The Art of Listening - Before and After

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
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www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#1
I'm going to be starting a series of Before and After mastering sessions. I will be placing snippets of files from different genre's of music and I want you to tell me what you don't like and what you would like to see in how to make it better for you.

I have gotten permission from the artists/labels and will be posting the raw files up and how they evolved through out the mastering process. Finally the production files will be posted as well as some of the comments from the musicians and labels on what they liked or didn't like. I hope you enjoy them.
 
Last edited:
May 30, 2010
15,422
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Portugal
#5
Bruce,
Thanks, but you are obliging me to buy a good DAC sooner than I expected!
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
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Alpharetta, Georgia
#7
Excellent thread. Bruce is da man.
 
Apr 3, 2010
15,814
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#12
Steve, do you see the directory listing? If so, right click over the file and save the file locally and then play it. I just tried it and it works fine.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,358
133
63
Pleasanton, CA
#15
In the first one "oh holy" the voice is a bit too recessed compared to the instrumental.

In the second, "what child" a bit of the opposite, the voice is somewhat glaring, the dynamics seem to break down a bit as she goes louder.

Just a non-professional, off the cuff opine. Listened through Ultrasone headphones/ Manley 300b preamp/ mac mini computer.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,756
145
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#16
In the first one "oh holy" the voice is a bit too recessed compared to the instrumental.
In the second, "what child" a bit of the opposite, the voice is somewhat glaring, the dynamics seem to break down a bit as she goes louder.
Excellent observation. Actually on all the tracks, the louder she sang, the more glare and sometimes mic/pre overload would occur. On this disc for all the tracks, the first thing we did was to use a -2.5dB EQ at 880Hz with a med-wide Q

One thing I want to say about EQ is we never use peak EQ for gain, only attenuation.

Now.. now about overall balance? Bass heavy? Lean? Top end glare or recessed?
 
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Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,756
145
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#17
Something that I will have to mention. Mastering is not a panecea for all things bad. I look at this from the perspective of looking at the forrest instead of the trees. The mixing engineer has the ability to individually tailor vocals, drums, bass and other elements to try and get a balanced/coherent landscape.
There are a few things that can be "fixed" in mastering, but it's a compromise of adjoining frequencies. Usually if something is recorded in mono, like bass, vocal or kick, we have a pretty good control over that if it's panned straight up down the middle. If either of these elements are panned L/R, then it's not much we can do, unless, it's the ONLY thing that is panned L/R.
So getting back to the forrest analogy, we can alter the stereo width/depth, EQ certain frequencies or put a shelf EQ so that all frequencies above or below get raised or cut. We'll get into other effects like balance, compression, side/chain and colorization later.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,358
133
63
Pleasanton, CA
#18
Again, with headphones, which I am not sure is the best way to judge, the balance on "Oh Holy" is quite good. Maybe a tad more 5khz for some sparkle and piano overtones. "What Child" might use a bit lower midrange with also a bit of hi end sparkle, but they both sound pretty well balanced "as is" in tone.
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,514
72
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#19
Something that I will have to mention. Mastering is not a panecea for all things bad. I look at this from the perspective of looking at the forrest instead of the trees. The mixing engineer has the ability to individually tailor vocals, drums, bass and other elements to try and get a balanced/coherent landscape.
There are a few things that can be "fixed" in mastering, but it's a compromise of adjoining frequencies. Usually if something is recorded in mono, like bass, vocal or kick, we have a pretty good control over that if it's panned straight up down the middle. If either of these elements are panned L/R, then it's not much we can do, unless, it's the ONLY thing that is panned L/R.
So getting back to the forrest analogy, we can alter the stereo width/depth, EQ certain frequencies or put a shelf EQ so that all frequencies above or below get raised or cut. We'll get into other effects like balance, compression, side/chain and colorization later.
Good post Bruce. One thing I tell friends is that good sound needs three ingredients:

1. Good original recording
2. Good mastering
3. High resolution format like LP, reel, SACD, 24/176 or higher
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,756
145
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#20
Now, what we have done is to EQ the files. This is what was done.

Lo-shelf EQ at 110Hz at 1.5dB to give a more solid foundation.

Peak EQ at 880Hz at -2.0dB to take the edge off the vocal when she sang louder

Use the Neve console "Sheen" setting on the Hi-shelf EQ to smooth out the top end.

These are the results.

POST EQ files
 

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