Left ear. Right ear.
What are the two most important pieces of gear to a mastering engineer, as pertaining to final quality of sound as opposed to say workflow?
Left ear. Right ear.
Computers and DAW Pro Audio Forums Moderator
Pro Horn player & Piano Technician
Kranking out Kopprasch since 1977
Man, people must have been busy last night. A 33 minute gap between the question and the obvious (and correct) answer.
Alto Dog Studios, Blacksburg, VA
Spot on... I would give the head inbetween some importance, too.
Appart from that and in the right hands:
various compressors, EQs, limiters, noise reduction and (careful!) sound enhancer ...
There is no saying what is more important. Important is what you need. Workflow is secondary to sound, always..and it differs all the time. Good monitors and correct room acustic treatment is mandatory, anyway.
Btw, to own a whole box of dynamic tools and Equalizers does not mean one has to use mulitple instances. It is the sound material that decides, what character the compressor, etc., should have.
Less is often more...
2 most important gear? Hmm that is a tough one because it depends on what is needed for the job as Big K said. Beside the most important things (to me) ie, monitoring and room, I would say an EQ (hardware) and a good converter ?
That depends on the frequencies involved. If the room is shoddy I have to use both ears on all frequencies. Nominally tongue in cheek-although opening the mouth and moving the head changes resonance and reception quite a bit as all piano tuners know.
I'm probably just GAS'd out. The ears are and will always be the most important tool other than the grey matter between them. I think it has been pretty unanimous that the room and monitors come next. Without these things no piece of gear is going to get you that last 10%. After that I leave it to the professional ME's predilections.
The monitoring and the room. It goes to two of the only real "rules" in audio --
1) No matter what your talent, skill, etc., you will only ever hear as accurately and consistently as your monitoring chain allows you to hear.
2) No matter how accurate and consistent your monitoring chain may be, it will only ever be as accurate and consistent as the room they're in allows them to be.
Let's call the monitoring chain the monitors themselves, the amplifier, the controller and the DA.
If you've got your chain and your room in good order, everything else is up to you -- Freeware, shareware or the most expensive and exotic hardware, it's all your fault.
John Scrip MASSIVE Mastering Chicago
As a tracking/mix engineer, i am not qualified to comment with any weight, but here goes. Ears, Brain, Room, Monitoring a must! I would like to add Knowledge, Experience. There's a reason why mastering houses exist in the world of pluggins, $299 deals from manufacturers. The equipment, and room, are integral, but i bet i could mess-up anybody's recordings in the best mastering house out there! I feel comfortable with a ME based on their experience, cuz it is not easy, in any way, to be one. While, i haven't been privy to hear the 'mixes', i did notice a trend that some of my favorite sounding recordings, came from the same mastering house, often by the same person, and of different genres. Knowledge (of music, room, equipment, ect) and Experience (macking great finished products), those 2 you can't buy.
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