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Author Topic: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?  (Read 12698 times)

Arf! Mastering

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2006, 10:23:38 am »

dcollins wrote on Mon, 13 March 2006 02:47



Hello?  

Show me the irony?

Tell us about the VOC....



See Patrik's post above.


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What is the most difficult part?

DC

Working a track so that it sounds and feels great on any system you can throw at it.   Earning the confidence and gratitude of your clients.  Knowing when to leave it alone.  Having empathy and understanding of a very broad range of musical styles and approaches. These and many other values are all much more difficult than cutting hot.
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Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2006, 11:50:37 am »

Hey Alan, what in your opinion is actually giving the client what they want?
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Sam Clayton

Arf! Mastering

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2006, 12:08:40 pm »

I guess it's the age old fine line of giving clients what they need versus what they ask for, and being sure enough of yourself, your technical, musical, and personal skills to walk that line and keep those clients coming back.
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“A working class hero is something to be,
Keep you doped with religion and sex and T.V.”
John Lennon

"Large signals can actually be counterproductive.  If I scream at you over the phone, you don’t hear me better. If I shine a bright light in your eyes, you don’t see better.”
Dr. C.T. Rubin, biomechanical engineer

Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2006, 12:57:06 pm »

I don't think it's a black or white issue... what the client wants -vs- what the ME wants... how about a middle ground... for example:

On a recent rock project the client requested hot and loud similar to xxxx band.

I worked for a few minutes on EQ and Level and printed the song.

But before we moved on, I said "let's try this for grins".

I pulled the level of the original "pre" file down 1dB and reprinted.

The client said "yeah that's much better, breathes more, and more bounce in the drums."

So we BOTH won! ... a fine threshold between "squashed" and "nice and hot".

MTCW
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Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2006, 05:59:02 am »

Jerry Tubb wrote on Mon, 13 March 2006 17:57

I don't think it's a black or white issue... what the client wants -vs- what the ME wants... how about a middle ground... for example:

What the ME wants?!?  So mastering is really about the ME?.......
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Sam Clayton

Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2006, 12:11:44 pm »

Samc wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 04:59

What the ME wants?!?  So mastering is really about the ME?.......


Didn't you realize that Mastering is at the core of the very center of the Universe?

...and entire Worlds and Civilizations flourish and perish with our mere whims!

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Terra Nova Mastering
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Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2006, 02:18:30 pm »

Jerry Tubb wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 17:11

Samc wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 04:59

What the ME wants?!?  So mastering is really about the ME?.......


Didn't you realize that Mastering is at the core of the very center of the Universe?

...and entire Worlds and Civilizations flourish and perish with our mere whims!



Yes master
Shocked
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Sam Clayton

bblackwood

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2006, 02:28:00 pm »

Samc wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 04:59

Jerry Tubb wrote on Mon, 13 March 2006 17:57

I don't think it's a black or white issue... what the client wants -vs- what the ME wants... how about a middle ground... for example:

What the ME wants?!?  So mastering is really about the ME?.......

That's the vibe I'm getting from this thread.

Kinda disturbing.

Euphonic clients get what they ask for, even if we have to sort out what they mean...
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Brad Blackwood
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minister

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2006, 02:35:37 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 13:28

Euphonic clients get what they ask for, even if we have to sort out what they mean...
sure.  but as a client, i ask for the ME to add THIER expertise.  i ask their advice.  and i ask what they think it needs.

my clients do the same with me.  if they ask me for somthing, i give it to them.  it is their job, their production, their dollars.  hoever, they come to me as an expert in my field; they want to know what i recommend.  also, it is my job to tell them when i think they are going too far with something.  and i may demonstrate it.  most clients like that, and, in fact, expect it.
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tom hambleton C.A.S.
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bblackwood

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2006, 02:38:05 pm »

minister wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 13:35

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 13:28

Euphonic clients get what they ask for, even if we have to sort out what they mean...
sure.  but as a client, i ask for the ME to add THIER expertise.  i ask their advice.  and i ask what they think it needs.

So in that specific case, it works both ways.

Is that true for all scenarios?
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Brad Blackwood
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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2006, 02:46:49 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 13:38

Is that true for all scenarios?
is anything?

sometimes i say something when my opinion was not specifically solicited.  yet, i would not argue with a client over what they want...unless it is illegal or unpermitted -- like a film trailer or TV mix that is beyond the standard level.

it can be difficult to discern what a client is asking for.  do you give them what they ask for?  what you think they need?  what you think they are really asking for?  the lines blur.

i totally get your stance, brad.  it is the right thing.  if a client wants his guitar too loud, i will give it to him too loud.  but i may dipplomatically bring up my opinion about that.  i do everything i can to get things where i think they should be and when the client comes in, i will give myself over to pursuing what they want and trying to make that work.  (and i have thought a client's idea was stupid until i tried it...and then they were right) in the end, i want them leaving here happy they came and not feeling like i imposed myself on their job.

but, really, brad, if i came to you, i would want you to tell, "i think it will translate better THIS way.".  also, you will do things to a mix that i or another client will never know, but you did make it better.

P.S.  i was slow in the uptake: i get your point if i ASK for your recommendations, then you are giving me what i WANT.
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tom hambleton C.A.S.
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bblackwood

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2006, 03:14:24 pm »

Yah, my point is that I don't just let the client jump off a bridge, I try to help them in a decision based on my experience - we're not just monkeys doing an objective task. But I get the vibe that some here are approaching it as if we are here to 'protect the client from themselves' or similar. I dare not go there, that sounds an awful lot like a frustrated musician became a mastering engineer for all the wrong reasons...
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Brad Blackwood
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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2006, 03:27:14 pm »

we're the button monkeys.

and the hired talent are the meat puppets.
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tom hambleton C.A.S.
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bobkatz

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2006, 04:12:54 pm »

dcollins wrote on Sun, 12 March 2006 22:58


I find it all a bit naive, as my local restaurant will make a Masala that actually makes your eyes bug out cartoon-style -- but only if I ask for it.....

