how does one become a mastering engineer

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by doulos21, May 29, 2003.

  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    We do no one a service by encouraging their delusions. It does absolutely no good to train your ears or to attempt to learn the mastering craft in a crap room. And I’m not talking about installing some bass traps and absorbers either. It takes much more than that! I’m speaking of real acoustic design. This is so much what quality mastering is about and so much what everyone else is missing. To critically listen and make adjustments, you must be in an accurate listening environment. Bass trapping and absorption will make a bedroom, living room or other small area more useable but it will not make it accurate! Accuracy requires space and design. Without that, the best $10,000 speaker wires, eq’s, compressors, computer programs, plug ins and "Golden Ears" are worthless. First, put a couple of hundred thousand dollars into the room and then you can go for all the other stuff! Otherwise you're just fooling yourself (and your ears). This is one reason why mastering is so expensive. Real Estate!!!
     
  2. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    I thought Mercenary's post was a good one. I'm all for encouragement. Do the best with what you've got. If your room's not perfect learn to adapt and compensate. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. With dedication and persistence you can accomplish your goal. Just because someone has a fancy kitchen doesn't mean they know how to cook. Be honest with yourself and know your shortcomings. Find a friend who's also into learning mastering and bounce your mixes off of each other so that you can help each other out.
     
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Yep! And I’m gonna spend money and work on my Ford Pinto until it rides as nice as a Town Car… :roll: Seriously, do you really think that someone in a spare room, with low ceilings, a small volume room, limited gear and experience is ever going to be able to do what Joe Lambert, Michael Fossenkemper, Don Grossinger, Doug Milton, Bob Ludwig or Bernie Grundman can do for a song? I suppose we will have to agree as Gentlemen, to disagree..
     
  4. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Location:
    just north of NYC
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    I think I must very repectfully disagree with Mr Foster. I learned the skills I later turned into a mastering career from EQing live music tapes from audience recordings. Having a 10 band per channel Soundcraftsman EQ was hot stuff. Later I polished those skills doing live sound mixes at small clubs for a wide variety of music styles & performers.

    When I finally got into a mastering studio, the room acoustics were not perfect either. I learned the room & compensated. I did some good work under less than ideal conditions.

    Having a good room helps a lot. It removes lots of guesswork. But I don't think it is absolutely mandatory. You really DO have to KNOW your room & what it does acoustically. Precision mastering requires practice & knowledge. I know a number of mastering rooms that do not have perfect acoustics but good engineers make them work.

    You may not get that Pinto to ride like a Town Car, but it may be a terrific Pinto. Maybe next time you can move up to that Town Car. They all evolved from a Model T.
     
  5. mfilter

    mfilter Guest

    Sorry to bring up an old thread but maybe I could get some opinions from the more experienced...

    I occasionally get some jobs 'mastering' classical music, which I love to do. I trust my ears and that takes me pretty far, but I would definately not call myself a mastering engineer, not having the foundation of working in a mastering room.

    So my question is how do you think one is to get real experience in high-end work? Am I jaded, or is interning to really learn the art a dead concept (in NYC anyways)? I've learned alot from sitting in on some friends sessions, but $300/hour lessons are a little steep for me

    Michael
     
  6. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    hey, I am trying to climb Everest on here. No top mastering enginer to teach me. However, lots of curiosity, will, reading nice books, asking lots of guys. Funny, but I had a JUNIOR mastering nominated a few years ago to the equivalent of USa Grammy. It was done just with a Q10, Tc Master x and a Power dither TDM.
    I wished had a better room, more accurate monitors ( in the way to go already) and better tools. I think besides gear, talent and gifted years are more or as important as.
    I have seen in a few times lots of PRO facilities do lots of $*^t to my mixes. Erros like misteeing compressor attack time and will the stupid goal of following the loudest´s CD on the charts.
    I totally agree with Don.
    If I need to wait until someday I have a manley or an avalon or some top guy close to me to try to improve in this area, I´d bettet give up and do with anything else.
     
  7. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Gifted "ears" and gifted "years" is what I meant.
    Thanks
    :)
     
  8. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2003
    Kurt wrote :

    Kurt! I will agree with Don on this!
    This is also a talk about becomming a mastering engineer, I think your posting describes that this is not your field. ;)

    Kurt! everything can get better.
    The importent thing is that you are deticated to your work, and your are willing to improove.

    Regards
     
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Heinrik,
    You are correct. I am not a mastering engineer although I have done some mastering for clients at times and often when I have sent a project out to be mastered it has been returned with a note from the M.E. saying there wasn't much of anything left for them to do (everything was eq'ed correctly and levels were where they needed to be).

