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Wow...Pro Mastering FTW!! (+ comparison clips)

Discussion in 'Andy Sneap' started by Soundlurker, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    I just got the final masters for an album I recorded and mixed and I'm impressed! I used to think my "mastered" (i.e. maximized) mixes sound pretty good but now I can't even stand listening to them, the properly mastered ones are that better, yet in the same time, they don't sound drastically different (they are not supposed to).

    Some observations
    The mastered version is more open and balanced, the dynamics are somehow more alive, the vocals sound real and full, the guitars have more definition and are also sound fuller, the low end is cleaner and rounder. In comparison my maximized mix is slightly scooped and harsh, muddy and thubby, the dynamics are more static and suppressed, the vocals are less natural because of their scooped quality, the guitars and cymbals are thinner and more harsh.

    Comparison Clips
    Song 7 (double bass + tamboura and bagpipes = :headbang: :D)
    Mix

    Final Master

    Mix + Maximizer

    LOUD Master

    Song 8 (lighter and more acoustic)

    Final Master

    Mix + Maximizer

    Loudness
    We decided to go for the less loud option so that we can avoid audible clipping, to maintain higher sonic fidelity and keep things punchy. The band didn't mind and neither did the mastering engineer (Nathan James from The Vault, http://www.vaultmastering.com/ ). He was actually fond of the idea...I wonder if he was surprised that someone wants his masters less loud for a change :lol: I must admit I was tempted to go for the loud master, since as you can hear the loudness makes you perceive it as being really big, mean and powerful but ultimately I think I made the right decision.

    Gear Used
    Analog EQ - Sontec 432B/C9
    Analog Compression: Manley Variable Mu Compressor
    Tube Line Amplifier: Custom

    DA/AD provided by Mytek and Prism (AD-2)
    A splash of Digital MS EQ : Weiss EQ1 MkII
    Leveling by Oxford and Sequoia.

    Eye Candy
    [​IMG]
    :cry::cry::cry:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Summary
    This is the first time someone else masters my mixes and I hope it won't be the last. When the band told me they planning on having it mastered elsewhere I was initially worried that my mixes will be ruined or that they'll spend a load of money to get the same thing I would have done. Thankfully, even if this scenario was possible, the result is actually awesome. I recommend all of you to give pro mastering a go, especially if you're not mixing in a well-tuned and treated room, and most of us aren't. If you're the next Andy Sneap, or indeed Mr. Sneap himself, you can pass :D

    Thanks
    I must thank the forum for providing me with the possibility to have a sort of mastering contest, thanks to which I found Nathan, whom I should thank, too. He sent me some really great sounding demos and his approach is a very rare combination of professionalism and friendliness :worship:

    Feedback
    ...is welcome :)

    I'd be happy to know what you think about the recordings/mixes/masters/etc. I'm not involved in the music itself but I could mention your thoughts to the band and by the way, their whole album is going to be available for download in a day or two so I'll give you a link in case someone likes their stuff.

    Thanks for reading all of this :kickass:
     
  2. slashvanyoung

    slashvanyoung Dopefish lives!

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    Wow... the difference is astounding. The master didn't take your mix to a new level, rather a whole different dimension! Everthing's clearer, more pristine, yet bigger and more "3D".

    Did you send stereo mixdowns or individual stems?

    Wondering what his rates are...

    As for the music: Quite unique stuff for sure! But it sounds to me as if there is a little fuckup in the playing (of whatever instrument that is...?) on the right side, just a few seconds into the song.
     
  3. Morgan C

    Morgan C MAX LOUD PRESETS¯\(°_o)/¯

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    God I need new headphones. I couldn't tell a difference. :/
     
  4. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    I agree it really improves everything.

    You can ask about the rates, he's a down-to-earth guy and he'll probably reply to you personally, or at least his studio manager will (also a very nice and friendly guy). I told him how awesome this forum is so we should be seeing him post here soon :)

    These were using a stereo mixdown (like the mix I've provided in the thread only in 24b 48khz wav).

    I don't think there's a mistake in the playing but rather a part where he plays it muted.
    It looks similar to this, btw:
    [​IMG]

    Morgan, I'm sure you'll hear the difference eventually, you're probably focusing on the wrong aspects of the sound or maybe you're just tired atm.
     
  5. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Yeah it's about what I'd expect from a good master. Everything is leveled and and balanced in a way that doesn't favor any end of the spectrum, so it can be maximized with less artifacts. Good find.
     
