Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The analog myth (once again)

About a week ago, a song came to me for mastering. They are an alternative-rock band from Mexico and this song is a cover of "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground; I have mastered about 2 or 3 releases from them.

Here's an excerpt of the song before mastering. 

All of the previous masters I have done for the band have had analog compression and of course I thought this one was going to be the same. I used the Tegeler Audio Crème mastering compressor which is very effective for alternative music because I find it very gentle with the transients but at the same time, very "in-control" for the whole mix, not to mention its amazing sound. To my surprise, as much as the song sounded really good, I didn't find it very dynamic so I started tweaking the knobs but it didn't sound good enough to my ears.

Tegeler Audio Crème compressor

Here's an excerpt of the song with the Tegeler compressor (mastering is halfway done at this point)

I also used my customized Tube Composer which was modified for mastering purposes (the specifics are beyond the scope of this entry so I'll talk about this unit later) but it also didn't suit the needs so I decided to do a 180-degree turn and go digital.

It turns out that what I needed to do was to treat the releases separately so I went with the Weiss DS-1 which has 3 release controls and problem solved! However, as much as the digital domain allows me to have more control over the signal, this compressor in particular is as transparent as anything can be so I had to regain the "color" I had with the analog compressors. 

Weiss DS-1 compressor

Here's an excerpt of the song with the Weiss compressor (mastering is halfway done at this point)

For this I did go to the analog domain and more mastering stuff (digital and analog) was done but this is also beyond the scope of this blog entry.

You can listen to the finished song at the band's official Bandcamp.

The analog domain is great, it has a lot of advantages and some equipment is really awesome but it is not always the answer and certainly only a handful of masters are done in the analog domain in their entirety. To judge a mastering house for their commitment to the analog gear is far from what mastering is all about. My masters server the songs and I will use the tools that your art require and not a pre-designed setup just because it looks cool.

Contact me if you want mastering for your music or check out more mastering demos for alternative rock here and more music genres here.

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