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Author Topic: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?  (Read 12700 times)

Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2006, 06:00:24 am »

Bob, on face value, most of what you do seem reasonable, these are the things that any good engineer would do for his/her client.  However, the attitude behind it is what disturbs me, you seem to think that most, or all of your clients are dummies who don't know what's good for their own music, and you need to protect them from themselves...or at least protect their music from them.

If I walk into a mastering studio, and the engineer treats me this way, and decides to give me his "standard lecture"......see how fast I grab my master and slam his door!

In my opinion, a part of this attitude comes from the misguided idea (of some) that mastering is some kind of Creative endeavor or a "creative field", that the mastering engineer is an artist.  Therefore when they are not being allowed to impose their ideas on your record, they are not being allowed to be artistic.  More than ever these days engineers seem to be totally hung up on their titles and letting the world know how indispensable they are to the production process.  Could be they're just trying to secure their place?

Mastering is a technical field, the musicians already created the art, the artistic production should be done by the time it gets to you.  Unless you are also the producer and/or artist, your sole job is to manage some of the technical aspects of the production.  This is not meant to belittle, or diminish the importance of the mastering engineer or his work in the production process, it is just supposed to give perspective.


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Sam Clayton

Patrik T

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2006, 07:22:54 am »

Lately I have been wondering about an issue when it comes to mastering; there is a lot of talk about that the mastering is the final process of decisions and that one of the main drives is that the recording shall sound good or acceptable "on any system".

So, to how many percent does this steer a mastering engineer. Do you ever let things pass like this - "well, it surely won't translate in a club, but on a normal comsumer HIFI it will sound awesome".

People are talking about cars. That recordings should also sound acceptable in cars. As an independent musician working with independent labels we never consider the car-thing because neither do the label or I represent that way of enjoying music. Still our music gets adjusted by great ME's to fit into a cars 70 dB (?) of background noise. And in the end we have a good sounding recording that somewhat has lost the initial moods, just because it now can be played on any system. I never attended the mastering sessions, only people from the label did.

But, if I was sitting in a mastering room and the ME described that "it's sounding great but we have to compress the bass", just because it will be too boomy in a car, yet still the ME and I felt that the sound we had in that specific moment was superior to what came to daylight after the adjustment...well then what?

I know it is a hell to put some 10-14 tracks into a union whole, but how much of the "fit all systems"-philosophy is the main guiding light there? I've talked with other musicians about this and they also feel that "yes, my mastered tracks sound good but they all lost their initial moods I thought were crucial for the track when the ME said that it would not translate too good there and there".

And this is probably what Chan Marshall felt. I think it is important to not being overly wise about the translation in exceptionally noisy environments and lock tight to that philosophy. There are many CD's that sound good in the room next to a room with a stereo, but not good in the room with the stereo. I think that is strange but I understand why.
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bblackwood

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2006, 07:26:20 am »

dcollins wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 23:30

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.

Sounds like we have the same standard lecture...
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Brad Blackwood
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2006, 09:02:30 am »

I worked in a Conservatory of Music for 21 years. Classical musicians whether they are students or faculty have opinions on almost everything. They can tell you who or what is the best the worst and why. When it came to recording and mastering they had nary a clue so they told me what they wanted and I translated that into a product. They did not ask me how I did it but were pleased with the results.

Late in my career at the Conservatory things began to change and we got in some young faculty members who thought they knew more about recording and audio than I did and who convinced the dean that they could produce their own CDs. They started making decision on the miking of the instruments on balances on ambient enhancement (adding reverb) and generally making my job much more difficult. They would not listen to my expertise and if something did not sound correct they would go to the dean and tell him it was my fault, even though I was following their directions to the letter. These people THOUGHT they knew everything and as one faculty member told me in no uncertain terms. "hey I read MIX magazine same as you so I know all you know"

When I left the Conservatory and started my own business I found that many of the same kinds of people came to my studio, At first there were the people that knew that they knew nothing and would ask me to help them master their CDs. Then with the proliferation of home based studios I got more and more people who "know what the fu<k I am doing" and started telling me how to master their CDs. They would tell me that the guy standing behind the counter at GC (who was a shoe salesmen two weeks earlier) had told them that they needed to boost the bass and treble 10 dB to make their stuff sound GREAT! I tried to do what they wanted but it never sounded the way they thought it should sound.

