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Thread: Frequently Asked Mastering Questions

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    masteringhouse's Avatar
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    Frequently Asked Mastering Questions

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    I was recently interviewed by SonicBids and thought that the questions they asked were a very good list of some of the more commonly asked questions regarding mastering (other than the usual question of how to make your CD loud). I felt that it may be useful here for those that aren't familiar with the site:

    Mastering- Your questions answered
    Last edited by masteringhouse; 08-15-2008 at 18:15.
    Tom Volpicelli
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    SouthSIDE Glen's Avatar
    SouthSIDE Glen is offline independentrecording.net
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    Excellent job, T.! That URL should be stickied here.

    G.
    Glen J. Stephan,
    SouthSIDE Multimedia Productions

    RECORDING RESOURCES AND INFO SITE:

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    masteringhouse's Avatar
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    Thanks G.!
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
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    WhiteStrat is offline Don't stare at the eye.
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    Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

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    Thanks for posting. Much of the interview are points I've already gleaned from your website. I really appreciate you taking the time to share.

    I have a collection of songs that I want to put on a cd and sell through CDBaby and other venues. These songs were recorded over a period of a year and a half and include the majority of my learning curve as a recording musician.

    Can a mastering engineer provide coherency through a wide range of material tonality-wise and quality-wise? Do you give a listen and then provide feedback or suggestions to the client on ways to improve the mix before committing to final product? How much effort do you put in to salvage a project as part of your normal approach?

    As you can probably tell, I don't consider myself a great recording engineer (or musician) but still want to get my stuff out there. I'm just wondering how much to expect from the mastering process to save my bacon.

    Thanks again for your contribution to the collective noobs.

    Peace,

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    poppadp is offline Newbie
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    omg, i am such a noob here and you just answered a crapload of my questions! THANKS!

    Danny

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    rayc is online now retroreprobate
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    Well, it's stickie in my favourites list anyway. Thanks!
    Cheers rayC
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    Elton Bear is offline Unregistered Abuser
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthSIDE Glen View Post
    Excellent job, T.! That URL should be stickied here.

    G.
    Independentrecording.net should be stickied in the newbies board, it might just remove the need for that forum entirely

    Great job masteringhouse, cheers for sharing!
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    masteringhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    I have a collection of songs that I want to put on a cd and sell through CDBaby and other venues. These songs were recorded over a period of a year and a half and include the majority of my learning curve as a recording musician.

    Can a mastering engineer provide coherency through a wide range of material tonality-wise and quality-wise? Do you give a listen and then provide feedback or suggestions to the client on ways to improve the mix before committing to final product? How much effort do you put in to salvage a project as part of your normal approach?
    Mastering both compilations and albums where songs were recorded in different studios, sessions, etc. can be the most challenging. One issue is what to do when one mix is a lot better than another, the bad mix can really stand out as a sore thumb. Obviously you don't want to make the good mix sound bad just so it matches the other, consistency in an album takes a backseat to making a song sound its best. I usually recommend that the album be ordered so that the songs that sound more similar are together, usually with the worst mixes last. At least that way you make a good first impression. Mastering can definitely bring the mixes closer together, but it can't fix everything.

    I definitely like to listen to mixes while they are being mixed in order to make some suggestions before mastering for clients of mine. The more issues that are fixed before the final mix, the less compromises have to be made later in mastering. The interview touched on this, each of stage audio production builds on the other. Each stage will sound better when it has something better to build from.

    As far as how much effort, whatever it takes. In some cases I've started with the original stereo mix and if there were issues that I felt were better to fix at the track level asked for a remix. If that didn't resolve the problem and I felt that they were not getting closer, asked for a stems with the problem area(s) separated so that I could try to attack it from another angle. There are some mixes that an experienced engineer can tell from the start that aren't going to be representing the artist well even after mastering. Tracks that are very distorted, out of tune instruments/vocals, drums that are out of time, etc. If the music is cool I suggest that they save up and record elsewhere before mastering. If the music is bad and the recording is bad, I have to ask why someone would want to put something like that out in the first place?
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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    masteringhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elton Bear View Post
    Independentrecording.net should be stickied in the newbies board, it might just remove the need for that forum entirely ...
    Glen has put a lot of effort in this site and has done a great job. I agree, the site is a great source of information for frequently asked questions and also has some cool articles with information not on this forum. I believe that this forum has in large part helped to inspire Glen's site (since many of the contributer's came from here). One of the good things about G's site though is that you don't have to sift through a lot of noise to get to the nuggets. One of the good things about the forum is that you can pose new questions, and have a dialog.

    I think that both compliment each other very well.
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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