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Author Topic: Are you scared?  (Read 5704 times)

dcollins

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Re: Tha Mastering Engineer's Hippocratic Oath, was Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2005, 12:22:34 am »

bobkatz wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 03:46


I will apply corrective audio measures for the benefit of the sound and performance of the music and other sound which have been given to me to process, according to my ability and best judgment; I pledge not to do the sound harm or injustice, either through commission or omission of any act.



Obvious error #1, and why I thought you were kidding in the first place....

Music is subjective!

Calling processing "harm" or "injustice" etc., seems like you are talking murder here, not art!

Who are _you_ to say what's right?

I think BK has a "hubris" that likes to claim absolutes for audio where none can really exist.....

From monitor "standards" to "I can hear the 92 from the 93" you present a doctrine of "If it's not K-something you can't possibly like it."  

Basically "Bob can hear something that I can't."

Why is that?

Is it really true?

Quote:


I will not give a bad-sounding product to any client or anybody who (knowingly or unknowingly) asked for one, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. I will make every effort to instruct anybody who asks for a bad-sounding product the reasons why this product is or will be bad-sounding, and to show them how the product can be bettered by using more effective or different processing techniques. If the client continues to prefer a different result which I know to be bad-sounding, I will reluctantly deliver the product to them in as good a condition as I can make it within their proposed limitations. I will make it known to them, as tactfully as possible, that their choice has not been good in my professional opinion.



You can use the term "bad-sounding" one hundred times per paragraph and it adds exactly zero to our discussion here..........

Quote:


I will not use severely damaging processes on any audio product.



This would be my executive summary of why your post IS a joke, assuming you were actually being serious.  Back to point #1, really.

Quote:


I recognize that the definition of "damage" is in the ear of the listener, but that long experience and ear training help us to distinguish that which is harm from good. To that end I will make every effort to improve my abilities and knowledge, to truthfully say, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."



So how does Bob Katz, Mastering Engineer and have I mentioned author, propose to describe what is "severly damaging processing?"

How do you tell the client that he isn't happy?

Quote:


Whatever houses I may visit to do my work, I will come for the benefit of the music and sound, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief.



See what I mean about logrolling?

And mischief?  That's one of my specialties, but Bob wants to ban it........

Quote:


If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.



Not buying it. Well, the fame part, maybe.

And art, well that's why I'm here!

DC

bobkatz

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Re: Tha Mastering Engineer's Hippocratic Oath, was Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2005, 03:48:36 pm »

dcollins wrote on Mon, 07 March 2005 00:22

bobkatz wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 03:46


I will apply corrective audio measures for the benefit of the sound and performance of the music and other sound which have been given to me to process, according to my ability and best judgment; I pledge not to do the sound harm or injustice, either through commission or omission of any act.



Obvious error #1, and why I thought you were kidding in the first place....

Music is subjective!




You sure can be a pain in the ass, DC; you would find shit under a plate on the dinner table because you want to be one. You ought to take the oath at its face value, which is a basic desire to help impart some ethics, values and collaboration amongst your fellow men.

This oath is both EVERYTHING and NOTHING. First it is NOTHING because nothing is defined---this is on purpose BECAUSE of the subjective nature of the very work we do. It should be obvious to your logic-impaired brain that the very subjectivity of the work we do imposed the language of the oath. Instead, you chose to criticise it by a) bringing up the OBVIOUS and b) not realizing the deeper meaning and intent.

NOTHING is defined---because the very work we do is subjective and variable. But at the same time the oath is EVERYTHING because it recognizes that there should be integrity and ethical purpose to our work. The oath asks all of us to speak up and not be silent when we feel we are "damaging" the sound in our own definition of "damage"; the oath covers the definition of "damage" as personal, yet also based on long-term experience and ear-training.

Have you ever "damaged" a piece of audio (in your definition of "damage") by the requests of a client? Have you not spoken up about it to the client or did you remain silent? Substitute your own term for the word "damage" if you don't like it, "smashed", "hypercompressed without sensitivity to the material", whatever you prefer.

One of the purpose of the oath is to urge us to speak up to the client and not remain silent when we feel that "damage" is being done to the material. Educating the client is part of the solution to the problem of bad mastering. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

-----


As for your remarks about the K-System, some people get it, some people understand its variability, and others, like you, get a thing up their ass because they think it's trying to limit you to some arbitrary series of numbers. Your cynicism should be replaced by a spirit of collaboration. I may like my cars red and you may like them blue, but the common ground is a system of defining what the colors are and how they work. Hundreds of engineers around the world seem to be getting it, kid.

Quote:




I think BK has a "hubris" that likes to claim absolutes for audio where none can really exist.....




