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Mastering in the Age Of The Single

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  • Mastering in the Age Of The Single

    Should probably have put this in the Drunk Thread, but it's been bugging me for a long time and I'd like to hear what other ambient musicians have to say.

    I have all 3 AO compilations. I have a bunch of Xenomorph releases. I have a lot of ambient/electronic stuff from Amazon. My playlists liik like i'm stoned (lol).. a huge mix of bands, tracks, and sometime styles.

    Which leads me to think: originally to "master" an album was to make sure all the trakcs on an album flowed between each other properly, volume and sonically balanced, creating a cohesive whole out of disparate sections.

    BUT.. when you chop albums, mix and match, suddenly the "cohesive whole" doesn't exist any more. All th effort that was put forth to create a seamless sonic experience, poof useless, as if you put a Lady Gaga track next to a Steve Roach (and FOR GOD SAKE I DID NOT DO THAT).

    So what does mastering mean any more to an electronic musician? If you want a seamless experience you'd best make your album one track or your vision is down the rat-hole. Each song will have to stand on it's own, and IMHO that's antithetical t the classic sense of "mastering".

    I think of my last step as "Finalization". I try to make sure the mix is right, all instruments sit in their space, instrument volumes are good.. which is the job of a MIX engineer. I have no idea in what order, if any, the tracks on my album will get played, so i focus on making each composition a thing whole into itself. I don't "master".

    Comments, opinions, flames?
    Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
    Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
    Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

  • #2
    in the early 90's I did a little bit DJ-ing and mostly I played vinyl singles (no ambient style music) ... so I think nothing had changed all the years

    let the 3-band-EQ be your friend, even knowing that it not will always be that Golden Hammer for a seamless mix of different tracks
    ahornberg.bandcamp.com
    soundcloud.com/ahornberg

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Synthetic Aurality View Post
      Should probably have put this in the Drunk Thread, but it's been bugging me for a long time and I'd like to hear what other ambient musicians have to say.

      I have all 3 AO compilations. I have a bunch of Xenomorph releases. I have a lot of ambient/electronic stuff from Amazon. My playlists liik like i'm stoned (lol).. a huge mix of bands, tracks, and sometime styles.

      Which leads me to think: originally to "master" an album was to make sure all the trakcs on an album flowed between each other properly, volume and sonically balanced, creating a cohesive whole out of disparate sections.

      BUT.. when you chop albums, mix and match, suddenly the "cohesive whole" doesn't exist any more. All th effort that was put forth to create a seamless sonic experience, poof useless, as if you put a Lady Gaga track next to a Steve Roach (and FOR GOD SAKE I DID NOT DO THAT).

      So what does mastering mean any more to an electronic musician? If you want a seamless experience you'd best make your album one track or your vision is down the rat-hole. Each song will have to stand on it's own, and IMHO that's antithetical t the classic sense of "mastering".

      I think of my last step as "Finalization". I try to make sure the mix is right, all instruments sit in their space, instrument volumes are good.. which is the job of a MIX engineer. I have no idea in what order, if any, the tracks on my album will get played, so i focus on making each composition a thing whole into itself. I don't "master".

      Comments, opinions, flames?
      That's a very 'old school' way of looking at mastering - and it's exactly how I view it too As far as my own releases go, I always work in album form anyhow, so I don't master until I've recorded and mixed all the tracks, and decided on a running order. If people only download individual tracks, or put them on 'shuffle' :ick: , I can't prevent that so there's no point worrying about it. I like to think that the few people who do download my stuff have similar values concerning track sequencing (by which I mean running order) and mastering to add cohesion.

      On the odd occasion that I release a single track (e.g. for a competition or a podcast) I use the same mastering chain, but in this case I'm doing it to add that final bit of polish to the mix. Unless, like the AO compilations, mastering is going to be done later. (I trust S1gns will make a much better job of mastering than I would anyway )
      My new album is available now, here: https://thoughtexperiment.bandcamp.c.../supersymmetry
      Check out my (hopelessly out-of-date) SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/thought_experiment

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies! It's just something that has bugged me for a while and I decided to ask Wiser Heads. :listening:

        I think I'll just have to experiment when I have an albums worth done..
        Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
        Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
        Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

        Comment


        • #5
          You should've said you were asking wiser heads, I would've kept my trap shut :D

          Although I have been called a wise guy occasionally...
          My new album is available now, here: https://thoughtexperiment.bandcamp.c.../supersymmetry
          Check out my (hopelessly out-of-date) SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/thought_experiment

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Thought Experiment View Post
            You should've said you were asking wiser heads, I would've kept my trap shut :D

            Although I have been called a wise guy occasionally...
            I've been called a wise SOMETHING but I'l feeling too polite to say what... :razz:
            Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
            Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
            Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

            Comment


            • #7
              If I am doing a single, I will compare it to other similar work in my collection as to levels, etc. I have found a tendency to do too much polishing though.

              I never really owned a proper compressor, and think I am trying to make up for lost time. Some mixes I made from more than a year ago sound like they have been pressurized and sealed in a spray can.

              Ubik.

              Some things get a "finish coat" of sorts. Something added to the final mix for effect, like console/tape noise, a subtle reverb. I would still call that part of the mixing process, and not mastering.

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              • #8
                For a couple of years I had a mastering chain that I was quite happy with, but I decided recently that this was not adequate for my purposes. I'm currently tweaking 2 chains. One is used for my beat-oriented tracks and the other for my more soporific pieces. I am now of the opinion that both of these styles seem to benefit from a peak level of approx -9dB, but I will use a compressor (quite mild) and limiter together with the equalizers and saturation in the chain for my beat-driven tracks. I am tending towards using saturation and EQ only for the ambient/softer pieces after identifying the compressor/limiter as a source of "congestion" in my recent works (with the help of some of the KVR peeps). I am going to relevel (if necessary) and then remaster some of my earlier pieces in the near future.

                Having two chains will make my next two albums somewhat easier to master. Common levelling parameters and a common mastering chain for each album should help to provide a more balanced sound.
                Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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