All in all it was a great month and the studio was amazed at the talent all the artists and engineers have shown making such great music and showing the world why Melbourne and Australia is such a musical marvel worldwide!
The Key to Great Mastering
The general exterior I find being put forward online about mastering by people not familiar with the service and sometimes even mastering engineers themselves is that mastering is ALL about equalising & compressing with top shelf equipment to making things “Louder, tighter and brighter”.
However such narrow, subjective and “Marketing” driven terms I find really devalue the efforts 99.95% of us mastering engineers make behind the scenes when working on a record. So without further adieu, what I believe "the key to great mastering" is.
For me and many mastering engineers I know in the industry, mastering is not purely based around these marketing driven notions often put forward on the web-o-sphere. Most of the time mastering starts when an engineer engages with their clients discussing the project before it arrives to their studio. Understanding, the context of the music and the direction is a MAJOR factor into our decision making during the actual mastering session, in return I have more often than not found this is one of the most crucial parts to any mastering project. Being able to understand your clients wants and needs is a thousand times more important than any gear list or how loud and “polished” you may be able to make their mixes sound.
After engaging in discussion about a project and listening back to the original mix, if needed and possible I may request amendments for anything within the mix that could impose itself negatively on the final product. (out of phase instruments, overly-excessive bass, over compressed mix busses, distortion, incorrect file formats etc. etc.)
Again this is all part of a good mastering service, using our ears to get the best possible result for our clients, great mixes = great masters.
Before a signal is even hits the D-A converter in my chain I like to cement an understanding of;
1) What my clients want to achieve with their music
2) Where it’s going, how it’s going to be listened to.
3) The mixes intentions and it’s assets.
4) What needs to be worked on in mastering.
I think it’s important people gauge from this an understanding of what mastering engineers do when we’re not toying around with our gear or debating whether to drop in our vari-mu or vca based compressor into the chain.
This for me is what separates good results from great results and the is key to great mastering. How I can facilitate the transport of a mix’s and artist’s vision/intention onto the final release their listeners hear.