Re: Mastering EA was French Touch

Subject: Re: Mastering EA was French Touch
From: Pierre Alexandre Tremblay (
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 12:43:10 EDT

OK, since I did

a) pop producing in major studios in Montreal
b) acoustic contemporary jazz producing in the same studios
c) EA composition in university and home studio (and listen them back
in the A and B premise)

and I had my stuff pre-mastered in A and B in Montreal, Toronto and New
York, and I am in the process of having Dominique Bassal pre-master my
stuff in case C, I will give my opinion. I feel it is always touchy to
give myself as an example because you can easily dismiss my word by
saying I can't compose, can't mix or whatever, but I have to put my
pants on!

So I feel electroacoustic composer are afraid of mastering because they
just don't know what it is. If you never had your material
pre-mastered properly (in a studio that was a reference like there is
only 3 or 4 in Montreal, with the very few qualified pre-mastering
engineer in town), please do not give your opinion. You will blur the
discussion by misinformation.

Pre-mastering is the final chance to have a more experienced technical
and artistic ear on your sound production, in a controlled environment.
The problem Dominique is talking about is not artistic averaging to
bring stuff to known territories, it is problem solving. A blurry
mid-bass is a blurry mid-bass. The good pre-mastering engineer is
aware of an artistic goal, and if the blurry mid-bass is achieving the
artistic goal, they will just not touch it! But in my case, my
producer's experience, my mixing engineer bias, the control room and
the limited mixing time have induced problems in my final mix for which
I have to grow. Having the input of a professional distant ear is
absolutely the best way to improve next time.

For more information on pre-mastering, or if you just don't know why I
talk of pre-mastering instead of mastering, I would suggest to read the
excellent book by one of the most respected pre-mastering engineer, Bob
Katz, Mastering, the art and the science. And to go to Dominique's
next conference if there is one near you! It is really simply
explaining the basic reason why a reference listening place is of the
utmost importance.

For me, submitting my mix to mastering is about having the humility to
have it judged under the microscope. It will not make better music.
Just better sounding music. And I am sorry to say that sometime, EA is
relying too much on their sounds and not on the actual musical
composition: gesture, form, plans, articulations, references, etc.

My 2.5 penny!


Pierre Alexandre Tremblay
Lecturer in Computer Composition
University of Huddersfield
Queensgate Campus
England HD1 3DH

(t) +44 (0) 1484 47 36 08 (f) +44 (0) 1484 47 26 56

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