CD mastering without tape or a sound studio!
Professional quality synthesizers such the Roland Super JV-1080 generate their output totally electronically, no acoustics are involved. Likewise, CD's contain no sound, just a digital representation that is converted to sound by an audio player.
MIDI controller software such as Cakewalk also do not deal in sounds, rather computer representations of how an "instrument" should be performed. Cakewalk can control all mixing operations normally done by a sound engineer in an acoustic studio.
Given these, the highest quality master can be produced without ever actually involving sound! Acoustic energy (music you can hear) was only used to monitor the composition of Dream World, not in producing the CD!
A few technical notes
- The controlling computer was a Pentium 133 running Windows 95
- The Roland JV-1080 produces an analog output. This was captured using a carefully installed Ensoniq AudioPCI sound card within the same computer that is controlling the Roland. Everything was plugged into the same power strip and carefully cabled to avoid electrical noise. A well installed AudioPCI card has a very good audio to digital converter with very low noise.
- The digitized input was monitored and recorded as a WAV file with Cool Edit 96. This is a superior application for this purpose, optimizing volume levels of the wave files as they are recorded also keeps noise very low. Experimenting with the Roland;'s output level and input gain also is vital to low noise and low distortion.
- Adaptec Easy CD Creator was used to control a HP6020i CD burner which created the master CD. It is absolutely vital that this master be written in disk-at-once mode.
- The master was then played in several environments. During composition head phones were used and with different audio systems, different instrument volumes were found desirable. Cakewalk was used to remix the various instruments and the process repeated until I was happy with the balance and volumes of each selection in different environments.
- Finally the "gold" master was taken to the production house along with the base artwork, also generated on the same computer!