  6. Loren Littlejohn

    Loren Littlejohn Lover of all boobage.

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    Yeah I was happy when a band decided to do the mastering out of house. The chain that got used for that (not sure of the order) was a manley massive passive, vari mu, and cranesong STC-8.

    They also had a tube tech on hand if they couldn't get my loud on, but it wasn't used. I don't have comparisons because I never attempted to master the material myself.
     
  7. Dexter_prog

    Dexter_prog New Metal Member

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    I've got to get studio monitors :( Do you have a link of the band's site? This music rules
     
  8. if6was9

    if6was9 Ireland

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    Yeah I love getting stuff I've worked on mastered elsewhere. There's a savage guy in my city in Ireland who's done loads of top stuff in a load of genres. He's really helpful, easy to work with and his rates are pretty low. His names Richard Dowling http://www.wavmastering.com/equipment.php


    He did some Napalm Death and said he used to do a good bit of the early Earache stuff when he was working in London. I got him to do a 2 track EP for a band I was doing, I was really happy with my mix and when I got it back it was unreal- same kind of differences you pointed out, seemed really balanced and open sounding and was very loud but without any pumping.
     
  9. vespiz

    vespiz Mixing!

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    Hearing (and seeing) professional mastering-engineers' work, is the reason I refuse to call what I do mastering. I call it "level-optimizing".. :)

    I've mostly used Chartmakers / Svante Forsbäck for mastering. I always try to attend personally and always enjoy the visit.
    It's weird, the stuff he does is pretty simple in itself, but the results..
     
  10. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    I just played it in a '94 Seat Ibiza with stock speakers and it sounded awesome, therefore it is officially awesome :lol:


    One thing I should mention is that I received some very nice and balanced masters by guys from the forum, who offered to do it for a really good price, but when I set up a blind shootout the band unanimously chose Nathan's master, it just had that mastering magic in it. Other masters were either trying to sort of remix my mix or just projecting their inadequate room responses over mine, so I'm not sure I can recommend the "master it elsewhere for the sake of it" approach.
     
  11. blackbird

    blackbird Toltec

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    Sounds Great my friend!!! Congratulations!
     
  12. JayB

    JayB Member

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    Sounds great !
     
  13. Youpimatin

    Youpimatin Member

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    Awesome ! I just wrote in the first topic BTW =p
     
  14. thefyn

    thefyn Member

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    Sniff. Sob. So good.

    I am mixing a 3 song demo that I need mastered. But I have to go the bedroom warrior route.

    Who do you think is good on this forum that would master a 3 (short) song demo for me for $100?

    Like, who is the best bedroom warrior on Sneap that would master 10 mins of songs for $100?
    The tracks need it too, standard tuned thrash is hard to stack up next to wall of sound 7 strings :-(

    I need it done over the weekend as I want to take some CD's to NAMM with me.

    Here is an old mix (with mistakes)

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8541677 to give you an idea
     
  15. jval

    jval Member

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    for the most part I agree... sending it to a pro usually gives you better results than doing it yourself.

    But at the same time I've sent stuff out to fairly big name mastering engineers and it's come back just absolutely awful...
     
  16. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    ^^ I'd retrack and remix it instead. BTW, the band from this thread (they're called Offroad) plays in standard E, as well.

    ^ I've heard about that happening. Maybe listen to other songs they've worked on, beforehand...or there might be something wrong with your mix as well.
     
  17. jval

    jval Member

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    yeah the guy i'm talking about has done a lot of great stuff and has done some good stuff for me too. then all of the sudden his masters went to sh*t. ah well I found someone else now.
     
  18. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    That's a pity... didn't you have a say on the final result? Nathan's fee included an hour of revision time, though I'm sure he'll spend a bit more if he agrees with your opinion. Everyone benefits when the end result is as good as possible. I don't know why someone would settle for unhappy customers, unless they (the customers) are requesting something plain stupid or there's a load of bands waiting to get their masters and spend their money.
     
  19. TheDude

    TheDude Jocke Skog

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    I use cutting room. Top notch and similar result to the OP. It's quite simple rally. A guy the specialize in mastering will ALWAYS do a better job than the engineer. It's not an additional cost, it's an investment, IMO.
     
  20. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    Tbh... I agree with the guy who said he couldn't hear a difference. Between the three different masters, I can't really hear any differences. They all sound good.
     

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