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Author Topic: QC?  (Read 1010 times)

djwaudio

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QC?
« on: November 17, 2015, 11:47:58 pm »

I'm curious is you guys might share your QC process.  In my early days, the mastering studio I worked for took it very seriously, as were were shipping 1630 masters for various labels producing CDs in large volume. 

Everything that went out the door for production was listened to by another engineer, who took notes and listened on headphones, and ultimately signed off on the QC. 

Nowadays I'm in a one man shop and do the QC myself and rely on the client to speak up if they here something I don't.  Usually after I send over the reference DDP, I'll listen to it the next morning with a fresh ear, but often while I'm doing something else like reading e-mail.  Knowing what I know about how the brain works and inattentive blindness, I often think it would be great to have another ear on these things who haven't been part of the creative aspect of mastering. 

What is your QC process?
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: QC?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2015, 06:35:52 am »

I check the master CD with Plextools and by listening or if a DDP I reconvert it to a play list and listen to the results. It is time consuming. I have an intern now who has exceptional ears and who I would trust to do this if needed but most times prefer to do it myself as a double check. I also send a copy to the artist so he or she can also do some listening and give me feedback. I think you are doing it right...

FWIW
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

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Reynaud

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Re: QC?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 04:12:58 am »

Massive topic and not discussed as often as it should be.

The QC process is often much more involved and time consuming than the signal processing part of the session.

The details are somewhat specific to the format but the basic elements are often similar when performing a QC process for, say, DSD files, SACD, Blu-Ray or transfer and archival.

DDP QC:
(1) open all supporting files (i.e ddpid, ddpms, CDText.bin) and double check catalogue number and verify all data is written correctly to each file to verify book compliance.
(2) load DDP back in to new Source EDL in Master Project to double check PQ against Destination (Master) EDL and the generated PQ list
(3) double check UPC/EAN, ISRC and CDText
(4) load image.dat back in to another source EDL and null against the Destination EDL.
(5) output (soundBlade) Secure Player reference file, open the reference checking UPC/EAN, ISRC and CDText while listening through the entirety of the release on headphones as sole focus.
(6) generate SHA-256 checksum on image.dat and individual files in DDP folder, including the DDP folder itself and create associated logs.
(7) Zip folder and generate another SHA-256 Checksum.
(8) Validate all SHA-256 Checksums.
(9) DDP and track exports provided on Flash drive for client (along with all source transfers and interim assets). All documentation printed as hard copies to be filed.
(10) Backup DDP including all individual track assets, supporting documentation and the entire project to LTO6 for archive. The backup includes duplicates of all interim storage devices (i.e CF Cards and SSD caddys) used during transfer and processing. Run comparative analysis against source folder.
(11) Generate manifest of backup including file paths and checksums for comparative analysis when, for example, remastering the project in future or creating changes.
(12) FTP Secure Player reference file to client for approval including all documentation.
(13) FTP Zip of DDP to factory including specific documentation and checksum.
(14) Email specific documentation to factory as fail safe.

Individual Track Asset QC:
(1) Import all generated track assets in to a new Source EDL in the Master Project and null Source EDL against Destination EDL.
(2) Double check metadata is correctly populated and embedded in each file (i.e ISRC and EBU Core expression) and matches the metadata log sheet.
(3) Double check (EBU R128) loudness values are correctly embedded in each file and matches the generated XML loudness report.
(4) Generate all support metadata documentation such as XML, JSON files to be added to the database. Perform comparative analysis.
(5) Listen to each audio file export in sequence on headphones as sole focus.
(6) Perform bit comparison with DDP. One is created even if no physical release is intended.
(7) Generate SHA-256 checksum on each file and the compilation folder and output associated logs.
(8) Validate all Checksums.
(9) DDP and Track exports on Flash drive for client including all documentation and interim assets. Run comparative analysis against source folder.
(10) Backup DDP including all track exports, including all supporting documentation and the entire Master project to LTO6 for archive. Run comparative analysis with source folder.
(11) Generate manifest of backup including file paths and checksums for comparative analysis when, for example, remastering the project in future or creating changes.
(12) upload individual tracks with all supporting documentation to distributor. Include all checksums for verification.
(13) complete and double check XML profile against baseline metadata for DDEX Release Delivery.
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Jim Williams

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Re: QC?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 11:14:57 am »

No one has ever paid me to do that level of data checks here. Usually a sample disc from the CD factory is the gut check here after the usual auditions.

If musicians are not paid to record, who is going to pay the to do all that extra work?

Maybe that's what WB does for a major DVD release, but an indie music CD on a budget?
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djwaudio

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Re: QC?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 09:46:00 pm »

Wow, you lost me at step seven!  That is thorough I'll say, and for something that is going to be pressed in the 10s of thousands, might make some sense. 

I'm thinking more along the lines of having another person doing the QC.  Would that be worth something to you?  If someone you trusted would listen through, and make notes on the audio, do a check for distortion, clicks/anomalies, look to see if the dither was turned on, check the text for spelling & case text, etc.?  Are you billing enough in the project to have an other engineer spend an hour to go over it?

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Respectfully submitted,

Dana J White
Specialized Mastering
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Reynaud

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Re: QC?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2015, 11:20:58 am »

I'm thinking more along the lines of having another person doing the QC.  Would that be worth something to you?
...
Are you billing enough in the project to have an other engineer spend an hour to go over it?

I have, in fact, been through several assistants who found the QC process utterly tedious, preferring to focus on the more satisfying artistic processes. This was clearly reflected in the quality of their work. Ultimately, the QC process often needed a restart, resulting in both delays and the assistant being made redundant.

Part of my work, oddly, is evaluating and correcting other engineer's submissions to replication that either failed book spec (usually software bugs, often with beta code), contained mismatched checksums, PQ sheet errors, included incorrect or missing metadata, mismatched labeling, dropouts, sync errors, clipping, or simply not matching submission specifications provided by the client, amongst other surprisingly common errors. These corrections usually result in added expense and delays in replication.

It's not always limited to the fly-by-night or inexperienced engineers, it also extends to some very experienced and knowledgable engineers, heavily invested in their rooms and equipment. QC is possibly the most overlooked process in my experience.

If I sign off on something, it should carry the assurance a client requires. There should be no doubt.
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Jim Williams

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Re: QC?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2015, 11:19:08 am »

Seems to me these days more "QC" ought to be including in the recording process. Major releases have clipping and THD we never would have let out 20 years ago.
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Reynaud

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Re: QC?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2015, 03:26:28 pm »

When I started at the national broadcaster, shoddy QC could cost you your job. That kind of pressure to perform doesn't exist anymore.
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: QC?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2015, 06:44:57 am »

Seems to me these days more "QC" ought to be including in the recording process. Major releases have clipping and THD we never would have let out 20 years ago.

Because the artist and the recording engineer will tell you that "it is suppose to sound like that" at least my clients tell me that when I ask about all these clipped peaks, compression artifacts and a muddy bass lines. It is the new "lo-fi" style or they "like the sound". Whatever...
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Celebrating 22 years in business in 2017
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