Considerations for Vinyl Mastering
People ask all of the time…”What do I need to think about if I know my project is going to vinyl?”
Here are some of things to think about:
1) If you know you are going to do a vinyl release, pay special attention during mix and mastering to the high and low end content of the material. Examples of high frequency issues include cymbals and sibilance in vocals (ssss sounds). Don’t make the cymbals too bright and be sure to use a “de-esser” on vocals as needed. Make sure that frequencies below 40hz are cut as needed. Use high pass filters on tracks when mixing to keep these frequencies under control.
2) Time: Vinyl records can only hold a certain amount of audio and the length of each side determines how loud the music can be on that side. For a 12″ 33rpm record, I will have to start dropping the level if the side is over 20 minutes. For a 7″ 45rpm record this will happen after about 4 minutes. Does this alter the quality of the cut? The answer is: No. You will simply have to turn the volume of your stereo up a bit when you play the final product. Classic examples of long records sides are: Elvis Costello’s “Get Happy” and The Pretenders’ self titled debut album. If you are planning an album side over 25 minutes or a 7″ over 6 minutes, I would suggest speaking directly with me.
Do not worry about sending me “loud” tracks that have been squeezed to death by compressors and limiters. I can adjust the audio level going to disc as needed and a lot of limiting causes excess distortion.
2)Use the highest quality file format that you can. 16bit 44100K is fine, but 24bit sounds better to a lot of people. If you are using .aiff files, be sure you are saving in an uncompressed .aiff file. A lot of Apple software (Quicktime and iTunes) export what they call a .aiff file, but it is not a pro standard file. Choose .wav files if possible.
Mastering audio to vinyl is a special process and each project is different. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding your project.
Is your band looking for a great deal on vinyl pressing.
Here is the holiday special from Gotta Groove Records:
They are my partners in vinyl. I do the mastering and they do the pressing.
Well Made Music has had a great summer of mastering! So far I have done jobs for John Doe, Those Darlins, Deer Tick, The Features, John Wesley Harding and more! Don’t forget to support your local vinyl record store.
Well Made Music was awarded the 2011 Arts Business and Innovation award from Cleveland’s Council of Small Enterprise.
Find out all about Well Made Music in this great article written by COSE.
Read a great article about Well Made Music and mastering HERE
Well Made Music has been growing steadily over the past six months. Having Gotta Groove Records as my partner has added a depth to my jobs that would have been hard to obtain if I had just been another guy cutting records. I have been able to cut jobs for Iggy and the Stooges, Dave Alvin, Greg Brown and Sloan in the last few months as well as dozens of indie and local jobs. The experience has been great and I look forward to using that experience over and over again as more new and exciting jobs come across my desk.
2010 was a great year for Well Made Music. The acquisition of a restored VMS-70 lathe and a great space to work in were essential. I would personally like to thank Vince and Matt at Gotta Groove Records for growing with me and helping me get my sea legs under me. I mastered over 150 projects since June 2010 and look forward to a busy and rocking 2011.
Recently I got to cut a promotional Christmas album for Target. They have based an ad campaign around a lot of these songs and have even done videos with vinyl albums playing the songs. Here is a link to see these cool videos. I am happy to have been a part of the process. Sometimes being a mastering engineer seems like a anonymous job, but I know my work and take pride in seeing other people enjoy what I have mastered.
Check out some of the videos here:
You Tube Video
Here is a nice article about what we are doing in Cleveland. we have both the vinyl mastering and pressing capabilities right here!
Craftsmanship is sometimes looked on as an attitude from another time. A lot of people regard the idea as out of place in our modern world. But to look at a piece of gear like a Neumann cutting lathe, a piece of gear designed to last a lifetime, and it instills the desire to work to the best of my ability. The art of cutting audio to a disc at one time seemed destined for extinction, but now a new crop of mastering engineers have taken up the cause and learned this skill. I was lucky enough to be able to learn from people that had years and years of accumulated knowledge in the craft of vinyl mastering. That is is why I only make one claim… I do one thing: I cut audio to lacquers and I do it right.
I have gotten the great opportunity to master some great jobs since I started mastering to vinyl! Tom Waits, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Black Swans, The Turtles and lots of independent releases such as The New Lou Reeds and a slew of cuts from Australia. I love this job!