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Ideas for Mastering Seminar. .

Member for

21 years 2 months
A good friend of mine - a DJ at a local radio station - does an annual Awards Show for the local independent music scene. The attendees will most likely be made up primarily of local band members and their mgmt types. This year he is putting together a seminar in addition to the awards show. He has asked me to do a "session" for the seminar on Mastering.

Now, I am NOT a public speaker - that's why I'm behind a console and not behind a mic. That's where you guys come in... What do you think would be the easiest, most comfortable and most informative format for the "class"? Should I give a brief explanation of Mastering benefits and techniques and then open up for Q&A or what?

I welcome any and all ideas as to what sort of topics about Mastering would you present in a seminar (or would want to be presented if you are attending to get educated)? I tend to get too deep into the technical stuff instead of painting a broad picture of what mastering is and does and what it can do for their music. All help in how to give 'em just enough of what they want to know is appreciated. I am intending to make available to the attendees a demo CD of my Mastering work for their reference. Good idea? Bad idea? Other material needed?

This is a low profile deal but will be a great opportunity for me to gain needed exposure in the local scene so I want to make it as Pro as I can give the right impression.

Thanks for your help in advance.


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 02/11/2004 - 18:19
First thing I'd talk about (since it's a bunch of non-engineers in the first place) is why it's such a terrible idea to master CD's to be as loud as possible. Talk about the psychology - that the human brain tends to tune out music with no dynamic range (the opposite of what they want) - the science - that consumer decks are not designed to handle the clipping that inevitably occurs between those 0dB snapshots they want to see, and thus makes their hard work sound like crap. Talk about the radio effect - that radio stations' equipment is going to make their "louder" songs sound quieter relative to material with more dynamic range.

Anything you can do to change the perceptions of the ignorant masses is a good thing. :)

Member for

20 years 1 month

joe lambert Fri, 02/13/2004 - 08:09
Hi Jeff,

You may want to put a panel of 2 or 3 mastering engineeers. Get a list of topics such as: mastering on a budget, how important is mastering.. let the engineers discuss with the ausience then open it up to questions. I have been a part of seminars like this and it works well.

If you would like some help give me a call.

Member for

19 years 11 months

Thomas W. Bethel Sat, 02/14/2004 - 02:55
Many times when asked to do a discussion of mastering I try and get an idea of the general level of the audience's technical savvy. This allows me to be more informative when I discuss things like compression, limiting and equalization. If you are talking to people who are not engineers then you will have to adjust your talk accordingly.

Many people today speak in techno babble that completely loses their audience. I have been to lectures where the person doing the presentation does not take into account the general level of audience knowledge and starts off explaining something that maybe only one or two people in the audience have ever heard of let alone understand. When you see a lot of blank faces you know you have lost your audience. The other thing that can turn an audience off quickly is to darken the room and start into a long POWER POINT presentation done in black and white. Your audience will be turned off very quickly and will start getting restless. If you do want to do a POWER POINT presentation dim the light slighly and do the presentation very quickly.

I think Joe's idea of a panel is a good one. That way the audience gets to hear differing points of view and the panel will be more apt to round out the presentation. One thing that you do not want to do, and I am sure you won't, is PREACH. The audience came to hear about mastering and what it can do for their project. They do not want to be lectured to about the evils of over compression so if you want to make mention of that fact do it in an informative way. Also bring some examples of things you are talking about to be played. After all we are talking about auditory subjects so why not use music played over a system to punctuate your discussion. One thing to remember is that the examples will have to be easy to hear for the uninitiated. Don't bring in two selections that have a 1.2 dB equalization change in them an expect the audience to readily hear the difference.

Hope this helps.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 02/16/2004 - 07:56
Thanks for the replies.

Actually, I am supposed to be part of the panel. I will be accompaning 2 other engineers - one that I know quite well, the other I have never met. The engineer that I know understands fully well the importance of mastering and is also smart enough to not dabble with it himself; so, we should be a good complement to each other. The other guy has Mastering listed as an additional service on his studio's web site so I have no idea if we will end up "competing" for the audience's favor or not.

I don't intend to do any kind of PowerPoint deal, but I like the idea of playing a demo for the audience of examples of before/after mastering and maybe of the pitfalls of making it too loud.

What - in your opinion - would be the best things to highlight in presenting mastering as a necessary step and as to how it will benefit their product?

Member for

19 years 11 months

Thomas W. Bethel Tue, 02/17/2004 - 04:19
A couple of more things to think about.

From an article called "Do your Presentations Affect your Business?" by Tony Jeary

You can

Steps to a good presentation

1 Involve your audience

2 Prepare your audience

3 Research your Presentation Arsenal

4 Explain why

5 Eliminate unknowns and turn them into Knowns

6 Know your audience

7 Tailor your presentation to your audience.

As to mastering. You can get a lot of good ideas from the site.

Also a good interview at

A good description of mastering at

Here is a quote from our site

Mastering is a fine tuning process that is done to the studio mix. It is the final step before duplication and your last chance to get everything perfect. Albums that contain music from a variety of sessions, studios, engineers and producers need to be combined into a cohesive sounding package. Mastering is about album consistency, and a sound quality that doesn't vary from track to track. Tonal balance, fade in's and fade out's, sequencing, noise problems... all of these things are dealt with during the mastering process. Frequency analysis and correction, noise reduction, compression, expansion, and equalization (EQ) are just a few of the techniques used to provide the professional quality heard on every major record labels' commercial recordings. We offer the latest in a computerized state- of-the-art digital mastering and editing. We use specialized digital signal processing tools to make your mixes sound the way they should. Whether it is rock, rap, pop or dance, blues, jazz, country or gospel, we can bring out the sound quality of your music using the latest techniques. Why settle for just the studio mix down copy of your recording when it could be clearer, cleaner and more cohesive? Let us give your recording the attention it deserves.

and I would add....

There is only one final chance to get everything right before duplication or replication don't throw away that chance by trying to DIY to save a couple of bucks that in the long run may cost you much more that you would have spent on a good mastering job by a qualified mastering engineer.

Hope this helps.

Member for

18 years 5 months

pmolsonmus Mon, 02/23/2004 - 17:04
Great idea to eliminate the Powerpoint. I think I would rather listen to a 3 day Autotune workshop with demonstrations than a Powerpoint lecture on almost anything I cared about.
The software itself isn't awful it just is used so poorly 99% of the time.
Involve your audience! The panel idea is an excellent one and one I would happily attend