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thearflounge

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Posts: 448 Member Since: 12/02/2011

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Feb 2 15 12:08 PM

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Have you found that the most compressed will win 9 out of 10 times?   Even if all the particpating ME's do tasteful, and similar EQ, the most compressed, as little as 1.5 dB more, will be the client's choice regardless of whether it lost the dynamics of the mix and is more distorted.    How many clients actually know how to compare versions without fooling themselves?    Does the shootout concept actually result in a better end result for the client?  It seems to not really reflect how mastering is best done - through communication and collaboration.  Care to discuss?
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compasspnt

Diamond Forever

Posts: 21,178 Member Since:08/01/2011

#1 [url]

Feb 2 15 12:17 PM

I despise the whole shootout concept. For goodness' sake, there are there are certainly enough excellent mastering engineers with a more than credible discography…why not choose one, and as Alan says, then communicate and collaborate? Otherwise you are BOTH 1) doing your best, as always, AND 2) worrying about just the outcome mentioned…louder and/or more compressed usually "wins."

But what is "won" in such an outcome?

Even worse is if you do not KNOW there is a shootout in progress. That makes everyone worry about "being louder" when they shouldn't have to be thinking of that at all.

I always discuss in advance with a client what I intend to do…and I am going to tell them that I will not be making it loud just for the make of loud, or compressed just for the sake of compressed…and why.

Three fourths of the time it works out fine, and on the rest they want it louder anyway.

/

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

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Feb 2 15 12:57 PM

I imagine one factor is "who is making the call?"

In the case of an independent or self-released project where the buck stops with the artist, then if the artist happens to be a neophyte in terms of evaluating masters for their sound (as opposed to loudness) you'd be susceptible to that.

If an experienced producer is making the call in conjunction with the mix engineer AND the artist, a better-sounding master that happens to not be as loud could stand a better chance.

brad allen williams

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morespaceecho

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Posts: 2,299 Member Since:29/01/2011

#3 [url]

Feb 2 15 2:18 PM

i've definitely lost some shootouts to The Louder Guy. i may have won one or two because "yours isn't a distorted mess like the other ones". i'm sure i've lost more than i've won though. 

i've done a couple records where someone else mastered it first, and butchered it. it sucks that clients have to pay twice to get their record mastered, and i always wonder "couldn't the other guy just do a revision with the crushing dialed back?"  but of course i'm happy to help and happy to have work, so...

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#4 [url]

Feb 2 15 2:25 PM

Speaking from a client perspective-- if my faith in someone is shaken, I'm much more likely to just pull the plug and go elsewhere than to keep flogging the horse.

brad allen williams

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jmoran

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Posts: 748 Member Since:23/08/2011

#5 [url]

Feb 2 15 2:38 PM

I recently finished a rock project won in a shootout. Went thru several versions, back and forth quite a bit about what they were after, version X sounded the best, version Y was the loudest (I told them Y didn't knock me out at all). The clients liked X, and chose it at first but finally opted for Y after a couple of days because it was the loudest.

It was a 1.5 to 2 db level difference ( both versions way up in the single digit -dbFS) but the difference in tone and available punch was a lot more obvious than those numbers imply. oh well... who knows if they will come back with other stuff, I sure don't.

Had another shootout where the group was totally jazzed with the results and then asked for lower levels for the test track and the rest of the project. There's just no telling what anyone is going to do.

I think shootouts have become the norm for new projects unless you have an established client relationship and even then, who knows. Really a bit of a pain because a lot of the work goes into figuring out the project on the first song. Generally most of the other tracks are in the ballpark after that so you get to do the initial heavy lifting not knowing if it will be worth your time or not.
What a weird biz this has become.

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morespaceecho

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Posts: 2,299 Member Since:29/01/2011

#6 [url]

Feb 2 15 2:42 PM

soapfoot wrote:

Speaking from a client perspective-- if my faith in someone is shaken, I'm much more likely to just pull the plug and go elsewhere than to keep flogging the horse.


sure, i understand that. but i mean...one revision? i remember a record i mixed years ago, the client was (is) a good friend, we worked really hard on it. sent it to ME, the first version we got back....let's just say it sounded like his first day with a new compressor. it was way over the top. the client and i were not happy, and frankly kind of horrified. he sent the ME a polite email saying he really wasn't interested in the loudness wars and just wanted it to sound good. the second version we got back sounded beautiful and was just what we wanted. sometimes some simple communication is all that's needed.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#7 [url]

Feb 2 15 2:51 PM

Right, I understand that. But sometimes the first thing you get back is so far off base (and even so far from any semblance of professionalism) that it's easy to get spooked. Like, "if you can't hear this is awful, your ears probably aren't well-aligned enough with mine, or else aren't experienced enough, to do a good job with revisions".

It's one thing to miss the mark a bit. It's another thing to miss badly enough to shake a client's confidence.

brad allen williams

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chrisj

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Posts: 968 Member Since:22/02/2011

#8 [url]

Feb 2 15 3:23 PM

But that's the trouble when the state of 'normal' is so toxic. People have to decide what to do based on how cynical they think you are. It's like 'how bad should I ruin this in case the client expects that's the context?'

It's all about 18 db away from where _I_ like it. I think there is room in EDM, however, for peak headroom, largely because there's a huge pulse in that which MUST be a lot louder than the background sound, forcing the beat to not be dynamics-inverted. There's also extremely expensive (sometimes, extensively horn-loaded) house PA systems that'll convey any sort of mix convincingly at shattering volumes. Not everything leads to peak/RMS volume wars, though pop might be a temporarily lost cause.

