I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

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James B
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I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by James B » Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:25 pm

My band is putting out an EP sometime soon, we're nearly done with recording it.
It's basically just going to be given away free to anyone who wants it, or maybe charge some nominal amount to sell it at gigs... it'll probably only be 100 copies or so, so the chances of making any money on it are non-existent.

So, considering the circumstances, paying for mastering is probably excessive, we've spent no money on anything else for it aside from CD-Rs, so we don't really want to start now.

Is it worth giving it a go myself? I know nothing, but I guess I could read up and give it my best shot. But all I ever hear from mastering engineers is that you definitely should never, ever even think about mastering something yourself.

Failing that, does anyone know a seriously dirt cheap place to get a quick and easy mastering job done who I can email the files to?

This post is a bit disjointed, I know, it's nearly 3.30am here and I really should've torn myself away from the computer hours ago...

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Post by ashcat_lt » Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:50 pm

Do it yourself. Make it sound as good as possible on as many systems as possible. Make it sound as consistent from song to song as you feel it should. Don't fuck it up.

I'll do it.

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Post by chris harris » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:12 pm

So, you guys play gigs... and, you can't come up with more than $0 to invest in the recording that will be the lasting reminder of your band to the people who come to your shows?

DIY is great and all... but, you should also consider how this cd will represent your band.

It's amazing how easy it is to come up with A LITTLE scratch for recording when you make your bands recording a priority over say, beer or cigarettes...

Good luck, though.

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Post by drumsound » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:52 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:So, you guys play gigs... and, you can't come up with more than $0 to invest in the recording that will be the lasting reminder of your band to the people who come to your shows?

DIY is great and all... but, you should also consider how this cd will represent your band.

It's amazing how easy it is to come up with A LITTLE scratch for recording when you make your bands recording a priority over say, beer or cigarettes...

Good luck, though.
+1

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Re: I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by AstroDan » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:50 am

James B wrote:Is it worth giving it a go myself? I know nothing, but I guess I could read up and give it my best shot. But all I ever hear from mastering engineers is that you definitely should never, ever even think about mastering something yourself.
See, you're already disobeying them in that first sentence. Stop thinking about trying it.

I do agree that mastering is something that requires the right tools and tons of experience, and would be worthwhile for any project to get a professional.

There's most likely alot of people on this board interested in getting into mastering and are probably equipped and enthused to try it. You've got offers on this very thread.
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Post by caffiend2049 » Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:48 am

I can easily get behind several fronts of this discussion and have personally done "releases" a number of different ways.
Obviously, pro mastering would be optimal and desirable but, in lieu of having the resources for a really good ME, I wouldn't suggest a cheapo send off mastering job.
In many cases, you will be let down.

Now, if the mixes represent a lot of hard work and time and you are quite satisfied with the sound, it would be well worth it to dig in and take the last step in order to transfer that sound to the fan.
But, if the extra time required to get this done will interfere with getting the songs out - well...take a stab at doing a few things yourself.
At least make sure that the songs have similar apparent loudness and that the spacing and flow is to your liking. If you have access to some transparent compression....maybe work that on the 2buss so the volume level is comparable (if not identical) to some commercial releases.

Best compromise would be to take someone up on a free mastering offer AND work up your own as well.
Listen to both versions on as many systems as you can. Then roll with the one you feel sounds best.

Best of luck!
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Re: I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by I'm Painting Again » Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:30 am

AstroDan wrote:
I do agree that mastering is something that requires the right tools and tons of experience, and would be worthwhile for any project to get a professional.

.
not that this is an invalid statement or anything but whenever anyone says this I think of how the first job they gave all the apprentice engineers at Abbey Road, etc. back in da day was mastering so they would understand what a record should sound like before they got into tracking and mixing..

imho mastering is a much easier job than what comes before it..

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Post by James B » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:25 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:So, you guys play gigs... and, you can't come up with more than $0 to invest in the recording that will be the lasting reminder of your band to the people who come to your shows?

DIY is great and all... but, you should also consider how this cd will represent your band.

It's amazing how easy it is to come up with A LITTLE scratch for recording when you make your bands recording a priority over say, beer or cigarettes...

