I thought that this was an interesting conversation that seems to be repeated time and time again. The first point of interest was the conversation surrounding the enhancement stage of mastering. That part where the mastering engineer believes he can make the mix sound better. The truth is that this stage is highly subjective and perilous for any mastering engineer. You're effectively saying to the mix engineer "good try, but I can make it sound better." In many cases this is true but the reality is that as soon as you start working on the mastering buss you have already begun the mastering enhancement stage, and NOW, the mix engineer is dreading on mastering toes. This is a battle that has been going on for a long time between mastering engineers and mix engineers. I worked on a record in NYC a few years ago. The mix engineer had some serious credits (Coldplay, John Mayer, Jeff Buckley etc) and the mastering engineer also had some huge credits (list too long to mention). I was able to sit in and speak to each guy about their approach and opinion of the others (without each knowing I was scoping out what they thought of each other's work). Very interesting Conversation! Basically the mastering engineer was like "well, when I get mixes from him there's pretty much nothing that I can do. They come in mastered, or, smashed to high heaven". The mix guy was like "Oh, I don't like anyone touching my mixes so I give them something they can't touch."
The area where a mastering engineer has undisputed value is the balancing stage between all the tracks and the production preparation stage. But hey, we seem to be living in a singles world now. Do kids really put on a vinyl or CD and let it run through from start to finish? NO! They song-surf on YouTube and don't really know the difference between a bad sounding MP3 and high resolution DSD. So the mastering role seems to be diminishing somewhat, which actually is a shame. It's a shame because the equipment that they bring to the table is super expensive and really does make the music sound so much better. Like that Maselec EQ that was racked up on the Fluid mastering Desk. Try finding a plugin that sounds that good! Nope! Defeated by the digital age again? Possibly so. But as people are beginning to rediscover the value of good quality analogue gear we are possibly seeing a turn around in this area. DIY gear building sites are more popular and vintage equipment is in vogue for a good reason.
I strongly agree with their attitude towards starting from scratch and not relying on presets. They definitely underestimate the intelligence and skill of the up and coming generations, kids who have access to digital emulations of gear that was only available to a select few twenty years ago. As a result there are a lot of very skilled home mixers and mastering engineers. Which brings me to my next point - education. There seems to be a lack of education for mastering. I'm sure, now that we have YouTube, more is available. But for a long time mastering was audio alchemy.
I thought that it was a good interview but a conversation that I have personally heard many many times. I felt that the concept of subjectivity was not touched on enough.
Thanks for sharing this video.
if the mastering isnt an improvement theres no law that says it has to be released. Another attempt can be done by the ME or we can use the mix brought up to a stansard level.