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> Recording, Why it's so important to get this right
Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 1 2012, 12:56 PM
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I keep telling people that it's really important to make sure that they get the best possible result at recording and not to rely on mixing or mastering to save a poor recording session.

We've just received a project to master and there are lots of issues with the recording. Some of the worst are that the vocals clip/overload and that reverb has been used but not particularly well: it is switched on mid phrase on the intro vocal and then the reverb type changes later in this phrase, kind of like:

'I'm coming ho me to fi nd you (where the colours show the reverb kicking in and then changing).

The reverb also shoves the vocals in to clipping briefly before the engineer realises and reduces the wet/dry ratio. That's also an issue...

Reverb time and the way the vocalist holds the mic though also means that it picks up the vocalist's breathing, which cycles round and round and throws the track in to overload at various places.

Anyway we've been told that there's no chance of a re-recording so 'do what you can' - we've resorted to reprocessing the vox through M/S decoding and we're trying to sort the reverb breaths that way. A bit of a bodge but that's what you get if you don't nail the recording...



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Mudbone
post Jun 1 2012, 05:15 PM
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This is great advice. Personally, I have always preferred the guitar to sound very raw, and in order for that to happen the guitars have to be recorded properly.


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 1 2012, 06:15 PM
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I know how you feel... you would prefer to avoid doing that job, because the result won't be what you would like and it will include your name in credits... what about saying that you won't do it?


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 1 2012, 06:27 PM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 1 2012, 06:15 PM) *
I know how you feel... you would prefer to avoid doing that job, because the result won't be what you would like and it will include your name in credits... what about saying that you won't do it?


Well I don't think my accountant and business partner would be happy if I said no Gab...


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 1 2012, 06:56 PM
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QUOTE (Mudbone @ Jun 1 2012, 05:15 PM) *
This is great advice. Personally, I have always preferred the guitar to sound very raw, and in order for that to happen the guitars have to be recorded properly.


Think you'll appreciate this one...

We were asked if we could make a recording sound more 'USA heavy rock' at mastering. The lead guitar used was a Rickenbacker, nice guitar and all but maybe not everyone's first choice for that sound. Our advice was that we had the number of a good equipment hire company if they wanted to go back and re-record the lead...

It really does help to use the right equipment to record with and to get the sound right at recording rather than to try and fix it at mixing/mastering smile.gif .


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 17 2012, 12:40 PM
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As an update...

We persuaded the producer that the take really wasn't ready for mastering - mainly by mastering it 'as is' and going through it with him. So he went back to the band to talk about re-recording. We received the new versions yesterday with his comment, 'They'be been remixed but I've not listened to them. Do what you need to do now.'

Yes they've been remixed but not re-recorded. The remix shifts the tonality a bit and the lead vocals is now also a 'vox up' take (they increased the level of the lead vocal track by about 2dB relative to the mix). The vocals are still fried and the reverb is far too apparent and inappropriate - this is made even more obvious as it's a 'vox up'.

Now my interpretation of the producer's comment to me is, 'I think there will be issues but I'm turning a blind eye to them.' Chances of rescuing fried vocals at mastering - 0% though I can reduce the apparent damage. Chances of removing the reverb at mastering - 0% though again I can reduce the damage. Chances of us making a profit on this project - 0%. Chances of the producer laying the blame on the mastering for a less than perfect end result - 100%.

BTW - we charged the guy @ 180 Euros including IVA for the mastering on this project (4 tracks inc. PMCDs). We didn't charge him any extra for him sending amended versions - we should as the recall is his fault not ours. If the recording and mixing had been good then we would have spent about 5 hours on the job. As it is I'm expecting it to be around 18 hours.

So for those who think mastering costs a lot and that we get paid a lot:

Total price - 180 Euros

*minus IVA (Spanish VAT/Taxes) @18% - 152.54 Euros

#minus Social Security for me and my assistant (250 Euros each per month - 5 hours out of 25 working days on this track = 12.5 Euros) - 140.

minus the gross salary exc. SS of my assistant/trainee (@45 Euros) - 95

other costs (accountant's fees, service charges and so on - @15 Euros) - 80

~At the moment from that 80 Euros I pay up keep on the studio/fund equipment maintenance and purchases. Over the last 3 years we have reinvested @10000 Euros each year in to new/replacement equpiment. Our total equpiment is over 80000 Euros and the studio would probably cost over 100000 Euros if we had to build it again.

So our pre tax profit is around 50 Euros for 5 hours work.

Once all of that is done I then get to pay myself- usually about 8 Euros per hour. (I see my assistant as a fixed cost so she gets paid regardless of what we make. I'm a variable though.)

In the last two years I've known 7 European studios - two multi rooms and 5 independents - who closed their doors. All of them were either owned or employed friends of mine. I have an e-mail from one of our suppliers offering us a 'deal' on some used equpiment - most of which came from a friend's studio when he closed his doors.

We carry on but each year just surviving feels like an major achievement. Anyone who thinks we're making a killing and charge a lot is way off the mark.



~ After this financial year our equipment spend should however go down and so pre tax profits, and my salary will go up to @12 Euros.

* We're a legitimate company and tax registered and so have to charge IVA. For the past few years we've absorbed that cost rather than pass it on to small independent clients. (Large labels generally are IVA/VAT exempt so will not pay it anyway.) My accountant however doesn't think we can sustain this any longer and it causes a lot of debate between us.

