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Author Topic: How far do *you* go?  (Read 8832 times)

bblackwood

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How far do *you* go?
« on: April 22, 2004, 09:55:52 am »

Another thread on the forum made me think about this question - how far will you go in mastering? Assuming you have the complete trust of the artist and producer, how far will you go to make a good master? Do you have rules, limits as to what you will or will not do? Do you fear straying too far from the original mix?

Discuss...
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Brad Blackwood
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lucey

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2004, 10:48:00 am »

hi brad,

my name is brian lucey ... i do mastering part time, some local, some national, some international


my approach is to listen to the whole project first and get to know the thing, and the artist, so i can see their vision.

then i hear it in my head as a finished record, based on the equipment available

then i make what i hear, being open to changes that are necessary, and better ideas as the process unfolds in sound



so far, the clients are thrilled and although i go far at times, some of the mixes are pretty 'needy'
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Brian Lucey
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j.hall

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2004, 11:05:32 am »

this is very similar to what i've asked brad to do for me.  although this topic is from his perspective and not mine.

personally, i want the ME to do whatever it takes to ensure the art, the vision of the record, makes it through.  i'd like the ME to follow their instincts and make decisions on their own.

the two things that must be assumed is that
1.  the band, or artist, is happy with the mixes, and has ensured that what they want is represented in the song as it is displayed.
2.  the final mix sent to mastering is it, there will be no re-mix.

from there, the ME needs to "finish" the vision.  

in doing this, you have to establish trust with the ME, and you have to have an ME that can listen to the song and not the technical, sonic, aspects only.

i think this idea is a little far fetched on whole, but hear and there it's worked with myself and brad.  it usually requires some phone time, and planning.

so my answer to the question is, go as far as you have to, just honor the art, and serve it, before any other agenda.
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craig boychuk

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2004, 11:24:28 am »

I think it really depends on how lacking the mixes are in the first place. If they need fixing real bad, then sometimes it's necessary to go crazy. If that means a lengthy processing chain, then so be it. Do whatever is necessary to make the project sound the best that it can.
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Fibes

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2004, 11:35:02 am »

I'm not an ME but there are a few things I wish for in an ME.

1. The comfort to ask me to re-mix if something is getting in the way rather than shoehorning it on the back side.

2. Someone who is comfortable with their own ego to leave it alone if it's where it needs to be.

3. Constant ridicule for mixing too loud.

4. Someone who knows what the prize is and how to put an eye/ear on it.

5. Honesty and some frank discourse about the project. This IMO is the only real feedback i crave. Someone with ears that hasn't been involved with the project sexually or otherwise.

6. Making the project sound better than it is. A requirement in my world...

7. Go as far as you need but refer to #1.
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j.hall

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2004, 12:34:15 pm »

mid-fi wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 10:24

I think it really depends on how lacking the mixes are in the first place. If they need fixing real bad, then sometimes it's necessary to go crazy. If that means a lengthy processing chain, then so be it. Do whatever is necessary to make the project sound the best that it can.



but isn't that really subjective?  i've done mixes that were, by any standards, really bad.  but for the particular song, it was perfectly bad.  if you didn't follow the direction of the tune and merely judged on sonics, you'd tell me to re-mix, or you'd go nuts trying to shoe-horn it.  i'm asking, where do you draw the line artistically?
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Fibes

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2004, 12:41:56 pm »

If you intend to do something fine. You should have enough comfort to discuss these things with your ME. Appropriate is a word i've been using a lot as of late. that can mean a far cry from sonic purity.
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Fibes
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OTR-jkl

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2004, 01:12:50 pm »

Most of the mixes I "get" to work on are in need of plenty of help. Since one of the main purposes of mastering (correct me if I'm wrong here) is to ensure proper translation from studio to world, then it seems to me that I need to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I would love to be able to call for a re-mix but that's usually not an option.

I'm not saying that I will totally change the character of the tune but I will make some radical EQ adjustments if that's what it takes for it to sound good. I usually try not to compress things much - if any - unless it really needs it.

When I do get a mix in that sounds really good already, only minor processing is needed and I try to keep as much of the original sound as possible and still make a little improvement on it.

Quote:

mid-fi wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 10:24

I think it really depends on how lacking the mixes are in the first place. If they need fixing real bad, then sometimes it's necessary to go crazy. If that means a lengthy processing chain, then so be it. Do whatever is necessary to make the project sound the best that it can.



but isn't that really subjective? i've done mixes that were, by any standards, really bad. but for the particular song, it was perfectly bad. if you didn't follow the direction of the tune and merely judged on sonics, you'd tell me to re-mix, or you'd go nuts trying to shoe-horn it. i'm asking, where do you draw the line artistically?

I totally see your point JHall. Somehow we (the MEs) have to find out if "bad" sonics are intentional or just the result of a bad room or poor engineering skills. The track will usually disclose which...
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j.hall

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2004, 03:11:42 pm »

OTR-jkl wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 12:12


I totally see your point JHall. Somehow we (the MEs) have to find out if "bad" sonics are intentional or just the result of a bad room or poor engineering skills. The track will usually disclose which...


you raise a good point about trying to decern between bad acoustic environment, skill level of mixer, and intentional sonics.  i didn't really define my point very well.  a quick example.  i was booking two different rooms in town to mix in.  for a while it was just one, and brad had plenty of comments and questions about my work prior to him starting the process.  i didn't tell him that i changed rooms due to a scheduling issue, and sent another project.  he called pretty quickly and said, "where did you mix this?"  i enjoyed the vibe and management of the new room, so i booked both for a while, and brad could call where i was, every time.  

i think it's important to minimize the variables for the ME.  what might be a monitoring issue on my end could translate to an intentional sonic decision to the ME and thus spiral into revisions and blah blah blah.

