– how is music “remastered”


How can an audio engineer take a thirty-forty year old song that was recorded on analog tape? How is the data extracted and processed?

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10 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

If they don’t have access to analog or digital versions of the original stems, I believe they will master the already mastered audio. This would be rare though. They would usually have these things available.

I imagine most big studios/labels have a process for digitising analog recordings for archiving and future use, and I would think they’d have a dedicated team working through it. This means they would probably have these things on hand or at least quite easily accessible when needed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The process is called digitization. In principle, it’s like playing the tape and recording it, but skipping the part where the sound wave goes through the air. Imagine connecting a tape player’s output to where you would plug in a microphone to your computer, that’s pretty much the gist of it. But in a professional setting, they will use specialized equipment designed specifically for this process to retain as much quality as possible.

Anonymous 0 Comments

“Mastering” is the process of taking a mixed song and preparing it for radio play/album printing. For a remaster, they will typically get ahold of the original mixed tapes and do the mastering process over again. A lot of old music was recorded analog with great equipment, so the stems (individual pieces of the finished whole, think single tracks) are usually in pretty good shape fidelity wise. Digital mastering technology and mastering techniques have come a very long way, so what you *typically* end up with is a much higher fidelity (and usually louder, but that’s a whole separate story) new master. Ultimately though, the quality of the remaster depends entirely on the ears and equipment if the person doing it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They’re taking the original recordings and “remastering” them – that is, they recreate the same song from the same recordings using new technology. Since there is always some loss involved in processing, and since the new technology has fewer losses, this results in fewer losses in the product.

Part of the answer is that the original recordings are available, not only the product. This is also why it would be quite hard to do that using only the old final product.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Making a song fit for radio or streaming is done in four steps:

1. The RECORDING process which is when the band records their song. This is when they pick their amps, mics, any analog effects (like analog reverb and compression) that they may want. Back in the day, there was a lot more analog effects recorded than obviously there is now.
2. The EDITING process which is when little imperfections are removed, if there’s multiple vocal takes the editor will chop them and choose the best lines, if there’s multiple guitar takes the editor will choose the best one, any tuning is applied, and the song is in general “simplified” into its parts. Back in the day, this was generally done alongside the recording process or was quite limited on what they could do after. Tapes had to be literally cut and put back together. It’s very interesting, but not really relevant to your question so I’ll refrain from nerding out.
3. The MIX process which is when the mix engineer will take the edited audio and polish it. They apply any other effects that the recording is missing, balance the audio, pan instruments around the stereo field, automate the instruments. In modern times, this is when the majority of digital effects are chosen. Back in the day, the mix engineer might only be working with 2-4 different tracks (until the ‘8 track,’ ’16 track,’ and if you had money, the ’32 track’ came around), as recording engineers only had a limited number of tracks to store their audio on. Due to the practically unlimited nature of digital storage, nowadays they can be working with hundreds of tracks. Regardless, at the end of the mixing phase, song is then bounced to a single stereo file.
4. The MASTER process which is when the mastering engineer will take the stereo mix, check it over to make sure that it has no egregious errors that the mix engineer missed, apply any final touches that need to be done, and will process the song so it sounds as good as possible on all different streaming and listening platforms, from radio to Spotify, from hifi speakers to crappy Apple earbuds.

When a song is remastered, the analog stereo mix is taken and the song is digitized. It takes specialized equipment to digitize tape, so usually record labels will hire people out who are experts in this. It’s a bit risky to do this, because if anything goes wrong, the tapes could be permanently corrupted. Once the mix is extracted, they will hand it over to a modern mastering engineer who will remaster the song for today’s digital standards that the average, modern consumer would enjoy. For example, a song recorded in the 60’s didn’t have the same loudness standards that it does today (-14 LUFS), so the mastering engineer will master to today’s levels. There’s a lot that actually goes on in the mastering process—it’s not *just* making things “loud”—but that’s probably the easiest example of what a mastering engineer would do differently.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Remastering music for CD or even digital distribution first starts from locating the original analog version. The next step involves digitising the track or tracks so it can be edited using a computer. Then the track order is chosen. This is something engineers often worry about because if the track order is not right, it may seem sonically unbalanced.

When the remastering starts, engineers use software tools such as a limiter, an equaliser, and a compressor. The compressor and limiters are ways of controlling the loudness of a track. This is not to be confused with the volume of a track, which is controlled by the listener during playback.

The dynamic range of an audio track is measured by calculating the variation between the loudest and the quietest part of a track.[1] In recording studios the loudness is measured with negative decibels, zero designating the loudest recordable sound. A limiter works by having a certain cap on the loudest parts and if that cap is exceeded, it is automatically lowered by a ratio preset by the engineer.

disclaimer: copied this verbatim from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remaster, the first result when searching for “remaster” on DDG, just to show OP didn’t even try to look it up themselves. At least they could have mentioned they looked it up but didn’t understand the results they got..

I’m getting fed up with these low effort posts, here and on askscience, that could have easily been answered with minimal effort. They’re probably just karma farming posts and should be treated accordingly: -1

Anonymous 0 Comments

The orignal recordings are high quality recordings used to create a first version. (Ex: On vinyl)

If something is remastered, it often means the original recordings are used again to create a new version. (ex: a CD version.)

As the original recordings are used, the new remastered version (CD) can be of higher quality than the original version (Vinyl).

Remastering on the same target medium can also be done take advantage of newer and better techniques to further improve quality.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Personally, I’d use the term of art “remastering” for the situations where we do the mastering process again… with the intent of making what is essentially the same version of a song, but with defects and unintended noises removed. Traditionally, mastering is a process that is applied to “final mixes”, that is, stereo mixes that are whatever the best results of the recording / mix engineers can generate. Of course, if your intent is to make the best possible use of current technologies, you want to go back as early as you can in the process, which is generally the multitrack recordings. That means “ mixing” again, where mixing refers to the blending of individual instruments/tracks into a generally playable standard format (WAV File, for example).

As a rule, this “mixing again” process should not be confused with “re-mixing”, which is generally not trying to make a version that might’ve been mistaken for the original version. Remix engineers are engaged in the creation of effectively new compositions, sometimes not very related to the original song. In fact, the point of it is to come up with a wholly new take on the basic idea of the song.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Regardless of whether they have the separated tracks (instruments and effects) or just the final print, the remaster is applying modern mixing and mastering techniques, such as new methods of equalization (boosting/cutting frequencies) compression, saturation (distortion/amps/etc), effects (reverb, echo etc), to make the music sound comparable to today’s mixing standards.

This mostly means adding clarity of instruments through adding careful distortion (yes, really), and making things louder and “pop” more and, generally, more bass.

The mixing standards of today are not just about quality but about taste. This explains why certain eras of “remasters” are especially terrible and much worse than the originals. I’m looking at you, early-mid 2000s.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I love how long some of the ‘ELI5’ answers are.

Imagine the audio equivalent of color correcting film photography. So the original photos exist but a new recoloring can be done. Thats the jist of it.