Feel free to give us examples where a remastred version have ended up not louder ?
Anything done for the Audio Fidelity or MFSL labels, all ECM recordings are mastered, as are those by Telarc and I could go on. What you seam to be rallying against is the "loudness wars" which are quite common in new rock releases and many re-masters. However that is almost 100% label and artist driven. In essence a mastering engineer only has the power that you give them.
Also turning up and making sure tracks hang together from one to the next is not the same as squashing, limiting and crushing it to death.
One other aspect is to "glue the mix together" but how do they do that, if not with compression ?
Traditionally NOT done in mastering. That is, the whole "glue a mix together" thing is done by the mix engineer with buss compression and it is not usually a mastering engineers job or concern.
Sending ambient music to the best mastering studio in the world would be a total joke..they do not even know
what to do with that kind of music all they would hear is production errors..
Sorry but here you are just speaking in hyperbole and ignorance.
Not to be a jerk, but I have met, talked to and personally know some of the best mastering engineers in the world and this is not the case. They all take extreme care with the music they are given. They work with the artist to achieve said artist's sonic goals and would NEVER be content to craft a product that the artist was not 100% happy with.
Ambient music have nothing to do with traditional music production it is totally isolated from that.
I think that you are too easily putting "ambient music" in a fragile box and frankly doing it a disservice.
Its music! It may sound good in your room, on your equipment, but if it does not translate on some universal level to everyone else's music systems then you have failed. Period!
In other words, your music should sound good on ipod ear buds, Grado Headphones, KRK-Rokits, Audiophile home theater systems, 5-1 budget systems, laptop speakers and in your car. Its called translation and if you can't figure out how to do that, then that is what a mastering engineers job is.
Also if your music is so fragile that slight eq changes will ruin it, then that is a problem! Frankly I have never heard an ambient album from anyone that I respect in this genre where subtle eq changes ruin the sonic intent of the music.
How do I say and know this? Well because in any play back environment there will be subtle eq changes.
Mastering houses have played out there role more and more..people have better and better equipment in their home studios..
And sounds more and more like the fish product... However.. there is many cases mixes can benifit from just go thru magic hardware
to give that extra magic you cannot get with the software... but that is more like summing..
A two sided example/argument you bring up here.
Some people are getting better equipment...but more realistically prosumer equipment is actually getting better. I do hold to the standard, that there is no excuse anymore for bad audio quality, at least in so much as you cannot blame the gear.
So when recordings don't sound good, who is to blame? The engineers and musicians who lack the knowledge of how to make something sound good or lack basic mixing skills, but that is ok because like anything worth doing, there is a learning curve and it will take time to get the hang of.
Also there are professional mixing and mastering engineers who can help. Sure, you can fiddle about and learn to fix everything on your car if you want to, and you can buy the tools you need to do so, it can even be your hobby and passion. But there is also the slight chance you might need some help from a professional with better tools and skills and taking your car to them can save you time, headaches and even by spending money for their expertise can save you more money in the long run.
Also there is no "magic box" that you can just run a signal through and audio sounds better, or where a bad mix is suddenly awesome.
There is great gear out there that can and will make mixing easier, but you still have to learn to use it and even there most professionals will tell you its a process best done, one piece at a time...
Anyway..I do not agree that mastering process is a must.. this I think was more in the past..
external ears can be good and also bad.. depending on how much of external input you are willing to put in.
It is easy to do drastic changes in the mastering process that might be far from the artist vision.
Here we will just need to disagree.
What music have you sent out to have mastered? Did you have a bad experience? Where you unable to work with the mastering engineer to fix the problem?
Here is the thing, some people/artists can and do master their own work at home. But usually they have the right tools, a great treated room and the correct knowledge and experience to do so. This is great when it happens, but I assure you it is the exception and not the norm. And the people who can do it have spent years mastering the art of mastering their own music and they have worked out sonic and translation issues.
Once again..too many good albums have been destroyed by these mastering studios.
Also a lot of them have this "fast food" mentality, they master a album so fast that they can't even listen it thru
they find a preset and just use it on the full album.. which results in ugly artefacts in some parts..