This was not working. So then I started having very open and honest dialogs with my clients and would sit and listen to their material, listen to the reference material and tell them what I was hearing and what it would take to make their stuff sound like the refs.

This new approach of having an open and honest dialog is working well for most clients. They can tell me what they want and I can be honest with them about what I can do for them. I have had a couple of clients who still wanted to be boss and if that is what they want then I do what they want, make sure I am paid before the leave and that they sign off on the mastering and when they find that it is not working then they can come back and I will help them make the material sound good.

My Mother told me "you can't please everyone all the time" and, like most things she told me.  is true. So this is the way I work and if clients want to be the boss I let them. If they want my help, I help them to the best of my ability, if they want a shoulder to cry on about all the problems they had doing the recording I listen to their stories and offer suggestions for the next go around.

I have found that honesty is the best policy and if I treat people with respect and with an open mind they respond in kind.

So I do not preach, teach or ignore. I just am honest with them and tell it like it is. If people are not comfortable with honesty then they have the option of going somewhere else to have their material mastered. Most of my clients are long time clients and then know when they come to me I will do what is best for them and will tell them the strait scoop. This is the way I run my business and this is what I believe in. So far it is working well.

MTCW
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bobkatz

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2006, 10:55:27 am »

Samc wrote on Wed, 15 March 2006 06:00

Bob, on face value, most of what you do seem reasonable, these are the things that any good engineer would do for his/her client.  However, the attitude behind it is what disturbs me, you seem to think that most, or all of your clients are dummies who don't know what's good for their own music, and you need to protect them from themselves...or at least protect their music from them.

If I walk into a mastering studio, and the engineer treats me this way, and decides to give me his "standard lecture"......see how fast I grab my master and slam his door!




I'm sure you guys (especially DC, who likes to attack) are having a field day with my phrase "standard lecture". Of course I do not have a "standard lecture"...  I would have closed up shop years ago with no clients at all if they did not keep on coming back. So the correct phrase would be "empathic sharing of feelings about your music and where it is going and where it is coming from."

There is only so much one can say in writing before someone misunderstands you out of context. If some people can get away with being sarcastic or even abrasive with their clients and have repeat business, well god bless them.

My comments (as anyone's) should be taken within context of the message and point of view. It does not give full recognition to our role as engineers to claim that a mastering engineer is simply a hired hand or the equivalent of a short-order cook. Besides having the technical knowledge, we also have a sensitivity to the music. It's a science and an art.

Warm regards,

Bob
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Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2006, 02:03:37 pm »

I was not trying to be sarcastic, but the "standard lecture" remark really got my attention, anyway, it's all good.  I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about the "art" thing though.  

Maybe it's just semantic, but my literal, and technical understanding of the mastering engineer's job does not lead me to believe that it's an artistic endeavor, and/or that they (the engineers) are artists.
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Sam Clayton

Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2006, 02:35:47 pm »

Samc wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 13:03

Maybe it's just semantic, but my literal, and technical understanding of the mastering engineer's job does not lead me to believe that it's an artistic endeavor, and/or that they (the engineers) are artists.


Hello Sam,

The above statement would be true if it were only a straight transfer job, then it would mostly be Science, and one ME would be about the same as the next, assuming the equipment was up to par.

But the moment you reach for an EQ knob, mastering becomes a creative endeavor, the "how and why" does become an Art.

I tend to see it as a 50/50 combination of Art and Science.

p.s. have you ever mastered a record yourself?

Cheers
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Terra Nova Mastering
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Arf! Mastering

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #37 on: March 18, 2006, 02:51:40 pm »

Depending on the engineer, mastering can make a profound difference or very little difference between the before and after.  There is an art to bringing a mix to its fullest potential at the mastering stage.  Mastering at its best is inspired and inspiring.
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #38 on: March 18, 2006, 03:26:47 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 14 March 2006 14:14

...that sounds an awful lot like a frustrated musician became a mastering engineer for all the wrong reasons...


