Mastering(s) and mastering processes analog/vinyl/digital

Keep in mind such gain riding is compression. Compression makes soft sounds louder and decreases dynamic range. Gain riding soft material does exactly this.

There is nothing wring with this, or compression in general, when used appropriately.

Yes this was exactly what I also asked Kevin, but he said compression means using a compressor and that this gain riding was done very slightly. But I’m with you, it limits dynamic range a bit in these cases from the other side.

It’s just if it’s done only so slightly with such an extreme recording, then it’s not necessary for most others and whole genres aside of symphony, Hip-Hop and few extremes.

You can accomplish the same thing with a “compressor.” Compression/low level gain riding also increase the amount of ambient information, one of the theories as to why some prefer vinyl; you hear more of the venue.

Classical music is rarely compressed so none of this surprises me.

Well but quite some anyway claim most is compressed, which is different from „one of the most dynamic recordings got slight gain riding“.

And as I understand it the purpose of this bit of gain riding is just to lift the lowest details out of the vinyl noise to a level as it’s heard from black background digital, not to lift ambient information to a level above the perception on digital media.

Regardless of the purpose, when you increase the gain of soft sections you hear more ambient information; that is, it increases the volume of everything which is otherwise soft.

By the way, the need/desire to manually ride gain on dynamic material, particularly vocals, is why compressors were invented.

Jup, I just understand if in those parts of the recording ambient information would otherwise be covered by vinyl surface noise etc. (which is the reason for the lifting) and is therefore lifted, one finally doesn’t hear more than on digital media, one just doesn’t hear less…

Would be interesting to hear from Kevin about further differences between compression and gain riding, but certainly the main difference is that with a compressor there’s an add. equipment in the signal path.

But as I said I’m generally with you that both reduces dynamic range, even if rising low levels is still very different from cutting peaks.

My main point was, that I didn’t expect just such minor measures even in an extremely dynamic recording, which makes the discussion obsolete for less dynamic classical pieces, quite the whole Jazz catalog and probably 70% of Pop/Rock.

What I read between the lines of all those mastering engineers is, that the whole dynamic range discussions as well as “neutrality vs. coloration” discussions as also Cookie once mentioned, are mainly audiophiles’, theorists’ and lobbyists’ topics but not seen as relevant by them. Very different certainly the loudness war thing of a very different extent …

I suspect he told you this is not compression as we typically think of compression as working from the top (loudest) down, not the bottom up. And he is not using a compressor, even though there are plug-ins and units which will do what he is doing. Note riding faders has become automated so he can replay the tracks and make changes until he finds if perfect. He does not need to ride the faders “live” as was done in the 1960’s.

Re the loudness wars: Compression came into being to prevent over-modulating of a radio wave. But people found it also made music louder and more punchy - which they liked. As radio defined the music stars of the age, all successful star’s recordings were compressed. As compression was the sound of music stars it became the standard of everyone making a recording. Thus, all artists wanted compression applied to their recordings. The same is true today. In summary, Compression began as a useful tool and became an effect.

The same thing happened with autotune. Used judiciously one will never know it is there, it serves a purpose. But we learned how to turn it into an effect and consumers loved it.

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He just said, that compression usually means using a compressor and pronounced that just few parts were gain ridden very slightly (as if, besides the missing harm to the signal chain, this is another dimension than usual compression and not relevant or recognizable).

As he’s known to do everything all analog and in a minimized signal chain, plugins are no issue here I’d say and I guess he probably really rode gain „live“ in terms of live for cutting during master playback.

Motorized faders are still analog. :slight_smile:

He may well have ridden the faders live.

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It’s possible, but unless you are recording direct to analog master, why would you? You might make a mistake you would need to fix later, such as not liking how or where you ramped the gain up or down. Much better done later in the digital domain, assuming it goes there at some point.

He did it during the vinyl cutting process, not during the recording, so no digital options.

That’s the way to go : )

I’m usually not really receptive to M. Fremer’s often kind of dogmatic opinion of digital vs. analog, but this time I tried what he described marked bold below as I have both vinyl versions, the fully analog and the newly mastered from hires digital.

It’s definitely true what he writes here, the old analog version sounds very clearly much better in piano ambience and tone. Would be interesting to compare the different mastering processes and equipment in detail in this case. I begin to take him more serious…

Probably very few here interested in this stuff, but in case one of you has those two versions, it’s really very enlightening to compare!


“The vibraphone like the piano is not an easy instrument to record or reproduce. When I compared AAA records to these digitized versions, it was clear that the organic “wholeness” of the originals—the attack, sustain and decay of the instrument—gave way in the digitized versions to a fragmented “pixilated” version where the attack, sustain and decay of each note seemed to be broken into tiny pieces instead of being delivered whole. Listened to casually, it sounds fine but if you really pay attention the “there” of the instrument simply isn’t “there”! It’s also audible in the digitized versions of some of Reference Recording’s great AAA records such as Nojima Plays Liszt originally released on LP in 1986 and reissued recently 1/2 speed mastered at 45rpm from high resolution digital files. When I play both versions “blind” for people either at home or during in-store events everyone notices that the piano on the original is “there” while on the digitally remastered LP it’s diffuse and difficult to “see” because the organic “wholeness” of the instrumental attack, sustain and decay gets if not destroyed then somewhat broken apart. It’s audible here too. Nonetheless, the mastering is well-done and unless you have originals you’ll not know what you’re missing.”

That looks like a great set! The difference in the audio samples are fairly dramatic.

Whenever there’s an interesting opinion of a pro like here about the tape vs. hires topic, I post it.

So here the typical dry and short statement of Hoffman putting a guys opinion on the superiority of hires digital to analog tape in perspective :wink: Funny and interesting as folks like myself without own experience can just read about different opinions…but those of mastering engineers seem to be quite similar.

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Of those engineers who work with vinyl and are vinyl enthusiasts. :slight_smile:

Indeed I often thought about it if all those (Hoffman, Grundman, Gray, Bob Ludwig, Doug Sax, Pauler and many more who master vinyl AND digital are vinyl enthusiasts, very undogmatic about flatness/neutrality and therefore biased (I count someone like Cookie neutral but very open minded towards analog), or if simply everyone who intensively mastered both sees quite some advantages in analog and only those concentrated on mastering purely or mainly digital are fixated on digital. No one of the above mentioned only does or did analog/vinyl. In contrary I guess someone like Grundman or even Hoffman mastered more CD’s than vinyl.

I’m sure Gus will represent another kind of mindset, but I still have to read about a strong or pure digital preference from someone who’s deep into both…

To be honest I didn’t expect such a relatively direct and clear preference for analog and vinyl from professionals who regularly do vinyl and digital format masterings…I expected much more theoretical and measurement orientation from them and less pure listening orientation.

I’d be really interested in differing opinions of pro’s and I’m sure there are many who decided to just work digital from start…an opinion would just have more weight if they at least occasionally work in analog and do comparisons as the above mentioned do.