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MASSIVE Mastering

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2004, 12:33:13 am »

I try to get as much information on what the CLIENT thinks of it and go from there...

For the most part, I attempt to keep it relatively in the same ballpark - Here's a quote I have on my site...

Quote:

“Mastering isn’t the ‘car’ - It’s the paint. It’s the chrome on the wheels.  It’s the detailing and the wax job. Your recording is the vehicle and mastering is the custom showroom finish that sets it apart from the others.” - JS


That being said, yesterday I did three "wax jobs" - Today, I did one wax, an entirely new paint job & a little body work.   Shocked
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John Scrip
Massive Mastering - Chicago (Schaumburg / Hoffman Est.), IL - USA

Viitalahde

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2004, 12:41:06 am »

MASSIVE Mastering wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 05:33

yesterday I did three "wax jobs"


So does the Mafia perform Brazilian Wax jobs then?  Rolling Eyes


Jaakko
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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bblackwood

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2004, 01:27:31 am »

Looks like most everyone is in agreement - do whatever it takes to make it better. For years I had dogmatic beliefs that certain precesses were somehow 'wrong' and didn't belong in mastering, but have learned that virtually everything has a place at one time or another.

The first rule is to insure you have the proper tools to do the task, but beyond that...

So what's the most outlandish thing you've done to 'salvage' or enhance a track?
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Brad Blackwood
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jfrigo

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2004, 03:38:51 am »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 22:27

Looks like most everyone is in agreement - do whatever it takes to make it better.
SNIP
So what's the most outlandish thing you've done to 'salvage' or enhance a track?


I tend toward being reserved when I first approach something, but it really depends on the project, and most importantly, on the client. If I had no input from the client, I'd assume they mixed it like this for a reason and try to go in the direction they've begun and try to get a few steps closer to their vision. If I can get some client input, sometimes they want me to really change what they delivered drastically. I'm happy to do that, but not without asking first.

One regular client loves things to be significantly different when they leave compared to how they came in. Recently a project of his came in that was really kind of uncharacteristically wimpy, and it was a big hard rock/metal project. I couldn't let that stand! I think by the end I had about 10 bands of EQ going, two of them MS, and a few of them not exactly subtle (3 or 4dB,) some color pulled up on the HEDD (2.5 tape and 2.5 pentode is a lot for me), and more color on the IBIS we're trying, a slight lick of Pendulum compression, a little clipping here and there, a bit of t.c. 6000 limiting, and some L2 to finish it off.

I tend to try to do what I need to with as few bands of EQ as possible, but all these bands from four different units just worked together to make it rock. It was one of those things that didn't make logical sense to my brain, but it just sounded better the more stuff I threw into the soup. This is an uncommon job for me. I don't usually reach for so much stuff, nor push so many items so hard, but it really brought this heavy project life. It needed the color and the grit. I was a little concerned when it first arrived, but it actually really kicked ass in the end. OK, this stuff isn't exactly outlandish taken one element at a time, but it was pretty aggressive mastering, and if that's what it needs, that what it gets.

My more outlandish fixes have usually included editing. On a live album where there was a dropout and an error with some stage playback elements, we processed and flew in the playback stuff (not a big deal) and then actually grabbed a piece of the missing vocal from an acoustic gig the live sound guy happened to have on his laptop from a couple years earlier (he wasn't at the session - we called him and he emailed it) and mixed it over a piece of instrumental we grabbed from elsewhere in the track and managed to plug the hole seamlessly. The client sat there with his jaw on the floor, having been sure that he wouldn't be able to use that track, but now listening as if it had never been a problem. I love it when the clients are impressed.
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odysseys

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2004, 04:43:08 am »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 06:27

Looks

So what's the most outlandish thing you've done to 'salvage' or enhance a track?


Once i went to a friend in order to "enhance" his songs (i'm not a ME) through Tannoy600s.The biggest problem in a song was extreme low energy.The cones were pumping as hell.So i thought "well,let's cut it".And i put a HPF at 90Hz. Very Happy
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craig boychuk

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Re: How far do *you* go?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2004, 12:58:19 pm »

Quote:

mid-fi wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 10:24

I think it really depends on how lacking the mixes are in the first place. If they need fixing real bad, then sometimes it's necessary to go crazy. If that means a lengthy processing chain, then so be it. Do whatever is necessary to make the project sound the best that it can.



but isn't that really subjective? i've done mixes that were, by any standards, really bad. but for the particular song, it was perfectly bad. if you didn't follow the direction of the tune and merely judged on sonics, you'd tell me to re-mix, or you'd go nuts trying to shoe-horn it. i'm asking, where do you draw the line artistically?


Yeah, you're right...I guess what I mean to say is: Use whatever means necessary to get the project to where the client wants it. To do this, you must know the direction they want to take. Hopefully it will be apparent in what you're listening to. If you don't know what they want, you'd better find out!

I work with alot of noisy bands, so I understand where you're coming from. Sometimes "bad" is the intent, and the intent must be respected, no matter what it is.
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