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Mastering engineers clipping ...wrong!
Old 16th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Mastering engineers clipping ...wrong!

I have noticed that mastering engineers that clip their masters, create a sense of fatness , bigness and aggression ... But I have tested a mix that I did , then compared it to the mastered track(from a famous mastering engineer in EDM techno) ...

On large Pa systems, I found out that the mixes version sounded punchy(low end dynamics), defined , clear and very exciting.

The mastered version the other side , sounded bigger( Low end) , slightly less defined in the mids/highs ... and didn't punch and knock as hard as the mix did. It felt less powerful.

So my observations took me to a place where the mastered version sounded a little bit better(maybe because it was louder) on smaller systems when compared to the mix, but the mastered version got shot in the legs when it was played on large stunning PA systems.

The mix with all its dynamics and impact , killed the mastered version.


Why dear why do mastering engineers clip their signals and kill dynamics ?? Seriously what is the point ?? Impressing the client on it's little speakers but sounding average on large PA systems ?
Old 16th September 2012
  #2
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester217 ➡️
Yes, that's exactly my experience, too.
In the past 10 years I've been to several reputable mastering houses with the most expensive and highest end analog and digital equipment available in this world.
Not a single mastered Track sounded better than the actual mix when played on good, big (main) speakers at higher volumes, when level matched.
At least this is a fact regarding punch - it is basically a tradeoff for higher loudness.
When you ask for "competitive" loudness, no mastering engineer in the world can retain transients without clipping them.
Mixes will sound better at lower volumes and not so great speakers, but when played loud on really good systems it is disillusioning...
In a way we ironically pay for Sonic degration with hi end gear ...
Couldn't have put it better myself! Commercial mastering in the past 10 years seems to centre around loudness wars. I spent the last 5 years teaching music production in a uk based college and the vast majority of students perceived the mastering process as a means to get your track as loud as the commercial tracks they tried to emulate, and this was the sole purpose of the process! Recently I had sent some tracks to a series of reputable mastering houses in the uk and experienced exactly what you guys have been describing - good at low volume but when turned up a loss of clarity that I tried so hard to install within my mix. Sad times but I guess the engineers need to cater for the commercial expectations of the majority of their clients - some great examples of this modern format of mastering is Metallica's Death Magnetic and RHCP's Californication; don't get me wrong the albums are good I just feel the mastering has ruined the listening experience; also don't really want to blame the mastering engineers as their are only catering to the will of their clients.
Old 16th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
WunderBro Flo's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Well now that you are an educated customer, you simply have to tell the ME what you want and don't want. You can't have a mastering without compromise. It must be optimized for one thing which will exclude optimum results for another thing. The standard decision is optimization for the biggest audience: small and cheap listening systems. If you want more punch retained you simply tell the ME to do less/no saturation/clipping/limiting - at the cost of possible usage on cheap systems that distort easier and uglier with punchy mixes as opposed to flattened out mixes.
On a side note, I discovered something during the past decade...as a producer and mixer I perfected my methods to maximize punch. By focusing so much on it and achieving it, I did not realize that from a certain amount of punch onwards, it is much more annoying than helpful. Like a guy who constantly pokes you on the shoulder instead of shutting up and enjoying the music with you. Just a thing to be aware of...
Old 16th September 2012
  #4
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Clipping is way over-rated...
Old 16th September 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➡️
Clipping is way over-rated...
+1

Sent from my MOTWX435KT
Old 16th September 2012
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisDaniels ➡️
I have noticed that mastering engineers that clip their masters, create a sense of fatness , bigness and aggression ... But I have tested a mix that I did , then compared it to the mastered track(from a famous mastering engineer in EDM techno) ...

On large Pa systems, I found out that the mixes version sounded punchy(low end dynamics), defined , clear and very exciting.

The mastered version the other side , sounded bigger( Low end) , slightly less defined in the mids/highs ... and didn't punch and knock as hard as the mix did. It felt less powerful.

So my observations took me to a place where the mastered version sounded a little bit better(maybe because it was louder) on smaller systems when compared to the mix, but the mastered version got shot in the legs when it was played on large stunning PA systems.

The mix with all its dynamics and impact , killed the mastered version.


Why dear why do mastering engineers clip their signals and kill dynamics ?? Seriously what is the point ?? Impressing the client on it's little speakers but sounding average on large PA systems ?


