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do mastering engineers know best?

Alas, not necessarily.  Too often I see them making claims that wouldn't pass muster at HA.  For example, this, from Barry Diament, who's mastered lots of old albums for CD (including much of Atlantic's rock catalog, when Cds first came out in the 80's).

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showpost...mp;postcount=48



//
Hi Jeff,

I was just browsing around here in the forum and found this older post.
I'd like to mention that in my experience, different CDs can "test as digitally identical" yet still clearly *sound* different.

I suspect that when you test, you're bringing the tracks into your computer. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If I'm correct, you've now got the data on your hard drive and it is the *data* you are comparing. This is not the same as comparing the CDs themselves, as in listening, when you are comparing *retreival of the data from the discs and conversion to audio*.

When making masters for CDs where very large sales are expected, often "masters" are sent to multiple plants. Each plant makes a slightly different sounding pressing and none are identical to the master.

I have found this to be the case, ever since the first CDs I did back in 1983, when comparing a CD pressing with the master from which it was made. They have *never* been indistinguishable from each other. (This is why I'm planning to offer one-off CD-Rs in addition to pressings for CDs I release on Soundkeeper Recordings, my own label.)

So... if you've heard a difference, test for repeatability and consistence in being able to detect it. If you hear it consistently and repeatably, don't let anyone (who doesn't/can't hear it) tell you it isn't there.

Regards,
Barry
//


 


Leaving aside the whole 'pressing plants' issue of non-blind evaluations of difference, what bugs me about this is his distinction between 'data on a hard drive' and 'data retrieved and decoded into audio'.  I was under the impression that data was 'retrieved' off the disc in both cases, or starters.  If two digitally identical discs are't  'decoded into audio' the same way by a player, then I'd say the player needs to be upgraded.    Julian Dunn et al found that when digitally identical discs did not produce identical playback, it was due to player servo/motor issues causing amplitude modulation of the analog output (the only likely audible ones being related to different *track positions* rather than different discs).

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #1
Bummer for anyone who puts mastering engineers on a pedestal.

In other words, being a professional (even an accomplished expert) doesn't necessarily make that person an all-knowing authority in their field of expertise.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #2
"Mastering engineer" is to "electrical engineer", as "engineer" is to "physicist".

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #3
I was just browsing around here in the forum and found this older post.
I'd like to mention that in my experience, different CDs can "test as digitally identical" yet still clearly *sound* different.


I read something similar in another another thread on that forum (stevehoffman.tv). It was about the different pressings of MSFL gold cds, UCDI >< UCDII. These are digitally indentical, yet several people claims that UCDI sounds better than UCDII.

One common thing about the people at this site: They mostly use CD/SACD players and rarely computers for playback. IF these people are right, then it can only be explained by the CD/SACD player having an easier time reading UCDI than UCDII - that is the UCDI media is of higher quality than the UCDII. CD-ROM drives may be more tolerant, since they read the discs several times, while a CD player only reads once and makes guesses when it fails.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #4
I think it is a great forum for talking about music you happen to like or dislike, it is full of great opinions.

In technical terms it is full of disinformation. The idea that cloned digital data can sound different is just one standard discussion topic. For example, there is a poster in the forum from New Zealand who is convinced that Australian pressed CDs all sound worse than American versions of exactly the same album. Perhaps this is true if one owns a defective CD player that constantly reverts to error correction. But if you propose playing music back from a (Home Theatre) computer you will be laughed at for saying a computer is a better playback device than a $5000 CD player.

