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mastering levels for vinyl

 
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:01 pm    Post subject: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

I have mastered a few albums for vinyl but generally they were on the mellower side of indie pop/folk/rock and weren't too heavily limited. We were very happy with how they turned out.

I am now finishing up work on a more electronic album (think WASHED OUT) where the heavier limiting is working better but as this is a little outside of my usual genres, i am concerned about how hot it TOO hot for vinyl lacquers etc...

Any tips with regard to level? I am peaking at -.3 DB in Ozone and not doing too much grabbing there - just a few dbs. Lots of small incremental compression across the board to try and keep from feeling too constricted or over cooked....

I contacted the company that will be cutting the lacquers and pressing the vinyl to see if i could get some feedback from their lacquer guy but they were reluctant to give any feedback or look at any files (it's too subjective etc).

Please no "Send to a legit/pro ME" advice.

(I had an experience about 6 or 7 years ago where I had paid a very skilled and accomplished ME to master my album - he did an excellent job - and the lacquer guy insisted we output lower level files for the vinyl - thus my concerns here)
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Nick Sevilla
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:52 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

Well, there is such a thing as mastering FOR vinyl.

I remember these rules:

More bass = wider grooves = less play time on each side.

You can have plenty of bass, but only to a certain limit. UNLESS you provide a master which is NOT AS LOUD as a CD. Typically about 6dB LESS loud than your typical CD master.

And please, leave out turd looking audio mixes. Those do not do well on vinyl, they can sound like a damn mp3. Leave some dynamic range. The vinyl cutting guy will know best what to do if your mix is "too" dynamic.

Bass to one side (not in the center of the Stereo image) = HELL NO.

Anything above 18kHz = Say bye bye to that, it ain't gonna make the cut. Provide a master with a 6dB lopass filter starting at about 17kHz, it will make things go smoother.

So, keep things along those line.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:00 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

so you are saying - IF you want heavy bass - make sure it's 6 db lower at the peaks?
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Nick Sevilla
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:51 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

joninc wrote:
so you are saying - IF you want heavy bass - make sure it's 6 db lower at the peaks?


YES. And it may be LESS, -9, whatever is needed by the mastering guy.

And that you WILL lose time for that side. So, say if you thought you had 19 minutes per side, you will get less. How much less depends entirely on how far apart the grooves need to be.

Another thing to consider if the weight of the disc itself:

Heavier means bigger and deeper grooves, but also less playing time.

80 grams is bandied about today as a good vinyl weight, but you may be able to get heavier vinyl, if you have massive bass.

Cheers
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Nick Sevilla
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:58 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

I got to attend a mastering session for the band Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a bit over a year ago, in this place, with this nice guy:

Chris Bellman.

http://www.berniegrundmanmastering.com/engineers/bell_disc.html

He answered a lot of questions about all this. Some of which I remember...

I do not know if someone here does vinyl mastering, but you can certainly ask about...

Old Colony Mastering is quite good, if he knows anything about vinyl, ask him.
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MoreSpaceEcho
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:13 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

oh hi.

if you're not the one actually cutting the thing to vinyl, and in this case i'm assuming you're not...just make it sound good to you, and let the cutting engineer do their job.

if you REALLY think the limiter is actually making the sound better, then leave it. most likely, it isn't and you can leave it off.

if you're doing any clipping ahead of the limiter, a common practice for digital masters, i would STRONGLY urge you to take that off for the vinyl master.

vinyl is more concerned with average levels than it is with peak levels. so what happens when you send a really hot, clipped/limited master to be cut to vinyl? the vinyl ME just turns the whole thing down.

so, knowing that, why send a hot master? no reason.

just make it sound good to you, leave off all the loudness crap, print 24 bit files with a few db of headroom, and you're good.

i wouldn't worry about sibilance. if it was annoying, you would've already fixed it. if it's gonna be a problem on vinyl, that's for the vinyl ME to decide.

make sense?
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joninc
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:12 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

Thanks for chiming in - are you saying that you don't typically put a limiter on the tracks you're sending to vinyl?
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MoreSpaceEcho
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:04 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

almost never. there's not really any reason. it's just gonna work against you in the end.

maybe once in a blue moon i'll leave the limiter on there if there's some random stray peaks sticking out, but normally i'd have sorted those peaks out ahead of the limiter, so....yeah. almost never.

in general the limiter's gonna be hitting mostly the drum transients right? those aren't really a problem for vinyl. what IS a problem for vinyl, afaik, is things like really peaky vocals, where certain words/syllables/phrases are way louder than everything else, and all the info is right in the mids/upper mids. that stuff is hard to cut. it can be annoying to master for digital too, for that matter.

anyway just make it sound good to you and let the vinyl ME do the rest.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:07 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

That's very interesting to hear. I have been asking around with vinyl plants and different mastering guys and no one was as forthcoming so thank you.

How much headroom would you typically be leaving? Or are you just making sure there's no peaking over -.1 ?

Could you speak to the issue of low end vs side length?

Is 20 min per side doable with decent fidelity?
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MoreSpaceEcho
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

20 is pushing it but doable. i think around 15 is ideal.

i believe side length is more of a factor than low end as far as loudness/fidelity. i.e. if you have a long side length, it doesn't matter how much low end there is, you're not going to be able to cut it loud.

i leave a few dbs. for the digital master, i'm never running into the clipper/limiter right at 0, i'm hitting those at like -4 and making up the gain. so for the vinyl it's generally just a matter of taking the loudenizers off and leaving the gain as is. does that make sense?

honestly so long as you're under 0 and not clipping it's fine, the vinyl ME can adjust the level to whatever they need. but headroom's a good thing so why not.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:38 pm    Post subject: Re: mastering levels for vinyl Reply with quote

i know 15 min is ideal but i very seldom see artists making albums that are 30 min. 40-45 is much more the norm for 10 - 11 songs that I see.
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