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Thread: Should you master a song if you only plan to release it as a single?

  1. #11
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    Ahh...I was being sarcastic....that's what the and were for.

    "Louder" is really about perception.
    There is no single "louder" so that you can say "louder is not better" as some absolute statement.
    Louder than what...?

    You need to establish a reference point before you can say something is louder than that reference point...and of course, everyone has a different perspective of what is an acceptable level, and when something is considered louder than their acceptable level.

    Really...you should stop saying "louder is not better" because it's meaningless as a general statement, and it also has no impact on anything when it's repeatedly tossed out as some absolute statement, as though we have only two levels..."not louder" and "louder".

    Yes, there is certainly a point where loudness hits a high point for each individual, and where it's crossing their acceptable line, but there are MANY different levels of loudness that are quite appealing to a lot of different people.
    To the younger generations of today, louder music is better than the level of loudness of music 30-40-50 years ago.
    For those here who grew up with music from 40-50 years ago...the generations that came before them all thought that music was too loud.

    So don't use your generational bias to speak for everyone and for all music.
    Like I said...it's all about perception and taste...and not some absolute measurement of loudness.

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  3. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    But....louder is not better!
    I saw what you did there.

    Someone else didn't

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  5. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    So true. But many wannabees and amateurs think so. That is how the loudness war got started.
    The loudness war started as a pissing match between different artists and labels. I don't think the wannabees and amateurs knew what hit them.
    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Depends what you call mastering.

    You are in the biz of selling 'mastering' so I would expect you to have the more current viewpoint of it versus what it really is and was for decades before the term got misused so much that the meaning changed.
    I'd almost take offense. I've been doing this for over 25 years and was the studio liaison for mastering sessions for years before that. Mastering is and has always been the creation of the master. The definition is *in* the word. Back in the day, it was lathes and vacuums, it turned into premastering for compact disc (I still use the term) on PMCD or Exabyte (I still have the drive) and now on many occasions, it's simply exporting a digital single.

    Ironically, I'm typing this after actually creating to CD-R premasters for the 2nd time in a month. It's so rare now thanks to end-user DDP loadback that I'm using CD-R stock that's probably two years old (and I still use Plextor 7xx drives and confirm BLER with PlexTools Pro).

    The "current view" is that clients want to release the best possible version of their recordings. That's one thing that hasn't changed at all. It's certainly changed the way things work -- I used to get [a bunch of] recordings and created a premaster from that.

    Then things got cheap (vinyl cutting was still $$$ and even a single quality CD-R was $75 - each). And "wannabees and amateurs" had access to digital maul-the-band compression via the Finalizer and what not.

    Now (pretty frequently), I get [a track or two] a month ahead of the rest of the mixes. Radio push, online, video shoots, whatever. If they want those processed (a.k.a. "mastered" as they refer to it), what do you want me to do? I mean, I could correct their grammar (which technically, I already do) or I could just do what they want. Which is what they want. I'd rather do what they want.

    As far as "loudness" - I've been anti-loudness war since the loudness war started. But again - to some extent, you have to give the client what they want. Sometimes, the job is doing that while having as little negative impact as possible. Which is a challenge in itself.

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  7. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Depends what you call mastering.

    Louder is not better.
    The new LUFS standard wont let you stand out. They will push yours back down to the same level only it wont sound as good as the others.

    Mastering a single song is NONSENSE.
    True mastering, not making things louder, takes a set of songs and puts them together in the best sequence while keeping ALL their levels at compatible loudness.

    That is technically PREmastering, as there is the traditional true mastering for the media whether vinyl LP, tape, radio, whatever.

    Read about LUFS. Your goal of standing out by being louder has been killed. You now need to make it better not louder.
    I never mentioned loudness. I know ALL about LUFS, integrated loudness, etc, I've mastered singles and albums that have made US Charts. I'm talking clarity, balance, dynamics, sheen (call it what you will)_ etc all of which CAN be achieved through mixing but are better done in a separate process after the mix and possibly by an experienced mastering engineer.

    PS I'm NOT an amateur OR a wannabe. Been there, done it wrote the tee shirt.

    You, sir, are both arrogant AND insulting.
    Last edited by Coquet-Shack; 08-09-2019 at 00:14. Reason: To add a comment after seeing a later post.

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    Deleted this. It was a duplicate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    but....louder is not better! :d
    roflmao!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    The loudness war started as a pissing match between different artists and labels. I don't think the wannabees and amateurs knew what hit them.

    I'd almost take offense. I've been doing this for over 25 years and was the studio liaison for mastering sessions for years before that. Mastering is and has always been the creation of the master. The definition is *in* the word. Back in the day, it was lathes and vacuums, it turned into premastering for compact disc (I still use the term) on PMCD or Exabyte (I still have the drive) and now on many occasions, it's simply exporting a digital single.

