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If not the same service why accept the work?

Member for

21 years 2 months
I guess I'm a little flustered become of a recent experience with one the top mastering engineers in the business. I must say that I was disappointed with his work. My master CD reference was returned with no eq just limiting, outside of that unchanged. I purposely omitted the high-end polish around 15-18k thinking that their high-end equipment used would do a much cleaner job then myplug-ins(MCDsp, waves, etc.). One of the tracks even contained a 60hz hum, I thought maybe that would be removed. Not! I believe that the small independent guys are given marginal service so, my question is why accept the work if you not going to provide the same attention to detail that is given to the major labels.

I guess I must be a pretty good Mastering Engineer. (hehe)

Ok, I feel better now.


Member for

20 years 3 months

sjoko Mon, 11/19/2001 - 23:50
In the previous 3 months we have been been open for mastering on a limited basis, while the rest of our new place is being completed.
During that time just over a third of jobs have been jobs previously mastered, both here and in Europe, by some of the top mastering establishments (as well as some I'd never heard of), and the clients were not happy with the results.

Granted, I was not available to do work for a while, and some of these jobs were from long established artists used to "my way" of doing things, which will have boosted the number of "previously done" ones as soon as we opened. However, others were not, and I'm ashamed to have to say that in some cases the quality of work was really, really bad, to the extend of it being obvious that either nobody had listened to an entire track - or they could not be bothered to fix obvious things - or someone had not known how or what to do.

One case was, I believe, simply a case of insufficient communications, not a mastering problem as such.
Two projects had been mastered cheaply, it sounded like people tried, but didn't have the right equipment or expertise to "make it happen".
All the rest were just not done right, a majority with the levels right up there, and it seems that was all that was done - period.

Unfortunately these kind of things give mastering establishments a bad name, as always, the rotten apples spoil the broth. One thing that definately should stop is some "big name" establishments charging high prices, while the mastering is done by a trainee, without supervision (as was the case with 3 projects). This is not acceptable.

I'm sorry about your bad experience. I do agree with Brad - only communications will solve you problem. Talk to them!

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Tue, 11/20/2001 - 07:21
Speaking as a tracking/mixing facility, I invariably recommend "local" mastering studios. Obviously, many (most?) successful projects have been mastered at remote locations for many years - but i can't imagine any disadvantage to be able to have my clients actually sit in on all or part of the session. The chance to do a final evaluation of the project based on hearing the tracks in a remarkable acoustic space played through fabulous speakers can only be helpful. The mastering engineer can give specific advice and creative input directly to the client for approval, rather than "guessing" what the client wants. It also gives the engineer a chance to talk the client out of what might be certain unwise choices. And questions like "why didn't they bother to do (whatever) on my project" clearly become moot. Of course, there may be some mastering engineers who would be horrified to work with clients underfoot, but i suppose that's another topic.

Member for

20 years 1 month

joe lambert Wed, 11/21/2001 - 11:01

Thats fun to say. OBOSTIC!!
I have to jump on this being someone who makes his living as a mastering engineer. First let me say any engineer worth his/her salt will do everything necessary to make your project the best it can be no matter if your an independant or a major.

I don't know who you went to but don't confuse "Big Time" mastering engineer with "Big Time" duplication house. If all they used was limiting to bring the level up, that sound less like a real mastering engineer and more like a duplication house. Some places do just that, whatever you give them they assume is what you want it to sound like. They just want to know how many copies and do you need art work. Did you talk to the actual mastering engineer about the sound of the record before you sent it? I don't know how bad the hum was without hearing it but it should have been been brought to your attention.

Mastering or pre mastering is a very specific art. As a mastering engineer I notice a lot of confusion from people even at major labels about what is actually being done and by whom. This is a whole article by itself that I should write about at another time) If you want your record sonically enhanced to sound like the records you buy in a store you need it pre mastered by a pro which is also called mastering. (I told you it was confusing). Some duplications houses don't actually change the sound they just take your "master" and create a glass master for duplication. They may offer it but you need to ask. Well I think I may have opened up a pandoras box.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can ad to help.

Joe Lambert

Joe Lambert