I would state that you get what you pay for. If someone uses a cheap on-line mastering service or a guy down the street with a laptop and "mastering" software, then what did you expect?
Again out of the numerous mastering engineers I know, NONE of them use set it and forget it processes and all of them listen through a song multiple times to get it right.
I also will say on the flip side that if it takes more than a day/session to master an album, then that person is not much of a mastering engineer. In other words, if you the artist/creator are struggling to get your finished mix to sound right and translate evenly across the board, especially after days and days of eq tweaks and such then perhaps this is when, where and why a mastering engineer is important.
I have really no energy for a long answer. I still think in the context of ambient music you are way to locked in the "professional music business".
I still think in year 2015 sending ambient music to mastering is a joke, I think as an ambient artist and audio painter you should not let any one else mess with the colours, you can do that but than it is a collaboration, listen to steve roach remasters for B Parnham, youngblood they sound just like steve roach.
I still think that remastering studios in most cases are a fast food industry made to trick people with simple tricks. Of course there is good studios too, but in general I do not have much respect for them.
And remastering for ambient is just stupid, but if you do not have enough basic recording knowledge or equipment to make judgement maybe you need "help" by external people, but for ambient artists I think it is important to keep the integrity.
Especially with ambient remasters in many cases they are worse listen to Amir Baghiri dreamsources original and remastered, a perfect example of excellent music ruined by software remastering. There is also many examples of releases that sound al ot better then the original, but you can make drastic differences and in the context of ambient music every detail matters, it is way too easy to transform the total picture of the music with even subtle changes, ambient music is extremely sensitive.
Regarding between translation between systems, I think in all honesty this is not a problem with ambient music the only thing really to be careful about is the bass, careful about not having too much bass, since that indeed might translate very bad.
No, ambient music is not pop music so no, no need of sending to remaster spend the money on a better effect unit instead or speakers.
Also I think people who like ambient music in general are more interested in Hifi and equipment and all that.
Would love to see the reaction if sending this to a remastering facility
For me this total" garbage" sounding ambient sounds totally perfect for me but I can understand
why they think it sound garbage. I can also imagine how it would sound after remastering
A lot of the unique sound would be gone it would just sound. Ambient music does not follow the same rules
as pop music, ambient music is not as superficial, for me it is all about what happens when I close my eyes.
From the creator himself he said to me this music is made for headphones.
I am not going to say that ambient music is made for headphones, but I can tell I like to listen to ambient in both ways,but I can tell you
my deepest ambient music experience has been with headphones, the music takes over my mind a lot better which is harder with speakers.
And you get closer to the sound, details clearer. Listening to speakers is a different experience.
I wish I could have my sweetspot position with my speakers so I can listen to speakers in bed too..unfortunately I can do that.
If I am not listening in the sweetspot it will not sound right unfortunately.. and it will be less imressive.
A lot of ambient artists mix and record only with headphones I think really in many ways you can get away with it..
as long as you make sure to cut the bass
No I refuse that there is any specific rules with ambient music there is no "certain" ways to do the process, it is all about closing your eyes
and the the sounds transform you, if it sounds good to you in that moment it is all you need, no need to send it to any fast food chains to make it sound more radio friendly ? With ambient music you can with very simply steps make a poor recording sound very professional.. Remastring for ambient audio painters I think is just wrong.. and in a way a disrepect to the artits, if the artists feels he want to change the colours it must be called a collaboration.
I would never in my life let any label send my stuff to any remastring for my ambient, since I think the recording should be the ultimate reflection of a certain moment in time, if you really can't get this feeling in real time when you are recording or listening then you really need some equipment or sound shaping tools to give you that sensation, if you do not feel the sensation then it just feels fake to send it to any professional paid mastering god that will make it sound perfect and professional, this is just fake and mass produced ambient that atleast I have no interest in.
Especially the Dark Ambient genre I think suffer from this mass-produced crap, I think also in this genre it is more usual to send it to remastering since dark ambient are often more sold on bigger labels, dark ambient in general is a bigger "market", it sounds too mass produced that it is hard to decide if its dark ambient or just scary game music, a lot of Lustmords works I think follow under "game music" category for instance..