Re: [LAU] Mastering the meaning of mastering and "original master recording" in the digital age

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To: <linux-audio-user@...>
Date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 8:17 pm

On Sun, Apr 07, 2013 at 11:30:52AM -0600, Bearcat M. Şándor wrote:

> Most recent CDs were mastered digitally, therefore is the original

Depends on what is meant by 'mastering'. If it just means preparing
the metadata etc. required to press a CD, the answer would be 'yes',
apart from the fact that the original probably has more than 16 bits,
and maybe a higher sample rate. Which is more or less irrelevant if
the recoding to 16 bits was properly dithered and resampled.

If 'mastering' means applying EQ, compression etc. then the answer is
'no'. But for a CD that should not be necessary as the medium doesn't
impose any technical limits that are more stringent that the artistic
ones applied anyway while mixing. That is completely different to the
situation that existed for analog media.

Digital production tools make it easy to have more than one 'master',
(depending on intended use) so the concept of a unique master doesn't
always apply. I do a lot of 'contemporary classic' recordings, a type
of music that tends to have a rather high dynamic range. I keep a fully
edited Ardour session which will in general not have much dynamic
processing applied, just some manual adjustments if necessary, and
maybe a few dB of peak limiting which will be active only on short
occasional peaks. That session could be called 'the master', but even
everything done there is reversible, so it doesn't need to be final.
Many of these recordings end up on Italian and other European radio
networks, and most copies I prepare for that use have some compression
(1:1.3 or so) applied to reduce the dynamic range. As far as the RAI
and EBU are concerned, those versions are the 'master'.

> At about what year did most CDs become digitally mastered, rendering

Anthing *recorded* the last 20 years at least has a very high chance
of being entirely digital. Note 'recorded', not 'released'.

> I *swear* i remember buying CDs when they came out and they used to tell

Because it became irrelevant, or - in the case of re-released 'vintage'
recordings from the pre-digital era - either obvious or a bad idea from
a commercial perspective.

> Is there any way to tell/reasonably guess if a CD has been digitally

See above, look at the recording dates. Exceptions will probably be
noted in the booklet or credits.

Ciao,

--
FA

A world of exhaustive, reliable metadata would be an utopia.
It's also a pipe-dream, founded on self-delusion, nerd hubris
and hysterically inflated market opportunities. (Cory Doctorow)

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Messages in current thread:
[LAU] Mastering the meaning of mastering and "original maste..., Bearcat M. Şándor, (Sun Apr 7, 5:31 pm)
Re: [LAU] Mastering the meaning of mastering and "original m..., Fons Adriaensen, (Mon Apr 8, 8:17 pm)