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Standard Format from Top Mastering Engineer
Old 21st January 2013
  #1
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Standard Format from Top Mastering Engineer

Recently had a project mastered from a top mastering engineer. Mastered from 1/2" tape to digital. The files he sent us to approve were 24 bit/44K. Wondering if this is standard? I read about 96K and 192K mastering and being that I expected the highest quality format from this engineer, I wonder why we got 44K. Should we ask for higher quality? What's the main difference between 44, 96 and 192? What formats should we make sure we get files in for digital/CD master?
Old 21st January 2013
  #2
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Chris900's Avatar
 
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For cd 16/44.1 is where you want to be.
Old 21st January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Recently had a project mastered from a top mastering engineer. Mastered from 1/2" tape to digital. The files he sent us to approve were 24 bit/44K. Wondering if this is standard? I read about 96K and 192K mastering and being that I expected the highest quality format from this engineer, I wonder why we got 44K. Should we ask for higher quality? What's the main difference between 44, 96 and 192? What formats should we make sure we get files in for digital/CD master?

What format are you releasing? If it's CD what you got as a reference is actually not representative of the final product. If it's for hi-res downloads it's not representative either, I think, as it should be at least 96/24...


DC
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins ➑️
What format are you releasing? If it's CD what you got as a reference is actually not representative of the final product. If it's for hi-res downloads it's not representative either, I think, as it should be at least 96/24...


DC
Hmmm. This response makes me ponder the last 32 years. Thread forthcoming...
Old 21st January 2013
  #5
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CD and digital master for now (vinyl at a later date); will be released via iTunes, Bandcamp, direct, etc. what formats should we ask for/expect?
Old 21st January 2013
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CD - 16/44.1

Bandcamp - can be high res for the lossless downloads, anything you like really.

iTunes - mastered for iTunes wants 24/96 ideally i believe.

So I would get 16/44 and 24/96 from them. You can cut the vinyl from the 24/96 too.

However if this was not sorted out in the first place, and they have actually done an analogue capture at 44.1 then this might take them some time to recall (and possibly more money if that's how they charge it)
Old 21st January 2013
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was i supposed to ask for 96K? I assumed that when working with someone of this caliber and paying the high price it was assumed we'd want the highest quality available...will shoot him an email now and ask.

whats the deal with 192K?
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
was i supposed to ask for 96K? I assumed that when working with someone of this caliber and paying the high price it was assumed we'd want the highest quality available...will shoot him an email now and ask.
It's possible your project was not mastered at 96k?


DC
Old 22nd January 2013 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
was i supposed to ask for 96K?
*Six of one, and half a dozen of the other.*

Sounds like neither of you discussed the end format before the job.
Perhaps they could have prompted you, but I'd take this as a lesson learned to make sure you specify ahead of time what formats you need. Otherwise, if they don't ask - and you don't say, then it will be left to assumption - rightly or wrongly.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #10
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Dave's question still standing.
You are mastering from a 1/2 analogue inch source. Fair enough you don't know the difference between different sampling rates, puzzled about the question about what you should have asked for, you I believe should have an idea what formats the project will be released on?
If so, have you given this piece of information to the relevant party? (your mastering engineer)
Old 22nd January 2013
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
CD and digital master for now (vinyl at a later date); will be released via iTunes, Bandcamp, direct, etc. what formats should we ask for/expect?
Hi IMRECS,

The resolution required for Mastered for iTunes is 44.1 24bit. However I believe only major labels have access to MFIT at this point so any other iTunes submission need to be at 44.1 16bit.

It would be very surprising if your original mix off 1/2 inch tape wasn't captured at high sample rate/bit depth before the mastering process.

However, many engineers do not see any sonic return in fidelity running at quadruple sample rates (ie 192khz) and even find they are better off running at double (88.2 or 96khz).

If the mastering engineer didn't realise you are planning to press vinyl at some point, then (in which case you would likely use a 96khz master) the 44.1khz 24 bit reference you received, which is still higher than the current digital delivery formats (except for lossless downloading) would be fine for me personally.

As a final master you may have 3 or more different versions, depending on what has been discussed about formats /what you have asked for etc.

I would guess that standard practice (for reference resolution) varies depending on what has been communicated ??

