be a problem or not -  the only true way to know is a test cut.  Sometimes what you think might cause a problem is a non-issue, and sometimes when you think there shouldn't be a problem one rears it's ugly head.

Beyond simply to make things sound good in general 2-bus processing with the goal for making the side translate to vinyl should be left in the hands of the engineer doing the actual transfer.  De-essing the specific places that need it when mixing - and not clipping when pre-mastering - can certainly help make the cutting go smoother though.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Gold

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 08:10:30 pm »

If it's the one I recently cut from KVDS it cut without incident.
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Paul Gold
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2010, 08:36:51 pm »

Was it "Art Lessing and the Flower Vato"? I haven't heard the vinyl yet, I'll have to see if it came in.

KDVS runs a micro-budget record label, and I sometimes do fixes on badly recorded stuff that originated on cassette, Soundblaster, MP3, or worse. I'm not a real ME, I just try to make it not physically painful to listen to. The orignial waveform was so badly clipped that it seriously looked like full-scale pink noise. Very Happy
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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2010, 08:43:12 pm »

Fenris Wulf wrote on Wed, 21 April 2010 20:36

Was it "Art Lessing and the Flower Vato"?


Yep, that's the one. I have just cut acetates but John was happy with them. I am waiting to be escorted through the UC maze before I cut lacquers.
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Paul Gold
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Matt_G

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2011, 09:29:58 am »

interesting topic.. is there a general rule in terms of maximum RMS that should be adhered too? I guess what I'm asking is, providing the EQ is well balanced how much level is too much? & at what point is it counter productive?

I'm assuming that if a client wanted mastering done for a dual CD & vinyl release that it's still best to cut 2 versions? One with less or very little level/limiting/clipping for vinyl & one with the usual treatment for CD release?
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Matthew Gray Mastering

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Allen Corneau

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2011, 10:56:17 am »

Matt_G wrote on Thu, 24 February 2011 08:29

I'm assuming that if a client wanted mastering done for a dual CD & vinyl release that it's still best to cut 2 versions? One with less or very little level/limiting/clipping for vinyl & one with the usual treatment for CD release?



That's what I do.
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Gold

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2011, 11:21:42 am »

That's what I do too. Because it sounds better not because it cuts better.
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Paul Gold
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bblackwood

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2011, 11:35:40 am »

Matt_G wrote on Thu, 24 February 2011 08:29

I'm assuming that if a client wanted mastering done for a dual CD & vinyl release that it's still best to cut 2 versions? One with less or very little level/limiting/clipping for vinyl & one with the usual treatment for CD release?

When given the option, this is the ideal solution. Not always possible, however.
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2011, 11:46:03 am »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 24 February 2011 10:35

Matt_G wrote on Thu, 24 February 2011 08:29

I'm assuming that if a client wanted mastering done for a dual CD & vinyl release that it's still best to cut 2 versions? One with less or very little level/limiting/clipping for vinyl & one with the usual treatment for CD release?

When given the option, this is the ideal solution. Not always possible, however.


Yep we do this quite often, leaving the version destined for vinyl fully dynamic.

Must be morphogenetic resonance amongst real mastering engineers, finding the same solution, independently.

JT
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Matt_G

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2011, 07:01:32 am »

Thanks for the response. It's what I've been doing to date as well but it's always nice to hear confirmation that this is the best solution to deal with things.

Fortunately with the way I have my workflow model set up, it requires very little additional work to provide the client with both formats in one pass. One of the advantages of Pro Tool's abundant routing options.  

Paul -> so if the only reasons to avoid clipping/limiting for a vinyl release is for the usual reasons we prefer to avoid it & not an actual physical limitation of cutting itself as you seem to indicate; what sort of RMS levels can be achieved with the right mix/cut? I'm assuming it is still a ways under what's achievable on the CD format?    

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Matthew Gray Mastering

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Re: To the vinyl cutters - clipped waveform
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2011, 11:34:04 am »

Matt_G wrote on Fri, 25 February 2011 07:01


Paul -> so if the only reasons to avoid clipping/limiting for a vinyl release is for the usual reasons we prefer to avoid it & not an actual physical limitation of cutting itself as you seem to indicate; what sort of RMS levels can be achieved with the right mix/cut? I'm assuming it is still a ways under what's achievable on the CD format?    




There is no relation between analog and digital levels so I'm not sure how to answer that question. If you are talking about crest factor then peaks don't limit the level in the same way they do in digital. Playback cartridges don't like large crest factors though. I don't think the ear particularly likes them in recorded music either. Probably has as much to do with distortion in the electro mechanical parts of the playback system as the ear.
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Paul Gold
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