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ACMastering: blog

Technology and Audio 2

Posted on February 3, 2012 with 0 comments

 

@ Jerry - thanks for the spelling correction!!  
Derek has written quite a bit and he's a professional.  And he makes very good points.  Unfortunately the people who need to hear that message are not listening, they're on the way to the music store to buy more gear. LOL  A couple of highlights that  I would confirm.  
1) Every room starts with the proportions.  With incorrect proportions, no degree of treatment is going to take away the inherent problems. And yes, although the music manufacturing industry would love to sell you more gear and speakers, it really is not going to help.....The question I ask these days is, if you're a  musician, don't you want to spend more time doing music?  It's hard enough today that a musician is expected to spend so much time on social media.....Why as a musician, do you want to bother recording the music, or mixing, and especially mastering- isn't it more important just to write and perform the music really well?  
The second point is that when you are involved in production, sometimes you can spend so much time overmixing, when you should just be doing another take.....
In regards to Standards - It's true, there are no standards today....which makes my job harder.   Last fall I presented a paper at AES called "Achieving Great Sound in the Age of the Loudness Wars"  and that's the real problem,  there is no longer any standards in Audio.  It's kind of like, what ever you can get away with, is acceptable.  This is one of the factors that has led to the crises in fidelity that we are now experiencing.  The reason why my job is harder is that  the level is no longer 0vu like when cutting vinyl, rather it's how far can I push this  mix...... In discussion at the AES Convention, we felt like the only player who could step in and set standards is iTunes...they are the biggest player, but they're not an audio company and they don't care.
In regards to iTunes,  I would add that mp3 tracks are now mastered separately.  The mp3 files  are not made from masters for the CD.  The algorithm for conversion is different enough that best results are attained doing two sets of masters.  Of course, that's if you have the budget and really want to get it right.  With many of my clients being Indie today, the budget often times does not allow for two sets of masters. 
Another point I'd like to make is that indie artists today often do not want to hear criticism.  Which may be the real reason why they do it themselves rather than involving other professionals. Even if it costs more to do it themselves.  They use the excuse of budget but I never think money is the real reason behind anything.  The real benefit of have a label behind you is not that they give you money (especially today) but rather you get a priceless amount of coaching by real professionals to do a better product.  It isn't always easy, there are disagreements and growing pains. 
Finally Budget is all about the planning.  If you know recording an album is going to cost $20,000 and mastering is going to cost $2,000, just raise, save or borrow the money and make the album with the professionals who you feel will do a great job for you.  And listen to them!  You have to treat it like building a house - sometimes it's fun to have a DIY project but  don't put on a cheap roof because your cost estimate for the foundation was low.   Making  great music is what will pay real dividends, not recording your own album.

Home Recording and MasteringAs an artist, ask yourself a question before you think about your next album:

Would I rather be giving a better performance on my next album or would I rather be involved in production?

It's very hard to do both and the real dividends are not usually in recording...

A professional environment is everything from the proportions of the room to the expertise of the personel.   And yes, although the music manufacturing industry would love to sell you more gear and speakers, it's really not going to help.....So the question I ask is, if you're a  musician, don't you want to spend more time doing music?  It's hard enough today that a musician is expected to spend so much time on social media.....Why as a musician, do you want to bother recording the music, or mixing, and especially mastering- isn't it more important just to write and perform that music really well?  

The second point is that when you are involved in production, sometimes you can spend so much time overmixing, when you should instead, just be doing another take.....

Finally we have to look at human nature.  Doing music is like showing you more delicate underbelly!  And though an artist wants to make their music real by recording it, often times they do not want to hear any criticism. Which may be the real reason why they do it themselves rather than involving other professionals. Even if it costs more by purchasing all the gear to do it themselves.  They use the excuse of budget but I never think money is the real reason behind anything.  Budget is all about the planning.  If you know recording an album is going to cost $20,000 and mastering is going to cost $2,000, just raise, save or borrow the money and make the album with the professionals who you feel will do a great job for you.  And listen to them!  You have to treat it like building a house - sometimes it's fun to have a DIY project but  don't put on a cheap roof because your cost estimate for the foundation was low.

The real benefit of the record industry and having a label behind you is not that they give you money (especially today) but rather you get a priceless amount of coaching by real professionals to do a better product.  It isn't always easy, there are disagreements and growing pains, but making  great music is what will pay real dividends, not recording your own album.