outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

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joninc
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outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by joninc » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:01 pm

Just doing some reading about how streaming services reduce the level of overly loud music (Loudness Penalty) to make levels more consistent from song to song and it's making me wonder if I should start outputting 2 sets of masters: 1 for cd at the normal level I master at (loud but not crushed) and 1 for streaming - with the limiter threshold set lower.

I know you're thinking - why not just master the album a bit lower overall and go with 1 set of masters?

I might do that but my guess is that artists will inevitably compare the masters to other stuff in their itunes library and it will sound quieter which they will perceive as "not as full sounding".

what do you do?

While I use Mastering engineers for about 25%-40% of the stuff I work on - I do master the rest (usually budget reasons). I've worked with a few really great MEs and none have ever mentioned this or given 2 sets of masters. Generally they are making stuff sound pretty great and full but definitely loud enough to cause the streaming services to reduce level...

is this a non issue (having them turn down the master) or are we losing fidelity on these services by not reducing the overall levels a bit more for streaming?
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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by drumsound » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:57 pm

I hope More Space Echo chimes in here.

Here is my take. I'd rather be in control of these things than leaving it to some unknown, person or bot at a ginormous company.

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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:14 am

i haven't had anyone ask for a separate (lower level) version for streaming, but i'd be happy to provide it if they did. i do routinely provide lower level masters for vinyl, and it'd be easy enough to just use those for streaming.

my 'default' for level is i dunno, 'reasonably loud', i don't smash the shit out of things unless the client says they want it crazy loud. so generally i think if you just make one really good sounding master, it's going to be fine wherever. if it gets turned down a little on sp*tify, so what. most streaming is what, 128kbps? a couple db's of volume reduction are the least of anyone's worries.

so, simple answer: if you're mastering at absurd, supercrushed,-4 RMS levels, then yeah a separate master for streaming is probably not a bad idea, it will likely sound much better.

on the other hand (a gemini's favorite phrase), if you ease up on the squash 9db, it's definitely going to sound different, it won't have the same density...it'll probably be much easier to listen to, but it's entirely possible there's things about the crushed version that people might prefer.

so in general that's why i think just one good sounding version for everything is the way to go.

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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by kslight » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:56 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:14 am
i haven't had anyone ask for a separate (lower level) version for streaming, but i'd be happy to provide it if they did. i do routinely provide lower level masters for vinyl, and it'd be easy enough to just use those for streaming.

my 'default' for level is i dunno, 'reasonably loud', i don't smash the shit out of things unless the client says they want it crazy loud. so generally i think if you just make one really good sounding master, it's going to be fine wherever. if it gets turned down a little on sp*tify, so what. most streaming is what, 128kbps? a couple db's of volume reduction are the least of anyone's worries.

so, simple answer: if you're mastering at absurd, supercrushed,-4 RMS levels, then yeah a separate master for streaming is probably not a bad idea, it will likely sound much better.

on the other hand (a gemini's favorite phrase), if you ease up on the squash 9db, it's definitely going to sound different, it won't have the same density...it'll probably be much easier to listen to, but it's entirely possible there's things about the crushed version that people might prefer.

so in general that's why i think just one good sounding version for everything is the way to go.
I’m not much of a streaming person but I have a free year of pandora with T-Mobile. Yeah the bit rate is the biggest dookie about it...even with “high quality” enabled I would be surprised if it exceeded 128kbps.

Interestingly, one of my favorite bands debuted their next video on porn hub of all places (I know you guys have never visited this site, so obviously NSFW) and one thing that struck me about the porn hub version vs YouTube is that both versions set to maximum quality...the audio on the porn hub version was so much better. Why the world would need good quality audio there but not on YouTube is beyond me...

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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:44 am

yeah, that is....odd.

i'm not at all sure, but i think bandcamp streaming is 256k now. i do know that they must've changed *something* in the last couple years...listening to my own records off their site in 2016, there was some crazy aliasing/space monkey shit happening. listening to them now they seem much better, i didn't notice the artifacts and they were really obvious before.

also re: bandcamp, i've bought a fair number of records from bands there and the levels are all over the place. some stuff seems not even mastered. which is also kind of odd.

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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by joninc » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:08 pm

I get that the vinyl master would work well in this scenario but likely not the cd master (without some good explanation to the artists of why it's quieter than other albums in their collection)

this is what sparked this question:

https://www.loudnesspenalty.com/
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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by vvv » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:46 pm

kslight wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:56 am
Why the world would need good quality audio there but not on YouTube is beyond me...
No idear, I just read the articles.


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Re: outputting masters at different level for cd vs streaming

Post by floid » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:25 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:44 am
also re: bandcamp, i've bought a fair number of records from bands there and the levels are all over the place. some stuff seems not even mastered. which is also kind of odd.
Vinyl records, or records in the more generic sense?
I have a few bands I specifically follow on bandcamp, and I get the impression that some of the more active ones are doing a "real" album about once a year and then several interim things that are obviously more homebrew.
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