Home Blog 26-Describe Remastering. Methods for Remastering an Old Tape

26-Describe Remastering. Methods for Remastering an Old Tape

by Ratan Pramanik

What exactly is meant by “remastering” music, and how is it accomplished?

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Remastering has to be the area of audio engineering that is the most mysterious, even more so than audio mastering. Remastering – what is it? What distinguishes it from mastery? Furthermore, how is a song remastered?

We’ll pull back the curtain and discuss Adam Aryan’s remastering work in this article with the esteemed mastering engineer. Adam is based in Portland, Maine, where he works at Gateway Mastering. To name a few, he has remastered music for Pearl Jam, Journey, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and REM.Adam and I had a lengthy conversation about remastering music, and we discussed far more than we could have possibly covered in one article. Should you wish to hear our entire discussion, you can locate it beneath.

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Remastering – what is it?

Remastering is the process of adding new mastering processing to a piece of music that has already been released, be it a song, ESP, or album. This frequently entails the use of specialized restoration tools, such as RX, as well as both common mastering tools, like SEQ, compression, and limiting.

The “what” doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that; we’ll go into some of the specifics of why and how this is done below. All it is is a fresh mastering of an already released record.

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Why is song remastering necessary?

remastering necessary

Here’s where things really start to get interesting because there are a lot of reasons why a recording could need to be remastered. In general, though, it’s usually done to optimize the release for a new consumer format or to increase the fidelity using the newest, most advanced tools. For example, records were frequently remastered to benefit from the enhanced dynamic range and frequency response when vinyl gave way to CDs as the popular format. Indeed, we are beginning to witness another wave of hi-res remasters as more and more streaming services offer hi-res, lossless tiers. Prior to delving into the technical aspects of the reasons behind record remastering, there are some crucial philosophical points to note. Adam says this is how it works.

The challenge with remastering is that, in many cases, the album is being remastered because it is a beloved record with a lot of support from the original team (producer, engineer, recording engineers, mix engineers, artists, mastering engineers), and they did an amazing job. How can you top that? As a remastering engineer, that is actually sort of where the real work gets done.

How can I improve upon what has already been done while also trying to at least roughly approximate it? Although it can be a challenging task at times, I usually rise to the occasion.

Respecting the original master is one of the main lessons to be learned from this. There are at least two explanations for this. First, the version that the producer or artist approved is called the original master. While this does not imply that there isn’t room for improvement, it does indicate that there are some fundamental components that all parties involved found satisfactory. And think about the fans second. It’s crucial to keep this music accessible to the millions of people who may know and adore it.

Working with the stakeholders to establish the remastering goals early on is one of the main ways to accomplish that. Give it back to Adam.

Keep it as close to the way it was as possible’ is sometimes the goal, but with the tools we have in the 2020s, how can we get more out of that original mix tape? How can we maximize the benefits of that mix tape’s digitization and overall mastering, which may have revealed details that were overlooked due to limitations in the technology at the time the tape was mastered?The artist, producer, engineer, and other people who actually had their hands on the art must be the people you figure out from the hierarchy.

If I’m unable to have that conversation or if I have to do it alone, my personal objectives would be to listen to the original mastering, identify what was amazing and magical about the sounds, and then attempt to enhance them using the available technology and any other direction I might feel is appropriate for that particular recording.One of the main technical justifications for music remastering, which Adam touched on in his remarks, is advancements in the mastering signal path. Adam likes to revisit the original mix tapes in order to maximize these enhancements.

“Ideally, we should return to the original mixes in order to extract sounds that may have been lost in the signal path due to outdated technology at the time of the original mastering. Additionally, this approach can improve the overall fidelity of the remaster.”

“You realize, ‘Oh my goodness, a remastering of this would be so appreciated by a lot of people,’ and that’s again because suddenly everything in the signal path that was better thirty to forty years ago, especially in the early days of digital, is now revealing a whole lot more.”

Though Adam went into considerable detail about this during our entire conversation, getting a great flat transfer is by no means simple or easy, there are at least some objective metrics by which it can be assessed. The “make it better” phase of remastering, on the other hand, can become very individualized. This is another situation where having some predefined goals can be helpful. Understanding the historical setting of the original master is also crucial, though. After giving it some thought, Adam clarified it like this.”What does improving it mean? When I consider that, for me, there is a lack of low-end response with a certain era of early digital, for example, but not with all of the albums from that era. It was Similar to the early days of digital, everyone was fascinated by how brilliant records could be made.

“There have undoubtedly been cases where they instructed people to simply take the master safety tape and transfer it to digital format for CDs, as well as the tapes themselves. This explains why occasionally you’ll find an old CD that, when played, is 10 dB below full volume. Although compression is not necessary, let’s at least get the peaks to approach 0 DBMS. You can therefore consider those records to be heroes because, for whatever reason, a lot more care was put into a remastering that was done 20 or 30 years later than may have been done for the original release.

If I can find a way to make it sound very similar to how a listener was used to hearing it, but I can give it a little more body, a little more low-end; if it was lacking a little bit of level for its time I can get away with that without it sounding compressed given new technology and limiting, and ban, now I’ve made something that’s even more satisfying, is more pleasurable emotionally, and is shining even slightly better light on something that already exists.

Remastering a song:-

There is no one way to remaster a song, just as there is no one way to master one. Nevertheless, there is a lot of overlap in the applications of common tools such as limiting, compression, and equalization. Because of this, in addition to some specific restoration techniques, we will concentrate more on the philosophical aspects of remastering in this section.

identifying the remastering’s objectives:-

Once more, deciding on the project’s objectives is crucial to determining many aspects of the remastering process. As he explains, “For the creative side of it, in terms of how we’re going to approach it, I generally want to have a conversation with someone really close to it. If not the artists themselves, the producer who was involved, or occasionally—and this occurs frequently—the mix engineer. It truly has the power to establish the direction and goals of that remastering.Sometimes someone will tell me to “just start fresh and try doing it all over again,” and I will do that without a doubt.

The significance of the historical setting:-

Finally, let’s discuss the previously mentioned historical context before delving into the specifics of restoration. While aesthetics is undoubtedly a factor in this case, it’s also possible that the mastering instruments used at the time were very different in sound from those used today. Adam outlines his methodology in this manner.

“Whether or not I have tape, I will reopen up into the analog domain with remasters. Naturally, if I have tape, I’m going through my analog signal path, and I might even get some specialty Es or compressors that we have that historically had been used in mastering and may have been used on those records, that in some ways become more useful now.

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These are the main components of remastering. disassembling and reassembling splices while paying close attention to details of that nature. There may be a splice there when you hear some thumps, bumps, or clicks that indicate that RX or another tool isn’t quite getting out. Let’s dissect that. Let’s make it clean. Remove the glue from it. Let’s re-splice it, and all of a sudden, the music sounds even better. These are the kinds of topics that aren’t particularly exciting or seductive to discuss, but they can have a significant impact on a well-executed remastering.

I swear, there have been times when I’ve been holding tape or something, and I’ve put it I asked myself, “Am I really doing this right now, with this classic relic of a piece of tape,” as I put it in our oven. And the reason for that is that it is what must be done.

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