Good luck, though.
that's totally a fair point, which i kind of agree with.

but when i say we play gigs, it's more like friend's house parties and opening for whatever low level indie bands are touring through cardiff... i don't think we've yet managed to make more than the cost of getting there from a gig, not that i'm complaining...
We're slowly starting to take it a little more seriously though, so I'm hoping the next one will have more invested in it financially.

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Re: I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by Cellotron » Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:51 pm

James B wrote:My band is putting out an EP sometime soon, we're nearly done with recording it.
It's basically just going to be given away free to anyone who wants it, or maybe charge some nominal amount to sell it at gigs... it'll probably only be 100 copies or so, so the chances of making any money on it are non-existent.

So, considering the circumstances, paying for mastering is probably excessive, we've spent no money on anything else for it aside from CD-Rs, so we don't really want to start now.

Is it worth giving it a go myself? I know nothing, but I guess I could read up and give it my best shot. But all I ever hear from mastering engineers is that you definitely should never, ever even think about mastering something yourself.
As a professional mastering engineer, gotta say this is actually the kind of case where diy'ing makes sense for the initial release. If you were actually going to put out say around 500 units - or were planning on trying to get radio play, reviews from press or interest from a label - then I'd say the (actually small) additional expense of professional mastering is really well worth it. If after the first 100 CD-R's are gone you realize that things aren't up to par and you want to do another release - hopefully by then you've gotten a few hundred dollars from gigging and saving to actually get it mastered.

So - for an initial foray into DIY mastering - take a little time off from listening to the mixes before doing - as a fresh perspective is key! Try and do the work in a room different from where you mixed in (as you don't want to exacerbate any incorrect decisions made because of dealing with a potentially inaccurate room) and on absolutely the most accurate monitoring (i.e. full range, clean, in an acoustically tuned room hopefully) system you can get your hands on. Spend a lot of time listening to some CD's you sonically like on this system - and then get to work.

I'd suggest if it's your first attempt at all this just do a minimum to go light with any processing - just get each mix to be fairly level matched to the rest of the tracks, and apply a little eq as needed to get the tracks to have more similar spectral balances. Clean up the heads and tails, sequence as desired, encode the track & pause indexes and subcodes as desired, and burn the master using good media. Check out an extra reference copy or two on as many systems as you can to make sure it's the way you want it - then run an error check on the master disc if you can, and listen through the master in its entirety before sending in to your duplicator to make sure it's all good.

Hope that helps.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

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Re: I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by Cellotron » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:04 pm

Sheep in Punk Clothing wrote:
AstroDan wrote:
I do agree that mastering is something that requires the right tools and tons of experience, and would be worthwhile for any project to get a professional.

.
not that this is an invalid statement or anything but whenever anyone says this I think of how the first job they gave all the apprentice engineers at Abbey Road, etc. back in da day was mastering so they would understand what a record should sound like before they got into tracking and mixing..

imho mastering is a much easier job than what comes before it..
Mastering then was much more about putting what was already on tape onto a lacquer master as accurately as possible within the limitations inherent in the vinyl format. You better believe that the tapes the cutting engineers were receiving were at Abbey Road back in the day were already of very high quality! - and that the cutting engineers if faced with a difficulty had a number of mentors they could go to immediately to deal with these problems.

Mastering now is very often about dealing with tracks that were recorded and mixed using inexpensive tools in rooms that are acoustically mediocre, often handled by inexperienced engineers. In these cases knowing how to do processing that will honor the mixer's intentions but correct for any anomalies that if left untouched would limit the impact of the recording on the listener is more critical.

So - things have changed a little since back in the day!

(Although I've certainly done a good number of flat transfers of great sounding mixes that didn't need anything else done to them though)

Best regards,
Steve Berson

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Re: I can't afford to get my songs mastered...

Post by chris harris » Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:05 pm

Cellotron wrote:As a professional mastering engineer, gotta say this is actually the kind of case where diy'ing makes sense for the initial release. If you were actually going to put out say around 500 units - or were planning on trying to get radio play, reviews from press or interest from a label - then I'd say the (actually small) additional expense of professional mastering is really well worth it. If after the first 100 CD-R's are gone you realize that things aren't up to par and you want to do another release - hopefully by then you've gotten a few hundred dollars from gigging and saving to actually get it mastered.

