Two most important pieces of gear to a mastering engineer

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by jmm22, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    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?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Left ear. Right ear.
    pianoman3291 and Laurend like this.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Man, people must have been busy last night. A 33 minute gap between the question and the obvious (and correct) answer.
  4. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    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...
  5. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    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 ?
  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Monitors and room are the most important. and I agree with Trillium that right behind that is an EQ.
  7. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    In that order?
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    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.
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    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 plugins, $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.
  11. SASman

    SASman Active Member

    Monitors / EQ

    I assume we are talking audio equipment as opposed to biological attributes.
  12. Herbeck

    Herbeck Active Member

    A chain is no stronger than the weakest link.
    Every piece of gear you use is important.


  13. Scott Chae

    Scott Chae Active Member

    Telephone and address book.
  14. Herbeck

    Herbeck Active Member

    Good and important angle.


  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, I'd say my SPL Mixdream and Dangerous Master. Without those two, I wouldn't have gotten motivated in the first place. Until I got into hybrid audio, I didn't know what I was missing or have a clue why I was in the dark.

    Then, everything else falls into place for me.

    Room, monitors, converter, cable, hardware, Sequoia, power etc.
  16. Herbeck

    Herbeck Active Member

    Gear that inspire you and fill you with enthusiasm is truly important.
    I wish I had that feeling with the telephone and address book.


  17. Scott Chae

    Scott Chae Active Member

    I absolutely agree with Dangerous Master. I feel no (or less if any) change in sound with gaining up or down as opposed to using makeup gain on many compressors. And t.c. System 6000 is also a great weapon for parallel compression.
  18. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    True to some extent, but the monitoring chain (and the room) are the final arbiters of every other piece. Every decision, every gear choice, every setting is based on how the monitoring chain translates.

    Just like in photography -- You can have the best camera on the planet - But your photos are only going to be as good as the lens allows (on any camera body).
  19. Herbeck

    Herbeck Active Member

    True, without a good room/monitors you can't judge the other links in the chain.

    You seems to know a thing or two about the visual arts too.
    Your homepage looks great.
    This is also an important tool, everything is connected.

    (off topic)
    Betty Edwards has some good and interesting techniques for developing your visual perception.
    Learn to Draw: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.


  20. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    I'll agree with most: Monitoring environment (room) and Monitors. You can do more with a low end EQ in a pristine monitoring environment than a top of the line EQ on a pair of crap monitors in your bedroom.

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