Thread: When sending stuff out for mastering...

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  1. #1
    Plays in Winger cover band Born To Be Mild!
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    Default When sending stuff out for mastering...

    What was the thing they told you to go back and fix, if anything? Just curious about the general problems people are told to go back and fix before actually mastering a project.

    I'm about to send some stuff I worked on recently. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    leaky radiator hose
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    One of the first albums I sent off to be mastered like 15 years ago, I recorded a stereo acoustic out of phase. They pointed that out and asked me to change it.


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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    I have only limited experience when it comes to sending out stuff to mastering, because at the budget level I'm dealing with it is close to impossible to hire anyone I would trust. But on those limited occasions I was sending my mixes to mastering I was never asked to change anything. In one instance though, I felt the track became better overall but the kick drum started to sound weaker, I discussed this with a mastering guy and send him another version of the mix with kick slightly louder and it worked great.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Never been asked to change anything, though I've had feedback before that's been helpful to me going forward.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    The only things I've ever asked people to change is to do half dB. up versions rather than one dB and to put the dithered mixer into Pro Tools because the mix sounded crunchy. One time recently I asked a client to use 24 bit dither with Logic and he was utterly shocked by the improvement in depth he heard. (Typically I only splice in a few words here and there of a vocal up or vocal down. A 1 dB. vocal up is a different mix.)
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    The only things I've ever asked people to change is to do half dB. up versions rather than one dB and to put the dithered mixer into Pro Tools because the mix sounded crunchy. One time recently I asked a client to use 24 bit dither with Logic and he was utterly shocked by the improvement in depth he heard. (Typically I only splice in a few words here and there of a vocal up or vocal down. A 1 dB. vocal up is a different mix.)
    Hey Bob, are there any links you could point me toward regarding the science behind dithering from floating point to 24bit? The received wisdom of the internots is that dithering is only necessary when reducing bit depth to 16 bit (but we all know how much the received wisdom of the internots is worth).
  8. #8
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Well, I'm not Bob, but in event of any wordlength reduction a dither should be applied. This ensures signal integrity. Same kind of distortion would appear if truncated to 24 as with 16, just lower at level.
    Some may argue that the resolution of the reproduction system is far lower to hear this, but people I trust (Bob and Paul Frindle) told many times that it might be audible.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    The truncation distortion from not using 24 bit dither masks low level detail. The distortion also builds up with any additional undithered processing such as the volume controls in computer applications and browsers. If you can't hear the distortion, for sure you won't be able to hear the dither.

    A lot of ignorance about the necessity of dither has been spread by the MIDI developers and magazine writers who got gigs writing documentation without any basic knowledge of DSP.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Thanks both for your replies. One quick follow up question: if dither is masking truncation distortion, how can it reveal low level detail ? I get that a gaussian type noise will mask nasty truncation, that is easy to hear with 16 bit, but I've never thought of it as revealing detail.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    It's not masking it, TPDF dither prevents distortion! That's what people fail to understand. It's no different than adding high frequency bias to an analog recording to prevent distortion.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    It's not masking it, TPDF dither prevents distortion! That's what people fail to understand. It's no different than adding high frequency bias to an analog recording to prevent distortion.
    Wow, okay. That twisted my melon. I've been reading up a bit and think I'm beginning to get it now.

    Thanks
  13. #13
    Plays in Winger cover band Born To Be Mild!
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Thanks a ton, Bob! Sounds like I have some work to do regarding the 1/2 db mixes. The ones I sent out that were approved were the ones I dithered to 24 bit. And like you said, they were night and day compared to the mp3 samples I've been sending for reference.

    There was an earlier post where you talked about this, and it stuck with me (dispute my short term memory lapse). Looks like I'll be printing 1/2 db alternates as a safety.

    Do you find the vocal up 1/2 db makes it on the master more often than the original? Curious to have a mastering guys view.

    I generally don't like the vocal to dominate in rock stuff. Doesn't sound natural for some reason.
  14. #14
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Thanks both for your replies. One quick follow up question: if dither is masking truncation distortion, how can it reveal low level detail ? I get that a gaussian type noise will mask nasty truncation, that is easy to hear with 16 bit, but I've never thought of it as revealing detail.
    What Bob said. I think the effect and mechanics of dither is easir to understand when illustrated with computer graphics. When you try to graph a smooth hi-res curve on the low-res image you get a "ladder" effect. If you add a bit of blur the curve is again looking smooth. And the thing is, you have to blur the curve BEFORE you reduce resolution. If you add blur after you'd get a blurred ladder.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    What Bob said. I think the effect and mechanics of dither is easir to understand when illustrated with computer graphics. When you try to graph a smooth hi-res curve on the low-res image you get a "ladder" effect. If you add a bit of blur the curve is again looking smooth. And the thing is, you have to blur the curve BEFORE you reduce resolution. If you add blur after you'd get a blurred ladder.
    Yeah, I've seen the graphical dither examples. Makes sense.

    Thanks again
  16. #16
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    I've been dithering on the outputs to a summing mixer and also to the main DAC since the last time I saw Bob talking about it and it definitely eliminates that 'crunchyness'. I don't really get it from a scientific perspective. Is it weird that there isn't some automatic built in dither in the programs themselves? Like on the main output?
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    I've been dithering on the outputs to a summing mixer and also to the main DAC since the last time I saw Bob talking about it and it definitely eliminates that 'crunchyness'. I don't really get it from a scientific perspective. Is it weird that there isn't some automatic built in dither in the programs themselves? Like on the main output?
    Def

    Interesting! I presume you could do the same thing to the DAW output by putting a plugin that dithers last in the chain, as long as there were no gain changes between that and the D/A converter?
  18. #18
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Def

    Interesting! I presume you could do the same thing to the DAW output by putting a plugin that dithers last in the chain, as long as there were no gain changes between that and the D/A converter?
    Is that the intent of the dither option on Slate's FG-X plug? I remember seeing a video where he mentiond it in that context. He made a point to say make sure you don't use both the DAW's and the one on the FG-X.
    Based on what I think is going on there, I've been leaving the FG-X on my master bus, with the dithering on, because I'm assuming it's giving me in real time, what I'll get when I bounce it. But to be honest, I don't know if that's how it works.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Is it weird that there isn't some automatic built in dither in the programs themselves? Like on the main output?
    Indeed it is weird, I guess ut might be a legacy of past when dither signal generation could task CPU quite a bit. But really in this day in age there's no excuse to not add realtime output dither at least as an option. But maybe now they think that everyone has it's own favorite dither plugin.
    I use dither plugin (sometimes within Xenon limiter) over an output of my DAW.
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    Default Re: When sending stuff out for mastering...

    Is that the intent of the dither option on Slate's FG-X plug? I remember seeing a video where he mentiond it in that context. He made a point to say make sure you don't use both the DAW's and the one on the FG-X.
    Based on what I think is going on there, I've been leaving the FG-X on my master bus, with the dithering on, because I'm assuming it's giving me in real time, what I'll get when I bounce it. But to be honest, I don't know if that's how it works.

    -r
    Yup, as long as you leave have FG-X as the last insert on your master fader and leave the fader at unity. Your A-D converters will be outputting 24bit audio.

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