Can a song be so badly recorded and mixed that it can't be mastered ?

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
I suppose you could master anything, its just processing a signal. Of course a mix can be so bad that all the mastering in the world wont pull it out of the toilet, so there is no point wasting your time.
 

TAE

All you have is now
The answer as previously answered here is absolutely yes...with the caveat garbage in / garbage out...Mastering just puts the polish on it and we all know you can not polish a turd...you can try but it's still a turd. In the end yes but an exercise in futility to do so.
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Any recording can technically be prepared for release -- But I've turned down more jobs that I can count because there was nothing anyone could do to save it. Occasionally they'll tell me they want it done anyway, but I make sure they have a clear understanding that although I might be able to make something sound "less irritating" I'm not going to make it sound anything close to "nice" by any stretch. One just last week. Sort of a shame - It was a really decent tune, client from the past, all that stuff. But the mix was just wrecked. Actually offered to have a listen to the tracks but they never sent them in (I assume they realized that the tracks were where everything was wrecked).
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
One just last week. Sort of a shame - It was a really decent tune, client from the past, all that stuff. But the mix was just wrecked. Actually offered to have a listen to the tracks but they never sent them in (I assume they realized that the tracks were where everything was wrecked).
Can you describe what about it was so bad as to be 'wrecked' ?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
For people that record on their own systems start to finish, I'm not sure anymore where recording fnishes and mastering starts. Many people who claim to 'master' just have tools on their same system that they recorded on - so is 'mastering' done continually then the final polish considered as the actual mastering? So many are now one-stop shops for production, that apart from commercial operations where there are clear STOP points and then a transfer to somebody else, in a different room, on different kit - is mastering still a process. I don't think I have EVER mastered anything, using the term in the traditional sense. I used to do the final mix and then somebody else did things mysterious to it and it turned out better, but now I don't have to squash things to fit on records, or keep the hiss at bay, or for my music, squeeze the last erg of energy out of the system. Some things I do as part of the mix maybe would have been 'mastering' processes before, but now we press a button - look at LUFS, dBs, spectral displays and all the other toys we have - so that part of masering has gone. With the poor recordings, expecting an engineer to polish a turd is pointless and to be fair - NOBODY should be making bad mixes now, somany excuses have gone. I can see the analogue guys on their purist approaches needing mastering that they probably cannot do on their gear, like we all used to - but when somebody gives you a bad mix to improve, that's not mastering really - you really want to be remixing. when you get bad mix and ask for stems and the orginal tracks, that's not mastering is it?
 

bouldersoundguy

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Then of course there are those old mixes for which you don't have the original tracks. Maybe you made them on a 4-track recorder and had to bounce down a couple of times, or you made them on an older digital multitracker and had to wipe the memory to record the next project. They might not be up to your current standards but you still want to get the best out of them and preserve them in a listenable, sharable form.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Yep - that's a good example - but I've rarely been able to fix my er, less good mixes from the stereo tracks - the tools at my disposal let me fix lots of things, but I'm always surprised how bad were some of the sounds I once loved. I've got all my old material from years back because I always load in old cubase songs and then save them with the latest version. I used to try to load things like Cubase SX files into 5 and discover that after so many upgrades the old ones were too old - so I make it a policy when going through the archive to load and resave as many as I can, and I find the audio files are decent enough sounding, but my old vsti tracks usually load fine, but I listen and wonder why on earth I used a certain sound. I loved an orchestral sample packaged called colossus, and then Garritan Personal Orchestra and now I never use them as I have better. When these things are in a stereo file I cringe sometimes. 8 years ago I thought they were pretty decent. I don't think any of my mastering tools can fix this.
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Can you describe what about it was so bad as to be 'wrecked' ?
It's hard to explain, but you'd know it if you heard it. Just basically "hopeless" - Seemingly layers of distortion, layers of crushing dynamics, spectrally trashed. Sounds like there was a compressor and less-than-ideal extreme EQ on everything individually. And probably Ozone (the low end was out of phase with itself) on top of that. One of those rare situations where you wonder "how would I make it like this if I needed to" and you don't come up with an answer.
 
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