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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post

    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.
    Exactly.

    Using '60s mindset and production standards as some absolute reference for all the music of the subsequent 60 years of music production evolution...
    ...is pretty myopic.

    Nothing wrong with it stylistically as a personal choice...but it's not the end-all, be-all way to do things, or to appreciate music that came after.

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    yeah evolution....but even old Geoff Emerick said with humor it was always about being "louder than the other guy", they were aware of the benefit or competition back then (1960's)
    the old EMI building had the Mastering room and theres pictures of it versus the Mixing/Control room. I forget how many years its gone on...

    interesting, do singles get treated differently than the album release?

    someone posted somewhere "you don't compress classical" and that this whole loudness genre is more "radio pop music" that can be squashed and flattened, than say classical or folk music right.

    off topic but been delving into the DECCA history past few days, some of the old Rockabilly seems to be a time more sound purists recordings collided, almost like sitting down for a well cooked meal versus fast food.

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoolCat View Post
    yeah evolution....but even old Geoff Emerick said with humor it was always about being "louder than the other guy", they were aware of the benefit or competition back then (1960's)...
    Absolutely!
    That's what I was getting at in a previous post...that the generations before the '60s were all saying that same thing about '60s music..."it's too loud!"...FFW to the new millennium...and now some of the '60s generation are saying "it's too loud!"

    All about perspective and the changing times.

    Not saying that blisteringly loud is a good way to do productions all the time...but a lot of modern music has more "forward punch" in general, not just with loudness, but also in the way things are mixed, the choice of overall tone, and the layering of sounds. So it's pretty much "in your face" (not all productions) before you even get to mastering.

    Just watched the a "Sgt. Pepper's" documentary last night...where they dissected how many of the songs were done...and even then they were trying REAL HARD to buck the production standards of the day... it was only the technology that held them back in many ways.
    If they had the technology of today...it would have been no different back then than it is now, IMO.

    So there's been quite a bit of production evolution...and also general public taste in music, some good, some bad...but then, it was the same '60s years ago.

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    I mix with a lot of headroom. If I released the raw mix file the level would be unacceptably low. Quieter is definitely not better for the master audio file.

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    I am one who does things a bit different...

    I do tend to with a limiter and maybe some compression/eq on my master out bus to get things to sound close to what the final outcome levels, and how that can affect the end result - before I export to someone else that only does mastering as a professional. Obviously the master stuff coming from me is taken out before sent.

    Some bands take my recommendation to send out for final mastering of product. Some don't. Kind of depends on their budget.

    Then there is also a client that sends single songs out to a very expensive mastering place in Nashville, because he wants the credits on his singles by being mastered by a place that has Grammy awards for his music style. His promotional choice.

    Did they sound better than my 'home mastering'? Well duh! Yeah they did. They should. Unless you have a completely separate person (not involved with the whole recording process) that has an 'outside' perspective, you have mind memory of the project and tend to have not the ability to listen without judging the overall sound of a mix as as accurately.

    That being said, 'How much better did it sound'? Not a bunch to most ears, but definitely worth the money spent in most of my experiences. I almost always recommend sending out to other for mastering. One song or a whole record. But the intended use and budget are the guiding factor for the musician.

    If a one off MP3 cover song for Youtube is involved, screw mastering. We can get that here just fine. If it is a full production single for an artist looking to build a career? Then hell yeah send that shiz to someone who makes sure it is right.

    This is just my experience. Does not mean there is one way to do anything.

    As far as the definition of mastering goes. It is what you want it to be I suppose. For me it is making the final result of a great mix presented as well as possible on any desired media. In the case of a full length album, it is also making sure the whole record has continuity. Also ISRC codes, DDP file, and the rest of the shit that I don't have time or desire to do when I could be recording music...
    PC Win7-64-24G i7-4790k/Cubase 9 Pro 64-bit/2-Steinberg UR824's/ADAM A7x/Event TR8/SS Trigger Plat Deluxe/Melodyne 4 Studio/Other things that don't mean anything if a client shows up not knowing what it wants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmys69 View Post
    I do tend to with a limiter and maybe some compression/eq on my master out bus to get things to sound close to what the final outcome levels, and how that can affect the end result - before I export to someone else that only does mastering as a professional. Obviously the master stuff coming from me is taken out before sent.
    Sort of going off-topic, but a total fan of that. Always have been. To the extreme. Not for "loud" sake, but for the revealing of details and potential "weaknesses" in a mix that might not be heard otherwise. Crushing the HELL out of a mix (I mean way beyond where it will finally end up) can shine a light on things that otherwise lurk in the shadows.

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    What terms are being "made up"...?

    AFA the term "mastering"...it's 100% accurate to the processes that have been in use over the last 60 years, right on up to today.
    The mastering process has evolved, as have other music production processes.
    In just about every facet of life, business, art and technology, there has always been evolution...unless someone chooses to not evolve and just stick with something they know from 60 years ago.

    Do you suggest that everything has to be always referenced and limited to the processes used 60 years ago?

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Dangeruosly loud is stupid.
    Isn't 'dangerously loud' a function of listening level rather than mixing or mastering level? It really doesn't matter how loud you make a song . . . all that does is make it annoyingly unpleasant to listen to it, but it's not 'dangerous' unless you play it at excessively high volume, and then it's as dangerous as any other thing played at excessively high volume.

    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    So is making up or misusing terms to sound more important.
    I agree that making up or misusing terms to sound important is dumb (and a great example of this is business-speak). I'm assuming that you think 'mastering' qualifies as one of these misused or made-up terms, seeing as that is the topic of this thread has been. However, I'm not sure why you would think that to be the case. Language evolves over time, and words take on new usages, and the way 'mastering' has likewise changed is a good example of this.

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    A final version of an audio file that is to be the one from which copies are made for the end user is rightly called a master. It doesn't matter if it's a whole album or a single.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    True. But for a single you only need to edit and mix. That would do everything needed. Another step for 'mastering' is not needed.
    Not for the way I mix. I don't use up all the head room in the mix phase, so I'll need to do more to the audio to get it to a normal level. I'm not talking about making it stupid loud, I mean just making it convenient for the listener and/or to work on the radio or specific streaming platform. And there may be some minor eq adjustments I'll want to make on the whole mix. Finally, I may want to set the precise start and end points plus possibly add start and end fades as a separate step from mixing.

    That said, I don't necessarily export a file and start a new session, but I tend to do mastering procedures only once a song has been mixed.

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