More generally, I can recall providing the standard maxim that VBR = variable file size, constant quality, whereas CBR = predictable file sizes, but (most likely) variable quality. I was shouted down for spouting Apple (!?) propaganda! There is only one thing audiophiles fear more than a lossy encoder, that's a lossy encoder attempting to achieve constant quality. There assumption is that the quality is obviously crap, so how can the encoder determine what is hard or easy to encode! (I guess that is the 'logic' at work)

Everything seems to be had both ways, it is boring, so I limit my contributions to the music forum. I couldn't care less if someone's opinion of a piece of music varies from mine, but I enjoy talking in the music forum to people who do share similar musical tastes. The technical forum is a different matter... I'm more interested in learning facts (even provisional ones!) rather than being inundated with disinformation and a mountain of opinion.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #5
You think that's bad.. try telling them that power cables DON'T influence audio quality. DUCK AND COVER!

In fairness, not everyone on that forum is an audiophool. It's a pretty wide mix of music/audio lovers.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #6
I suspect that when you test, you're bringing the tracks into your computer. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If I'm correct, you've now got the data on your hard drive and it is the *data* you are comparing. This is not the same as comparing the CDs themselves, as in listening, when you are comparing *retreival of the data from the discs and conversion to audio*.


So... if you've heard a difference, test for repeatability and consistence in being able to detect it. If you hear it consistently and repeatably, don't let anyone (who doesn't/can't hear it) tell you it isn't there.


I just can't help but think of the word oxymoron. Assuming the disc can be read without error. Then there are people praising his posts!
daefeatures.co.uk

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #7
Quote
"Mastering engineer" is to "electrical engineer", as "engineer" is to "physicist".

and......
Quote
I think it is a great forum for talking about music you happen to like or dislike, it is full of great opinions.

In technical terms it is full of disinformation.
well...but this is one opinion and your opinion.
i think completely different.
i can't answer for the remainders here because each one have his own opinion.


Quote
The idea that cloned digital data can sound different is just one standard discussion topic. For example, there is a poster in the forum from New Zealand who is convinced that Australian pressed CDs all sound worse than American versions of exactly the same album. Perhaps this is true if one owns a defective CD player that constantly reverts to error correction. But if you propose playing music back from a (Home Theatre) computer you will be laughed at for saying a computer is a better playback device than a $5000 CD player.
oh my,i don't agrre too.sorry.
my short history:
i have all led zep cdas where:
all from USA,
the same(all) from Germany
and the same from Brasil....yes,all cds 3 times!
and....Germany sounds really better and i ask you:
as led zep is from USA,how can the Germany cds sounds better? 

don't belive and want samples? pm me and chose the music.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #8
don't belive and want samples? pm me and chose the music.

I would like to participate in this  You could send samples without telling us the origin.
Can't wait for a HD-AAC encoder :P

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #9
i have all led zep cdas where:
all from USA,
the same(all) from Germany
and the same from Brasil....yes,all cds 3 times!
and....Germany sounds really better and i ask you:
as led zep is from USA,how can the Germany cds sounds better?

Simple, Led Zeppelin are from the UK. The UK is closer to Germany than the USA and Brasil so getting the sound from the UK to a CD in Germany means it has to travel shorter distance.
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #10
lol.....don't worry,i tell that only one is better.

i still can send the samples of the same music without tell "who is who".
think..3 times "Black Dog"....but how is from Brasil and how from USA if easily you can hear that only one sounds better(germany copy in this case).



Quote
Led Zeppelin are from the UK
i am talking about the cds....but
after read in one of my cds...
where is Atlantic Studio and where Jimmy Page was born?

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #11
Quote
Led Zeppelin are from the UK
i am talking about the cds....but
after read in one of my cds...
where is Atlantic Studio and where Jimmy Page was born?

"Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, one of the most successful and influential groups in popular music history."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #12
lol
you really can't feel what i'm trying to show.
you can't read that i have all albums and cds? i know LZ from the start ...in 69 if i good remember.

look led zep II and see where each music was record!!!
now look led zep iV and read where was record.
if you are american and record one cd in china,don't means that the cd is american..lol...oh my god!
this is what i mean

regards Maurits...seems that we freeze the thread with my idea about samples...where are the others?
lol

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #13
What samples can we expect from you, jlt?
3 FLAC files which are equal? (*)
And these are supposed to sound different?
Are you kidding?

