Disclosure: The service I am about to recommend is owned by a good friend of mine. Please note that he is a good friend of mine largely because he’s a killer audiologist. He’s recorded music for my own label, remixed my songs and mastered my most important release. Miro Pajic is well known in the electronic music scene. He’s a good genre jumper who once made the most dark hardcore music and today is deep in the Berlin minimal scene. His new online ITB mixing service Manic Mixing just launched. If a release is really important to you don’t master it yourself. It’s ok to bump up the volume on crap heading soley to MySpace but for anything that you want a DJ to spin send it to someone qualified. Miro is easy going and will make sure your happy. For details on his mixing process click here: Manic Mixing Details
The important thing to remember is even if you can follow what Miro does in his examples your missing the key ingredient: A fresh talented ear listening to your music!
“First of all, it is necessary to communicate, to find out what your concept and goal is and which final format it will be for. It will help to receive a reference track or demo/sketch version of the music you want to have mixed in the beginning, so i have an idea of what you mean and what we are talking about. I will then do a first rough mix of the material and send you the results, to see if you are satisfied and to make sure that things are going in the right direction. If you agree I will continue and try my best in completing the mix.” – Miro Pajc, Manic Mixing
For years many musicians, producers and music fans have been crying foul about the “Loudness War“. This is when a mastering engineer compresses and limits the dynamic range of a song to make it louder to the point of ruining the music. Many times it’s not the engineer’s fault as he or she is just following directions from the label or the band. It makes some sense you would want your album to be louder than others as it would stand out but when everyone is doing it the end effect is music is simply ruined.
Things have finally boiled over with the release of the new Metallica album Death Magnetic. Apparently it sounds so squashed that even their metal head fans can’t stand it. To add fuel to the fire a version of some of the album tracks appear mastered more tastefully in the newly released Guitar Hero 3 (video game).
“Music released today typically has a dynamic range only a fourth to an eighth as wide as that of the 1990s. That means if you play a newly released CD right after one that’s 15 years old, leaving the volume knob untouched, the new one is likely to sound four to eight times as loud. Many who’ve followed the controversy say “Death Magnetic” has one of the narrowest dynamic ranges ever on an album.” – wsj.com
I’m pleased this is getting attention because I personally can’t stand the smashed sound. It’s fine when it’s part of the artistic endeavor (such as any song by Justice) but other than that I find it seriously unpleasant.
The Wall Street journal has a great interactive graphic online comparing the sound quality of an old and new Metallica track: click here
If your a Metallica fan (I’m not) you can sign a petition to have the album re-mastered: click here
Read the full Wall Street Journal story: click here
Wikipedia’s entry for the Loudness war: click here
Here is a special photo set from my friend Tim Xavier’s mastering studio. He cuts vinyl with his unique Scully/Westrex 3D IIa cutter. There are only a few places in the world like this left. Due to Tim’s overwhelming success in his field especially with dance music this studio and his dog Sigmund recently moved from Brooklyn to Berlin. Some of his clients include Ritchie Hawtin, KiddazFM, Complete Distribution, Zuvuya Recordings and many more.
In the studio, Tim cuts on a Scully/Westrex 3DIIA cutter that is outfitted with a high powered magnet, and uses a Manley Massive Passive Tube EQ for equalizing. The Scully lathe has been modified with a Vinylium pitch computer (Stuka) for spacing grooves, which allows him to cut more time per side at a louder volume. (please see prices section for time constraints). – manmademastering.com
To enjoy the full photo set from Manmade Mastering LLC on flickr: click here