# As an independent company I have to pay both my own and my assistant's Social Security - 250 Euros each per month regardless of how much money we gross. So even if we don't work I still pay 500 Euros each month, plus her salary. This is again a debate between me and my accountant - she wants me to let my assistant go and I keep refusing, not least as she hasn't finished her trainng.






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Ben Higgins
post Jun 17 2012, 07:35 PM
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I've only just seen this thread and I never fail to be surprised by the ridiculous requests that come your way Tony !

I know I've got a lot to learn about mixing and all but a lot of these people should be better at it than they are !?


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2012, 09:28 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 17 2012, 07:35 PM) *
...

I know I've got a lot to learn about mixing and all but a lot of these people should be better at it than they are !?


Absolutely Ben.

In this case the music was recorded in a professional recording/mixing multi-room studio by professionals and the independent producer is also a professional. I know what the rate card is for that studio, and for this project the band will have paid several thousand for the recording and the mixing of the EP. The producer rate card is similar. It's also part of his job to listen to and approve the recording, mix and master and agree rates and stuff with the various engineers/studios. So not listening to the re-mix...

The producer tells me that the band paid extra for the remix. In my opinion it should have been done as a free re-call as it has technical issues that need to be sorted out at recording and mixing. The remix honestly comes across to me as a rushed job and has not addressed the majority of issues that I raised. The producer also told me that the recording/mixing studio is 'very busy and only just managed to sqeeze the remix in'. Hmmm.


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 18 2012, 09:54 AM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jun 18 2012, 09:28 AM) *
Absolutely Ben.

In this case the music was recorded in a professional recording/mixing multi-room studio by professionals and the independent producer is also a professional. I know what the rate card is for that studio, and for this project the band will have paid several thousand for the recording and the mixing of the EP. The producer rate card is similar. It's also part of his job to listen to and approve the recording, mix and master and agree rates and stuff with the various engineers/studios. So not listening to the re-mix...

The producer tells me that the band paid extra for the remix. In my opinion it should have been done as a free re-call as it has technical issues that need to be sorted out at recording and mixing. The remix honestly comes across to me as a rushed job and has not addressed the majority of issues that I raised. The producer also told me that the recording/mixing studio is 'very busy and only just managed to sqeeze the remix in'. Hmmm.


Pretty shoddy conduct isn't it ? Just typical cattle market business I guess.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2012, 10:30 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 18 2012, 09:54 AM) *
...Just typical cattle market business I guess.


Yes. I know quite a few studios/engineers who do similar unless you are a big name and on a major label. I also know some mastering engineers/studios who also do this so the issue isn't just confined to recording/mixing studios.

To be fair they're trying to make a profit in a business sector that has seen rate cards drop by over 60% in 2 years. Lots of studios have gone bankrupt and most of us who are left walk a fine line finacially. So some studios decide how much profit they need/want from a project and set their work accordingly.We don't as I think it's unethical but I can understand it. In some ways it's the professional equivalent of the kid who 'masters' using a preset oin a software vst and charges for it. Ultimately it's the usual case of 'buyer beware'.



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ItSME3
post Jun 18 2012, 10:42 AM
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hope you hang in there. Friends of mine closed their studio last year and told me that a lot of their competitors will soon close too sad.gif
Only a few with good contacts and industry support can survive these dire times. In my city there is just a small studio left that basically provides a nice recording room and some basic equipment but no engineers any longer. Sad times
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2012, 11:10 AM
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QUOTE (ItSME3 @ Jun 18 2012, 10:42 AM) *
hope you hang in there. Friends of mine closed their studio last year and told me that a lot of their competitors will soon close too sad.gif
Only a few with good contacts and industry support can survive these dire times. In my city there is just a small studio left that basically provides a nice recording room and some basic equipment but no engineers any longer. Sad times


That's pretty much the same picture here in Europe. The industry has been going through a shake out for a few years and it's the middle - mainly the independent studios - that has been very badly squeezed. Rates have really fallen but rent, services and equipment all have gone up. We're slightly more stable and secure than many as our studio premises is paid for so there's no rent/mortgage for us.

Perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic but very few people actually seem to value the experience that is being lost.





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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
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Zoot
post Jun 18 2012, 02:56 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jun 1 2012, 09:56 PM) *
...Some of the worst are that the vocals clip/overload...


FWIW, I've been quite impressed by iZotope's RX2 declipper for this sort of thing. Won't do jack about the reverb - but nice trick on the M/S stuff. I'll have to try that out.

Z.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2012, 04:07 PM
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QUOTE (Zoot @ Jun 18 2012, 02:56 PM) *
FWIW, I've been quite impressed by iZotope's RX2 declipper for this sort of thing. Won't do jack about the reverb - but nice trick on the M/S stuff. I'll have to try that out.

Z.


Yes - if the damage isn't too bad then upward expansion helps, we don't use a declipper but do it with a compressor. Problem here though is that the audio is clipped so aggressively that it is sheared. That shearing throws how the reconstruction occurs in the AD/DA and so makes the wave sound odd as well as distorted.

With the M/S and reverb it's also a nice trick for moving instruments forward and backward in the stereo field but be careful as it can throw the stereo balance out if you over do it.


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
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