Mastering a CG recording

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
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Arash Ahmadi
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Mastering a CG recording

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:13 am

Except the fact that not all recordings are the same, when it comes to mastering the recording, is there a more common approach that works best for the CG?

Please share your thoughts.
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PeteJ
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by PeteJ » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:58 am

Interesting question. You'd have to say more about the music. Is this a purist CG recording or a style that might survive more intrusive treatment? As far as I can make out the less done to the recording the better. I've been experimenting with compression and limiting, reverb and eq styles an concluded (belatedly) that the original recording has to be good and then largely left alone, so that mastering a single piece is just watching for peaks and levels and making the conversion.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:16 pm

Other than making sure the pieces are the same level (best achieved by consistency in recording techniques, level, mic distance/placement etc) I wouldn't do anything.
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soufiej
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by soufiej » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:40 pm

It's been a while since I was involved in recording and many things have changed since that last time I was in a studio. A few constants remain however; classical guitar retains its appeal to a rather limited audience/buyer and good recordings sell better than poor recordings. The ability of the recording/mixing/mastering process to bring the performer into the listening space is a "good" recording.

Doing very little to the actual mastering of the album is key to preserving the very delicate phase relationships which exist between the instrument and the original recording space. If the performance has been captured on the original recording, then there shouldn't be much need to sweeten or alter anything going forward. Of course, there is a great deal more effort and time that goes into capturing the performance than there is in fixing it in the mix. Therefore, good recordings are seldom done in the typical fashion of many hands having say with the chain a recording goes through from performance to stamping. The more one person's artistic style controls the final product, the better IMO. It may take some time to find the best microphone(s) and the best mic position(s) but they will pay off in a better, more lifelike recording and playback.

I would refer you to the Sheffield Labs recordings for a reference point. Also Reference Recordings followed many of the same techniques in their limited number of recordings.

Both companies referenced their techniques to the days of "direct to disc" recordings as they existed back in the first half of the 20th century. Performers played as if performing with no edits and overdubs. What existed in the studio was the only thing that was put on the disc.

There is a market for good recordings and they will sell to more than a very limited classical guitar buyer. "Realism" sells IMO.

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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:44 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:16 pm
Other than making sure the pieces are the same level (best achieved by consistency in recording techniques, level, mic distance/placement etc) I wouldn't do anything.
Thanks Pete and Stephen, but most of the recordings that we have listened to from John Williams and Julian Bream to Jason Vieaux have been mixed and mastered... I've recently listened to an album from a Yale guitar graduate that seemed to be released with very little if no mastering, compared to other recordings it sounded as if something is missing...
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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:47 pm

soufiej wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:40 pm
It's been a while since I was involved in recording and many things have changed since that last time I was in a studio. A few constants remain however; classical guitar retains its appeal to a rather limited audience/buyer and good recordings sell better than poor recordings. The ability of the recording/mixing/mastering process to bring the performer into the listening space is a "good" recording.

Doing very little to the actual mastering of the album is key to preserving the very delicate phase relationships which exist between the instrument and the original recording space. If the performance has been captured on the original recording, then there shouldn't be much need to sweeten or alter anything going forward. Of course, there is a great deal more effort and time that goes into capturing the performance than there is in fixing it in the mix. Therefore, good recordings are seldom done in the typical fashion of many hands having say with the chain a recording goes through from performance to stamping. The more one person's artistic style controls the final product, the better IMO. It may take some time to find the best microphone(s) and the best mic position(s) but they will pay off in a better, more lifelike recording and playback.

I would refer you to the Sheffield Labs recordings for a reference point. Also Reference Recordings followed many of the same techniques in their limited number of recordings.

Both companies referenced their techniques to the days of "direct to disc" recordings as they existed back in the first half of the 20th century. Performers played as if performing with no edits and overdubs. What existed in the studio was the only thing that was put on the disc.

There is a market for good recordings and they will sell to more than a very limited classical guitar buyer. "Realism" sells IMO.
True!
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by PeteJ » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:25 pm

It's difficult to generalise. Sometimes a little compression is appropriate and sometimes it's a no-no. Sometimes a little added reverb helps other times it would be a terrible idea. And so on. For CG I'd say that if the recording doesn't work before mastering then it won't work afterwards. But the details of the tweaks will depend on the material and the intended audience.

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sxedio
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by sxedio » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:12 pm

There used to be a compression thread, I'll search for it and if I find it I'll link it here.
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rojarosguitar
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:49 pm

I would like to throw one thing into the discussion: There is a huge perceptional difference between actual live performance and listening to a recording in a room through loudspeaker or headphones.

During a live performance we are engaged with all our senses and our brain (or whatever it is) can compensate for a huge dynamical span. In a good concert venue we hear sounds at the edge of audibility and still can manage very loud sounds, too.

In the usual listening situation in a living room, very quiet passages are drowned in the noise around us and loud passages are really often too loud (I'm not even starting what happens with the sound quality of typical stereo sets in a small to medium room when things get really loud :D ). So probably everybody has the experience of 'riding the level', meaning running to the volume control of the amplifier and turning it up when things get too quiet and turning it down when things get too loud.

This is the first compressor ever invented, bevor the compressor was invented...

So if the musical performance was good (that's the starting point, because otherwise not tweaking will help) and the recording was done with some understanding what kind of usage of microphones and preamps and recorders makes sense, sometimes some tweaking beyond simple level matching and converting to the required digital format could make a huge difference.

One needs to bear in mind that there are of course processor plug ins of very different level of quality and sofistication. One barely can expect to get the job done in a satisfactory way with some free plugs running under a free DAW. Quite unlikely.

So now concerning the three major processes used in mastering beyond level matching: compression, EQ and reverb (prblems with left-right balanced must also be dealt with, and format conversion will also require some dithering)

I think a subtle compression with well chosen parameters (threshold, attack, release) can actually help to match the rift between live performance and home audio. The key point is to compress in away that is barely audible. If you start to hear the compressor working in any obvious way, then disaster is on the way.

The same is with EQ, though that is much much more difficult to use in a good way. But even nice sounding spaces have their deficiencies, and good microphones have them too. So a very carefully done correction of some more blatant problems can save a musically good performance that has sonical flaws.

Also reverb can be useful when recorded in very dry rooms. Big care has to be taken not to create conflicting reverberation patterns giving the listener the impression to be sitting in two different spaces at the same time. (This happens BTW also with recordings in reverberant spaces like churches when the recording engineer uses a near or middle field pair and a far field pair for ambience. I have hear otherwise very nicely made recordings that make you feel sitting on two different chairs quite far apart.



So from my point of view one can only give a salomonic answer: USING PROCESSING? IT DEPENDS...

What counts most IMHO is a pleasant result and not the way how you arrived there. The truth of the actual performance is totally meaningless to anybody who wasn't there.
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sxedio
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Re: Mastering a CG recording

Post by sxedio » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:07 pm

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