Professional Sound - April 2017 - Page 56

SOUND ADVICE The Curious Case Of Mastering Your Boy Tony Braxton's Adult Contempt By Noah Mintz M ixing engineer and friend Howie Beck called me up one day and told me he was mixing an interesting album and that I might be master- ing it. He had a question about delivering the clients some reference mixes (usually somewhat pseudo-mastered). I asked him who the artist was. He told me he wasn’t yet able to say but that he is a Canadian radio personality. That narrowed it down to a surprisingly large amount of people. His question didn’t narrow it down any fur- ther: How can I make a mix sound like it was from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s? I thought about this for a bit. Someone might want an album to sound mu- sically like it was from that era, but rarely sonically. Digital was still young at that time and the Sony 1630 UMatic tape was the prevailing mastering format, CDR still not being a mature technology yet. Many albums from that time sound thin and weak when compared to albums that were released before digital and after digital matured. I answered that I thought it would be best to emulate the radio compressors of the time. I told him to use a three-band multiband compres- sor and compress and reduce the bottom and top more than the middle. Having only a small understanding of how radio compressors worked back then, it was more an educated guess than actual knowledge. If this effect was required for the mix-refs, I was curious on what the mastering would entail. When it did come time for mastering and I was hired to do it, it was revealed that the artist was Shad and that this was going to be a very different 56 PROFESSIONAL SOUND album for him. While Shad is best known for hip- hop, this album was going to be a throwback to the sound of Phil Collins, INXS, and The Partland Brothers. I was told to master this album differently… creatively. Don’t do what I’d normally do; rather, do what I might not do – tough call for a master- ing engineer used to “less is more” and “do no harm.” I was told to use whatever I had at my disposal to make it sound like it was released in 1990. I almost considered pulling out our old Sony 1630 converters but using digital technology from 1988 felt like taking it way too far. Instead, I decided to take “different” differently and master up one song, as a test, seven different ways. Here is an explanation of the different test masters, which you can hear at 1. All Analog Mastering I used my dCS DA Converter into a 4 K boost on my Neve 2087, a 64 Hz boost for the kick on the GML9500 EQ, then a mid-cut on the Sontec. Low and top boost and cut on the passive SPL. (Boost and cuts on the same frequency is part of the de- sign of passive Pultec-style EQs.) Finally, a Manley VariMu tube compressor for some gain reduction into a Burl Bomber AD converter. The Burl (as opposed to my audiophile dCS) is a converter with vibe. 2. All Digital Mastering I went a bit craz 䁽ѡ́Mѡ䁅ͭ)䁹ЁѼݡЁ$ɵ䁑$)ɥЁͽ՜́$eЁɵ͔$)хѕݥѠѡUQHȀļе؁х)Ѐ܀ļȁ́ȁɔͱՑͽչѼA$(DݥѠԁ,Ё!聍аѼ)MM0ɕͽȁݥѠͱ܁хѼ)ɕ͔ѼɍɕͽȁݥѠĴɑ)ɕՍѥѕȁ5ձѥDݥѠɕ)͕ѥ͕4ɕ͕а)͡ݥѠAձѕDݥѠͽ́)а!聍иQ́݅́Ѐѥ)ɔɽͥѡ$ݽձɵ͔)Ё$ѡ՝ЁЁͽչɕ䁝ѡ)ͥɕ$݅́ͼɕɔѡ́ݽձe)ѡѡ䁍͔(̸1剅ѼļȵQԁ̤+ѕɥѠ$ɕɑѡ)Ѽļȵх٥ɕ)5ѕȁIɑȸ(и1剅ѼļȵQ܁̤+ѕɥѠ(ԸIɐѼ1ՕȀԁY尤+ѕɥѠ!٥ɕɐ)ѡɔЁ1Օȁ ɑɅɔ)չ丁]ѽѡչɽ͕)ЁхєѕȁݥѠЁЀԁ]ѡ)啐ЁѼѡ\٥Q̀M0)ѡͅɽͥѡЁ݅)͕ѡѕȸ(ظ1ՕȀQԁ̤+ѕɥѠ]ͼѽѡ)хєЁѼхЁȁѡЁ)ɽͥ(ܸ1ՕȀQ܁̤+ѕɥѠ)%ѡ͕ЁЁՔ'eѕԁݡ)ѡ䁍͔܁ݔ͕ѡЁɽ)ѡɽՍи)95聥́Mȁ5ѕɥȁ)1Օȁ 5ѕɥQɽѼ]Ѡɱ(啅́ɥ䁅፱ٕͥ䁥)ɽͥՑѕɥ䁵ɔ)ɕ٥ͱ䁥ՑɽՍѥ9éͼ)䁡́݅́q́́ɔt]Ѡɽ)ͥ́q٥t9éͽͥɔ́)Ёͽ éЁՍ͙հ)ȵ̸ܹՕɍ