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Great Interview with a Music Producer/Engineer

Wombat

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#21
Yes this is a problem, of sorts.

There are those who say they want to pursue "accuracy" which sounds like a goal anyone could get behind. But accuracy to what? It makes things easier to define it in objective terms such as "accuracy to the source signal - reproducing the signal of the source with as little distortion as possible" or some such goal. But this still begs the question "why that goal? To what end is that goal chosen in the first place?"

The justification for wanting to hear the source as undistorted as possible is very often pushed back to "because I want to hear what the artist/mixer/engineer intended me to hear."

Well, then..uh-oh...we find ourselves in a morass due to the types of issues raised in that video. In some cases, the artist/engineer assumed you'd be listening on apple earbuds in terms of how it was mixed, so do you ditch your speakers for those albums? There are a great many studio monitors that sound different from each other. Which are we to emulate at home? And even if a studio uses some very neutral monitors, you can see how the mix is still considered for a variety of possible uses, and mixed appropriately, so they aren't even necessarily mixed to sound right on the very monitors they were mixed on!

Floyd Toole is right in the sense that if both the engineering side and consumer side lined up their priorities we could to some degree break the "circle of confusion." But in the real world, with so many different studio monitors, the influence of so many different studio spaces, and then the fact mixers know there is a vast number of different speaker types used by consumers, the practical nature of mixing makes this a very difficult if not impossible goal.

This is one reason why my worry about "accuracy" only carries so far. I want a generally neutral sound, but I don't sweat departures that simply help me enjoy music through the system more. I'm the one listening to my system, I have my goals, I'm trying to please myself, and pleasing myself ultimately means increasing my enjoyment of music played through my system. Given I'd think the most important goal of the artist is that you enjoy their music, that seems a win-win meeting of goals, given the compromises involved.

Choices, choices. Decisions, decisions. He who pays the piper calls the tune, mostly. :rolleyes:
 

JJB70

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#22
I get the impression that car audio is what is keeping some audiophile brands alive. I was surprised at the weekend when looking at a Hyundai that it had a Krell branded audio system. Mark Levinson, Meridian, Dynaudio, B&O, Naim etc must make a tidy sum from putting their moniker on car audio systems, as well as the more mainstream brands like Sony, Bose and JBL.
 

garbulky

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#23
The question is whether the sound engineer was at all concerned about sound quality or making things sound like it was when recorded. I doubt the answer would make most of us happy!
 

JJB70

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#24
One of the things I find fascinating about the recording process and mastering, mixing etc is that it is the interface between art and science/technology. Music is art, designing and manufacturing audio equipment is science and engineering but to capture the art of music for audio playback requires both technical and artistic sensibilities.
 

pozz

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#25
I want to note something very incongruous/misleading. The title of the video on Youtube is "Are studio monitors more accurate than audiophile speakers?", a question that was never asked during the interview. The closest Guttenberg got was asking Alex generally about accuracy and monitors, and never asked the follow-up which would have explicitly compared monitors to hifi speakers.

Brings me to mind of someone else: Streaky is the equivalent of Guttenberg on Youtube for the pro side. His reviews are not technical, and he strangely chose what look like Focal Sopra N°3 speakers as his mastering mains after working for years with full-range PMC/ATC monitors.
 

StevenEleven

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#26
Greg Calbi has a lot of really great videos on mastering and production on the net, pages and pages of them. He covers a lot of these topics in depth.

Bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Calbi

Sample videos--

 
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Blumlein 88

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#27
I get the impression that car audio is what is keeping some audiophile brands alive. I was surprised at the weekend when looking at a Hyundai that it had a Krell branded audio system. Mark Levinson, Meridian, Dynaudio, B&O, Naim etc must make a tidy sum from putting their moniker on car audio systems, as well as the more mainstream brands like Sony, Bose and JBL.
I seem to recall the car audio division at Harman is the reason Samsung wanted to purchase them.
 

Ron Texas

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#28
I seem to recall the car audio division at Harman is the reason Samsung wanted to purchase them.
I believe Samsung is looking beyond car audio and sees it as something to open the door to other automotive electronics, especially when cars become self driving.