DC




I wish that mastering were as simple as going to a restaurant, ordering food and tasting it. In reality, it is more like having everyone eat their food through a set of filters that change the taste and who evaluate the taste on a whole set of different noses. There's the "car nose", there's the "radio nose" and there's the guy who always pinches his nose almost closed so even if he burns his tongue on the spice he hardly notices how hot it is. And then there's the guy who's entirely immune to the spice and thinks that if you don't spice it up then no one will like it at all by the time it gets out to the street vendor.

How many of those guys ("customers", A&R) are totally educated as to what they want and to the real reasons why they are doing it?  Some are. Many of them aren't. Many of them have ideas which when examined would be a disservice to their product. They all have a right to their choices as they are the customer, however:

"If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem".

There is a furniture store in New York whose motto is "An educated consumer is our best customer." How many of your customers walk in the door totally educated as to what they want?

The standard "lecture" over here is 5 to 10 minutes, during which we find out what the client wants and if what they want does not seem to suit the material in my opinion, then we spend a little time listening to various options, and sometimes they even change their mind because they had not considered those options.

The number of people who truly understand the relationship between the amoutn of program compression, "normalizing to the peak", and the position of the monitor level control are very few. Does this mean we should plea to the ignorant and just go their way without explaining this?

I have a client with a 1500-title legacy classic catalog of, shall we say, "very important music". When the pressure came from A&R to make the entire reissue set 6 dB "louder" than what it should be for optimum sound, and potentially destroy that legacy for all future generations---do you think I kept my mouth shut and just said, "yes sir" without discussing the issue?

No, instead I invited the A&R person here to listen to what he was asking for under objective conditions....  it was an ear-opener for him and he changed his mind entirely. He thought that what you're supposed to do is ask the mastering engineer to make it as hot as you can....  And he's been in A&R/production for 20 years.... Perhaps he's never heard a mastering-grade monitor system.

When he did hear his previous work objectively, he was totally embarrassed to find out how squashed and unclear and overcompressed were the products that he had been ordering his previous mastering engineer for his previous record companies to make.

We need a common language, and we need more mastering engineers to stand up and explain, otherwise sound will continue to get objectively worse and worse.

Either that, or do your really enjoy making stuffed sausages all day long?

Examining Doug Sax's work or any of our work of 10-15 years ago, do you think it was just the case of Doug doing other clients' bidding? Or didn't they just trust him to do a good job? Clients do go to certain mastering engineers not just because they'll do it like they tell them to, but also because they trust the M.E. to tell them what he thinks as well. This is a creative field, and claiming that the M.E. is just a hired hack is far from the truth. Here, you turn my knobs...

BK
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dcollins

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2006, 12:30:39 am »

bobkatz wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 13:12


I wish that mastering were as simple as going to a restaurant, ordering food and tasting it. In reality, it is more like having everyone eat their food through a set of filters that change the taste and who evaluate the taste on a whole set of different noses.


That's why it's such a good analogy.

The same food tastes different depending on your mood at the time, who is tasting it, where you are, who you are, etc.  

Same with sound.

I've had a hotdog on a camping trip or even off a cart that was positively transcendent, but at home it's just a hotdog.

How do you explain that?

Quote:


"If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem".



Can I just say how much I hate this phrase?  Overly simplistic, and in most cases, just useless finger-pointing with no constructive outcome. But it sounds so impressive.

What is the solution?

Quote:


There is a furniture store in New York whose motto is "An educated consumer is our best customer."



What about "Our Prices are Sofa King Low?"  I think they made them take that one down.

Quote:


How many of your customers walk in the door totally educated as to what they want?



In a sense, all of them. I could write a book!

Quote:


The standard "lecture" over here is 5 to 10 minutes,



Now, I've only been doing this for about 20 years, so maybe I haven't really hit my stride in terms of client communication, but my standard lecture takes.........................

wait for it...

Zero minutes.  

Zilch, zip, nada, nil, the "empty set" minutes.

It's the furthest thing from my mind.

Quote:


during which we find out what the client wants and if what they want does not seem to suit the material in my opinion, then we spend a little time listening to various options, and sometimes they even change their mind because they had not considered those options.



My advice would be to give them a ref, live with it for a couple days, we'll take it from there.....

Quote:


The number of people who truly understand the relationship between the amoutn of program compression, "normalizing to the peak", and the position of the monitor level control are very few. Does this mean we should plea to the ignorant and just go their way without explaining this?



I wouldn't start by assuming the client is ignorant!  

Quote:


I have a client with a 1500-title legacy classic catalog of, shall we say, "very important music". When the pressure came from A&R to make the entire reissue set 6 dB "louder" than what it should be for optimum sound, and potentially destroy that legacy for all future generations---do you think I kept my mouth shut and just said, "yes sir" without discussing the issue?



Fine. I'm not saying we can't discuss these things, but it's important to frame it properly.

If you want cheese on your linguini and clams the waiter may advise against it, but if you insist, out comes the Parmesan.

Quote:


We need a common language, and we need more mastering engineers to stand up and explain, otherwise sound will continue to get objectively worse and worse.



The eternal optimist.

Quote:


Either that, or do your really enjoy making stuffed sausages all day long?



One day I'm stuffing the sausage, and the next the waveform looks like the rockies.  Isn't that how it works?

DC
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