Only if you try to twist my words into your own version of what you think they say.  There is some very real learning that can come from knowledge of how monitor gains interrelate with peak to average ratios, and how calibrated monitor gains work, the basis for the K-System. The other day I watched a movie with an excellent rock recording used as part of the soundtrack. It was reproduced at a good level, about 83 dB average to my guess, and it had plenty of clean transients. Knowing the standard calibrated theatrical monitor gain, I could easily conclude that this had to be a special music mix for the large theatre. I didn't need any meters to tell me. So there is a lot more to this system than simply talking about arbitrary meter readings; it is a POWERFUL system that allows you to learn something about the music recording simply by observing the monitor attenuator and listening!

Quote:



From monitor "standards" to "I can hear the 92 from the 93" you present a doctrine of "If it's not K-something you can't possibly like it."  




I've never said or implied that. I've talked about a scale of diminishing returns and it's illustrated in the honor roll. The only thing "absolute" about the system is the implication that "somewhere down there on the scale you will find something that you are not going to like." The point being that all responsible engineers realize that having a scale of measurement is the first way to help separate order from chaos. And I maintain that a situation where you can put in 10 different pop CDs made from 1980 through 2005 and they differ by as much as 14 dB in loudness is genuine CHAOS. Here are some quotes from the articles that you like to call "absolute":

"I hope that engineers will return to using compression as an esthetic device instead of trying to win the loudness race."

"The K-System can become the lingua franca of interchange within the industry, avoiding the current problem where different mix engineers work on parts of an album to different standards of loudness and compression."

"Even with slight deviations from the recommended practice, the music world will be far more consistent than the current chaos. Everyone should know the monitor gain they like to use."

"While practicing engineers may disagree as to the absolute point where the sound goes downhill, we all agree that point is definable."

I believe that point begins where the esthetic desires of the compression are overtaken by the loudness race, where the desire to "make it loud" next to another CD supercedes the esthetic requirements of the recording itself. Do you see any numbers there?

"This leads us to my K-System Proposal, a metering and monitoring standard that integrates the best concepts of the past with current knowledge in order to avoid the chaos of the last 20 years. It also develops a common language of levels, so that engineers can properly communicate."

So please quit with the b.s. and stop trying to put words in my mouth that I have not said or feelings that I have not expressed, feelings which have been echoed by so many of our colleagues in so many other manners on this very forum. Do you see the words "absolute requirement for an RMS" anywhere in this letter  Smile?

And please don't try to pick a quote out of context from my article(s) that appears to contradict what I'm saying here, because the whole is greater than any part taken out of context. And your spirit of collaboration should be as large as your own hubris. Oh, excuse me, sorry, I wasn't being collaborative in that last sentence.

Once again, if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. In a world with no definitions, there is only chaos.

BK
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bobkatz

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Re: Tha Mastering Engineer's Hippocratic Oath, was Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2005, 04:34:05 pm »

P.S., based on the positive responses I've gotten in emails about this, and the occasional negative comments I've seen on this board, I'd have to say that if this oath doesn't "make it", it will be because of hypocrites, not because of Hipocrates!

BK
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There are two kinds of fools,
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The other says-this is new and therefore better."

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natpub

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2005, 10:06:55 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 04 March 2005 04:25

...there's no guarantee of winning this battle, but I will simply not cave in...




bblackwood wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 11:02

...I cut obscenely loud records from time to time to please artists...





????

This isnt my forum, Im just a musician in a band.

But, from reading your original topic post, I
disagree Brad:  You see, unlike you, I WOULD blame the bands. Not the labels, consumers, MP3 downloaders, nor the PEMM's.

I can (and often do) have producers, managers, investors, and AR guys all giving me all kinds of pressure to do this or that.  But if I cave-in as the artist and let some piece of garbage be put out with MY NAME on it, then I am the one responsible.

Ya'll's area is one part of things, and you can try to educate your artists; but that's about it--the rest is up to them.

While one can argue that every phase of the industry shares part of the responsibility to make a quality record, the buck has to stop somewhere, and IMO that is most definately the artist.

While one could argue that the money people at the top decide what gets put out, I would observe that I have never seen that to really be the case. The people decide, and they ultimately will and do respond to truth and quality.


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Ronny

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2005, 11:23:03 pm »

natpub wrote on Mon, 07 March 2005 22:06

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 04 March 2005 04:25

...there's no guarantee of winning this battle, but I will simply not cave in...




bblackwood wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 11:02

...I cut obscenely loud records from time to time to please artists...





????

This isnt my forum, Im just a musician in a band.

But, from reading the original topic statement, I
disagree Brad:  You see, I WOULD blame the bands, not the labels, not the consumer, the MP3 downloaders, nor the PEMM's.

I can have producers, managers, investors, and AR guys all giving me all kinds of pressure(and I do), but if I cave-in as the artist and let some piece of garbage be put out with MY NAME on it, then I am the one responsible.