Going back to some earlier questions, just what is the recording supposed to sound like? In the OP video the mix is tested on different speakers and even out of the room. Abbey Road used B&W 800 series speakers for monitors. Perhaps pop music is mixed for cheap earbuds and other low to mid-fi playback. Classical is more likely destined for better playback systems. Different labels have different objectives so we have Chesky and ECM to thank. I never could understand why local audio salesmen wanted to use Adel 21 and the Eagles Live. Adel sounds awful on good gear. Hotel California on the Eagles is decent, but I have misgivings about the rest of the album. [The original Hotel California in Baja California has fewer than 20 rooms and was the first place in town to serve cold beer with Ice hauled in across the peninsula.]
 

Blumlein 88

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#29
I want to note something very incongruous/misleading. The title of the video on Youtube is "Are studio monitors more accurate than audiophile speakers?", a question that was never asked during the interview. The closest Guttenberg got was asking Alex generally about accuracy and monitors, and never asked the follow-up which would have explicitly compared monitors to hifi speakers.

Brings me to mind of someone else: Streaky is the equivalent of Guttenberg on Youtube for the pro side. His reviews are not technical, and he strangely chose what look like Focal Sopra N°3 speakers as his mastering mains after working for years with full-range PMC/ATC monitors.
In the very beginning the question was addressed. The person being interviewed said there was no inherent difference in home or studio monitor speakers. They were made different ways for different purposes. Then proceeded to explain why he didn't have just one monitor in his studio. Because of issues of translation.

I don't know about film audio mastering. It appears they don't worry about translation. They master for the sound they want and let chips fall where they may. They aren't mastering with the idea these have to translate over a soundbar.

I think such an approach would be better for stereo sound mastering. If people had generally accurate monitoring, used reference levels and did it for best sound. There is an under-current of thought that when you get more accurate monitors your mixes and mastering translate better or more easily than when you use inaccurate monitors. The result fits a better variety of inaccurate playback. While one could always find an inaccuracy that just fits with something else that is not a good way to go because it will just NOT fit with almost everything else. So maybe in time music practices in studios will come around.
 

StevenEleven

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#30
In the very beginning the question was addressed. The person being interviewed said there was no inherent difference in home or studio monitor speakers. They were made different ways for different purposes. Then proceeded to explain why he didn't have just one monitor in his studio. Because of issues of translation.

I don't know about film audio mastering. It appears they don't worry about translation. They master for the sound they want and let chips fall where they may. They aren't mastering with the idea these have to translate over a soundbar.

I think such an approach would be better for stereo sound mastering. If people had generally accurate monitoring, used reference levels and did it for best sound. There is an under-current of thought that when you get more accurate monitors your mixes and mastering translate better or more easily than when you use inaccurate monitors. The result fits a better variety of inaccurate playback. While one could always find an inaccuracy that just fits with something else that is not a good way to go because it will just NOT fit with almost everything else. So maybe in time music practices in studios will come around.
My best understanding is that film audio mastering is much, much more tightly bound to standards, governed in part by licensing of Dolby technologies, and with consideration of how theater sound systems are supposed to be designed.

I believe I have read that when movies are released for the home the audio reference level is reduced by about 10 db, because no one expects people to listen to movies at home as loud as they would in a theater. The smaller the room, the subjectively louder the same volume is, if I understand correctly.

If I understand correctly, music mastering is, relatively speaking, the Wild Wild West, with practically no commercial standards.
 
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Tks

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#32
It's funny he says Apple Earbuds sound good.

A year ago I would have laughed. Now.. if I place my hands over my ears with the earbuds in place, they sound REALLY good for what they are. The problem is, no one can actually listen to music like this. So you're still left with treble rape at high volume.

Also, another problem, I came across a pile of 7 or 8 Apple Earbuds some girl next-door didn't want and asked if you wanted them since he knew I got into audio recently. Out of all 8, only 2 sounded similar (somewhat), the rest sounded incredibly different. Their driver consistency seems to be crazy varied. So even if someone is mastering content to Apple Earbuds, you got a massive problem since the drivers sound pretty different.

Now whether that was due to this girl dropping them as she was carrying all of them in their cases, who knows.
 

