mastering forums

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by BUZAIN, Aug 17, 2003.


    BUZAIN Guest

    Hey don't take me wrong. Listen to me frisr before you tear me into pieces (I prefer peace though).

    OK, I am new to this site and this forum. Today I took the time to read almost all the posts here and I discovered a disapointing fact that people here do not want to share their knowledge with others. In all due respect I found that very disapointing.

    We all know that if we want a professional mastering done, we should go to the professionals. Sometimes because of budget limitations not all people can afford a professional.

    Mastering engineers should realize that by sharing few tips with others they will not loose their jobs.
  2. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:

    I am not a mastering engineer...... but i don't picture it as being all that easy to explain......

    Picture that i could take the same piece of music..... mix it differently 10 times..... send the 10 mixes off to a ME - and, depending on the genre, the levels, the effects i added (or didn't add) and hundreds of different contributing factors - the ME would have to deal with each mix in a completely different manner.

    And that is just for one song - one genre of music..... now picture this for all of the different songs out there - for the hundreds of different styles of music - all of which require a different presentation...

    (By the way - you pros out there - if i'm picturing this - or presenting this "wrong" please PLEASE correct me).

    I have read through these threads as well, and the more i do - the more i understand (possible incorrectly i will have to admit) the challenges of the ME - the more i realize how difficult - maybe even impossible it would be - on a strictly abstract basis - for someone to teach me through this forum - "how to do it".

    If you envision the mix as if it were a inked sketch....... and the ME as the person who is now going to "colour the picture" - you can begin to see the challenge of what it is your asking.

    Having never seen the picture - how do they go about describing to you how to hold your brush - which brush you use - what colours you paint - where the shade lines should be.... etc.

    I give the pro's here a lot of credit for what they share with the readers..... and reality is - if you want a truly professional product - you have it mastered........ if it were as easy as an explanation or 2 - then the recording engineers would just master themselves... and there wouldn't be a need for this specialized field in the industry.

    Happy Hunting

  3. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Buz, how big is your recording and audio production related book library? Mine is at least 5 full shelves. I have some in storage, and stacked by my night table. I even have video tape demo's from many engineers, or performers. I have audio demo's on cassette, and CD.
    My biggest source of information is the net. Usenet (google archives) for example, has over half a million separate topics on recording alone.

    There are some things you just can't learn from reading. For mastering, it takes thousands of hours of listening on a calibrated system with the finest of, often custom, speakers and gear in a room designed to exacting specifications.

    I found a home here at RO because people do share.

    You can afford a mastering engineer, and someday you will understand why. If you read here you will see how you can minimize the cost. In some case in the future you will realize you can't afford NOT to use a mastering engineer.

    These fine professionals that moderate the mastering forum have shared their knowledge everyday, and are not in the least concerned about loosing their jobs.

    As with any specialist, the variables are broad. There are no simple settings to use, no rule of thumb procedures, no simple answer to turn out pro master mixes, and CD's. If that were the case it would be in a black box called "The Master Machine".

    There are mastering books, but ALL the fundamentals have to be clearly understood to reap the results. That, and more listening under ideal conditions than most people do in a lifetime.

  4. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Could you clarify on this a little? I figure that statement was along the lines of "people will understand what mastering (or a mastering engineer) can do for a mix if he shows he's knowledgable about his suit". (forgive me if I'm wrong)

    Like Rod said, it's hard to explain "what to do" if you don't have "what to do it on" in plain sight... I mean, you could always throw out general tips like "Get a good frequency balance" or "Balance between dynamics and good volume", but it's impossible to explain exactly *how* to achieve that without a specific material as an example.

    That being said, the mastering engineers around here have always offered to do free demos for the folks who come by... If ever in doubt of what mastering can do, just get in contact with one of them.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Mastering is an art that requires GREAT EARS, special skills, equpment and rooms. Trying to teach just anyone how to master in even the best production studios, is often akin to trying to teach a blind person how to drive a big semi truck in a Ford Fiesta..

    With that in mind, here's the first thing you need to do..go get a hearing test.. Make sure your hearing is perfect, with no loss.. the ability to hear at extremly high frequencies is a must.. if you don't hear anything above 20K, forget about it. Next, get a job in a "real" studio and train your "golden" ears for about ten years. Get a great grounding on music (you will need to familiarize your self with all genres), electronics, audio theory and studio design.

