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  1. #1
    Eye suffacozza YEWW! Goo's Avatar
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    12.16.17 @ 06:06 PM
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    While wasting some time at a Talking heads site, I came across this post, made by ex-head member Tina Weymouth - who is now in the production business with husband and heads drummer Chris Frantz (they drop by and post regularly - must be from another planet!)

    Anyways she talks in some detail about exactly what remastering involves - they went through the process about 2 years ago to clean up the 'Stop Making Sense' soundtrack CD, and to prepare the DVD version for the 15th anniversary of the movies release

    (Longwinded, but hope a few peeps find it interesting)


    For those interested in some of our work processes, Karen B asked, "So what is meant by 'remastered'?"

    In music production, know that there are some slaves, but many masters.

    Mastering an album is the final process done to final studio "master mixes" to create an "album master" of music ready for manufacture.

    Mastering by a professional is the final polish to a great recording and mix. It's expensive but worth it to have listeners hear your music the way it was intended to be heard.

    Re-mastering is using the latest technology to update old master mixes so they are up to present audiophile standards in preparation for manufacture for re-release.

    Re-mastering includes physically fixing old analog tape so it can be played again. This might involve "baking" a tape in an oven (don't try this at home) so that magnetic particles beginning to shed will adhere again. It may require replacing the splicing tape where the recording tape has been edited that's come unglued over time. It requires saving everything possible in newer media for safekeeping.

    For example, we had a few of these things to do to our old TH masters in 1991 when we re-mastered mixes for the Talking Heads "Poplular Favorites: Sand in the Vaseline" double CD, because the tapes had been lying around in garages or vaults (often old mine shafts), some of them since 1975. (see * below)

    After a song (also called a "cut" or a "track") is "mixed" to tape in a recording studio, it is known as the "master mix" tape of that song. The master mix tapes for an album are then taken to a "mastering studio" where a "mastering engineer" refines them further, a process that can involve last minute song edits (editing is adding or subtracting portions of tape or song file); stereo and eq balances (equalization is adding or removing frequencies in the sound spectrum, similar to your stereo's bass or treble knobs, only more sophisticated); balancing the multiple track levels (adjusting volume); arranging the songs in their final order (called album sequencing); determining how and when a song track ends, fades or crossfades into another; writing the track location identification info; determining the overall loudness of a CD; and so on.

    A mastering engineer does all this and more on cutting-edge computers using the latest pro software while listening on custom-built speakers. Artists just starting out can sometimes do some thing like it on another level using a home computer and amateur software.

    The end result of mastering is to deliver to the label manufacturer a final "production master," usually in stereo (or 5.1, a growing market). For vinyl records, the production master is the metal mother from which vinyl is pressed. ("The metal mother pressed".... Hmmm, is there a song in here somewhere?) For CDs, the master is a digital master computer file from which the CDs for retail are lased (preferably "glass"-lased) for a much more precise process, btw, than what our home CD or computer "burner" can do.

    There are pitfalls that can occur when mastering. Besides not having the wherewithall, many new artists don't bother going to a mastering expert when they're starting out. That's fine. No one expects or should want them to sound slick. But their CDs might be too quiet compared to your other CDs. Or the opposite. What you really want to watch is that their CD doesn't accidentally blow out your speakers. Or your ears. Even IF they intended for it to do that.....the little punks....

    Mastering at a bad (or even a good) studio with a less than great engineer has been known to ruin a great master mix. Like going to a salon to have your shiny happy hair burnt to wisps at a stiff price.

    Even costlier is working with people who've been listening too long too loud. Or those who have done enough speed, cocaine or e that they've caused the delicate auditory nerve cilia in the cochlea to lie down dead forever. Easy then to be bamboozled by a charming but equally addicted mastering engineer who makes your music absolutely suck even if it was well-recorded and well-mixed. We have been blessed to work with some of the greatest engineers this side of the sun, but we've seen the darker side once or twice.....

    There are many tape formats from which to master, including DAT (digital audio tape) A-DAT and Beta, as well as the beloved analog 1/2-inch stereo reels that sound so good but deteriorate over time. For example, the re-released Stop Making Sense CD is all the music that would fit on a 74-minute CD, which is far more than the original LP could hold. The original multi-track masters were "re-mixed" (mixed again) by E.T. Thorngren both to DAT and also to 1/2-inch analog tape reels. However, we ended up using only the latter for the re-mastering, because they sounded to us much fuller, richer and warmer than the same mixes to digital tape--perhaps because of E.T.'s mix style, who knows? some newer engineers more familiar with digital tape don't know how to optimize analog for what it can do?

    *As a precaution, we made DAT "safety copies" of those analog SMS tapes so the sound is preserved, digitally, for future TH fans. Same was done with Sand In The Vaseline. We can only hope the labels who own our "masters" will not mislay them....

    It is not known how long digital information will last. Some people say one atomic blast or meltdown will erase everything that's not obliterated within a certain distance...

    When you watch the SMS DVD, please select for audio the 5.1 E.T. Thorngren "studio" mix even if you only have stereo, as these sound how we think our music ought. Why this preference? As priorities from music audio to film audio differ according to human nature, the "feature film" mixes you will find on the DVD, which were made by movie soundtrack engineers, tend to be more focused on 3-D concerns, such as the directional patter of feet entering from stage left to right or crowd-noise source such as applause from behind, instead of musical reasons. Attention to the aforementioned details was good, certainly, but they have occasionally goofed when it comes to the music: Steve Scales or Chris's drums may sound more like frozen peas hitting the drum heads than the exciting force of nature they in literal fact were.

    All in all, this is a near ideal DVD when you consider that the first VHS version of the SMS film took the 4 channels of music mixed for the theaters and, instead of mixing 4 channels down to 2 for stereo, simply chopped off 2 channels, making for an extremely weird mix... So again, please select the "studio" audio mix.
    A little zen....... Headed your way.......

  2. #2
    Good Enough
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    "It is not known how long digital information will last. Some people say one atomic blast or meltdown will erase everything that's not obliterated within a certain distance..."

    It seems to me that if a major nuclear blast occurs, perhaps the remains of a digital recording are not exactly your biggest concern.

    [ January 30, 2002 at 07:43 PM: Message edited by: AbeVanHalen ]</p>
    Don't bark at me...<b>I</b> didn't name ya.

  3. #3
    Eye suffacozza YEWW! Goo's Avatar
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    12.16.17 @ 06:06 PM
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    Same happens if you store those VH albums too close to the regular ones
    A little zen....... Headed your way.......

  4. #4
    Unchained
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    Favorite VH Album

    ALL OF THIM
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    EVERYTHING SEP HOW MENY SAY I
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Thank you Goo for the info. [img]graemlins/bounce.gif[/img]
    "I Want The Best! Of Both Worlds!<br />AAAAAAWWWWWWWWW-Van Halen Live With Out A Net.

  5. #5
    On Fire
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    11.26.07 @ 11:06 AM
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    Thank you. This was a good read.
    My first time in the spotlight was from a helicopter.

 

 

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