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Mastering / Release Options / Differences

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Apologies if this is a redundant topic. I did a brief search and didn't see one matching. Feel free to point me to it and delete this one if necessary.

Essentially, the mastering of a track is essential and mastering has changed much over the years. Some artists have remastered parts of their back catalog, others had different masterings for different releases (12", cd comp, cd album) and these can vary in sound. I know Matsuri has even released comps with two different masterings on the same compilation to provide different sonic experiences and help match those tracks to others when mixing. This seems to be more of an issue with older tracks and vinyl releases than most modern releases.

I thought it might be nice to kinda have a place to capture this info and ask questions. Maybe there's a track you like but it sounds kinda weak on the release you have but on a different comp/source it sounds more full.

Then again, maybe this thread is stupid and pointless.

Fuck a global pandemic...


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guess i can ask this here, those of you who happen to own some vinyl goa trance; is the mastering different versus cd? in my head it has to be different just from the fact that you cant have yber loudness on vinyl and still capture low frequencies well. and ive just gotten into vinyl myself and looking to get some stuff on there; and have been thinking about this; how the mastering would have to be different vs a cd.

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Vinyl needs a different mastering. Just the low frequencies are reason enough to have a different mastering. Digital has deeper bass but vinyl is more dynamic. You also need to change the tracks order, since the inside is quieter than the outside etc.

A typical example for different mastering versions that I had personal experience was with Cosmosis and his Retro compilations. The new remastered versions were well, u know, loud. Personally I almost always prefer the old versions, as long as they were not bad masterings to start with. If for not any other reason just because that's how the artists originally wanted them to sound. Saying otherwise, in my own opinion, is just small lies to sell on the remastered hype that's going on.

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Regarding vinyl yes it is very different. I have plenty of vinyl from electronic & heavy metal genres.

The ones who use the digital mastering and just press it to vinyl sound like absolute rubbish. In the metal scene the band Anaal Nathrakh are infamous for this, their vinyl releases are horrible as they master their own work and are bad at it. 

it's like comparing an artist who works with two different materials. The wood requires certain skills to work it perfectly, and then they work with metal which again uses different skills.

mastering for digital or cd is quite easy, cheap & can be done rapidly. Mastering with vinyl done well takes a long time, usually requires high end analogue gear & costs a significant amount. This is why a good vinyl is 3-4 times the price.

I have worked in my friends studio, where for $50 a track he will master for digital using software. For vinyl he will charge $100-150 a track using a process of analogue & other gear that has cost him a hundred thousand or more to set up. He won't let anyone touch this gear.

but the sound of a good quality vinyl is absolute aural sex. When I go for a bike ride and listen to steaming it's ok, get home and out the vinyl on and it's such an audiogasm. 


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I write this more relative to any music not just trance. It is true that for vinyl some specific issues need care and attention, this includes not having overly wide (stereo) low frequencies below 300Hz, it does not have to be mono though, it just must not have a too wide bass which can end up causing groove tracking issues and skipping. Harshness in the upper mid range can very easily sound like nasty scratchy distortion on vinyl so sibilance and harsh frequencies in the upper mids must not be out of control. There must not be excessive highs above 13kHz.

The ideal for a vinyl cut would be 24 bit masters at the sample rate of the artists DAW mix project.

Cutting very heavily limited files is likely to have detrimental issues for the fidelity of a vinyl cut. It can be done but speak to the lathe engineer and present any such limited file/s to him or her to in advance and let it be known it is the only version you can get hold of. End results are not easy to predict but at least the lathe engineer knows about this issue and may be able to mitigate against a very poor sounding cut.

Mastering for vinyl, as in a mastering engineer producing quality controlled pre masters can be done digitally, there are no technical reasons why it must be analogue. Of course analogue has its own sonic properties which may be desirable for a digital or vinyl release but this has no relationship to a rule that analogue eq/compression must be used for vinyl. Notwithstanding the lathe itself which is of course analogue by nature. As with most professional mastering a combination of both is highly likely but this is because the use of analogue and digital mastering tools tends to produce the most pleasing end result for many styles of music.

Contrary to popular belief 16 bit digital has a wider dynamic range than the vinyl format can reproduce. Vinyl is not more dynamic than 16 bit audio.

The difference is that the ideal for a good sounding vinyl cut is not using a file with extremely restricted dynamics which is often the case for a digital release. It is easily possible to create a digital release which has or even exceeds the dynamics of a vinyl release. It is just that virtually no one does it, because it would likely be 8dB-14dB (very approximately) lower in volume compared to todays releases. That would leave DJ's scratching their heads and the bigger psy labels would not release such material unless they had a complete reverse of philosophy that greater dynamics is better.

So it is just likely that the audio that is committed to vinyl is more dynamic in itself.

I would be surprised if an average non brick wall limited psy trance track mix has dynamics exceeding 12dB. (unless of course there is some ambient intro section faded in from zero) But average dynamics from the loudest power sections to ambient break downs, the dynamics are not very wide. Once they have been limited a dynamic range of 8dB would be a surprise. Modern music mixes tend not to have wide dynamic ranges, every channel will often have some compression going on, especially the backbone rhythm sections drums and bass. The exception of course would be acoustic forms of music.

The theoretical dynamic range of 16 bit audio is around 96dB, audibly more if dithered correctly from a 24 bit depth source. Vinyl dynamic range is roughly between 65 and 80dB (rare) and is a moving target as the vinyl wears introducing greater noise and of course crackling. The top end can also soften quite quickly with multiple plays as the friction of the needle in the groove erodes the groove.

I totally understand why people enjoy the sound of vinyl, much less or non limited mixes, different audio processing, softer top end and upper mids, easier on the ears and the feel of vinyl in your hands. But it is not that vinyl is inherently of greater fidelity as a format.

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5 hours ago, MikroMakro said:


I totally understand why people enjoy the sound of vinyl, much less or non limited mixes, different audio processing, softer top end and upper mids, easier on the ears and the feel of vinyl in your hands. But it is not that vinyl is inherently of greater fidelity as a format.

This deserves attention cause if you sample a vinyl which have this "better" mastering; and capture it in digital; the digital copy would sound just as good.

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yeah, I do not ascribe to the theory that music sounds better on vinyl.
Sometimes vinyl has a better mastering job and other times it does not. Especially in the 80s when CDs were new, a lot of mastering left much to be desired.

I know some artists were never happy with the mastering of certain releases done by the label, so they go ahead and remaster them independently later on.

Some times a track gets licensed for a comp first and it gets one mastering and then the track gets used on an album with a different mastering.


I was kinda bored during COVID quarantine and was thinking about how much I love the song Spectral Blue from Electric Universe. When Tsuyoshi dropped it last summer at ZNA, it was kinda this moment I honestly never thought I would get to experience. No one respects that track. The mastering on the vinyl left a lot to be desired though. I kinda wonder if it was remastered or if that sound system just made everything sound full and legit. Then I was thinking maybe it had different mastering from different comps (I have multiple copies of Slinky Wizard and Hallucinogen tracks on many comps that are a bit different sounding) and maybe Tsuyoshi was sourcing his Electric Universe version from a specific release (or maybe an old DAT master)

Apologies if I started a stupid thread. lololololol
Fuck the COVID

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Would be awesome to get some recommendations, some vinyls to get that really are specifically mastered for vinyl. Nothing would be more disappointing in buying the vinyl only to realise it was cut using the Cd master. From digital no less. So what would even be the point. But there's ofc many records that have vinyl specifically in mind for mastering and cutting and it would be awesome to get like a top 3 of your favorites :)


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