    Next thing you need to do is get about a million dollars or more, design and build as close to as possible, a "perfect" room and fill it up with ultra esoteric and expensive equalizers, compressors, DAW editing systems and a calibrated monitor system. Actually, I am not sure if a million dollars will be enough so you will probably need a good line of credit. After you have done that, come back and we will take you to the next step.. mmmm kay?
  6. noteFarm

    noteFarm Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    I think if you are new to this site, you should hang around for a little longer. This is a place full of free information and the people here are happy to help when they can, and share there knowledge.
  7. kevinwhitect

    kevinwhitect Active Member

    Apr 15, 2003
    In a chair in front of a computer screen
    Home Page:
    Perhaps, little grasshopper, it might be more useful if you revealed what it is that you want to know.....

    Then, this time with focus, the secrets of the profession will be made known to you.

    If they can.....

    For there are some secrets that just can't be taught.

    But I'm not tellin'.....




  8. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Hey folk, this place is pretty nice. It is an it will be my home forum.

    Guys here have they dayjobs so maybe one or two days later you shall be able to have some answers to your doubts.
    Research and post your doubts here.

    I used to subscribe to Mix, Eq, EM and some cool brazilian magazines and I have to admit, as Rick kindly posted, the web is much more dynamic and provides us much more updated info.

    BUZAIN Guest

    Hey Guys,

    I hope you all realize that I did not intend to start a controversy. Some of you have answered me sympathetically and lovingly, while others have called me a grassoper(no offense taken). I do appreciate the time and the trouble taken.

    I do understand and recognize the importance of a professional mastering engineer and do not in any way minimize that. The thing I found more disapointing here has been that "almost" whenever someone has asked a question about few tips about mastering, the answer has been "go to the mastering house."

    I have presumed that this forum is not just for professional Mstering engineers. Maybe it is, then I am wrong and please forgive me(sincerely). I have presumed that this place is for music lovers, for both experienced and starters to share and interact.

    Everyone knows that just by reading alone one cannot be a professional Mastering Engineer. Still some of us want to learn some tips and guidelines and will appreciate being encouraged and nurtured than being told off and told to go to a Mastering house.

    If all I needed was a Mastering house alone,then there is no need to come here and take part in these forums. But I need more than just a Mastering house. I need to interact with others too(those who know and those who are learning)and learn from them, and maybe share my own small experiences.

  10. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:

    I hope you realize that everything that has been said here was meant to enlighten you rather than insult you - even the "grasshopper" statement (which is a reference to an old tv show with David Carridine about the Shoulin Monks training kung-fu - which was a term of endearment from them) was meant in kindness......

    Hang around and you will probably pick up more by osmosis than you realize.......

    Any way you look at it - you are more than welcome.

  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    This is because mastering is the last chance to "catch" things that may be deficient in your recordings. This is best served by fresh ears and a different room. When the same ears are employed in the same room the chances that the same mistakes will be repeated are increased. Add to the mix that by most accounts a ME has better gear and rooms and will be capable of making more precise adjustments and the fact that as an unattached person to the project they have fewer biases to bring to the table, the decision not to use a Mastering House and engineer is usually the biggest mistake anyone can commit. I have been doing audio for 30 years plus and I have never mastered my own records.. I could if I wanted to but I see the need to bring a fresh outlook and experiences into the "mix" so to speak. So while it may sound harsh, calloused or even cavalier to say "Take it to a mastering house", it really is the best advice we can give... Kurt
  12. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    Howdy yall,

    BUZAIN: I was a total and complete beginner myself when I came across this forum (now I am merely a total beginner). I've been reading threads just about daily, and I have even dared to post a topic or two. I gotta tell ya, what Rod says holds a bunch of truth, there is so much that I have absorbed without even knowing...

    At first I also had the feeling that the pros were only out here to promote their business, but I have found out that they are really willing to help. Maybe you should hang around the small steps forum a while, you'll really learn a bunch. (Maybe you'll come across a particular thread on the difference between mixing and mastering.... :) whoever had the guts to ask that question...)

