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Thread: What exactly is mastering??

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    What exactly is mastering??

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    Can anyone send me a link..or just give me sme details on what exactly mastering is?

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    not to sound like an ass.....but can I be the first to say "Do a search" you'll find hundreds of threads on all aspects of mastering

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    www.massivemastering.com search around on that site.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Both bits of good advice.

    And don't take it personally that you didn't get a detailed answer: this is a *very* common question and one that is somewhat difficult to answer well.

    In general, though, mastering is the final creative step in the prodcution of an album- just before it goes to the reproduction house. Some of the more tangible aspects are putting all the songs in the correct order, making sure the fade-ins and fade-outs are correct, and preparing the *entire* project to be ready for reproduction. These days that could be making the redbook CD master or a DAT master with meticulous notes for the repro company to use it to make the CD master.

    Its common these days for mastering to be seen as some sort of magical fairy dusting process that somehow makes your mediocre mixs sound loud, fat, and beautiful. While there is some level of tweaking (in some cases, more than you might think!) possible at the mastering stage... it shouldn't be viewed as the place to make up for poor mixing skills. That's asking for expensive trouble.

    A very key point that is often overlooked in order to save money is that the ME is a fresh set of (highly trained!) ears in the perfect position to bring your album together into a cohesive package.

    I know- a little vague. Hit the search and the link for way more detail: you won't be disappointed.

    Take care,
    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by illest1029
    Can anyone send me a link..or just give me sme details on what exactly mastering is?
    First paragraph of:

    http://www.masteringhouse.com/mastering.html
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by masteringhouse
    So Tom, as far as creating the final track arrangement the mastering house designates the in and out fade points for the songs? or do you need the album already arranged for reference and then have the individual songs to be mastered seperately.

    Also, you want stuff to be already mixed down to one track, or you want to be able to make adjustments to the individual tracks optimally

    just tryin to get an idea

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    Quote Originally Posted by Altaire
    So Tom, as far as creating the final track arrangement the mastering house designates the in and out fade points for the songs? or do you need the album already arranged for reference and then have the individual songs to be mastered seperately.

    Also, you want stuff to be already mixed down to one track, or you want to be able to make adjustments to the individual tracks optimally

    just tryin to get an idea
    Usually the songs are mixed down to a stereo interleaved wav file at 24 bit and whatever sample rate the tracks were recorded in. I prefer to do any sample rate conversion on this end.

    Since they are usually sent on a data CD in the above format, the inital order won't matter since its sorted alphabetically by filename. I would just need a list of the filenames/song title and final order.

    In regards to fades, it's not a bad idea to have a sample of what you would like on a separate audio CD, or just specify as part of the documentation that you send. My preference is to not have the fades however, or to have them slightly longer than the final fade on outro (none at start). One reason is so that I can get a noise profile to remove any background noise if needed if there was no fade at. Also, if the fade is already on the song as you want it, when the volume is brought up it will bring up any noise which follows the fade, which could be more easily masked if the fade was done after. There are also issues with dithering.

    That said, I have had people send material with fades and not had major problems. It's just better to leave a little bit more than you want in the final so that I can add an additional slight fade at start or end to cover the issues above.

    Hope this helps ...
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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    It's interesting to read some of these comments regarding the handling of fades.

    For me, if a fade is an integral part of the end of the song, then I usually have a very specific way I'll want the fade to happen. How long it will be, where it starts, where the final fade to silence is, etc. It really has to feel like part of the song, so just telling a mastering engineer "fade out at the end" is not good enough. It really has to sound and "feel" right to me.

    So I do my own fades. But most of my music doesn't end with fades, so it's not that big of an issue for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonicAlbert
    It's interesting to read some of these comments regarding the handling of fades.

    For me, if a fade is an integral part of the end of the song, then I usually have a very specific way I'll want the fade to happen. How long it will be, where it starts, where the final fade to silence is, etc. It really has to feel like part of the song, so just telling a mastering engineer "fade out at the end" is not good enough. It really has to sound and "feel" right to me.

    So I do my own fades. But most of my music doesn't end with fades, so it's not that big of an issue for me.
    Why is it so difficult to communicate this to the ME? Again, you could provide your version to the ME along with the non-faded version and they should be able to reproduce this accurately. Especially if you're paying that $1-2k for mastering that you mentioned in a previous thread!
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonicAlbert
    It's interesting to read some of these comments regarding the handling of fades.

    For me, if a fade is an integral part of the end of the song, then I usually have a very specific way I'll want the fade to happen. How long it will be, where it starts, where the final fade to silence is, etc. It really has to feel like part of the song, so just telling a mastering engineer "fade out at the end" is not good enough. It really has to sound and "feel" right to me.
    Agreed. In a way, the fade is really part of the mix.

    However, I also agree with Tom that inherent fades can present problems - or at least complicate - the mastering itself. Sometimes just a little compression or EQ applied to the mixdown can change the character of the fade to the point where it doesn't sound "right" any more.

    I think this is probably the reason why Tom suggested that one could send two mixes, one with fade and one without. The fade one will serve as the example of how the fade is desired in duration, envelope, etc., and then the ME can apply it after all other processing is done.

    G.
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