INTRODUCTION The ideal arrangement for producing a record is for the same engineer to do all the studio recording, overdubbing, mixin g, and then disk mastering for the complete album. A few studios operated that way before the advent of today's multitrack recordlng methods, with the tons of specialized outboard gear.computerassisted consoles, and other general paraphernalia that require specialists in either recording/mixing or disk mastering. When recording techtuques were simpler, the same engmeer handled the record from the studio right through to the disk-mastering stage. I can recall several studios that functioned in that manner, even into the days of stereo and the advent of 4- and 8-track recording: Van GelderRecording, RKO Recording, and the studio that I owned and operated--Mastertone. The advantage of this method of making records was that the same person knew what was going on at all times and was familiar with the total proj914
ect. Under the circumstances, we learned quickly if a certain technique used in the studio caused difficulty when cutting the master record. Today, records are produceddifferently, On some albums there may be a series of producers involved, each having recorded and mixed several tunes, Many different studio and mixing engineers may be involved with the project The only person following the album through from beginning to end might be the overall record producer, the artist, or the label owner, The finished consumer product, be it cassette, black vinyl analog record,or Compact Disc, obviously would be better if the producers and the mixers involved with the project were familiar with the limitations of each medium. In recent years we have seen the proliferation of many small independent recording studios, sometimes hundreds of miles away from a disk-mastering facility. As a result, the mixer may never develop a speaking relationship with anyone subsequentlyinvolved with his master tape and is deprived of the op-
portunity to learn some of the basic techniques to be discussed here. The objective of the studio mixing process should be to produce a final stereo tape that will transfer directly to the finished consumer product, with the least possible loss of quality and musical values, and without creating manufacturing difficulties along the way.Many times over the years in my career as a recording engineer I have heard the expression: "We'll fix it in the mix." This pronouncemerit is usually made by the record producer when the studio is full of musicians who are booked for a threehour session, and recording even one minute over the three hours would incur huge overtime charges. Since most recording is done on separate tracks for eachsection of the orchestra, the producer may not want to do a retake if he heard a musical clinker, noise from the studio, or a glitch from some piece of equipment. The tendency is to forge ahead, as, in this case, "time is money" both for the studio and for the musicians. The thought is that the probJ. Audio Eng. Soc., Vol. 34, No. 11',1986 November
to Mastering Compact Discs
leto can be correctedlater in the mixing process, when the hourly rate for the studio may be the same as that charged for recording, but you don't have to worry about overtime for the musicians. The engineer might point out to the producer that the fault cannot be magically exorcised in the mix; but the producer may decide to ignore this advme and not do a retake, After all, who is paying for the scssion, anyway? Imyself have used that sometimes overworked expression: "We'll fix it in the mix," but only on those pccasions when I was certain that the problem could be corrected later, When it was subsequently discovered that'we could not fix it in the mix, a new phrase was added to the English language: "We'll fix it in mastering." And thus was born the novel concept of client mastering. Here, the record...