(* not equal = you're off-topic)

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #14
oh my,i don't agrre too.sorry.
my short history:
i have all led zep cdas where:
all from USA,
the same(all) from Germany
and the same from Brasil....yes,all cds 3 times!
and....Germany sounds really better and i ask you:
as led zep is from USA,how can the Germany cds sounds better? 

don't belive and want samples? pm me and chose the music.

Stop being a moron. You are talking about different mastering, I am refering to people who think cloned copies of the same CD can sound different.

Case in point - there are people in those forums who feel that a WAV and a FLAC of that WAV can sound different! But I guess that is OK for you, because all that counts is having different opinions... Whatever.

Sure it is my opinion that the technical forum is full of disinformation, but fortunately it is an opinion that is supported by evidence. The evidence takes the form of objecting to the fact people constantly propose things that are untrue.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #15
Quote
lol.....don't worry,i tell that only one is better.

i still can send the samples of the same music without tell "who is who".
think..3 times "Black Dog"....but how is from Brasil and how from USA if easily you can hear that only one sounds better(germany copy in this case)



I highly doubt you can tell them apart, in a blind test unless you are talking about two different masterings.

The Zep catalog has only been mastered twice for CD.  (not counting the two boxed set anthologuies, which have some differences from the 'full length' CDs)

I compared a japanese, a UK, and a US tracks from 'Physical Graffiti' (remastered version) and they were all digitally identical.

Tell you what, post me some flacs of a short track, from several versions that you think sound different, and I'll set up an online test where you have tell one from the other.  Or do some real ABX of your own, and post the results here.


(Btw, are you 'jorgeluiz' on the AVS Forum?)

Quote
Quote
Led Zeppelin are from the UK
i am talking about the cds....but
after read in one of my cds...
where is Atlantic Studio and where Jimmy Page was born?




Led Zep II was recorded in some American, Canadian, and UK studios while the band was touring, but Jimmy Page was born in the UK, and IIRC all of the other Led Zep albums were recorded in the UK.  So what are you talkign about? There's nothing American about Led Zeppelin except for their ripoffs of our bluesmen and women. ;>

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #16
hi boys...sorry for late ,i was busy today.

Quote
Are you kidding?
no i'm sure that you don'1t read my post with atention and i don't want to repeat the same posted.please read again about my led zep cds.
Quote
And these are supposed to sound different?
yes,be sure...i don't wrote "maybe" are differents,i wrote that they "are" differents. 

Quote
Stop being a moron.
in what?
Quote
You are talking about different mastering.
lol..
i'm saying that the same mastering is send to the whloe world and sounds different in each country.or do you mean that after everything is done they do differents mastering for each country? for what reason?

Quote
I highly doubt you can tell them apart, in a blind test...
highly doubt that i can tell?
but i wrote that they are differents ..need any blind test to proove have sound completely different?
the topic that you posted and the link are showing exactly what?
i don't need to post the link to your first post to explain...

Quote
I compared a japanese..
MFSL form original master recoding 24! gold plated? do you need to do ABX to compare this cds?....don't mind.. and no i wrote from USA,Germany and Brasil and not any Special Edition or Remastered.
is off topic but one good oportunity to ask: why MFSL cds sounds better if "normal" cds came from the same source?
and about remaster that have few equlizations? why sounds better if the default was changed and have one big thread here with afirmations that equalizations are lossy.in what we really trust,in digital tests or in what we hear? (this remember me the thread about best/better).

Quote
post me some flacs of a short track, from several versions that you think sound different, and I'll set up an online test where you have tell one from the other. Or do some real ABX of your own, and post the results here.
i don't think that they are differents,one more time i write here: they are differents
do you want that i proove with ABX? no i don't want to proove anything.
i want that you using what you want tell me who is who.
you are "inverting" what i wrote, lol,now you want that i proove?....seems that you don't read my first post here.
to be short: i will post the 3 complete musics.
the problem is that you want scientific proove in what anyone can hear differences.is absurd do test as you will hear big differences.in this case,the ABX will show what for you if you really need.
more clever: MFSL cds sounds better? i'm sure. you do ABX between MFSL and normal cds? don't need answer.