Shocked  Confused   Laughing   Touche' Brad ! Upon re-reading this thread, that statement certainly caught my attention!


Quote:

...that sounds an awful lot like a frustrated musician...


If I start naming frustrated musicians it would certainly bog down the website, but here's a short list:

Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Parker, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Billie Holiday, etc...


Quote:

...musician became a mastering engineer...


iirc, both Doug Sax and Bob Ludwig were musicians before becoming mastering engineers, probably a few Forum members as well.


Quote:

...became a mastering engineer for all the wrong reasons...


Who can know the mind of another man... his reasons, motivations, and goals?

A lifelong love of music and audio, working with people to help them achieve their goals, dedication to continued refinement of one's mastering skills... needless to mention accumulating experience and credits... and the ability to make a decent living at one's chosen profession... all sound like the Right Reasons to me.

Hope you're having a good week Brad, best wishes on your continued success.  Cool  
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Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2006, 11:33:15 am »

AlanS wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 19:51

.................bringing a mix to its fullest potential at the mastering stage.
 
Could you please explain what this means and how it is achieved.

Quote:

Mastering at its best is inspired and inspiring.

This too please.
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Sam Clayton

Samc

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2006, 11:37:33 am »

Jerry Tubb wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 19:35

But the moment you reach for an EQ knob, mastering becomes a creative endeavor, the "how and why" does become an Art.

I take it that everyone who has ever used an EQ is an artist?

Quote:

have you ever mastered a record yourself?

Yes.....But what this has to do with the discussion is lost on me.
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Sam Clayton

Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2006, 01:12:42 pm »

Samc wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 10:37

Jerry Tubb wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 19:35

But the moment you reach for an EQ knob, mastering becomes a creative endeavor, the "how and why" does become an Art.

I take it that everyone who has ever used an EQ is an artist?


No more than everyone that's painted a wall is a Rembrandt.

Samc wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 10:37

Jerry Tubb wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 19:35

have you ever mastered a record yourself?

Yes.....But what this has to do with the discussion is lost on me.


Exactly!

I think we are simply differing in our definition of the term "Art".

Of course, the performer on any CD is the real Artist... no argument there.

Mastering varies in range, from a basic straight transfer job, to taking an unlistenable project and making it enjoyable, and beyond.

If mastering were just "punching out widgets" it wouldn't be an art.

I think what you're posting here, to a large degree, is to provoke a reaction, stir up trouble.

After all it IS a mastering forum, and by nature, we're going to consider it an Art.

Beauty is in the ear of the listener.


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Terra Nova Mastering
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Arf! Mastering

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2006, 01:36:26 pm »

Samc wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 11:33

AlanS wrote on Sat, 18 March 2006 19:51

.................bringing a mix to its fullest potential at the mastering stage.
 
Could you please explain what this means and how it is achieved.

Quote:

Mastering at its best is inspired and inspiring.

This too please.



Sam, I doubt that your question is sincere.  It's either a challenge based on your underlying definition of art, or it comes from never having been involved with mastrering that rose to that level.  If the latter, then I'm sorry, if the former, then let's put the ball in your court - why can't it be art?  
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“A working class hero is something to be,
Keep you doped with religion and sex and T.V.”
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"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

bblackwood

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2006, 01:38:19 pm »

Jerry Tubb wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 12:12

I think what you're posting here, to a large degree, is to provoke a reaction, stir up trouble.

I don't agree - I think Samc's questions and comments are spot on.

Quote:

After all it IS a mastering forum, and by nature, we're going to consider it an Art.

I suppose some do, I consider it a skill...
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Brad Blackwood
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Are MEs Really Giving The Client What They Want?
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2006, 01:45:34 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 12:38

Jerry Tubb wrote on Sun, 19 March 2006 12:12

After all it IS a mastering forum, and by nature, we're going to consider it an Art.

I suppose some do, I consider it a skill...


So then,  Art Demystified = Skill ?

...the Skill of Mastering + a Sense of Aesthetics = Art !

I think we're mainly debating semantics here, and perhaps a bit of philosophy.



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Terra Nova Mastering
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