I always ask ME to make 2-3 masters for different purposes. I always do special mastering for radio use, one for digital stores and totally different one if I release on vinyl.
Old 16th September 2012
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Unfortunately.
We work pretty hard to get the songs sounding great.
Invariably, the customer calls back and "wants them the same, but louder."
90% of the time, we have to send louder mixes.
My favorite sounding songs have an RMS value of around -15db or lower.
Most clients have it in their head that the RMS value has to be higher than -10.
They readily agree that it just doesn't sound good, but think someone else cares about the RMS value of the song.

It is not the mastering guys' fault.
It is squarely on the customer.

People don't really seem to care about great sounding music.
I thought that would have changed by now.
I think I was wrong.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #8
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
Can modern music get any more ugly sounding?
Man, there, you said it. I can't listen to much contemporary music. Currently, I'm into 60-70s jazz. Even the totally mangled MP3s on youtube sound so much more engaging that the stuff that typically spills from the radio.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #9
Here for the gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by WunderBro Flo ➡️
Well now that you are an educated customer, you simply have to tell the ME what you want and don't want. You can't have a mastering without compromise. It must be optimized for one thing which will exclude optimum results for another thing. The standard decision is optimization for the biggest audience: small and cheap listening systems. If you want more punch retained you simply tell the ME to do less/no saturation/clipping/limiting - at the cost of possible usage on cheap systems that distort easier and uglier with punchy mixes as opposed to flattened out mixes.
On a side note, I discovered something during the past decade...as a producer and mixer I perfected my methods to maximize punch. By focusing so much on it and achieving it, I did not realize that from a certain amount of punch onwards, it is much more annoying than helpful. Like a guy who constantly pokes you on the shoulder instead of shutting up and enjoying the music with you. Just a thing to be aware of...
Actually a punchy mix can be done really well and it will sound gorgeous even on small systems ... but not as loud as the crushed mastered versions.

I actually made a blind test once to see the reaction of people to dynamics. The punchier and dynamic mix caused people to tap their feet, caused physical reactions from them and were stated as the most "exciting" versions of the song.

I also notice the same reaction in the club where the punchier knocking tracks(from good mixing engineers and good producers) really have a positive effect on people.

Another well known example is Nirvana's album ... the Butch Vig one sounded bigger and louder ... the Wallace one was defined , clean , relatively small sounding , BUT punchy ... and just observe from the sales of the albums ...what people preferred
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookerv12 ➡️
Unfortunately.
We work pretty hard to get the songs sounding great.
Invariably, the customer calls back and "wants them the same, but louder."
90% of the time, we have to send louder mixes.
My favorite sounding songs have an RMS value of around -15db or lower.
Most clients have it in their head that the RMS value has to be higher than -10.
They readily agree that it just doesn't sound good, but think someone else cares about the RMS value of the song.

It is not the mastering guys' fault.
It is squarely on the customer.

People don't really seem to care about great sounding music.
I thought that would have changed by now.
I think I was wrong.
From my experience I have made mixes that were at -8 dBRms , it actually goes to this level because of the huge low end content that is required in club music, but they are far from being flat mixes or boring crushed ones, on the contrary , everything has its space , the mixes are 3D, focused, dynamic, punchy in the low end, spacious and are pleasing to the ear.

When I send to my ME , the dude squashes the sound to -3dBRms. I do admire the creative processes, the feel and interesting color that a mastering engineer can place in a track ... but come on , enough of that clipping and killing or dynamics and punch that we work so hard to get right, and that sound so good on large systems.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gramophonedzie ➡️
I always ask ME to make 2-3 masters for different purposes. I always do special mastering for radio use, one for digital stores and totally different one if I release on vinyl.
What is the difference in processing between the radio master, digital stores master , vinyl master and club master ?

This sounds interesting , would you mind sharing ?
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisDaniels ➡️
From my experience I have made mixes that were at -8 dBRms , it actually goes to this level because of the huge low end content that is required in club music, but they are far from being flat mixes or boring crushed ones, on the contrary , everything has its space , the mixes are 3D, focused, dynamic, punchy in the low end, spacious and are pleasing to the ear.

When I send to my ME , the dude squashes the sound to -3dBRms. I do admire the creative processes, the feel and interesting color that a mastering engineer can place in a track ... but come on , enough of that clipping and killing or dynamics and punch that we work so hard to get right, and that sound so good on large systems.
It would seem to me that you don't need mastering then.
Occasionally, we'll get an album that doesn't need anything. It's done.
Nothing wrong with that.
Old 16th September 2012
  #13
Audio X
Guest
I've always gotten good results with the ME's I use.
Gotta let them know what you're looking for up front.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X ➡️
Moan zone. ..