Quote
(Btw, are you 'jorgeluiz' on the AVS Forum?)
  ...who?...no but i can feel that "jorgeluis" is one more with the seamless argumments (like me) .is the reason of your answer?
if have different popint of view with the forum is one alien and is the same alien in another place?
it's really strange!

@ all
as i wrote(read again if needed) i was busy today and i'm tired after one short trip but tomorrow i will post waves or you will search for anything wrong to blame in the flacs....or me.
remember,forum is one place to change informations,not the place to use hard and scientifics argumments to be right and remain wrong.
music is for our ears and not to be beautiful with aparent perfection in waveview or osciloscopes.

regards all.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #17
Once music is becoming more and more digital, Mastering Engineers should be required to take Boolean Algebra and Digital Electronics classes and PASS them! So they would not say truck loads of ...


do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #19
[deleted]

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #20
I just can't help but think of the word oxymoron. Assuming the disc can be read without error. Then there are people praising his posts!


I think moron alone is good enough

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #21
Quote
That depends on the listener...
I'd say that anyone would be able to tell such obvious differences apart.

i agree.
but as depend of the listener, why you want and need ABX or any scientific proove? you,i or anyone can be listening the same source but each hear with his own ears and not with the ears of the other.

Quote
If you can't hear any difference between totally different tracks, you might as well be deaf.They won't be identical in any way.

and you seems "what" reading:
Quote
more clever: MFSL cds sounds better? i'm sure.

what you understood?

Quote

i'm sure that you don't read because i posted too:
Quote
you do ABX between MFSL and normal cds? don't need answer.
...and you came with this BIG post...what we do now? you will read what i really wrote or i still have to answer imaginations wanting scientific prooves?
trust me,as you don't read what i wrote i'm really "faded" to read the remainder of your argumments in this too big post with answers and explanations for what i don't wrote.
i wrote about differences in the audio between cds with the same tracks and not about ABX and scientific tests because the sound is different and don't need tests only to pay atention when listening and don't need to stay tense searching problems/differences...just relax and hear the music...you will hear what is different.
but if you can't hear(is impossible but you use your ears ,right? ),means that ABX or any other good tool can't help you too....to use ABX for scientific prooves you use your --->ears<-- ...without hear,what you can proove? lol.
to be scientific first you need logical and lucidity!
seems logical and lucid what i wrote?
lol

regards.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #22
Quote
I think moron alone is good enough

but i'm sure that you are too silly.
if i agree with you all i can be right?
differents point of view turn anyone as alien.

you don't want to proove that i'm wrong? and why don't you asked for the samples?
you are too wise but only with your eyes...for me....tedious!
good bye all but anyone can pm me for the samples.
i will don't back here because i can't post or "so wise persons"...and scareds monkeys in the same tree that don't ask for the samples.
lol

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #23
Quote
I think moron alone is good enough

but i'm sure that you are too silly.
if i agree with you all i can be right?
differents point of view turn anyone as alien.

you don't want to proove that i'm wrong? and why don't you asked for the samples?
you are too wise but only with your eyes...for me....tedious!
good bye all but anyone can pm me for the samples.
i will don't back here because i can't post or "so wise persons"...and scareds monkeys in the same tree that don't ask for the samples.
lol

I dont want to sound rude or anything, but you *HAVE* to back your statements with *PROOFS* which you did not do. Granted you wanted to post some FLACs from the different albums, which was a good step but we asked if you ABX'd on your own and you failed to answer. Sorry but you should read the rules.

do mastering engineers know best?

Reply #24
Boy, jlt, you sure are violating TOS 8 like crazy, enjoy your time here while it lasts

 
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