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Need help communicating changes to mastering engineer
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Mac808's Avatar
 
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Need help communicating changes to mastering engineer

Hi sluts and spacers, I could use your help in communicating with a mastering engineer.

I sent a track to mastering engineer I haven't used before, and just received it back. I'm not thrilled. It sounds like someone methodically scraped back every frequency over a baseline amplitude amount, and made the frequency response completely flat sounding and very bright and weird. They achieved extreme compression but the artifact is not good - every velocity and volume change had the life squeezed out of it.
Almost like it was scraped flat. I don't even know how do do whatever they did. It's uncanny. Also, the reverbs and delays were crushed out of it, the reverb doesn't sound present, and many little sonic details are missing. My wife said that it doesn't even sound like the same song, that it sounds like disconnected instruments. It's mostly tr-808 and tb-303 but you wouldn't know that it was a tr-808 from the lack of booming bass.

I've heard other work these guys do and it sounded good, so I'm disappointed.

Can anyone help help me understand what may have happened here? I get a revision, but it needs a lot more than a revision.

My main ask is about the /how/ of asking a ME for changes without telling them that the result is terrible.

My fallback is work on it in Ozone myself..

I'm also curious as to how they eq'd it to sound so flat. It's terrible but I'd like to know because whatever was, it's an extreme processing technique that could be useful, if applied differently in a different context.

Can
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
You can craft a nicely worded version of the above, but don't be shy. This is about you and your music, not the ME's feelings.

Last edited by Greg Reierson; 1 week ago at 08:03 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Trakworx's Avatar
 
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac808 ➡️
Can anyone help help me understand what may have happened here?
They may have let a junior engineer master your track. I hate to say it, but when I hear stories like yours about otherwise reputable MEs I have to suspect it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac808 ➡️
My main ask is about the /how/ of asking a ME for changes without telling them that the result is terrible.
I don't think you have to be too careful about that, just be tactful. Let them know that it's not at all what you envisioned and that they changed it way too much. Send a well mastered relevant reference track so they know what sound you want. If a revision won't be enough then they should hopefully be willing to redo it for you from scratch.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
They may have let a junior engineer master your track. I hate to say it, but when I hear stories like yours about otherwise reputable MEs I have to suspect it...



I don't think you have to be too careful about that, just be tactful. Let them know that it's not at all what you envisioned and that they changed it way too much. Send a well mastered relevant reference track so they know what sound you want. If a revision won't be enough then they should hopefully be willing to redo it for you.
I sent them a version I had mastered myself, they are nothing at all alike.

Thanks everyone for the advice!
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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scraggs's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Just echoing what the others said...be polite but tell them what you want, and be clear that they've changed your mix way too much.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #6
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
don't ever use a mastering tech again who you dunno (unless you have VERY good reasons to assume s/he'll do fine).

if it sounds bad (to your ears), it is bad: i'd tell them so and see what reaction you get...

that said, maybe you'll need to communicate your expectations more clearly? and are you in the position to properly monitor things? and finally, how much did you pay?

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 12:17 AM..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
don't ever use a mastering tech again who you dunno (unless you have VERY good reasons to assume s/he'll do fine).

if it sounds bad (to your ears), it is bad: i'd tell them so and see what reaction you get...

that said, maybe you'll need to communicate your expectations more clearly? and are you in the position to properly monitor things? and finally, how much did you pay?
Thanks again everyone for taking the time to answer!

@ deedeeyeah That's good advice. Unfortunately I only know one professional mastering engineer, and not especially well.

My monitoring environment is pretty good. I'm in an open room (my living room) and my recording space is like a room within a room - I'm surrounded by 9 bass traps on stands (from GIK Acoustics), ranging between 4-6 inches thick, each. My monitors are Focal CMS-65, isolated and off my desk on some hefty steel k&m stands. I've had the Focals for probably 8 years and know them well.

A bigger issue is that I only hear in one ear but in practice I learned to adapt and it isn't a problem. Because I only hear in mono, reflections etc really mess with my ear. My room setup solves that problem. My wife listens for panning and extreme mid/side work.

