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Mastering(s) and mastering processes analog/vinyl/digital
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August 13, 2017
4:41 pm
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As a contribution to this new main thread, I’m starting this sub thread to share and gather some information and opinions about mastering processes digital and analog and maybe also some good examples in terms of available masterings.

I learned a lot recently. Initially it started with an answer from Ted when at my very beginning here, while not having a general and only vinyl preference but also cherishing digital, I posted my experience when comparing digital to vinyl (with few more exceptions mostly more or less pro vinyl). I paid much attention to selecting recordings that were mastered in parallel for vinyl and SACD by the same several well rewarded mastering engineers.
(Besides this, in many cases vinyl to me sounded superior in case of better and different masterings than available on digital media, but that’s not the topic here, here I took care of choosing the same masterings.)

At this time Ted already mentioned, although choosing same masterings, I possibly still compare masterings, not concepts. I thought I could not have paid more attention to selecting the least mastering differences possible. Which was true. But what I didn’t know at the time was, that even then, there seem to be noticeable sound quality differences in the mastering and production processes for vinyl in comparison to those for digital media (pro vinyl, in spite of its other limitations). This and other aspects were made clear in an interview Paul made with mastering legend Bernie Grundman. Paul linked this most interesting interview within this thread ( http://www.psaudio.com/pauls-p…..ts/seesaw/ ). Unfortunately I can’t provide a direct link to the audio file directly as it is embedded.

 

Another mastering legend, Steve Hoffman, (only marginally) mentioned such differences, too (and a general tendency to vinyl preference) within this thread ( http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/…..es.184804/ ) and several others within his forum like on this page ( http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/…..42/page-10 ) or on this etc. etc. ( http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/…..28/page-24 ), while within this thread he compared master to tape, SACD, Vinyl and CD with similar results ( http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/…..py.133328/ ).

Kevin Gray, another mastering legend, besides having been involved together with Steve Hoffman in above mentioned and many other such masterings for SACD, CD and vinyl commented to myself, that he usually tries to surpass SACD masterings (especially when he only does the vinyl part) with his vinyl masterings and is aware, such comparisons are done.

Greg Calbi and others at Sterling sound are some, who also provide among the best masterings available for SACD and vinyl as they reside in neighborhood of the master vaults. Many masterings I compared SACD/vinyl. What’s written on their page also points to a certain special aspect of vinyl mastering processes ( http://sterling-sound.com/mast…..ing/vinyl/ ).

When searching for some opinions of two other of the best mastering engineers, Doug Sax and Bob Ludwig, who also mastered for digital as well as vinyl, I didn’t find suited interviews, instead a silly, skin-deep and slightly embarrassing performance pro vinyl together with Michael Fremer ( http://www.soundgirls.org/mast…..ing-vinyl/ ) with Fremer showing how to put a record out of its sleeve. Only the fact that they participated in such an event and to confirmed such skin-deep opinions pro vinyl made me think, they probably have the same preference.

From an interview I know a clear preference for vinyl mastering from the boss of Acousence and few less well known, who do digital and analog, too.
Labels like 2xHD intentionally use lots of analog processes for their hires digital media to get best results. (which to me doesn’t mean, they make the best digital recordings).

All in all it seems nearly every one of the famous engineers I know, who seriously do both, mastering for vinyl and digital, has a certain preference for vinyl and probably a similar opinion about the influencing aspects of the analog and vinyl mastering process, while and in spite of knowing vinyl’s limitations.

Certainly among digital only mastering engineers, but probably also among those seriously doing both, there will be further different and more differentiated opinions on that. Just what I always saw as a pure personal preference, seems to have more background aside of and prior to the playback device of a Streamer/DAC/Record player.

Would be happy if others find more info about this topic or opinions of professionals who master both with similar effort and dedication. I think it’s less interesting to see typical one-sided opinions of those who have singular interests or experiences.

The following users say thank you to jazznut for this useful post:

jeffstarr

Hobby musician, music lover, long time audiophile, jazz-, vinyl-, and tube nut (but not dogmatic), now also CD/Hires/DSD nut. I use the Directstream DAC on Huron with Bridge II, a galvanic isolation device for LAN connection, a Monster High speed CAT6 LAN cable, a NAS drive QNAP TS253pro with 8TB WD red pro drives and Jriver for QNAP on the NAS with an *.aif/*.dsf library behind. I also use a power line separated from the rest of the house supply and from network components, a few active HF field protectors, a molecular reformatted complete signal chain as well as very sophisticated cabling throughout.

August 17, 2017
11:12 am
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Proconditioned both vinyl and digital player are on quite the same quality level (which to me means a much more expensive vinyl setup), here some examples which I would name as Engineers/Mastering studios/Labels, which when they do both analog and digital media from the same recording by the same engineer, produce a vinyl mastering, that sounds more or less always better than the SACD/hires version by clearly more than the typical vinyl artifacts (which are a matter of taste I’d say).

