Mastering- The Horror

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by martin H, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    I'm just an old holdover with volume -- But I've always treated everything as if it were going to vinyl (so I'm pretty stoked about the resurgence). Not that I think vinyl "sounds better" -- But those physical limitations certainly lend themselves to a better - well, "more normal" sounding recording most of the time.

    I had to really go through the motions recently on digital limiting -- I never used it. I captured at volume. If something needed to tap up (or down), I needed to run everything again at that new volume. Never found a digital limiter I really liked until just a few years ago - which coincided with a much larger number of projects going to vinyl. So now, I capture at "vinyl volume" and monitor through the final limiter. If the client needs vinyl (or MFiT), it's usually as simple as bypassing or reducing that limiter's function to take advantage of that additional dynamic range.

    Heh... "Additional dynamic range" -- I remember when everyone was stoked about digital - especially 24-bit digital - for the absolutely obscene, "more than gear can produce or ears can hear" dynamic range. We were going to do away with compressing for sake of volume (which certainly happens to some extent even with MFiT and vinyl).

    And look what we've done with that... :-(
     
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  2. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Broadcast limitations can vary but since it's now loudness normalization it's all good. I'm surprised that, according to John, ITunes only cares about intersample peaks and doesn't require a target loudness . In TV the target loudness is fixed at -24LKFS +- 2dB with peaks of -2dBFS being the ceiling. Radio and the music industry doesn't have a standard but internet is getting closer to hovering around -16LKFS (give and take, depending on who you talk to) as a target for loudness normalization. With that loudness, avoiding inter-sample peaks, you can mix/ master with enough headroom. Why anybody would simply lower the peak ceiling of their "mastering" plug in (probably a Waves maximizer of sorts???) by a dB or two instead of lowering the level of the mix and ease off the gain reduction is beyond me.
    It will sound worse, once volume normalization is in effect, I've done plenty of comparisons, once you equalize the listening loudness ( either manually, by Metadata or by using something like NUGEN Mastercheck) the squashed mixes sound terrible in comparison to those with proper dynamics.
    It's super-obvious and should convince anybody with enough hearing left to even bother with this stuff.
     
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  3. mgenet

    mgenet Earth = Cheese Burger Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Yeah, they need to install knobs that go to 11.
     
  4. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Well, not undone yet....I like to think it's the beginning of the end.
     
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  5. babatube

    babatube Senior Member

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    i truly hope so.
     
  6. filtersweep

    filtersweep Senior Member

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    Normalizing? Why? And at -9? Am I missing something here? I believe there are much better tools and workflow these days. Of course, I haven't heard your results. I see no point in normalizing, as it just raises the noise floor. Normalizing has nothing to do with dynamics. I'm not sure if I misunderstand you, but I read that you made everything quieter within the same dynamic range.

    I just use my ears, muti-band EQ, compression, and limiting to master.
     
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  7. Angus

    Angus Senior Member

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    :)


    Did you suggest he try, " 'leven" ?
     
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  8. martin H

    martin H Senior Member

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    Just a terminology difference. The word normalization tends to be used rather loosely to describe more than one process. There are two forms of "normalization" in Adobe Audition.

    One adjusts the overall level to get a certain peak value . As you note, its better to record at the correct level to start with than to peak a recording at ,say -4 , the "normalize " it up. However that's not what I was referring to.

    The second is a process that deals with the average level of the track and compresses peaks to increase the desired average level. This is where -9 is a reasonable starting point, although the actual number is somewhat meaningfulness, as it depends entirely on how the program chooses to calculate it.

    For example, before Audition, I used Sony Sound Forge (until they added a lot of video capabilities I didn't need and jacked the price up) A average normalization level of -9 on Audition is equal to about -16 on Sound forge (hence much confusion when I switched programs).

    As several posters have noted, there are both better terms, and more objective measurement standards to use.
     
  9. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    historically the term normalization has been used to describe peak normalization but the gamechanger is the shift to loudness normalization, rendering the practice to make a recording "louder" than the next obsolete and counterproductive.
    A picture says more than a thousand words.:)

    [​IMG]
     
  10. MooCheng

    MooCheng Senior Member

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    Sadly loud sells, the Sunnydelight generation have little or no concept of dynamics. Its part of the modern ideal of instant gratification where music incl'd does'nt have to require thought, just some intantly accessable riff or catch pumped out at maximum dB's that gains short term interest and sells,
    such is the music biz'

    Compression...I carnt even listern to the radio any lenght of time without getting a headache, subconciously trying to compensate and fill in whats missing is very fatiguing.

