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The difference between mastering one song or a whole album

Member for

13 years 6 months
I've been reading some of the discussions here related to questions like "How do you master"? Instead of asking the same question yet again, I would like to approach this from a slightly different angle.

I have not had any luck "mastering" a recording and IMO I'm just getting by in the area of recording/mixing. I'm not a pro and I don't claim to be. I've happily recorded my sons death metal and punk projects from time to time and they've been fairly satisfied with the results. They themselves could not have done a better job on their best day.

In an effort to produce a demo for promotion they decided to pay for actual studio time and production, and after hearing the results I was both impressed and disappointed. Some things were noticeably better, but the overall product wasn't that great. Some aspects were actually annoying. So I think to myself, "Maybe we should just work on our own recordings and then farm out the whole mastering thing to a pro". I would be cheaper and possibly better than the so called pro that was just payed big bucks to rush through and do it all.

If mastering is making multiple recordings fit together cohesively, is there any reason to hire someone to master one or two songs that aren't going to be put together per se? Is there really any mastering to be done on a single recording? If so, what?



Member for

13 years 3 months

hackenslash Fri, 09/05/2008 - 11:07
In my experience, a lot of bands go into a studio and expect to come out sounding like superstars. The reality is different. They always come out sounding like they actually sound. When they record with you, you probably spend time doing things a studio engineer wouldn't do, such as editing, which make them sound better than they actually are.

No offense, and I could be wrong, of course. It isn't always easy to pull out your best performance in a tight time window, or the engineer might just have sucked.

Member for

13 years 9 months

Codemonkey Fri, 09/05/2008 - 11:10
The recording studio should be spitting out a decent product anyway.

The mastering studio just makes it sound good on multiple systems and sound coherent with other songs on the same album.

There's nothing to stop you self-mastering with a decent EQ and getting results - remember though, a _real_ mastering studio will provide better results.

Member for

19 years

Michael Fossenkemper Sat, 09/06/2008 - 06:17
I can't tell you if it's worth it or not, only you and the band will be able to say. If what you are able to do can stand up to what it needs to do to accomplish your goals, then you are good to go. If it doesn't, then looking outside your circle should be an option. A lot of things in a recording and mix will dictate how the end result sounds. How the driver drives the car will dictate how things turn out. So there are a lot of variables involved as well as subjectivity. Is a home demo going to sound like a million bucks? nope. but it could sound much more expensive and polished than what you actually paid for it.