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ME Code of Ethics: First do no harm?

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It's time for a code of ethics for mastering engineers. (Maybe long overdue.)

 

One of the great things about having a subscription service (like MM On Demand, which I have) is that it allows you to compare different versions of songs. Sometimes, as in the case of folks like Trane, Sinatra, Ellington, there are a number of completely different versions.

 

But there are also a lot of "remasterings" of classic recordings.

 

 

Just now I put on Artie Shaw's Porgy & Bess/Summertime. Last time I played it, a few weeks ago, I was blown away by what a great track it is. (A little hazy on the date of its original recording. Actually, I 'm clueless. My guess is forties from the overall sound. But it is a meticulously recorded track, as one would expect from Shaw's reputation, every lick and ensemble phrase just so.

 

 

So, just now I pop on a remastered version ("Remastered 2000")... the high end is jacked... there's a nasty, gritty edge to everything (the original recording isn't exactly sparkly -- but it's clearly defined and silky smooth for the era -- there was just no reason to jack what high end there is through the ceiling)... it's just friggin' unlistenable.

 

What kind of tin ear does this to a classic recording?

 

Did they find this bozo doing live sound for death metal bands or something and decide to give him his big break?

 

The man (or woman) deserves to be knee-capped.

 

 

[Okay... no one deserves to be knee-capped for an artistic offense, I guess. But I'm truly, deeply offended.]

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Yah... I remember one of my old clients bringing in some 'hot' indie rock CD from the late 90s when we were talking about how he should master his album. We threw it into Sound Forge and looked at it.

 

It had the general shape of the cardboard tube from the center of a paper towell roll. It went to -.01 dB within a second or two of the beginning and stayed that way til a second or two from the end, just about.

 

And you know what?

 

It sounded just like you'd expect...

 

 

I do have to say, though, that a lot of ME's say they don't want to squash everything but that it's simply the customer's orders. And, at that point, I guess an ME has gotta decide if he wants to keep his good name or keep paying the rent...

 

A devil's bargain.

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a lot of ME's say they don't want to squash everything but that it's simply the customer's orders. And, at that point, I guess an ME has gotta decide if he wants to keep his good name or keep paying the rent...

 

A devil's bargain.

 

Exactly. And it's not just ME's that have to deal with that - tracking and mixing engineers, as well as producers are not immune to the whims and demands of artists and label weasels either. :(

 

A WISE client hires good people and is willing to listen to and benefit from their knowledge, experience and advice. An unwise person will hire someone good and then constantly tell them how to do their job... :(

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NYC Drew asked me to comment on his mix at the recent Spin Doctors concert on his tour in Nashville. I hesitate to comment on another man's mix, especially when he's in the middle of the show. But I finally stepped up and said something to the effect, "If anything different, I'd like it to be just a tad quieter. But we both know you can't do that because in the end it's not entirely your mix. You have to give the client what they want." This garnered a confirming smile and similar comment from Drew.

 

But in the end, I listened to the entire concert sans earplugs and walked away from an entire show with no noticable ear compression and no ringing.

 

On the other hand, I would never even consider taking a position as FOH for, say, KISS. At the first farewell tour stop in Nashville, they were so loud that with earplugs, it still took me 30 seconds per song, at FOH, to understand what song they were playing. That is so ridiculously over the line I couldn't even stand behind the board, no matter whose decision other than mine made it that loud.

 

Some things are not worth putting your name on solely for money.

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I agree. And I also think that singers should be liscensed and you should probably have some kind of certification to perfrom live music through a PA system. :mad:

 

But thats just me.:D

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