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Thread: CD Mastering: One seamless WAV file or several WAV files?

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    CD Mastering: One seamless WAV file or several WAV files?

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    Hey all,
    I've seen some posts around here stating the use of one big WAV file with all the tracks for a new project - then getting this file into CD Mastering software. I have CD Architect and am just learning to use it. I also use Sound Forge on a regular basis.

    Guess I'm just wondering what the purpose of one file would be as opposed to all the tracks individually? I know you can use CDA to specify track placement, etc.

    I'm just venturing into this aspect and any ideas are welcome. I searched around here a little bit, but wasn't sure what to specifically search for regarding this.

    Warren

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    One Big File

    I normally approach a project as a whole. An EP for example, has normally about 4 songs. You would want those 4 songs to all be at a similar volume and frequency range when played track after track on the CD. So, you would load all 4 in together as a single WAV and apply the same volume (normalize). Then put the appropriate track markers and burn to CD.
    Mark Zellner - Thundercage LLC
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    Quote Originally Posted by thundercage
    I normally approach a project as a whole. An EP for example, has normally about 4 songs. You would want those 4 songs to all be at a similar volume and frequency range when played track after track on the CD. So, you would load all 4 in together as a single WAV and apply the same volume (normalize). Then put the appropriate track markers and burn to CD.
    That has to be one of the least effective ways of handling that.... cookie-cutter approaches almost never produce acceptable results.

    And normalization is not an effective method of increasing level - unless the material has absolutely no transients..........
    [size=1][b]bruce valeriani
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    I agree on the whole "cookie cutter" thing, I've made mistakes from that ending in musical and artistic horror stories.

    The best thing I've found to do is get a good mix and send it to a mastering house, worth the money IMHO.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Bear Sound
    That has to be one of the least effective ways of handling that.... cookie-cutter approaches almost never produce acceptable results.

    And normalization is not an effective method of increasing level - unless the material has absolutely no transients..........
    That's a simplified version. Most engineers last step is to normalize on completion of the final mix before mastering. What I'm saying is that each track of the recording should have the same 'volume' when played back. If you want to call that 'cookie cutter' fine.
    Mark Zellner - Thundercage LLC
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    Quote Originally Posted by thundercage
    Most engineers last step is to normalize on completion of the final mix before mastering.
    Sorry Mark, this isn't true... if any sort of limiting is done to bring up levels, then normalizing is completely unnecessary and degrades the audio by a digital generation. Further - especially if it's going to mastering, there's even less of a need because the ME will be determining the final level and if the tracks coming in are too hot leaving no room for adjustments, then the ME has to reduce their level anyway before doing anything. Best off simply mixing it appropriately and sending the raw mix to the Mastering House with no gain added to the raw mix.

    In Mastering, the basic premise is "never degrade/compromise the signal unnecessarily" - that same ethic should apply in earlier stages too, IMO.
    [size=1][b]bruce valeriani
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    According to Bob Katz

    Here's a passage from 'Mastering Audio' by Bob Katz. I would assume he's fairly well respected in the mastering audio business.

    'The engineer selects all segments (songs), and the computer grinds away, searching for the highest peak on the album. Then the computer adjusts the level of all the material until the highest peak reaches 0dBFS. If all material is group normalized at once, this is not a serious esthetic problem, as long as all the songs have been raised or lowered by the same amount. But, it's also possible to select each song and normalize it individually, which is part of the esthetic mythology - it's a real no - no.'

    Then he goes on to say what Blue Bear say's that you shouldn't normalize if it's going to mastering.... interesting... I guess I assumed that was done because I saw another engineer do it and I respected the quality of his work.

    If you are the ME where or why would you normalize?
    Mark Zellner - Thundercage LLC
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    My view on this would be to just record and mix the tracks ensuring good levels. And leaving the master volume of the songs up to the mastering company. Isnt that part of their job? I mean it costs enough!
    If you dont have good levels in recording stage, doesnt that mean when mastering, the levels have to be boosted dramatically which gives a poorer quality finished product?

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    Mastering

    I think the whole issue is a mastering question and not a mixing question. That being said, what purpose does 'normalization' serve in a mastering environment, if it can only degrade the quality of the recording? Should it be avoided? What is it's purpose?

    Digitally would modifying the volume of a recording (not normalizing) introduce the same undesireable signal to noise ratio problems?

    I was under the impression that you would degrade the recording, if it was resampled. Is this not true? I didn't think normalizing or volume changes resampled the content.
    Mark Zellner - Thundercage LLC
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    ANY digital process (include a simple volume change) introduces *some* degradation due to the round-off error that occurs during the mathematical rendering of that process. The degradation, done several times is not likely to be noticeable, but considering that in mixing a song, many volume changes occur, and many DSP operations take place, the potential for degradation is higher.

    The reason Normalization tends to be frowned upon is simply because it's often unnecessary... for one - it's nothing more than a signal boost/cut, so the noise floor will get affected.

    And most people (especially novices) reach for it expecting it will raise their overall levels, which is true for signals without many transients.. but a single transient can limit the amount of gain that is achieved. The more effective way is using Limiting to reduce the transients and therefore re-couping the potential for more gain.
    [size=1][b]bruce valeriani
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