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Author Topic: "You didn't butcher it!"  (Read 1368 times)


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"You didn't butcher it!"
« on: November 20, 2010, 03:09:44 am »

I've been thinking of this lately.

I sometimes see first-time customers (first time for me), who are extra nervous about the mastering, and when the thing is done, they're really relieved to hear the outcome still sounds what they mixed it to sound like, just much better.

This is of course how it should be, but it feels kind of stupid to assure these folks that I'm not going to butcher their sound because I'm not deaf.

In the past, they might have had a bad mastering experience with another project & engineer, or maybe they just have a general feeling that mastering is the stage when a lot of random factors are bolted on and things might sound like crap, great or anything in between. Even sadder, sometimes I'm told about records that sound like crap after the mastering, but in the hurry (or for whatever reason) they moved on and regretted it later.

Whatever the story is, I sometimes feel bad to sit in a position in where I'm suspected to go berserk at any random time, just because I'm mastering engineer.

It's like a "all cops are violent bastards" type of a thing.
Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Helsinki-Finland/Virtalahde-Ma stering/278311633180


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Re: "You didn't butcher it!"
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2010, 07:42:39 am »

All the great mastering engineers of the past have different sayings about this.

Denny Purcell use to say.  "The client comes in quadranoid (4 times paranoid) but we mastering engineers stay octonoid (8 times paranoid).

Bernie Grundman would call mastering "The sobering experience".Or "the wake up call".

Bob Ludwig with his famous "never turn your back on digital"... as it will bite you in the ass when you least expect it.

There are many more that allude me at this hour but they are all tried and true statements that we mastering engineers live with every day.

Best thing you can do is to be yourself and "put your best game on" when it comes to working with their music... usually within a few minutes their minds are eased.
Larry DeVivo
Silvertone Mastering, Inc.
PO Box 4582
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
To see some of our work please click on any of the visual trailer montages located at... http://robertetoll.com/  (all music and sound effects were mastered by Silvertone Mastering).


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Re: "You didn't butcher it!"
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2010, 11:06:34 am »

Silvertone wrote on Sat, 20 November 2010 12:42

Best thing you can do is to be yourself and "put your best game on" when it comes to working with their music... usually within a few minutes their minds are eased.

When I used to do speech recording, with 'name' talent in particular there would often be an initial period of 'who is this guy?' type fencing if I asked for a retake or otherwise questioned their reading. I would explain why we needed to take a particular direction, and after a nervy start they would hopefully come to the conclusion that I wasn't a complete idiot and we'd be away. Once they were relaxed it was easy enough to redo the early takes, and with any luck they went away thinking what a good performance they'd given that day.

A couple of years back I edited an audiobook recorded elsewhere: another 'name' (who shall remain nameless!) was reading, and it was just awful in spite of the person's obvious acting talent. One could hear from the studio banter that he was simply steamrolling the producer/engineer and getting his own way. I asked the company what had happened, and they said that his fame and daily rate meant they hadn't wanted to upset him - shame for them, and ultimately for him as well.

In mastering I enjoy attended sessions, and look forward to more when the new room is built. I love building a rapport with new people and being able to keep things light, with emphasis on them as a person and their music plus the mechanics of the mastering process being kept as transparent as possible.

BTW, for Jaakko and anyone else who's interested, my builders are working elsewhere at the moment (I knew about their other job before work started here), but things will grind into action again in a week or so - as the roof's on this shouldn't be quite the hardship the time of year would suggest.
Nigel Palmer
Lowland Masters
Essex, UK
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