The mastering place I tried has mastered a bunch of stuff that charted on beatport/traxsource. They charge 25 euros. It seems low to me, but they are in a part of Europe with a low cost of living and get to set their own price. I wonder if Justin is right about it going to a junior person, not the guy who masters their clients who have charted. I had written a detailed explanation of the aesthetic I was looking for - and not looking for, and a wav of my own mastering job of the track. My friend, another artist, said it sounded like they hadn't read it.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #8
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Verified Member
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac808 ➡️
Thanks again everyone for taking the time to answer!

@ deedeeyeah That's good advice. Unfortunately I only know one professional mastering engineer, and not especially well.

My monitoring environment is pretty good. I'm in an open room (my living room) and my recording space is like a room within a room - I'm surrounded by 9 bass traps on stands (from GIK Acoustics), ranging between 4-6 inches thick, each. My monitors are Focal CMS-65, isolated and off my desk on some hefty steel k&m stands. I've had the Focals for probably 8 years and know them well.

A bigger issue is that I only hear in one ear but in practice I learned to adapt and it isn't a problem. Because I only hear in mono, reflections etc really mess with my ear. My room setup solves that problem. My wife listens for panning and extreme mid/side work.

The mastering place I tried has mastered a bunch of stuff that charted on beatport/traxsource. They charge 25 euros. It seems low to me, but they are in a part of Europe with a low cost of living and get to set their own price. I wonder if Justin is right about it going to a junior person, not the guy who masters their clients who have charted. I had written a detailed explanation of the aesthetic I was looking for - and not looking for, and a wav of my own mastering job of the track. My friend, another artist, said it sounded like they hadn't read it.
i'm pretty sure i wouldn't bother dealing with these folks again: you spent almost nothing for a botched mastering but (probably) lots of time detailing your ideas/whishes...

different topic how to find another mastering studio: maybe invest a bit and send the same mix to a few of them without much detailing your expectations: personally, i wouldn't necessarily go with who's been involved into a commercially successful production but with someone who did master tracks that you find aesthetically very pleasing and results that possibly weren't easy to achieve...

..but maybe you also wanna invest in some measuring tools such as an analyzer, level meter and specifically a goniometer (so you can check phase correlation/width) by watching and depend a bit less on hearing.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Yeah, the ME should redo it for free, until you’re happy with the results.

within reason naturally, or refund the fee.

JT
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Mac808's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i'm pretty sure i wouldn't bother dealing with these folks again: you spent almost nothing for a botched mastering but (probably) lots of time detailing your ideas/whishes...

different topic how to find another mastering studio: maybe invest a bit and send the same mix to a few of them without much detailing your expectations: personally, i wouldn't necessarily go with who's been involved into a commercially successful production but with someone who did master tracks that you find aesthetically very pleasing and results that possibly weren't easy to achieve...

..but maybe you also wanna invest in some measuring tools such as an analyzer, level meter and specifically a goniometer (so you can check phase correlation/width) by watching and depend a bit less on hearing.
I received another version - it's a little better but I am still happier with my own results. I think I may just go back and work on it a bit more myself. In test marketing (on submithub), most listeners rated it well. With some more time and effort I think I can elevate it further.

I like the idea of setting a budget to try a number of houses.

I use the kind of level metering you're talking about - my MOTU interfaces have a goniometer, so does Ozone. Ableton Live has a very flexible built frequency analyzer. I also use Waves WLM to measure loudness.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #11
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac808 ➡️
The mastering place I tried charge €25.

It seems low to me.
I think most of your problems are encapsulated in these two sentences.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann ➡️
I think most of your problems are encapsulated in these two sentences.
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Or my personal favorite: "The price you pay for the price you pay."
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Maybe he is using HAR-BAL for his mastering???
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson ➡️
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Or my personal favorite: "The price you pay for the price you pay."
Don't worry, we'll get it right, even if it takes all your money...
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