Best,

Owen Gillett
Old 22nd January 2013
  #12
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Am I missing something, OP stated "The files he sent us to approve were 24 bit/44K"... which leads me to believe this was not the final package.

so maybe once you approve the 44/24bit masters the ME will send you the full master package, including hi-res. I send 44k/16bit for approval usually, so the client can approve the tonality, volume, fades etc of the master. Once approved, I send a complete package of hi-res, CD and mp3s format masters.

Unless a client specifically tells me they want hi-res files for master review/approval, I send 44/16. But hey, maybe I'm not that "caliber" or "high price" enough, so not sure if it's expected. (although this last bit may have come across as sarcastic, I'm actually serious. What is expected from primo ME's for review/approval files and final package?)
Old 22nd January 2013
  #13
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I think mp3 is good enough.
Old 27th June 2013
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Wanted to bring this thread back up. I ended up contacting the mastering engineer we went with and he stated "i record everything at 24/44.1 i can up sample you a vers at 96k but i don't recommend it and it won't sound better"

Since I thought it sounded phenomenal anyway, I didn't fight it or suggest he remaster/retransfer from the tapes...though months later I read an interview with him and he stated that he masters everything at 96K and even spoke about how 96K gives the most accurate transfer from analog tape, which is how we sent him the final mixes.

So first, I am wondering why he may have transferred ours at 44.1 K? Would there be any reason to transfer it at 44.1 instead of 96? Maybe assistant error?

My second question is what might I be missing sonically from 44.1 K vs. if he had mastered it at 96K? It's hard to know what it would have sounded like without ever getting a chance to hear a 96K master, so what would someone typically notice? It's heavy but highly dynamic rock music.

I tend to have very sharp ears, though, I always feel the differences between high quality mp3s and wavs or Flacs are really minimal and not really noticeable on most systems anyway (low quality mp3s are a different story)...anyway, i'm not terribly worried and still really happy with the master, but i am interested in learning more about this.
Old 27th June 2013 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls ➑️
I think mp3 is good enough.
64kbps mp3's are the way to go!
Old 27th June 2013 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Wanted to bring this thread back up. I ended up contacting the mastering engineer we went with and he stated "i record everything at 24/44.1 i can up sample you a vers at 96k but i don't recommend it and it won't sound better"

Since I thought it sounded phenomenal anyway, I didn't fight it or suggest he remaster/retransfer from the tapes...though months later I read an interview with him and he stated that he masters everything at 96K and even spoke about how 96K gives the most accurate transfer from analog tape, which is how we sent him the final mixes.

So first, I am wondering why he may have transferred ours at 44.1 K? Would there be any reason to transfer it at 44.1 instead of 96? Maybe assistant error?
well that's pretty strange. digitizing tape at 44.1 makes no sense. Maybe he was working in 44.1 previously and forgot to switch the ADC to 96k when he started your session. so now he's just covering his ass so he doesn't have to re-do your entire master.
Old 27th June 2013
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Is this honestly a big enough deal to contact him about and request a remaster or partial refund? We spent $2000 to master the album. Like I said it sounds great and not sure if its worth pursuing further.
Old 27th June 2013 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Is this honestly a big enough deal to contact him about and request a remaster or partial refund? We spent $2000 to master the album. Like I said it sounds great and not sure if its worth pursuing further.
that's a tough question. one could argue that its the clients fault for not requesting a hi-res master. but then you could also argue that it should be assumed that a tape-based master will be hi-res.

i guess it wouldn't hurt to ask for a partial refund. but if you want a remaster, it would of course require a bit of work, so I'd expect him to want to charge for the time.
Old 27th June 2013 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Is this honestly a big enough deal to contact him about and request a remaster or partial refund? We spent $2000 to master the album. Like I said it sounds great and not sure if its worth pursuing further.
It's difficult to speak for another engineer about what their motivations and intentions could have been so I won't bother to speculate, but I think you answered your own question as to whether it's worth pursuing. You seem satisfied with the end result and I'd consider that a success.
Old 27th June 2013
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Yeah I'm def satisfied, I just have to wonder what that 96K would sound like. What would you imagine the difference being?
Old 28th June 2013 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Yeah I'm def satisfied, I just have to wonder what that 96K would sound like. What would you imagine the difference being?
It depends how good your converters, playback system and critical listening skills are .. 99.99% of people walking down the street would have major difficulty (could not) picking the 96k from 44.1k in an a/b test under normal listening conditions.

