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Okay guys, I need recommendations

Member for

14 years 8 months
So I'm going to be recording an album during the summer, and I've got two friends who are engineers willing to do the whole thing for free. The problem is, it'll be in a not so perfect environment, therefore a good mastering job is a must. I don't have a gagillion dollars to spend on it, I know this is going to sound terrible but I need an affordable yet good master. My budget will be around 400 dollars for the whole thing, it'll be about 12 songs. I know thats a stretch for that price, but anyone got any good recommendations?

Oh and style of music, think Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, and My Morning Jacket... but less good than those heroes.


Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Tue, 06/10/2008 - 22:05
Mckey, ahhh the voice of a clueless creative.

Not good environment? Therefore need good mastering? That's a non sequitur. Don't know what a non sequitur is? Well I think your grandmother has an army differential squirrel. That's also a non sequitur. George W. Bush. Another non sequitur.

Free engineers? Equals = Guys right out of quickie school.

Expecting a good product? Sort of like expecting God to FedEx you a purple and pink platypus.

Lousy environments never kept me from making good recordings just lousy musicians. Not even the equipment kept Me from making lousy recordings even if The equipment was lousy.

So here's the deal. You need a bag full of SM57/58's. Something as innocuous as a Mackie or Beringer. Maybe even one that offers a USB or FireWire option for multi-tracking capabilities. It'll come bundled with inexpensive multitrack software able to get the job done. All you have to do is remembered don't use much equalization. Use the compressors and/or limiters along with the equalizer's in the bundled software but be gentle. And remember to first play your favorite big-time Rocker's CD to use as a reference as a starting point. Once you know what something is supposed to sound like coming out of your monitors, you'll have a good place to start.

I've actually made some wonderful recordings with no equalization and no limiters/compressors. Try it. You'll like it. I think most plug-ins should go where the sun doesn't shine.

Postmenopausal no plug-ins necessary
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

14 years 8 months

Mckey Tue, 06/10/2008 - 23:30
Hey Remy, no disrespect, but I'm not the clueless creative. My Engineers are not newbies, their close friends, and have offered their services as favors to a friend. The equipment being used is pretty decent; a digi 002, a digi 003, 2 UA610's, bags of 57s/58s, a U87, K2s, an NTK, other mics I don't really remember, mainly audiotechnica's and sennheisers. Anyways, Protools something, and plug-ins yadah yadah yadah. I don't plan on using any of them like you said, I agree they are for the birds, which is why I want to find an affordable mastering studio that does good quality. The thing thats lacking is the room(s), it isn't a studio. I could get studio time at the studios they work at, but even they can't get me an affordable rate (like free), so to rectify certain inequities I'd like to get a good mastering job.

Member for

16 years 7 months

pr0gr4m Wed, 06/11/2008 - 09:18
I think the point that Remy was trying to make is that good mastering isn't what you are going to need. Mastering isn't going to fix a bad sounding guitar or bleed from one mic to another or a really bad room sound. That sort of stuff is done either at the recording or at the mix stage.

If you are recording in a not-so-perfect environment, your focus really should be on the recording/mixing. That is where you'll be able to address the problems that you encounter due to the bad recording space. When it comes time for mastering, it's much too late to address those types of things.

It sounds like you've got engineers and equipment. I'd recommend that you spend as much time as needed to try and eliminate any issues or problems you have during recording while recording. Don't wait and try to "fix it in the mix" or as you propose "fix it during mastering".

Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 06/11/2008 - 09:26
I think the problem lies in an inability to count.
$400 for 12 songs = $33.33c approx. per song.
If that's all you want to spend all you can expect is work worth that much.
I don't know about you, but I'm willing to outlay a little more per song before I release it. Just a tad.

Member for

15 years 10 months

hueseph Wed, 06/11/2008 - 11:49
Mckey wrote: boy you guys all take the cake, none of you answered my original question.

I think this is because the original question is misinformed and leads down a path that would be impossible to resolve.

1: Your budget does not allow for a "good" or even decent mastering job.

2: You're ignoring the fact that most problems should be resolved during recording if at all possible, which they usually are.

I've heard plenty of recordings done in fully untreated rooms that sounded great. Sure it may be a pain to get it right but it's not impossible and it's certainly easier to fix during tracking than it would be for a mastering engineer to fix in a stereo mix. IE: you can't put a gate on the snare and not expect it to affect the entire mix. During tracking yes but not over a stereo mix.

If you're still determined to have "mastering" fix it, Discmakers will tack on mastering to your repro order for few hundred extra. So, you pay $1500 for your 500 cds instead of $999.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Wed, 06/11/2008 - 14:03
Mckey wrote: boy you guys all take the cake, none of you answered my original question.
You can have your cake and eat it too. They responded directly to your question. No such person exists. You may find a friend who will master it for $400; but that's charity, not a fee. For $400 you can find plenty of newbies who will run your mix through a limiter and call it mastering. But your friends doing the mixing can do that as well, and probably won't destroy their mix the way some fool in love with his hacked L3 plugin will. This project is going to be DIY. No pro studio. No pro mixing. No pro mastering. Live with it. Make the best of it. Embrace it.