 

Bernie Grundman & fellows / ORG / ORG Music / Classic Records

Sterling sound & fellows

Doug Sax RIP

Kevin Gray/Cohearent

Steve Hoffman

Sheffield/The mastering lab/Doug Sax

Stand Ricker RIP (not fully sure in his case if he did the digital versions personally, too)

Analogue productions and Acoustech generally (nearly all, as all done by great engineers)

Gateway mastering/Bob Ludwig

Masterdisk/Bob Ludwig

Acousence

Impex

Cisco

Reference Recordings (the old analog recordings only)

MFSL new Gain2 Ultra analog (slightly better). Old MFSL can be the opposite

First impression music (FIM)

Testament

Chesky

 

Another even more extreme case is: When vinyl masterings are done by above folks (and some other vinyl reissuing labels), and digital versions are available only by their labels standard engineers, vinyl is better by far hands down anyway in my experience.

 

Then IMO there are tons of digital/vinyl versions (much of what’s reissued today), which just differ by typical digital/vinyl artifacts, but sound extremely close.

Then there certainly are many high class digital albums, which are not available as vinyl and sound fantastic and as good as it can get (2L, Bluecoast, Northstar, Yarlung, Sound liaison etc.), also some with a less “audiophile” status like some Pentatone, most CIC/Aparte etc. and certainly many just “normal” digital albums.

Tons of other great albums only available in digital format are certainly essential for music lovers, too and there are also some, which only exist digitally as remastered version (i.e. Esoteric) and often sound better than their vinyl originals.

I personally just can say all in all I don’t know of many albums/labels, where I’d clearly prefer the digital version for sound reasons if both formats exist (except if extreme macro dynamics, challenging deep bass performance or distortion combined with strong one channel dynamics exceed the ability to be placed on vinyl wisely). In my experience this doesn’t play a major role too often (depending on genre)… very rarely in Jazz, here and there in Pop/Rock/HipHop but more often in classical full scale music.

The following users say thank you to jazznut for this useful post:

jeffstarr, amgradmd, Michael - Denmark

Hobby musician, music lover, long time audiophile, jazz-, vinyl-, and tube nut (but not dogmatic), now also CD/Hires/DSD nut. I use the Directstream DAC on Huron with Bridge II, a galvanic isolation device for LAN connection, a Monster High speed CAT6 LAN cable, a NAS drive QNAP TS253pro with 8TB WD red pro drives and Jriver for QNAP on the NAS with an *.aif/*.dsf library behind. I also use a power line separated from the rest of the house supply and from network components, a few active HF field protectors, a molecular reformatted complete signal chain as well as very sophisticated cabling throughout.

September 2, 2017
9:20 am
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When I occasionally find interesting posts or publications of mastering engineers on that topic, I continue to post here for your info.

I don’t pay attention to normal people’s opinions in different forums, but just use information and opinions of professional people. Even if they might be colored, too, I think it’s more relevant and interesting.

So here we go with few new findings:

 

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-how-does-mastering-differ-vinyl-and-digital-releases

 

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/…..t-17094548

IMG_1408.PNGImage Enlarger

https://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/the-mastering-master/Content?oid=2187013

http://www.noiseaddicts.com/20…..r-than-cd/

http://www.musictap.net/Interv…..rview.html

http://onlinemastering.net/vin…..mastering/

And here I found a rarer case of an article pro CD mastering:
http://www.rockedition.com/col…..han-vinyl/

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The following users say thank you to jazznut for this useful post:

amgradmd

Hobby musician, music lover, long time audiophile, jazz-, vinyl-, and tube nut (but not dogmatic), now also CD/Hires/DSD nut. I use the Directstream DAC on Huron with Bridge II, a galvanic isolation device for LAN connection, a Monster High speed CAT6 LAN cable, a NAS drive QNAP TS253pro with 8TB WD red pro drives and Jriver for QNAP on the NAS with an *.aif/*.dsf library behind. I also use a power line separated from the rest of the house supply and from network components, a few active HF field protectors, a molecular reformatted complete signal chain as well as very sophisticated cabling throughout.

September 9, 2017
5:15 pm
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This time my first case when a digital mastering of an analog source sounds in several aspects better than the analog done by in this case even by B.Grundman, which usually is a guarantee for the opposite:

I just compared Bill Evans/Another time by Resonance Records Redbook file to the vinyl remastered by Grundman. Vinyl in this case has little richer harmonics, but the digital mastering has clearly more contour in bass, is more transparent sounding and a little fresher in highs. Some might still prefer the vinyl here for its characteristic in this example, but the redbook file extracts clearly more information and better reveals the attack and transients of the instruments played, while both still sound great. Try this special case if you have the different media, it doesn’t happen often…I furthermore compared the Bill Evans/Some other time Grundmann vinyl on Resonance Recordings to the 2xHD DSD files and to the original Resonance Records hires files and the difference was not like that. They were quite similar.

That timing/pace in such comparisons never is a real issue for the DS, is probably its most valuable and admirable strength of all it has.

Hobby musician, music lover, long time audiophile, jazz-, vinyl-, and tube nut (but not dogmatic), now also CD/Hires/DSD nut. I use the Directstream DAC on Huron with Bridge II, a galvanic isolation device for LAN connection, a Monster High speed CAT6 LAN cable, a NAS drive QNAP TS253pro with 8TB WD red pro drives and Jriver for QNAP on the NAS with an *.aif/*.dsf library behind. I also use a power line separated from the rest of the house supply and from network components, a few active HF field protectors, a molecular reformatted complete signal chain as well as very sophisticated cabling throughout.