question involving file type and quality loss

I have a good friend who recently recorded a song at home, got good results and a solid mix and sent it off to a person he found for it to be mastered and from what he said for it to be formatted to work with Itunes? It was a "website" mastering company, they never directly met with the person or anything like that.

The issue being that the song sounds really good on CD but when it comes to the MP3/Itunes quality, it loses it's fullness by a huge margin. I realize mp3s are of a lesser quality than say wav. or flac. but what causes that loss of seemingly, "information"?

Is there anyway to combat that loss of quality when putting it on youtube or Itunes? Obviously major label artists sound good whether you get the song from itunes/youtube/cd/whatever...Is there something in the mastering process that needs to be done?

Asking on his behalf and for own personal knowledge, I've never mastered anything so I was kind of confused on what to say with my limited knowledge of the process. Any help?
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Better sounding mixes will sound better (all other things considered).

That said -- When you go from 16-bit/44.1kHz PCM data to MP3, you're going to take a hit. A huge hit even at the higher rates (320kbps) and a giganto-Titanic hit at lower rates (160kbps and lower).

1) Not all MP3 converters are the same.

2) The bitrate (not to be confused with the bit depth / word length of PCM data) is going to make a rather dramatic difference. 320kbps are generally pretty good. They won't have the top end of the PCM data, they're only about 1/5th of the audio information they came from (assuming 16/44.1). Down around 128kbps, you're looking at around 1/10th of the original information. Better conversion will certainly make a difference - But you're still looking at a small fraction of the available information.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
What Massive said, plus look out for redundant compression. I suspect giving iTunes a good wave file to mangle would be better than giving them something pre-mangled only to have them mangle it some more.
 
Last edited:
Better sounding mixes will sound better (all other things considered).

That said -- When you go from 16-bit/44.1kHz PCM data to MP3, you're going to take a hit. A huge hit even at the higher rates (320kbps) and a giganto-Titanic hit at lower rates (160kbps and lower).

1) Not all MP3 converters are the same.

2) The bitrate (not to be confused with the bit depth / word length of PCM data) is going to make a rather dramatic difference. 320kbps are generally pretty good. They won't have the top end of the PCM data, they're only about 1/5th of the audio information they came from (assuming 16/44.1). Down around 128kbps, you're looking at around 1/10th of the original information. Better conversion will certainly make a difference - But you're still looking at a small fraction of the available information.

Cool appreciate the the info.
 
If you anyone has some time, would it be to much to ask if you any of you would break down the process of mastering from when you get a .wav file recorded at 24bit/44.1khz? Or a link of a good source of the process?

Are different converters one of the main variables in getting a more quality "lossless" sound? Probably a huge difference in using an Apogee converter as apposed to a piece of software?

I'm just trying to wrap my head around the overall process a little better. Any book suggestions?
 
Last edited:

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
They don't have anything to do with each other. One is converting a digital file to another digital file of a different type -- The other is converting a digital signal to an analog signal (and then back again through a different converter, which is possibly housed in the same unit). That said, of course you want an awfully decent converter if you're using an analog chain in the mastering process...

The mastering process is the same no matter what the source --

1) Listen objectively.

2) Do what the mix tells you to do while keeping within the context and confines of the project as a whole.

3) Drink coffee.

Step two can vary widely depending on --- Everything.
 
Gotcha. I knew that in the back of my head, but I think I confused myself with the word "converter" lol

So, in the situation that I explained in my OP, what are some of the remedying factors that I should be looking for in the chain. Is it more than likely that a lot of it comes back down to something in the tracking and mixing stages as apposed to the actual mastering process? And then some random "mastering service" smashing it with compression is only going to accentuate the problems right?

The more I think about it, the more I think this is the case. They did the recording in less than ideal conditions. After finally listening to it in my monitors at home and in my room, it's far from perfect but sounds alright. They didn't have any room treatment and mixed on headphones, they used DI guitar and bass and modeled them in Logic, but recorded vocals and drums in a room with carpet on the walls, literally carpet (I understand the issue with this, I really don't think they took into account the issue of having proper room treatment to get a good sound or have a fundamental understanding of basic acoustics.) This could be a "polishing of a turd" attempt.

As you said, a mp3 even at different "resolutions" (<<right word? I.E. 320kbps or 160kbps) are going to take a hit in quality, it's inevitable right? With that said, I have a 160kbps mp3 of one of Sum 41 albums, and even though it definitely seems "tiny" volume wise in comparison to there other albums I have at high res from them. It's still together mix wise and if you had a loud system you could turn in up and it would sound fine.


Give it a listen if you have a minute: With Reckless Abandon | Irmo, SC | Metal / Post Hardcore / Alternative | Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos | ReverbNation
 
Last edited:
Top