JJB70

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#33
I remember in the 1990's Ericsson used to market their cell phones as having B&O designed sound.
 

pozz

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#34
In the very beginning the question was addressed. The person being interviewed said there was no inherent difference in home or studio monitor speakers. They were made different ways for different purposes. Then proceeded to explain why he didn't have just one monitor in his studio. Because of issues of translation.
You're right about the order of presentation, but it still feels like a certain divergence in meaning occurred at some point. I think I'm reacting to the journalistic skew of the title. Guttenberg's big thesis is that monitors are not more accurate because there is no defined (acoustic) reference or ideal speaker design, and Sterling, in his reply, sidesteps that point very adroitly, framing his use of monitors on the basis of the "information" they provide him (a nice way to put it). Maybe I'm making a lot out of nothing here. The thing that sticks in my mind, though, is that Sterling's frame of reference is likely very different from that of Guttenberg's, and that that title question, because it was never asked explicitly, never clarifies this difference. If given more time to speak on this point Sterling would have likely become more contrarian.

Accuracy is definitely a misleading word in a lot of contexts. Setting aside speakers for the moment, for the subjective side of things, accuracy is more usefully aimed at what is heard instead of what the gear does or is meant to do. That's where a well-spoken and skilled engineer can step in. Such a person is likely in a better position to distinguish between their aural impressions than other listeners (which would be the definition of accuracy here)—that said, I've never read more than brief passages or had conversations which were more than briefly illuminating in this area.
 

amirm

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#35
I don't know about film audio mastering. It appears they don't worry about translation. They master for the sound they want and let chips fall where they may. They aren't mastering with the idea these have to translate over a soundbar.
They follow this outdated and incorrect thing called X-curve. They heavily EQ the rooms using very coarse filters (1/3 octave), ignoring decades of research on why that is wrong. See this article I wrote on the topic: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ty-of-x-curve-for-cinema-sound.204/#post-5563

Dr. Toole has also extensively written on this.
 

amirm

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#36
If I understand correctly, music mastering is, relatively speaking, the Wild Wild West, with practically no commercial standards.
Correct. That is why I say audio is architecturally broken. In video, we have great standards to convey the same color, contrast, etc. The capture gear is calibrated to that and so is the display. It is remarkable to me that we have made zero attempt to do the same thing for music production.
 

pozz

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#37
Correct. That is why I say audio is architecturally broken. In video, we have great standards to convey the same color, contrast, etc. The capture gear is calibrated to that and so is the display. It is remarkable to me that we have made zero attempt to do the same thing for music production.
There's the K-scale by Bob Katz for dynamic range, and J.H. Brandt has defined a number of conditions for studio construction and acoustics as well in his papers. https://www.jhbrandt.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/BNE_Criteria.pdf His work is based to some degree on Toole's as well. An interesting historical list of control room designs is given on page 6.

Although both of these are far from standard.
 

amirm

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#38
There's the K-scale by Bob Katz for dynamic range, and J.H. Brandt has defined a number of conditions for studio construction and acoustics as well in his papers. https://www.jhbrandt.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/BNE_Criteria.pdf His work is based to some degree on Toole's as well. An interesting historical list of control room designs is given on page 6.

Although both of these are far from standard.
I am far more worried about timbre than levels. There is no reason why we can't replicate what was heard in the studio to high degree. That signature needs to be digitized and provided as metadata in music downloads.
 

pozz

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#39
I am far more worried about timbre than levels. There is no reason why we can't replicate what was heard in the studio to high degree. That signature needs to be digitized and provided as metadata in music downloads.
Really interesting idea.
 

MattHooper

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#40
It was interesting when the engineer explains he is not trying to recreate the natural, realistic sound of the real event, but rather an idealized artistic expression, especially one in concert with our expectations of recordings. (I have sympathy with this as all day long I'm doing sound effects where sometimes I'm trying to cobble together something that sounds natural and real to the ear, but other times it's deliberately idealized as to how we expect, or think it should sound).

That had me thinking about the various "audiophile recordings" I bought over the years - Chesky and others - in which they were trying to reproduce the sound of the singer and instruments in natural acoustic spaces, to sound as "real" as possible for the audiophile.

While there was in indeed a certain naturaliness, virtually all of them were limpid in terms of their musical effect, IMO. They actually had some decent talent in the artists here and there, but the production left the musical impact of a wet noodle - lacking vividness, excitement, drive. Boring.
I'm sure I'm not the only audiophile around who bought in to those things at one point, still have them around and never listen to them.
 
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