I've always gotten good results with the ME's I use.
Gotta let them know what you're looking for up front.

ME's are full of **** and the engineers that are more intelligent than you know this well.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #15
Audio X
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by mindkontrolle ➡️
ME's are full of **** and the engineers that are more intelligent than you know this well.
Ya, Calbi and Ludwig are real hacks.

Which albums in radio rotation or on the charts have not been professionally mastered?

You can start the list here:
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X ➡️
Ya, Calbi and Ludwig are real hacks.

Which albums in radio rotation or on the charts have not been professionally mastered?

You can start the list here:
That makes no difference. You wanna give 4K to these ****s so that they can clip their Lavry Golds? LOL.
Old 17th September 2012
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Find a good professional mastering engineer that you are comfortable using and let him or her know what you are looking for. After all you are PAYING the BILL so you should have the final say. Many mastering engineers, myself included, do not normally reach for the stun button for every song presented to them.

I did a mastering of a beautiful Christmas album of acoustic music last year and it turned out very good. The client was pleased but his engineer wanted it made a lot LOUDER. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and we left the final level where it was. It has gotten good reviews.

The problem today is that almost everyone wants their music "louder than anything else" and there are only so many ways to do that. The clipping idea works but as others have pointed out has a lot of drawbacks.

I propose that we all concentrate on doing the best possible job of getting the music to sound GREAT and forget about wanting everything "Fu$%ing Loud".

Mastering is a service business and if the client wants stuff made super loud they get what they want. Some times the only comment the client makes about what they want is to "make it loud" or "make it loud enough that it can compete on the radio" and as we all know by now the more normal levels always translate better on the radio. A real CATCH 22 type of situation.

One other thing. A lot of clients bring me material that has already been "premastered" and what I see on my DAW is a lot of bricks where everything has been over compressed and limited and equalized and I am told by the client to "make it louder"

And the loudness race continues...
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #18
Audio X
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by mindkontrolle ➡️
That makes no difference. You wanna give 4K to these ****s so that they can clip their Lavry Golds? LOL.
I think you've just revealed your level of real world experience.

I hope someday that you can attend a real mastering session on an album that you've worked on where you discuss with the ME your concerns and expectations. You will be the one giving the final approval.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #19
Audio X
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester217 ➡️
I am a pro myself
Then you should know how it works ...and who has the last say.

Hint:
It's the guy paying the bill. ; )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester217 ➡️
I suspect you're maybe a mastering guy yourself...
I know enough to make myself dangerous but when I have the choice and budget, leave that job to people I trust.
Old 17th September 2012
  #20
Audio X
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
What you have are some very good ME's forced to put out unlistenable crap just because they want to be paid. I wonder how some of them sleep well at night?
Yep, I'm sure they keep the psychiatrist and exorcist in business.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisDaniels ➡️
What is the difference in processing between the radio master, digital stores master , vinyl master and club master ?

This sounds interesting , would you mind sharing ?
why is this moved to moan zone???

From my experience masters that you send to radio shouldn't be too loud as they will be pushed more through radio limiters or whatever is that called.

So if your sound is too hot it will sound very unpleasent on radio. You will lose that warmth that you can hear. Thats what I've experienced with my tracks.

For selling on online stores your master should be as loud as possible and as wide as possible because these days in edm thats what kids want to hear.

When we talk about vinyl releases that is, again, completely different approach to mastering, well mixing too. How the ME will prepare it for cutting, what goes more mono and what goes more stereo, how he's gonna keep and translate a lot of energy that is these days in bottom end. In general how will he manage to keep your mix together and put it between 50hz-16khz. I usually make separate mix when releasing my tracks on vinyl just to help ME do his work more easily and help him to have less decisions.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester217 ➡️
Not a single mastered Track sounded better than the actual mix when played on good, big (main) speakers at higher volumes, when level matched.
At least this is a fact regarding punch
The interesting test would be is if you asked a mastering engineer to not master your track loud and then see if he/she makes it better.

Mastering engineers are under such pressure to make things loud that mastering is often a game of seeing how little you can damage the audio and still get the levels the clients are demanding.
Old 18th September 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
Put this at the end of your chain before sending your mixes off. LOL

dbx 4bx - YouTube
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
WunderBro Flo's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
Because mastering is a religion and you know what happens if you insult a religion.
They will kill Jules and tear down his studio while burning GS merchandise?
Old 18th September 2012
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
When I send to my ME , the dude squashes the sound to -3dBRms.
Who is paying your ME? Who is calling the shots?