Chris Johnson, airwindows.com

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ShawnJHatfield

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Posts: 187 Member Since:19/05/2011

#9 [url]

Feb 2 15 3:36 PM

I've won many of those even though mine wasn't the loudest by asking the artist and/or producer to check all the masters at the same relative level and provide some simple instructions on doing so. If I just send a master and hope for the best, despite the quality of my work, the odds are stacked against me. Helping them understand an objective comparison process is key, and also furthers their own understanding of what really happened at the mastering stage.

Shawn Hatfield www.audibleoddities.com

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#10 [url]

Feb 2 15 3:37 PM

There's a M.E. here in New York that has somewhat of a reputation for delivering very loud masters. I once worked on a project that this person did a test master for. It came back shredded, and we did not use that engineer for this project. And that was that.

I spoke with another colleague about the situation who reported the same initial experience-- except he gave this person a second chance, and they delivered incredible sounding masters on the second try. So perhaps I'm just trigger happy.

brad allen williams

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gr

Gold Finger

Posts: 356 Member Since:21/02/2011

#11 [url]

Feb 2 15 4:18 PM

It's always interresting to hear the "winner" after loosing a shootout. One in particular a few years back convinced me they are completely counterproductive so I stopped doing them all together. If they want a louder but squishy and puchless master, just ask. Anyone can do that. Otherwise it's not worth making intentionally bad sounding masters just to land a gig. It's a race to the bottom.

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morespaceecho

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 2,299 Member Since:29/01/2011

#12 [url]

Feb 2 15 4:21 PM

soapfoot wrote:
There's a M.E. here in New York that has somewhat of a reputation for delivering very loud masters.


i thought he moved to california.

*cough*

anyway....
soapfoot wrote:
But sometimes the first thing you get back is so far off base (and even so far from any semblance of professionalism) that it's easy to get spooked.


the record i mentioned was like that. it wasn't a good feeling!


 

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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viitalahde

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Posts: 597 Member Since:04/02/2011

#14 [url]

Feb 2 15 4:38 PM

I don't do samples, either. Not anymore. They brought in work most of time, some times I lost it to the loudest guy.

But what I did found out was that often, if I just did what I usually do (instead of trying think what the others do - louder, brighter etc), I was more likely to get the job.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#15 [url]

Feb 2 15 5:54 PM

Terry, morespaceecho, I don't think it's either of the ones you're mentioning. This person still has a studio in Manhattan. If you're interested in who, you can PM me and I'll divulge.

brad allen williams

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sdbmastering

Tin Man

Posts: 19 Member Since:21/01/2015

#17 [url]

Feb 3 15 3:19 AM

viitalahde wrote:
But what I did found out was that often, if I just did what I usually do (instead of trying think what the others do - louder, brighter etc), I was more likely to get the job.


This. I always do what I think sounds best, what's best for that particular song or music. I don't care if I'm not being loud enough, I'm just focused in making it sound right. That's usually the ticket to landing a job.

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ArtSta

Silverado

Posts: 66 Member Since:30/04/2014

#18 [url]

Feb 3 15 7:44 AM

thearflounge wrote:
Have you found that the most compressed will win 9 out of 10 times?   Even if all the particpating ME's do tasteful, and similar EQ, the most compressed, as little as 1.5 dB more, will be the client's choice regardless of whether it lost the dynamics of the mix and is more distorted.    How many clients actually know how to compare versions without fooling themselves?    Does the shootout concept actually result in a better end result for the client?  It seems to not really reflect how mastering is best done - through communication and collaboration.  Care to discuss?
 


That's exactly my experience. Few exceptions confirm the rule.
Ime not many clients have idea how to compare and why. They just use their own set of rules and judging factors, including bias, excluding objectivity in most cases (for right and for wrong reasons equally). I've found that as genre is more popular as the above is more true. And I think it's directly a result of the race to stay 'competitive'.

'Better' is highly relative term, strongly depends on point of view, point in time and space. The shootout is good concept in general, but only when its conditions and objectives are well defined (and stay unchanged). The issue is that in most cases they're not defined at all and/or there are some serious flaws in procedure. That is the problem. However it's great concept for clients- with just one shoot they've got several versions at once to choose from. Collaboration and communication just interferes with the flow.

We're all victims of loudness races.

Art

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gereon

Silverado

Posts: 144 Member Since:21/03/2013

#19 [url]

Feb 3 15 7:52 AM

thearflounge wrote:
Have you found that the most compressed will win 9 out of 10 times?   Even if all the particpating ME's do tasteful, and similar EQ, the most compressed, as little as 1.5 dB more, will be the client's choice regardless of whether it lost the dynamics of the mix and is more distorted.    How many clients actually know how to compare versions without fooling themselves?    Does the shootout concept actually result in a better end result for the client?  It seems to not really reflect how mastering is best done - through communication and collaboration.  Care to discuss?

Do you want to win for taste, or for loudness?

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,568 Member Since:26/01/2011

#20 [url]

Feb 5 15 1:39 PM

I think people do shootouts for the same reasons people do focus groups - they're afraid to make decisions, have no vision, don't trust their judgement, don't know when they have what they need, and desperately want to cover their asses if anything goes wrong.

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