..might have been good to have the 96 for long time storage or if you are marketing to audiophiles, but the good thing is that they're 24 bit. Most likely something that should have been discussed before hand and imo not really worth the hassle of pursuing. ..or just tell them to be sure to hold on to the recall and calibration notes so when the album goes platinum there's the option.
Old 28th June 2013
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Assuming the tape repro and transfer was well set up, 96k would simply retain more of the high frequency content of the source. It could also possibly minimize any audible effect of the low pass filtering at the A-D (depending on the converter used), along with any aliasing from conversion or from some types of digital processing.
Old 28th June 2013
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For some material is good to capture at 44K since some converters translate the 44k better than other SRC, the Lavry Gold make you do that, but 24B, 44k not bad for digital release.
Don't believe that higher the rate better the quality.
Old 28th June 2013
  #24
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The guys that are arguing that he should have given you anything but 44.1 should start giving their clients everything @ 192 & report back how that goes over. I must be old.
Old 28th June 2013 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuttin'parts ➑️
The guys that are arguing that he should have given you anything but 44.1 should start giving their clients everything @ 192 & report back how that goes over. I must be old.
http://www.lavryengineering.com/pdfs...lity_audio.pdf
Old 28th June 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Is this honestly a big enough deal to contact him about and request a remaster or partial refund? We spent $2000 to master the album. Like I said it sounds great and not sure if its worth pursuing further.
Certainly not. There's no fault at all on the ME's side. This isnt a 'big enough deal' because it's no 'deal'.


Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Yeah I'm def satisfied, I just have to wonder what that 96K would sound like. What would you imagine the difference being?
There would most certainly be no audible difference. 96 kHz isnt 'better quality' than 44.1. It's just bigger quantity. We're not talking about lossy formats for which more data equals better quality (less loss, in reality). You havent lost anything.
Old 28th June 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Recently had a project mastered from a top mastering engineer. Mastered from 1/2" tape to digital. The files he sent us to approve were 24 bit/44K. Wondering if this is standard? I read about 96K and 192K mastering and being that I expected the highest quality format from this engineer, I wonder why we got 44K. Should we ask for higher quality? What's the main difference between 44, 96 and 192? What formats should we make sure we get files in for digital/CD master?
If the final format the ME is working to is CD
(16bit 44.1khz) then the best practice is to capture at 44.1khz to avoid src.
(sample rate conversion).
Digital release formats really depend on the digital store/distributor. "All" of them generally accept 16 bit 44.1khz files but some online stores allow for higher resolution/bit rate files.
The differences between, 44, 96, and 192 are the breadth/range of frequencies that can be reproduced before distortion occurs in the form of "squared" tones.
I hope that answers your questions.
Old 28th June 2013 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dene ➑️
The differences between, 44, 96, and 192 are the breadth/range of frequencies that can be reproduced before distortion occurs in the form of "squared" tones.
You should have stopped at "that can be reproduced". There's no distortion involved with lower sampling frequencies. Older filters designs were ringing because of the steep curve, but there's no 'squaring' of waves. In fact, it's the contrary : a square wave with a fundamental at 20 kHz will theorically be reproduced as a sine wave by a 44.1 system. 'Squaring' occurs with very low levels which are coded on the two or three less significant bits, it has nothing to do with sampling frequency but with bit depth.

In addition, it has been proven that higher sampling frequencies lead to a reduced dynamic range and are more prone to side effects caused by jitter in cheap converters with inferior clocks and circuitry.
Old 29th June 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Recently had a project mastered from a top mastering engineer. Mastered from 1/2" tape to digital. The files he sent us to approve were 24 bit/44K. Wondering if this is standard? I read about 96K and 192K mastering and being that I expected the highest quality format from this engineer, I wonder why we got 44K. Should we ask for higher quality? What's the main difference between 44, 96 and 192? What formats should we make sure we get files in for digital/CD master?
16-bit 44.1kHz is standard delivery for CD and DDP.

24-bit 96kHz is for high resolution digital delivery, at the client's request.
Often for vinyl prep as well.

Best, JT
Old 29th June 2013 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMRECS ➑️
Yeah I'm def satisfied, I just have to wonder what that 96K would sound like. What would you imagine the difference being?
As I know *zero* people who can reliably tell the difference, I'd say "nothing much" at best.

Don't get me totally wrong here -- I've heard converters where it was fairly easy to A/B 44.1/96k and tell which one was which -- But that was (A) usually fairly crappy converters and (B) the 44.1 was usually judged "better" sounding. Which wasn't really surprising, as the spectral print from those converters were really freaky at multiples of the target rates.
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