If it's you, and you think what he is sending back to you is too squashed, tell him you don't want it to be so squashed. I'm sure he'd be happy to hear from someone who is not wanting him to squash the hell out of their tracks.

If you're not the one calling the shots, though, then you should do all you can to convince whomever is that your stuff doesn't need to be squashed so much. But what is the ultimate destination for your music? Is it for mass release? If it is, then it's not surprising that it's being squashed more than you might like, and how it sounds over a large full-range system is likely of little concern.
Old 18th September 2012
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Sir Chris's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
How this has become such a discussion is beyond me. I'm not a ME by any sort but the guys here bashing them are obviously noobs at home with no real experience in the music industry.

Its simple guys. Don't put any limitations on the ME. Just tell em you don't give 3 ****s about the loudness war and you just want them to make it sound good. You just might be surprised what you get back.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #27
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris ➡️
How this has become such a discussion is beyond me. I'm not a ME by any sort but the guys here bashing them are obviously noobs at home with no real experience in the music industry.

Its simple guys. Don't put any limitations on the ME. Just tell em you don't give 3 ****s about the loudness war and you just want them to make it sound good. You just might be surprised what you get back.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G
Don't you think we're so stupid and haven't tried ? do you think i'd go out and say , "yeah man crush all the dynamics that i've worked so hard to get into the mix"

Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X ➡️
I think you've just revealed your level of real world experience.

I hope someday that you can attend a real mastering session on an album that you've worked on where you discuss with the ME your concerns and expectations. You will be the one giving the final approval.

Look, don't take what I say so personally. Unless you have some other problem I am unaware of... Do you think that I give a damn what you or anyone else thinks? I've mastered with Calbi before, at Sterling. Oh yes, albums that I have worked on, isn't that amazing?! LOL. While my comments were a bit exaggerated, there are some details about that experience which completely confirm my derogatory stance. You want to parade around patting yourself in the back about how you are a professional and belong to that club, that's your business, but are completely deluding yourself. **** all that. I have been disappointed so many times by ME's that I don't owe any of them any respect. If anything I'll call them out while the rest of you give them your money and kneel by their pompous self-important asses. That sounds like a plan, no?
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mindkontrolle ➡️
Look, don't take what I say so personally. Unless you have some other problem I am unaware of... Do you think that I give a damn what you or anyone else thinks? I've mastered with Calbi before, at Sterling. Oh yes, albums that I have worked on, isn't that amazing?! LOL. While my comments were a bit exaggerated, there are some details about that experience which completely confirm my derogatory stance. You want to parade around patting yourself in the back about how you are a professional and belong to that club, that's your business, but are completely deluding yourself. **** all that. I have been disappointed so many times by ME's that I don't owe any of them any respect. If anything I'll call them out while the rest of you give them your money and kneel by their pompous self-important asses. That sounds like a plan, no?
It sounds like you have a deep seated resentment of mastering engineers in general stemming from some problem that is clouding your rational judgement.

Mastering engineers are the good guys who try and make your stuff sound fantastic. If however our hands are tied by you the artist or their "owners and managers" then we can only do what we are paid to do. If we refuse to squash someone's material they will simply go somewhere else where the "mastering engineer" will crush their stuff to their satisfaction. If you have had bad experience in the past I suggest you find some one who can do what you want. There are lots of really good mastering engineers on the GS forum who would do what you wanted and would collaborate with you to get the best sound possible for your music.

I think you need to chill a bit.

FWIW and MTCW
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #30
Audio X
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by mindkontrolle ➡️
Look, don't take what I say so personally. Unless you have some other problem I am unaware of... Do you think that I give a damn what you or anyone else thinks? I've mastered with Calbi before, at Sterling. Oh yes, albums that I have worked on, isn't that amazing?! LOL. While my comments were a bit exaggerated, there are some details about that experience which completely confirm my derogatory stance. You want to parade around patting yourself in the back about how you are a professional and belong to that club, that's your business, but are completely deluding yourself. **** all that. I have been disappointed so many times by ME's that I don't owe any of them any respect. If anything I'll call them out while the rest of you give them your money and kneel by their pompous self-important asses. That sounds like a plan, no?
Your hate and blame for ME's is a little aggressive.

A guy like Calbi who switches out the cables he uses with each project
is not going to go out of his way to defy what you ask for.
(btw he doesn't use Lavry)

No one is going to serve you well done steak if you ask for it rare.
Communication.
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