    Its not all doom and gloom, when you do stumble across a good recording its wonderful,
     
  11. martin H

    martin H Senior Member

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    That was something I noticed when I first came to America in the early 80s

    I grew up with the BBC, and like many teenagers of the day, taped certain FM radio shows (John Peel, Alan Freeman). The BBC were relatively conservative, using sort of an mild AGC device (may have just been an engineer moving a slider!) with a bit of limiting to keep levels roughly the same between records.

    A track taped off the radio would often lead to me buying the LP in question. the LP sounded pretty much like the tape. It least it was recognizable as the same mix.

    As soon as I started listening to American FM ROCK RADIO as it was called in those days, I stared to wonder if there was really that much difference between America pressings and British ones, as the entire mix and balance of a song sometimes sounded quite different on US radio.

    I figured out after a few months that most US popular radio was being processed heavily before broadcast. It's still a bit of a shock after repairing an old tuner amp to flip it on to the most convenient source ( a strong FM station) and be worried that it sounds like s***, only to find that it's the station, not the receiver, that sound gritty.
     
  12. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Yeah, same here, German radio sounded pretty damn good back in the day but US FM stations sound awful. Funny thing is that as someone who doesn't like Classic Rock at all I find that those stations do sound the least horrible in my area, probably because the source material is more sonically "intact" than the newer material.
    I could be wrong here but somethimng that I've learned a long time ago is that multiple passes through a maximizer type digital dynamics controller (plug in or hardware, during mixing, then mastering, then FM broadcast) will ensure the absolute worst kind of digital grit riding on top of the signal, while a single pass will fare much better, even if it's more agressive. That might explain why old masters sound more pleasing on the radio since they didn't have those devices back then.
     
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  13. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Ha...I remember the first time I heard one of my songs on an FM rock radio station. Since I recorded and mixed it I was of course intimately and microscopically familiar with it.

    What I heard absolutely shocked me! I'll never forget the whirlwind mix of emotions....so cool to hear my sh*t on the radio but so distressed by the way it sounded.
     
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  14. Lizzy4Life

    Lizzy4Life Senior Member

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    You guys are having trouble with listening to music? Then how do you survive an evening of television? :shock:
    Seriously, one of the reasons I barely watch TV is because of the horrible compression. "Music" shows like The Voice or some other stupid talent show try to find the best singer, when you can barely hear the candidate's voice, buried beneath the blurry mix which has been so badly compressed it gives me a stronger headache than Justin Bieber! :run:
     
  15. martin H

    martin H Senior Member

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    I survive it by staying upstairs in my studio while the Wife occasionally turns the TV down and shouts "what are you doing up there" up the stairs.

    "nothing"

    "well if you're doing nothing, come down here and watch TV with me"

    (thinking fast) "Errr ...I'm using a soldering iron"

    "Well, you can't use that down here, you'll burn a hole in the carpet again."

    "Yea...I'd better stay up here..."
     
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  16. Lizzy4Life

    Lizzy4Life Senior Member

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    :laugh2: Cheeky bastard!
     
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  17. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Ditch your cable and watch over-the-air. I don't usually watch "the voice", etc. but every once in a while I catch it and it sounds fine. Make sure your receiver/ TV doesn't add "dynamic control" or "midnight mode" and it should be okay. The cable guys grab the stuff off air and then proceed to compress (both data rate and dynamic range) the crap out of it to fit it all down their pipeline. Over the air TV usually sounds excellent, downright awesome in many instances. Just my experience.
     
  18. Lizzy4Life

    Lizzy4Life Senior Member

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    You mean via antenna? Or sattelite?
    In Belgium, the only option nowadays is digital TV, cable TV with a settopbox.
    Which...sounds...HORRIBLE!
     
  19. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    sorry, didn't realize you're in Belgium. In the US you can watch Digital TV over the air (don't know if you can in Belgium) with a set of these.

    [​IMG]

    I get the three networks, their secondary channels and Fox plus PBS (public TV) without paying a dime. The picture and audio quality is getting worse due to ever more channels being crammed down the same pipeline (multiple programs on one Terrestrial channel of 6 MHz) but it's still better than cable or dish. Also keep in mind that if you're watching a 5.1 broadcast folded down to stereo the rear channels tend to wash out the stereo Left and Right channels. This can be very bad during music shows (Grammys come to mind) and make the content sound buried in reverb.

    Just to reiterate, there's absolutely no excuse for excessive compression in TV broadcast. The target loudness allows for plenty of headroom (FINALLY) but providers (not content creators) are still monkeying around with dynamics and metadata without having a clue. A program mix that is ATSC, EBU, ITU, CALM compliant and encoded correctly needs no additional "treatment/ protection" on the way to the enduser and it has the capacity to sound phenomenal.
     
  20. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    The music sells - The loudness part is a pissing contest between artists and labels that the public doesn't really care about (and freak out about occasionally a'la Metallica).
     

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