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Post-Production

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Post-Production is the phase where the recordings for each song are listened to, edited, and mixed into a single good take for that song.  Then, various other post-production 'mastering' processes may or may not be performed, depending upon the need and upon the budget.  These other processes include: Noise Reduction, Audio Detailing (removal of extraneous noises), equalization, limiting/compression,  normalization, and putting the songs together for 'album' continuity.  The result of most post-production jobs is a master CD meeting the "Red Book" standard, that is ready for duplication or replication.

Details on Post Production and Mastering Processes (for those of you who are curious)

  • Equalization (EQ) - In general, given the quality equipment Lucid uses, little or no EQ is needed.  However, for more distant recordings, sometimes, the high frequencies need to be turned up a little to bring out details, or mixes between different microphone groups or instruments may need a little equalization to balance the sound between them to make it more cohesive.  Lucid uses high quality linear phase digital EQs to maintain high sound quality and spaciousness.  
  • Limiting/Compression - These terms refer to 'dynamic range' - the difference in volume between loud and quiet parts.  When limiting/compression is performed, it typically compresses the volume, making the quiet parts louder and/or the loud parts quieter.  Much of today's pop music is very compressed such that the loud and quiet parts are almost the same volume.  However, most classical music really benefits from full, uncompressed dynamic range to fully evoke the listeners emotions.  Thus for this type of music, ideally, little or no limiting/compression should be used.  Lucid follows this philosophy whenever practical.  For this reason, you may notice that Lucid CDs (and many other quality classical labels) seem to have a lower average volume than other brands.  This is so that you can take advantage of the full dynamic range of the music.  However, sometimes it is apprpriate for the mastering engineer to utilize a small amount of compression when there are only a couple of places on a CD where the volume gets very loud.  If these few 'ultra loud' spots aren't compressed to make them a little quieter, then the volume on the entire rest of the CD must be 'turned down' to accommodate those couple of really loud spots while staying under the maximum volume technically allowed on a CD.  That being said, there are times when compression is good - even on classical music.  For example, if the music needs to be played back in a noisy environment, such as a car, compression can help by turning up the volume on the quiet parts loud enough so that the listener can hear them over the traffic and engine noise.  However, unless requested, Lucid does not master to optimize for a noisy listening environment.  We use little or no compression whenever possible.
  • Normalization - This is basically volume adjustment on a per-song basis, keeping all songs within the limits of the digital medium (e.g. 16 bit CD).  If there are some really loud songs and some really quiet songs that must go together on a CD, the mastering engineer will adjust the volume of the loudest song to fit within the maximum volume the CD can handle.  Then, other songs will be adjusted relative to that one so that all songs on an album fit together and sound appropriately loud relative to each other.  The mastering engineer should aim to set the volume of all songs so that the listener will enjoy listening to the album from first song to last without adjusting the playback volume.   To do this, the mastering engineer may prefer to 'turn up the volume' on the quiet song just a little to make it easier to hear next to the loud song.   Normalization is basically making per-song volume adjustment decisions for all of the songs on an album.
  • Continuity - This is the process of selecting the song order and the spacing (silence, applause, or quiet room ambience) between songs.  For many concert recordings, the CD simply follows the order of the songs as they were performed.  Lucid typically follows concert order, but will sometimes adjust song order when it seems particularly appropriate.  Lucid also typically does not fade-out between songs for concert recordings.  Our most common continuity technique for concert CDs is to make the CD to sound like it is a real, complete concert with just music and applause.   We usually leave in the applause, although it is sometimes shortened.  Additionally, we typically remove all talking between the songs unless requested to keep it.  For non-concert recordings, Lucid can make song order decisions if requested, but we usually defer to the artists regarding song order.
  • Noise Reduction - This is the process of removing 'steady state' background noise, such as air handlers, machine noise, etc.   Ideally, you want to record in a quiet space that doesn't have any of this noise, as noise reduction usually does come at some cost.  Usually the audio quality of the music suffers at least a little bit.  Therefore, Lucid prefers to not use noise reduction.  However, when noise reduction is required, Lucid does an excellent job of removing noise while leaving the music intact.
  • Audio Detailing - This is the process of removing extraneous temporary noises from recordings.  Examples of this include temporary traffic noises (motorcycle taking off), cellophane wrappers, coughs, squeeks, etc.  Each instance of this kind of noise is handled individually.  Most of the time, 90% of the noise is removed with very little effect on the music.  However, some noises are so close the musical notes, that they are difficult to remove without affecting the music.  

 

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Last modified: May 26, 2015