So - for an initial foray into DIY mastering - take a little time off from listening to the mixes before doing - as a fresh perspective is key! Try and do the work in a room different from where you mixed in (as you don't want to exacerbate any incorrect decisions made because of dealing with a potentially inaccurate room) and on absolutely the most accurate monitoring (i.e. full range, clean, in an acoustically tuned room hopefully) system you can get your hands on. Spend a lot of time listening to some CD's you sonically like on this system - and then get to work.

I'd suggest if it's your first attempt at all this just do a minimum to go light with any processing - just get each mix to be fairly level matched to the rest of the tracks, and apply a little eq as needed to get the tracks to have more similar spectral balances. Clean up the heads and tails, sequence as desired, encode the track & pause indexes and subcodes as desired, and burn the master using good media. Check out an extra reference copy or two on as many systems as you can to make sure it's the way you want it - then run an error check on the master disc if you can, and listen through the master in its entirety before sending in to your duplicator to make sure it's all good.

Hope that helps.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
This is one of the best posts ever on this or any forum.

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Post by playonbrother » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:10 am

This reminds me of when I was living in NYC a long time ago. I would spend a lot of time just walking around and I started seeing these signs in the windows of restaurants. WAIT STAFF NEEDED, 5 YEARS NYC WAITING EXPERIENCE NEEDED. Well how do you get NYC experience? I wasn't looking for a job as a waiter but I thought that was kind of funny, you need to start somewhere at some point to get experience. I feel the same way on this and many other issues here. There is nothing wrong with mastering your own stuff, especially if bread is tight. The boards here are full of great posts on the subject. Do some searches and read. What's the worst thing that could happen? The shit comes out wack, you try again or stack up the bread to have someone do it for you. But it may come out great. It's really a win win situation because you'll be learning along the way, getting that experience.

Hope all is well,

Al

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Post by I'm Painting Again » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:55 am

good point Steve..and honestly I wasn't thinking of that aspect of change..

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:57 am

I'll try to reinforce a concept put forth here already: you often only get one chance to woo a new fan with your music. If they are put off the first time around when they hear you, they're gonna be that much less likely to try again. So why cut corners?
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Post by DrummerMan » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:15 am

I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again:
(warning: rant alert)


There seems to be this pervasive mentality that if you do things yourself, without the proper equipment, training or experience, that there is no way you'll do it right, so don't even bother trying, because you'll screw it up and your life will be worse for having done it.

c'mon...

Experimentation is what drives innovation. I, myself, don't have proper training, all the best gear, or a history of lots of time spent interning at a "real" studio, and I'm pretty sure I don't do everything the "correct" way. I've sent things off for real mastering jobs before, but alot of times, I don't have/haven't had the option. All in all, when I come up against a road block where my lack of experience and knowledge leaves me with a big question mark, I don't pack it up and say, "oh well, I guess I better leave this to the 'pros'...", I fucking give it a shot and try my best, sometimes it sucks, but sometimes, even if just by coincidence, it works out great. Everybody here is probably a better engineer than I am, but I have a passion and a curiosity for this art form (and I read this magazine), and, because of that, I consistently make music that I'm proud of. That, to me, is worth (and most likely because of) all the audio experimentation I've done in my life.


Also, there always seems to be someone recently who says, "just don't buy beer and cigarettes for a couple of weeks and you'll have enough bread to do ___________". This is a gross generalization. There are other things in the world besides your music and your vices. Rent/mortgage payments, bills, taking care of children, gas, etc.. I know there are alot of people out there who waste tons of money on partying, when they should be spending it better somewhere else (like mastering), and when this is the case, you can pretty much disregard everything I've said so far, but I think there's more people out there who, when they finally do have some money to spend on their musical life, have a long list of things that are equally important, and equally as expensive (acoustic room treatment, quality cabling, good pres, etc.). You can't just pick the discussion at hand and say that that is the one thing in your life that needs to be the priority.


Sorry for ranting.
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