What's this fuss of mastering?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by swanmusic, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. swanmusic

    swanmusic Guest

    What is so special about mastering studios? Do they use any special equipment?
  2. jonnyc

    jonnyc Guest

    I wouldn't say its "special" but its usually stuff a lot of us home studio guys couldn't afford. Check out massivemastering.com, thats what a mastering studio looks like.
  3. Vaylence

    Vaylence Guest

    As you record music you go through a series of phases as an engineer. You break into the industry a robust lad, or lass for all you ladies out there, as an intern, and you know jack crap about recording. But you are patient and you are observant and you begin to learn. Eventually you can tell the difference between mics and different positions and come to a point where you can predict and react to a situation in tracking to make the best possible recording.

    Hoho you can now track.

    But your mentor is still fiddeling dodads here and twisting things there while they are mixing that are utterly befuddeling to you. Why did he boost that little bump on the eq on that bass drum, you may find yourself wondering. It makes it sound like a baseball bat pounding the crap out of a basketball, but in the end after its all mixed you realize that you dont udderly (milk cows go MOOOOOO!) hate the bass drum and that the old guy may have been on to something with that baseball bat approach.

    The point being is that your ears have to develep to a certain degree to be able to track. If you cant differentiate between the sounds you are recording, you will end up recording crapola.

    Your ears have to be even more refined to be a succesful mix engineer.

    Now the mastering engineer. The ME is the step above mix engineer. Your ears have to not only be amazing, but you have to have serious experiance with music to be able to do what they do. That ever elusive what do mastering guys do. It is difficult to describe but easy to hear. Mastering brings out subtelty and clairty. It brings out body, demention, and a true sterio feel. And it does all this through a plug in that analyzies your song and decides exactly what needs to be done to it?

    Just as every song is different, every mastering job will be different. And that is why a plugin cant ever replace a mastering engineer. The mind of the ME can be infinantly responsive, while the plugin is fundamentally limited by its cookie cutter approach.

    Hope I fixed more than I broke, good luck to you.
  4. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    Nothing special at all. You simply send your carefully finished mix to them and they master it. Back comes the material to make a finished CD. Of course you pay them for it. Not much more to it than that really.

    Of course inside that mastering studio there are generally a few things which at least I have not got at home.

    The first and most important is an engineer with a lot of experience and probably a bit of natural talent. Especially a lot of experience at mastering. I do a bit of dabbling at that myself, and I think I get better at every try. With the current rate I will probably be acceptable in 10 years time or so. I don´t expect to reach master level in a long time. It reminds me of the project to learn how to play the violin (I´ve given up on that one though). Lots of training.

    Well second most important is probably the experience of the engineer.

    Then of course the engineer needs a few tools. Ears comes first I believe. Without experienced ears it is probably not going to work at all. Then of course a good room to use them in. Rooms are very difficult to make good I believe. Yes, loudspeakers to. Seems they are important, at least it seems to be a long and difficult process to find the right ones. And of course an experienced engineer setting up the loudspeakers and room to each others.

    Anything more. Well, just perhaps some EQ-s and Compressors, and other various small things such as computers and tape recorders and what not. Small items compared to the rest. I think you could buy them easily with a bit of money.

  5. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke Guest

    I just saw Bob Katz is retiring and he has a new plugin called the master-o-lator. Pretty much blows the sticks out of the fire......


    It will save me years of work and listening......And might put us mid level and pro level ME's out on the street.

    Plus it has a speaker-o-lator......makes them cheap ole Altec Lansings sound like Nautilus 805's.

    Then is the bryston-o-lator, reproduces the color and body of a vintage 3b.

    I think Bob is giving up the ghost on it and I know massive and turtle one are redoing their studio's to accomodate the influx of new business and applications for master-o-lator certified engineers.......

    I for one will be calling....... :shock:
  6. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  7. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Distinguished Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    :p :eek: :D :eek: :p

    I couldn't have said it better myself.
  8. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    Buy Bob Katz's book bruv. Seriously. Part with the cash. If you buy one book this year etc. etc.
  9. axel

    axel Guest

    dito! :D
  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    A good mastering engineer has two very important things going for him or her. A great room with great equipment and lots of experience at doing mastering.

    Most mastering engineers have at least 10 years in the business and have invested well over $150,000 on their room and the equipment contained within the room. They have good ears and good technical skills and may have come to mastering by being a recording or mix engineer and then specializing in mastering as their careers developed.

    A good mastering engineer can literally make the difference between a good CD and great CD.

    Mastering engineers have high end audio processing equipment that most recording studios cannot afford. They may have both analog and digital equipment in their processing chain. Their ADCs and DACs are the best they can afford. Their monitor speakers and room are carefully integrated and have most probably been designed by a top professional acoustician. They are more than likely an audiophile and in most cases have a musical background.

    A mastering engineer is one person who can critically listen to your music and by the use of his or her equipment make your recording sound better than you ever though possible.
  11. maistrow

    maistrow Active Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    The Big OC
    Home Page:
    The Most important part of a mastering rates is to not go by price. Any body
    can buy a PC and some mastering software and set this up in their bedroom and
    call them selves a mastering engineer.Mastering is a very tricky and precise
    part of working with your music.It takes expense equipment and proper acoustics
    and years of experience to do the best for your songs .Usually the ones that are
    so cheep do not have major label credits.To answer your question about if
    your songs needing mastering I say yes.If you plan to sell your music,have a
    record label listen to it,or looking for radio airplay then you must have it
    MASTERED.Also if you feel that your music does not sound as good as some of your
    favorite bands or cd s that's ok.They may have major label support and a large budget and you may not be able to get your music to sound exactly like that but proper mastering
    can sure get you in the ball park.
    Ron Leeper.
    Sound Affair Mastering

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