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Readers' Letters: A million-selling producer who DOESN'T do his own mastering!, and more...

A post by David Mellor
Thursday November 30, 2006
"Thinking of mastering your own recordings, in your home recording studio? Well here is a million-selling producer who wouldn't dream of doing his own mastering, even in a pro studio."
Readers' Letters: A million-selling producer who DOESN'T do his own mastering!, and more...

In response to A million-selling producer who DOESN'T do his own mastering!, Gap2dc writes...

OTOH, if you're going to screw up your music (i.e. send it to someone on the web to master), you might as well do it yourself for free. ;-)

RP response: True, but the difference is that the person you pay to screw up your recording knows what they are doing to screw it up. ;-) too.

In response to What is a 'summing mixer', and will you make bad recordings if you don't have one?, Rmorris writes...

"Well that's bollocks too because Neve equipment was originally designed not to have a sound of its own but to be as neutral as it is possible to be. I know that because Rupert Neve told me so himself."

Can't agree with that. He may have said it but I've also read him say that the transformers do something 'magic'.

Presumably Dididesign claim that the however many bit floating precision of their summing algorithm negates any innacuracy ?

RP response: Rupert Neve told me himself that his aim was to design neutral-sounding equipment. Whether he succeeded in his aim, or whether Neve equipment has a 'sound' is a matter of opinion and having very sharp ears.In the days when we had to use transformers, people used to think they degraded the sound quality. Not by much, but the signal might pass through ten or more transformers during the entire recording process. DM

In response to A million-selling producer who DOESN'T do his own mastering!, Charles Lewis Jr. CEO I'Fa Productions (R&B Pop, Sound Editing) writes...

If you have the money by all means get your music mastered professionally by someone with a great track record. However, if you don't have the financial means to go to a professional mastering studio, learn the process and do it yourself. Like Steve Lyon, I wouldn't trust a stranger with my "babies".

In response to Why do old people listen to old music?, Bill Bromfield writes...

As an old person I think old people like old music because it's better than the new music they hear on the radio. This was true for me until I got a satellite radio, which exposed me to a wider variety of new music than FM radio did. Now I'm a big fan of new music. There is a lot of great new music out there that many old people don't know about.

Another factor, for me, is that a lot of new music, especially "big hits" are produced and/or mastered to sterile perfection and are not pleasing to the older ear. A lot of younger people like their music squashed. As a mastering engineer, I agree with Bob Katz: K-12 (average RMS @ -12 dBFS if your peak is @ 0 dBFS) sounds good to me, but many younger people prefer what would be K-7 or lower, which I do reluctantly.

Why do young people like old music? Because it's great stuff!

RP response: Thank you for your comments. We're not so sure though that young people like their music squashed. They just don't get to hear it any other way.

In response to The ancient myths and legends of soundproofing, Peter writes...

Very good & concise piece on sound conditioning. In addition to absorbtion materials for the reflected sound, dispersion devices are good for scattering the sound and therefore enhancing the absorbtion, as well as reducing annoying echoes.

As far as a "disposal zone", the Helmholtz resonator is a proven device for trapping sound energy within a designated bandwidth, but you are correct that it is elaborate and expensive. "Bass traps", which absorb particular bandwidths of sound and work by being placed in the room where those lower frequencies tend to "gather", are commonly used.

In building radio studios, we have found that a bass trap is effectively created simply by using a dropped ceiling, above which you fill with fibreglass insulation. Mids & highs are absorbed by the tiles, while the bass passes through and gets absorbed while bouncing bach & forth between the hard ceiling and the top of the tiles.

Your point about "bendable" wallboard: What you descibe is also what has ruined some concert hall spaces for music. Materials which flex, we can call them "tympanic", can make a hall very poor for the bass end of music.

One of the most infamous examples is the concert hall at Lincoln Center, NYC. The hall, now known as Avery Fisher Hall, in honor of the legendary audio inventor whose family (or foundation) paid for much of the renovation, had to be stripped back to the outside brick walls and the interior completely rebuilt!

Another place where this phenomenen occurs is when an old-time "movie palace" is converted to use as an arts center/concert hall. The interior walls are very often thin, creating a very effective bass trap.

Case in point, the Rhode Island Performance Arts Center in downtown Providence, RI.