Ya'll's area is one part of things, and you can try to educate your artists, but that's about it--the rest is up to them.

While one can argue that every phase of the industry shares part of the responsibility to make a quality record, the buck has to stop somewhere, and IMO, that is most definately the artist.






The artist doesn't typically get control until they have proven themselves by selling lots of records and either renew the contract or run out of it and sign with another label. Some clients of mine, the band called Savannah to be exact, signed with Mercury Nashville several years ago, they put a full page ad in Billboard and were set up to tour with some of the other label acts like Merle Haggard, which would have given them the exposure that that truly deserved, they got into a debate over the music production and the label dropped their marketing budget like a lead ballon and cancelled the tour. Molly Hatchet not only didn't have any say so in the music, but had to buy their own albums for the family and friends when the first one was released on Epic. It went gold in a short time, so did the second and third, they didn't break even until their third tour and the label never gave them any of their own cd's. They resigned with Capitol after than, but it wasn't a lot better deal. Now none of the original members even own the name and the Molly Hatchet that is recording and touring today have no original members. It's a business and the artist usually has the last say so, until they renogiate. They are the first and last to get screwed in a lot of cases.
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natpub

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2005, 02:32:29 am »

Ronny wrote on Mon, 07 March 2005 22:23


The artist doesn't typically get control until they have proven themselves by selling lots of records and either renew the contract or run out of it and sign with another label.



I know what you mean by this, I just disagree.  It's not that you aren't right, you are. It's just that is but one verison of what happens and what can be done when bands get a deal.
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ammitsboel

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2005, 05:59:34 am »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 14:36

Sometimes I wish we had no technology other than microphones and recorders. Most music seems to be drowning in technology today!


I guess the difference between you and me is that i wish it all the time and not just sometimes.

I consider the musical, spiritual and technical deduction that have been made over time in the audio business a big joke! And the ones that are being laughed upon is all the people who listen.

Best Regards
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turtletone

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #37 on: March 08, 2005, 09:53:56 pm »

capatilism rules for me in this case. Clients decide what is or isn't what they want. I decide if I can deal with it or not. who is the client? that depends. sometimes it's the label, sometimes it's the engineer, sometimes it's the artist. this isn't in regards to who's paying. I have several engineers that I work with that don't pay the mastering bill, but they are the ones I want to make happy. Sometimes it's the artist that I want to make happy even if I have to battle and loose against the label. I have some engineers that like it loud and they give me all of their work and want it a certain way. I have some engineers that could give a rats ass as to volume as long as it sounds good and I'll battle on their side even if it means me loosing the job. My goal is to realize a vision even if it means to destroy the music if that is what is intended. I am not the authority of what is good or bad. If I wanted to be that, i'd make my own records. The label is usually the last on my list as to who I need to please. I don't care if they are happy or not. If my client, the one who has gone to bat for me to do the mastering, wants it a certain way, then that's the way i'm going to deliver it.
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bblackwood

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2005, 10:21:24 pm »

TurtleTone wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 20:53

I am not the authority of what is good or bad. If I wanted to be that, i'd make my own records.

Bingo! Very well said!
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Brad Blackwood
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dcollins

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Re: Tha Mastering Engineer's Hippocratic Oath, was Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2005, 10:59:34 pm »

bobkatz wrote on Mon, 07 March 2005 12:48


You sure can be a pain in the ass, DC; you would find shit under a plate on the dinner table because you want to be one.



Well, we're off to a good start.  And an apt analogy, to be sure.

Quote:


You ought to take the oath at its face value, which is a basic desire to help impart some ethics, values and collaboration amongst your fellow men.



In other words, mastering technics that YOU DON'T LIKE are a violation of professional ethics?

You should be the "mastering czar," tasked with a Lojack for Limiters, if you will...

Picture something like the wall-sized map of the world in James Bond movies.  A red light flashes somewhere on the West Coast and the klaxon sounds. Bob spins in his chair; poised, alert, ready for action.

The map quick-zooms to a studio on Hollywood Blvd, 6033 to be exact.  Bob slaps his forehead "Oh, no!  That could be Doug.  I'd better fax him a another copy of the oath! He promised to call me next time he did more than 4dB."

I  do agree that Bob and Bill Roberts should print out a copy, sign it and put it up on the wall of the studio.  Better than a Lava Lamp for mellow studio vibes.  And a terrific conversation piece.
 
Quote:


This oath is both EVERYTHING and NOTHING.



Tres Zen.  The topic is Art, not Science, so everyone's idea of "damage" is different.  You could certainly argue that when the client is happy, nothing was "damaged."

Quote:


Have you ever "damaged" a piece of audio (in your definition of "damage") by the requests of a client? Have you not spoken up about it to the client or did you remain silent?