    Ironically, I'm typing this after actually creating to CD-R premasters for the 2nd time in a month. It's so rare now thanks to end-user DDP loadback that I'm using CD-R stock that's probably two years old (and I still use Plextor 7xx drives and confirm BLER with PlexTools Pro).

    The "current view" is that clients want to release the best possible version of their recordings. That's one thing that hasn't changed at all. It's certainly changed the way things work -- I used to get [a bunch of] recordings and created a premaster from that.

    Then things got cheap (vinyl cutting was still $$$ and even a single quality CD-R was $75 - each). And "wannabees and amateurs" had access to digital maul-the-band compression via the Finalizer and what not.

    Now (pretty frequently), I get [a track or two] a month ahead of the rest of the mixes. Radio push, online, video shoots, whatever. If they want those processed (a.k.a. "mastered" as they refer to it), what do you want me to do? I mean, I could correct their grammar (which technically, I already do) or I could just do what they want. Which is what they want. I'd rather do what they want.

    As far as "loudness" - I've been anti-loudness war since the loudness war started. But again - to some extent, you have to give the client what they want. Sometimes, the job is doing that while having as little negative impact as possible. Which is a challenge in itself.
    In a nutshell...QC and prep for the world.
    Gotta pay the bills.

    G

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post

    I am knowledgeable and often attacked by ignorant weenies.


    Aw c'mon now...no one here has ever "attacked" you...but you have this "matter-o-fact" way of tossing out very broad, generic often vague statements, and also in a very dismissive way, knocking what others say as completely wrong.

    You also seem to think that everything about audio has to be referenced to how it was 60 years ago...as though there hasn't been anything new or any change in music styles or the intent behind the productions over the last 60 years...or that "mastering" only means what it use to mean 60 years ago when vinyl albums were the major format, and people listened to AM radio in their cars.

    If that's what you prefer and/or want to view as your preferred standard for music production, that's your choice...but seriously, please stop acting like everything that's come after that, and the evolution and preferences that have occurred over the last 60 years, are all invalid, or wrong or bad, etc.
    It just makes you sound narrow-minded, and like your simply clinging to yesteryear out of pure nostalgia...but honestly, there's been a lot of good stuff that has come along. You don't have to use it, but at least respect it...because there are very experienced audio people that do, and they have for quite some time.

    There isn't just one way...or one style...or one "loud" that is right for everything/everyone.

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    I'm somewhat in Whome's camp about mastering. I don't ever remember anyone talking about "sweetening" the sound in mastering. Instead, it was trying to make sure the tape mix didn't exceed the limits of the target medium, most likely a vinyl master. Low frequencies had to be attenuated to insure that the majority of record players could track the bass and that it could safely be cut on the disc without the grooves infringing on an adjacent groove. Also, the signal would be compressed to make sure that the inherent noise floor of the record wouldn't intrude on the music too badly. Most vinyl albums really only have about 50dB S/N and channel separation is about half that. And then, when you mastered the actual pressing you had to apply the RIAA curve.

    When CD came out, you had >90dB S/N with essentially the same 90dB channel separation, and there were no issues with stylus tracking or cutting. You still had to master to the CD Redbook standards, and at the time, NOBODY had CD-Rs. You were transferring from a different digital medium (tape, ADAT, etc). It still wasn't about trying to improve the mix. Quite the contrary, most people at the time would insist that you were getting whatever was in the master tape, just as the artist intended when he set up the mix in the studio. Of course the fallacy there is that you rarely are listening on the same monitoring system that the artist used. but you were one step closer.

    In the intervening years, the term mastering has morphed to something totally different. Sweeten the track, even out the volume for continuity, beef up the track for more "punch", etc. Old albums are "remastered" but most of them are actually remixes. The relative balance of instruments is altered, things are touched up to eliminate "mistakes", EQ is changed. To me, this isn't mastering, its mixing. There's nothing wrong with reinterpreting a song with a different mix, but call it what it is... a remix.

    I guess there would be some mastering involved in making sure that things fit in Youtube's, Amazon's, Itunes' or Spotify's peculiar limits. But I think this should be something that a competent studio engineer should be able to accomplish when preparing the final mix for release.

  16. #20
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    There's no doubt - It's changed. It happens. When I started doing this, most of the job was to get it to the final medium (whether cutting or PMCD, DDP, pancakes, (etc.) while changing the sound as little as humanly possible.

    Then things changed. Clients wanted more "impact" - and yeah, they wanted friggin' loudness (when we finally found a consumer medium where it really made no difference, leave it up to the artists and labels to wreck it). And in that span, the typical mastering engineer's duties have changed. We're still creating the "master" (that from which all subsequent copies will be made).

    If you don't want to call it "mastering" then that's fine. But someone cut the master on all those vinyl singles I bought when I was younger. Someone cut the 2-sided 45's, someone cut the single-sided 33's that all the radio stations got. So not wanting to call it "mastering" because it's only a single doesn't (heh) cut it. Like saying a cell phone isn't a phone because it isn't connected to a wall plate.

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