R/E/P Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Compilations: Leave or massage?  (Read 1747 times)

bing181

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2
Compilations: Leave or massage?
« on: June 08, 2004, 05:14:31 pm »

I'm a mix engineer/producer and I've been roped into "mastering" a compilation for a band I was once involved in. Yep, there's no money. The CD will contain about 20 tracks, recorded across the period 1979 - 1985. Some were mastered at Sterling, some at Townhouse in London, some at smaller (but OK) facilities.

Needless to say, there's a big difference in the sound across the various sources, and there's also a big difference between what this material sounds like and contemporary tracks.

So ...  should I leave well enough alone and try and just match up levels, or should I try and match up the tracks to sound at least somewhat similar .. further to that, should I try and get the levels up a bit more to contemporary levels??

Any input appreciated.
Logged

jfrigo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1029
Re: Compilations: Leave or massage?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2004, 06:19:20 pm »

bing181 wrote on Tue, 08 June 2004 14:14

I'm a mix
Needless to say, there's a big difference in the sound across the various sources, and there's also a big difference between what this material sounds like and contemporary tracks.

So ...  should I leave well enough alone and try and just match up levels, or should I try and match up the tracks to sound at least somewhat similar .. further to that, should I try and get the levels up a bit more to contemporary levels??



There's no stock answer. I've had compilations that were a retrospective of a career and we've let the old tracks sound old and new tracks sound new so that you get a real picture of the artist through time. Other compilations the client has wanted to "update" old material and give it a more contemporary sound so we've raised levels a bit and maybe added a little bottom and top to some older cuts. Some "serious" music (so designated by the client) gets treated conservatively and pretty much left alone. With some label promotional compilations they want some continuity, so we give it to them.

Compilations are by their nature a collection of different things and don't always need to hang together perfectly from track to track. People realize it was not made as a cohesive work to begin with, so you have a bit of latitude. Then again, some tracks just sound jarringly bad next to their neighbors and it sometimes helps to tweak them a little. As with many questions in audio, "it depends" seems to be the answer. What is the nature of the music? What do you want to accomplish with this compilation? Who is the intended audience? These are the questions to keep in mind when making the judgement call.

Logged

bblackwood

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7036
Re: Compilations: Leave or massage?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2004, 09:59:50 am »

bing181 wrote on Tue, 08 June 2004 16:14

So ...  should I leave well enough alone and try and just match up levels, or should I try and match up the tracks to sound at least somewhat similar .. further to that, should I try and get the levels up a bit more to contemporary levels??

If you can make a track better, do so. Otherwise, when doing compilations I simply try to match the levels. I vote for not trying to get the levels up to contemporary 'standards' (what a foul use of that term) - don't sacrifice dynamics for some silly, misguided modern approach to 'mastering'.

I've even been known to pull the levels back on the louder tracks of compilations (*gasp*) that were a little crushed so as not to have to limit the more dynamic stuff...
Logged
Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

Level

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1811
Re: Compilations: Leave or massage?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2004, 09:04:13 pm »

Compailations are tough. Sometimes I listen to compilations and the ballads are louder than the up-tempo music. My approach to a complilation is to first extract maximum fidelity from the archives indivigually. Then considering the tracking order, I then adjust major levels so that each song is in its proper perspective. I look for the "SONG" that is the one that if performed live, would be the loudest and then carefully work my way down to the acoustic parts and ballads. I do not get radical with it but one of the most important aspects of doing a comp when it comes from serveral tapes and studios is to get the proper volume laying correct to each song. It bugs me to hear something like "superfreak" running at a moderate volume and the next tune is a ballad that is 5 to 7 dB louder overall. this is when the mastering and compiling engineer made poor choices.
Logged
http://balancedmastering.com

"Listen and Learn"
---Since 1975---

Gold

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1453
Re: Compilations: Leave or massage?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2004, 01:56:46 pm »

With compilations I generally do a level match FIRST to see where I'm at. Then I start in on processing if needed. If everything has been released before, I'm wary of doing anything more. It's bad enough being whacked with a ruler for reducing the level of a track let alone reprocessing it.
Logged
Paul Gold
www.saltmastering.com

On the silk road, looking for uranium.

bing181

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2
Re: Compilations: Leave or massage?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2004, 05:14:31 pm »

Thanks. All good tips. Will just leave well enough alone for the most part.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up