Interestingly, that was very useful for movie sound, where "dry" acoustics at the bass end were desirable to achieve clear dialogue for the audience's ears. (The same reason that "dialoque equalization" is traditionally applied to the dialogue tracks.)

RP response: The Avery Fisher fiasco is indeed legendary in audio. Apparently it is scheduled for a further gutting in 2009!

In response to Architects slam illegal photography, Dan Nims writes...

Should we respect 'intellectual properties' with equal fervor?

If a photographer is creating an image that isto be used for a commercial purpose, yes, a 'model release' is necessary and one could extend that to getting a release from any other copywrited installation that is recognizable in the image.

Should architects be concerned about 'family' or 'portraits' taken outside as being an affront to their craft? Bullfeathers!

Architects rightfully earn a commission on works they create. To seek untold millions from those who snap pictures of those buildings reeks of an attorney who has entirely too much time on his or her hands. If, by the sheer beauty of a particular design, an image of an architect's building becomes widely circulated between family and friends, there is no damage to the art of the designer.

When a public buiding is designed and built, the tax payers have compensated the design firm. It is always the hope that what we end up with will become a beautiful landmark. To assume that we should pay for the right to photograph it forever is absurd.

Of course when the initial contract is written, perhaps it is time to include a clause that all photographs of the project 'will be in the public domain' and thus shunt to ground any future litigation.

Aside from that I have no strong feelings on the matter.

In response to The ancient myths and legends of soundproofing, Steve Ward writes...

Another way to get sound absorbed is to get it to change media. Every time it changes medium, the transfer of energy is less than 100% efficient. For example, you could build a stud wall with a gypsum board (sheetrock)-sound deadening board (Celotex, Homasote)-gypsum board "sandwich" on each side of a stud wall. Throw a thin layer of fiberglass in the cavity to absorb sound reflecting within it, and you have a wall that has a sound transmission coefficient of 35 dB. Sound would change media seven times before emerging from the other side of the wall. Adding a layer of lead sheeting will drop sound another 10 dB.

In response to The ancient myths and legends of soundproofing, James Robinson writes...

Dude: Didn't you ever hear of the "cone of silence?" Ah la, Maxwell Smart, that is.

RP response:

If the collective Audio Masterclass memory is working properly, the joke - in the excellent 1960s 'Get Smart' comedy series - was that the cone of silence didn't work. The two people inside couldn't hear each other while people outside could hear them both with crystal clarity. We still want one though!

In response to The ancient myths and legends of soundproofing, Mr. Will Green writes...

I just wanna commend you guys on the info that you give us. Little do you know I look foward to see when you all post new info when I check my email. The sound proofing article was a god send to me because just this morning I was in my booth working on how I can improve my sound and low and behold I checked my email and ta dah! sound proofing tips. Again thanks!

In response to What is a 'Class A' amplifier?, James Greene writes...

Thanks for explaining the difference between the classes of amps. You were very informative and I was helped tremendously. Now I can make a more informed purchase armed with this helpful information.



RP response: You're welcome. And remember that a Class A power amp makes a handy room heater too!

In response to The ancient myths and legends of soundproofing, John Davies writes...

If I roll up lengths of insulation very tightly ( tied with string ) and just place them in the corners of my studio, will this work effectively as a bass trap?

RP response: It depends on the material you use and how thick the rolls are, but yes it should help. If you have standing wave problems, then tuned absorbers would be better.

In response to Is it impossible to amplify and record a choir at the same time?, Paul Van Jaarsveld writes...

Using two systems is not so far fetched. Just use transformer splitters to split the same signal to the recording desk and to the live desk. If you only use three to four mic's, you could even use the same desk if it has direct outs on the mic channels. If you have three or four spare channels, you can use the direct out or even hack the insert to give a signal to the channels you will be using exclusively for recording. The live sound can happily be amplified and mixed as it is routed to the main mix out, while the recoding sound is routed to the sub outs which goes straight to the multi track recording device. The best practice would be to split the signal and have two engineers or at least two desks. In this way, you can still use the same microphones for both without worrying about feedback because the changes the recording engineer makes does not influence the live setting at all.

RP response: Technically this will work. However the problem still remains that reflected sound from the loudspeakers will be captured in the recording. To ease this, then the recording microphones could be moved closer, but then they are not in their ideal positions.

A post by David Mellor
Thursday November 30, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)