    I feel that a true M.E. should have much better hearing than I do and although Don (who I would differ to anytime, after all he's the one working at Europadisk) says he has worked in rooms that were less than ideal with good results, if I were going to send out a project I had done, I would still want a facility that had great acoustics as well as gear and engineers.

    My comments were aimed more at supporting all the fine M.E.s here and their facilities and to point out that the bedroom mastering approach is flawed, rather than to imply that I am a M.E.

    I know that I use automobile analogies often but I just can't help it. It seems to be the best way to communicate what I am trying to say. A VW beetle is a great car, they work very well and are easy to operate. But VW beetle would be absolutely no good for towing a semi trailer. Well it's sort of the same thing. I am an unabashed fan of great talent, great songs, great gear, great rooms and great ears. To me, nothing else will suffice for my work and I wouldn't waste my time settling for less. When I talk on the subject of audio, it is this that I communicate.

    If a person sets a goal, they will achieve it if they want it bad enough. Setting a goal of lowered expectations will only result in lesser results. I firmly believe that anything is possible so why not aim for the best? I don't understand people who are willing to settle for less. And if they want to criticize me or get upset with me because I am saying something they don't want to hear, that's their problem, not mine. I feel I am here to give the best advice I possibly can, not to encourage people to do things half assed or to validate their bad choices. I personally feel that to do that is a disservice to all. Kurt
     
  10. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2003
    Kurt, I think we agree on this! :)
    No one should settle for less!

    I just think it's fine to start out with what you can affort, and then build your way up as you affort more and better.

    In your other reply you just wrote a statement that totaly disagreed with this.

    I'm an upcomming mastering engineer from DK and i get what i can affort right now, it's a compromise of new and custom gear build by myself.
    I have a strong believe in myself and my ears in what I'm already doing. I also feel that I'm learning fast, and it is all comming to me I just have to grap it ;)

    For now I don't belive in setting goals for yourself.
    When on work my focus is on getting the sound better and better.... I then loose track of time because the audio is just making me high :p
    And that makes me better and better to do my job.

    I have one goal for know, and that is to satisfy myself with optimising my skills and gear!
    I think that clients will come more often when they hear what I can do.

    But you should be carefull that your goals don't mess up what your allready doing.


    Regards
     
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

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    Sep 12, 2002
    Location:
    NYC New York
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    this is an old thread returned....

    all of the MO's here started at some point with considerably less than they have now. In fact the only ME that I know of that came out with a huge setup is Emily Lazar, but not all of us come from money. Kurt likes car analogies so i'll use one. before one becomes a formula one racer, they learn to drive on go karts. work up to cars, then to stock cars, then to nascars, then to formula one cars. You learn from the ground up. There are 3 kinds of mastering engineers, ones that think they can, ones that hope they can, and ones that know they can. you have to decide where you fall into and go from there.

    The ones that think they can usually have the basic tools but no experience and are not really listening to what they are doing. The ones that hope they can have begun to listen to what they are doing and realize what their limitations are and what they need to improve on. the ones that know they can have the experience and know what they need to do to get to where they need to go and what they need to do it with. ME's are a work in progress, constantly trying to improve.
     
  12. rschneider

    rschneider Guest

     
  13. rschneider

    rschneider Guest

    Doh!!! Damned arthritis! ;)
     
  14. lionyouth

    lionyouth Guest

    listen listen...I'm nomaster but I have the ears of a bat ...so I have been told and I can pick out frequencies in a mix but even that is not enough.....the important sound is from the initial layout recording and mixing...I would suggest they start their way up the ladder...I'm at the bottom but hey I make a great footstool...like a shlumberger...mabe even a foot soul...like a prada...walking in all types of crap but still looking goooooooood...few less o's and I'm getting worshipped falsely
     
  15. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

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    Sep 12, 2002
    Location:
    NYC New York
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    i'm sorry, what were we talking about :confused:
     
  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2001
    Location:
    Oberlin, OH
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    Mastering is both art and science. You can get the science in school or by reading books but the art must be learned and practiced every day.

    What I tell my interns is that you should spend some time every day doing mastering for yourself, you should then take the mastering you have done and play it for your knowledgeable friends and for me and ask for their opinions.

    You should also listen to what you have done against some of the best mastered songs mentioned in another thread on this board.

    When you think you are ready then you should try mastering for someone as a favor and not charging them for it. This will give you the experience of working with a client present without time constraints or hassles.

    After you have done this numerous times you may be able to do your first mastering session for hire and let the client dictate how long they want to work on the project by how much they are willing to pay.

    Doing this a few times and again asking your knowledgeable friends about the results and again listening to what you have done against really well mastered songs will start you on the road to becoming a professional mastering engineer.

    Add in a couple of years doing mastering full time and lots of experience with lots of different styles of music and you can start to call yourself a mastering engineer.

    FWIW
     

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