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Re: Mastering music

Ronan Chris Murphy:

>It is not my belief that look ahead brick wall limiting is always 
>bad. It is part of almost every record I make, but it often gets 
>used inappropriately , either over used or used on content that is 
>not benefitted by it. My reason for throwing out a warning about 
>compression and limiting in my previous post is that a lot of 
>looping music (especially soundscapes or textural stuff) can really 
>be harmed by poor application of limiting or especially multi-band 
>compression because they can compromise a lot of the natural 
>dynamics between frequency ranges that can be part of a tunes evolution.

This is a great point, and one i've witnessed personally just

Co-lister Hoby and i--under the moniker "Pseudophone"--have
an EP coming out on the free netlable, Negative Sound Institute,
next month.  In the mastering process, the mastering engineer--
who is highly skilled and delivered great final results, i should
say--originally misunderstood one of the pieces in a way that
fits your scenario exactly.

The track is called "The Reach", and is all about the dynamics
of the textures shifting to create a sense of internal vertigo, like
your whole sense of self is tumbling over and over into some
cavernous abyss.  It's comprised entirely of voices and treatments.

The mastering engineer went to work on it using multi-band
compression and slapping a mother of a limiter at a fairly
low threshold, making the resulting track sound like a thick
slate of electronic synthesis--which was interesting in and of
itself, but entirely missed the point of the piece.  The dynamics
were gone, the mystery was gone--cool as the result sounded.

Once we communicated the point of the piece, he understood
and favored more gentle EQ, then perhaps slight multi-band
compression and finally a limiter at a higher threshold, and all the
mystery of the original was back and sounded better than ever.

Point is: the mastering technique needs to apply to what it is
you're doing.  There are other tracks on the EP where his original
method of more aggressive multi-band compression and limiting
worked great.

And as for mastering to 0dB, we found with a primarily ambient
record that the thick clusters of frequencies mastered to such
a level distorted the outputs on some CD players.  We had our
whole project mastered to -1dB--which is a big difference, BTW--
and it works swimmingly.

Peter Koniuto
Peter Koniuto
Creative Recordist - Composer
Red Sun Soundroom
Niskayuna, NY

On our hi-fi this week...
peter AT RedSunSoundroom.com