Member for

19 years

Michael Fossenkemper Wed, 06/11/2008 - 19:38
what exactly are you looking for? If you are looking for a good sounding CD, concentrate on the recording. If you are looking for cheap mastering, look on ebay.

if everyone could fix their CD's for $400, life would be full of great sounding CD's.

While good mastering can take a recording to the next level, it can't replace a great recorded song.

Member for

17 years 2 months

Massive Mastering Wed, 06/11/2008 - 20:22
Think of it hourly -- I can give you about three hours of time, sequence and burn you a couple discs for $400.

Ideal? Maybe not. Rush job? Certainly. Does your project deserve better? That's up to you.

But if nothing else, I'd rather have someone (me, Mike, so many others) who actually "does this" working on it for a few hours than throwing it at one of so many [SELF-CENSORED] places and (ramming it into a cracked limiter through a set of nearfields, etc., etc., as mentioned).

Member for

19 years 9 months

Thomas W. Bethel Thu, 06/12/2008 - 05:25
So many people today don't have a clue as to what "real" mastering is all about. They come up with amounts that they can spend like $200 for 13 songs or $10.00 per song and expect that everyone will be rushing in to take the job.

If you look around on the Internet there are lots of places that offer mastering for the amount you are willing to spend and they are, most probably, bedroom setups with terrible acoustics, a handful of cracked software plug-ins and someone with zero experience doing mastering.

If you want CHEAP then go to them and get them to do your mastering. If you want a real mastering engineer to do your mastering then you will have to pay the price to get it done correctly.

It takes time, good equipment, a good monitoring environment and plenty of experience to produce a top quality mastering project. This is NOT something that comes CHEAP. Many mastering engineers have well over the cost of a house invested in their setups and they have monitoring gear that costs as much as a new car and they need to get a return on their investment. That is why they charge what they do. It is not to rip people off as you see so many people saying on forums such as this.

If you have friends who are willing to do your recording for free then you are saving the cost of recording so you should have more money to spend on the mastering. If they are as good as you say they are then you should have a superior product to take to the mastering engineer.

As everyone else has said the most important thing you can bring to a mastering session is a well recorded well mixed project that is ready for mastering. It you bring something that is below par then the mastering engineer can only do so much.

There are many GOOD mastering engineers that do excellent work here on this forum that you could contact to get your stuff done for a reasonable rate if you so chose. The rules are that we are not suppose to advertise or seek work from posters so most people are reluctant to tell you that they are interested in your work.

Best of luck!

Member for

17 years 3 months

JoeH Thu, 06/12/2008 - 05:57
To stretch the analogy further; you're asking for a good paint job on a badly mangled Ford Pinto, and want it to look like a Deloran. (Ok, that IS a bit of a strecth, but you get the idea...)

The resason you're getting the answers you're getting is that one thing just doens't connect to the other. Good mastering just isn't going to solve your problems.

Your "Free" engineers should know this, and should record & mix accordingly. From the moment you set up, all the way down to the final 2-bus, you should be thinking about getting the very best product you can, ESPECIALLY if the gear and the location is a compromise. At best, Mastering is just going to put the last bit of polish on the best you can hand over the mastering engineer. If everyone involved on the FRONT end acted as if their lives (or livelihood) depended on it, you'd need very little mastering anyway.

Unless it's a wind tunnel or at the bottom of a lake, with the right attitude and approach you should be able to get SOMETHING usable, if not downright interesting - in the right hands. Make the badness work FOR you, and then mastering will be more like simple level matching and sequencing...which is about what $400 will get you these days.

Having never met a venue I didn't like..... :wink:

Member for

14 years 8 months

Mckey Thu, 06/12/2008 - 12:21
Hey sorry, in the middle of finals. Okay so I've been taking in what you are all saying, so heres my question to you. What should I raise the price bar up to? Would a grand do it? Also I just want to make one thing revised, I'm going to be doing this record ALL summer, and I'm going to make damn sure nothing is sloppy or not sounding right. I'm just going to be putting in so much effort in the thing that I don't want it to be sounding like all the other local records out there, I know mastering wont "fix" anything. I never planned on it to fix it. Just enhance the records quality.

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 06/12/2008 - 13:13
I'm starting to get a clue here. In my own time and place.
But honestly, mastering is just access to expensive equipment for the purposes of generating ear candy. Don't raise your bar. Your dollars wont buy you anything unless you can supply ear candy from the start. No amount of money thrown at musicians will hide their talent. Use this summer to play and play and play and record it all and then show that to people and hopefully someone will see a way of converting your groups talent into ear candy which sells. Spend time not dollars.