Of course.

In general, I'm not going to preach.  Especially to engineers that have made more records than I've had hot meals.....

Quote:


As for your remarks about the K-System, some people get it, some people understand its variability, and others, like you, get a thing up their ass because they think it's trying to limit you to some arbitrary series of numbers.



Is that either/or?  Those are not great choices! I have no problem with an adjustable VU meter reference.  

Quote:


Your cynicism should be replaced by a spirit of collaboration. I may like my cars red and you may like them blue, but the common ground is a system of defining what the colors are and how they work.



I admit to being cynical, honest, etc. as well as sharing plenty of knowledge and experience here.  You say a lot of stuff that I disagree with, and you've got to admit it's entertaining to hear another viewpoint.

Quote:


Hundreds of engineers around the world seem to be getting it, kid.



If you were to ask the top 5 rooms in the US (I'm not on the list, and neither are you) if they:

A. Had calibrated their rooms to the "K System"
B. Relied on meters set to the "K System"
C. Had heard of the "K System"

I wonder if their response would be: "Que?"

Vlado would drop his levels if only he had the right metering, you know.  Gotta be the metering.

DC

Garrett H

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2005, 11:25:14 am »

I've found that you only have a few words or sentences to explain that "audio sausage" is bad when speaking with clients.  Most of them don't care to understand the technicalities of mastering - they just want it to sound "good."  

So, I just repeat
over and over that I will make thier CD

"as loud as it needs to be."

Now, you might be thinking, "That sounds stupid!  Shut up, Garrett!"

But, I *swear* if you say this enough times to clients, they start to get it.  You can also have a version that you think is actually "as loud as it needs to be." and then just crush another option to the point that anyone off the street would say it sounds "dehydrated" or "horrible."  Ask the client "is this what you want?"

Of course, I don't win this argument all of the time, but for some people the concept sticks.  Honestly, those are the ones with real ears.  They are the ones who will continue to record.  Hopefully they will back off from the level wars.... We shall see.

In short, don't give up on this type of simplistic-bumpersticker-approach to client education.  
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bblackwood

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #41 on: March 15, 2005, 05:29:18 am »

Garrett H wrote on Sun, 13 March 2005 10:25

But, I *swear* if you say this enough times to clients, they start to get it.  You can also have a version that you think is actually "as loud as it needs to be." and then just crush another option to the point that anyone off the street would say it sounds "dehydrated" or "horrible."  Ask the client "is this what you want?"

Exactly, this works for me as well. In a recent shoot out, I sent two versions, one labeled "good", one labeled "loud". They like "good" even though it was about 6 dB quieter than the version cut by an 'A list' mastering guy...

If we keep chipping away at this, it will get better. We have to have the cojones to keep chipping, though.
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Brad Blackwood
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ammitsboel

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #42 on: March 15, 2005, 08:07:47 am »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 15 March 2005 10:29


Exactly, this works for me as well. In a recent shoot out, I sent two versions, one labeled "good", one labeled "loud". They like "good" even though it was about 6 dB quieter than the version cut by an 'A list' mastering guy...



Great!!!
It's something like this that keeps me from going insane!...
People are better at using the volume knob now and they are getting better and better Smile
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Kendrix

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2005, 09:35:36 am »

Im not a pro in the biz so I have no first hand knowledge.

However, it seems to me that there has been and always will be a natural balance between fear of failure and the lure of stepping out with something new and having a smashing success.

While one person may see declining sales as a reason to play it safe another will see it as a reason to try something new.
It only takes one successful example of someone trying something new to stimulate many others to try being innovative.
Non-squashed mastering jobs could be one such change.

Sometimes there are dead spots in the cycle and then something completely unexpected takes root and stimulates a new round of change.  History suggests its just a matter of time before the cycle flips.



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Ken Favata

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Re: Are you scared?
« Reply #44 on: March 15, 2005, 10:23:18 am »

I think sometimes, you ME's are too close to this...

Unlike video, which can be freeze framed and slow moved, audio is transient, and most people cannot hear or any subtle differences. They certainly can't demonstrate them to their friends. The common language doesn't exist. We can, because we're into music, and if you're sitting in front of a set of monitors all day you can become sensitised to very small (sometimes nonexistent) changes.

The purchaser of the music, and often the creators of the music don't hear what you do. They do however hear loudness, and something that shouts at you is considered more exciting and more important. I believe that's why this war exists.

The solution is merely to wait it out, because once everything is loud, silence and dynamics become exciting again. The tide is turning (I've heard over 20 bands in the last 3 months with delicacy in their tunes), just make sure you're there when it happens!

Frighteningly enough, I wonder if iPods will still sound OK, if music starts to have real dynamic...
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