    I don't know how much of a beginner you are, but I really had an incredibly steep learning curve the last weeks. I also found out that it is all about listening listening listening and listening. Do it again, do it again, do it again.

    All others: A big yee haw to!

    Regards, Rob
  13. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Might not be exactly what you're looking for, but the critique forum has some excellent example material, and the comments are more often than not dead-on advice for general improvements of the mixes.
  14. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Sorry you feel this way about the forum. I feel that the forum has taken on more of a positive atmosphere for real questions. If you have a specific question to a specific problem in the mastering arena, you will probably get an answer here. If your asking how to become a world class mastering engineer in one paragraph, you won't get an answer. This will go for any industry. There are no secrets we are trying to hide. Some people come here to learn the secrets of the pros and come away disapointed. Some come here as practicing ME's and learn something. The only thing I get out of moderating is that I learn something also. So if I'm learning something here then you should be able to too.
  15. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    I would like to know what posts you are referring to. I don't understand how you can comment that the Pro mastering engineer moderators on this site (including myself) don't give out tips on mastering.

    I get the impression that some newer engineers think that there are a set of mastering "switches" the get and presto! the song is mastered. Many times questions like how much compression should I use can't be answered in this environment unless we are standing next to you while you mix and hear what is coming out of the speakers.

    Whenever there are relevant mastering questions they are addressed usually by at least 2 of us. I would like to thank the other moderators for donating there time and experience to this forum.
  16. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    I have been sitting back & watching this thread because I am not sure if I can contribute anything more than Joe & Michael & Rod have already said.

    What we do in mastering has been called a hidden art because it should be invisible. A well mastered project is one that gets the emotion of the music across to the listener without being obscured. What we do is to make more perfect a "finished" mix. We all have different tools; we all have different ears. We all seek the same goals. It's just very difficult to quantify. There is no one right answer.

    [ August 18, 2003, 01:55 PM: Message edited by: Don Grossinger ]
    audiokid likes this.
  17. BUZAIN

    BUZAIN Guest

    I hope the pro and advanced engineers here do not feel offended by my comment. As I stated in my first mail, I sat down for hours and went through virtually all the threads from the very beginning. And in most occasions when one asked a question about mastering they were told to go to a mastering house. It is that I found frustrating since I came here to interact with those who have started the art before me.

    But I know that some reasons have been explained to me in details through this thread and I understand, at least in part.

    Maybe the main problem has been with the questions. Maybe those of us asking questions should ask more relevant and appropriate questions. So, I have decided to concentrate on coming up witth questions which I hope are relevat and intelligent which can be answered without difficulty.

    Once again all my love and respect for the moderators and everyone here. It's great to feel part of the family even though, I'm the new born here. :h:
  18. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Welcome BUZAIN,

    As a session engineer I have come to appreciate the MEs out there more and more as the years go by. It is a truly specilized and intricate art form, and these people work just as hard as any virtuoso instrumentalist who spends hours every day mastering their instruments. I have had the privilige to sit in on mastering sessions of some truly talented people. There is no way I could ever be a mastering engineer. However, a lot of the MEs I know could not run a nice, tight, creative, productive recording session the way I do.

    We all have our talents. But, as in any profession, it takes dedication and practice. I became a great keyboard player through the knowledge and encouragement of some wonderful teachers and coaches. I am a very good (and always improving) engineer because the engineers at the sessions I played were willing to share their knowledge, just as I have always been willing to share mine.

    Trying to teach mastering by the written word is like trying to describe a sunset to a man blind since birth. When you have the opportunity to hear several projects before and after mastering, to really hear the differences, then you can "talk" about how it was done. Over the past few years there have been some of those "mastering in a box"plug-ins etc., and they do work, but they only correct the grossest errors common to most amatuer recordists. There is nothing like a great ME.

    Stick around, you will get more out of this site than you will ever believe. If nothing else, it is one of the few sites where you can have an intelligent argument and not a flame war.


    Uncle Bob

  19. MistaG

    MistaG Guest

    Just a few thoughts here.

    I hang out on a lot of forums and in my opinion this is one of the most technical sources of information available on the internet. Great people, low attitude and somewhat newbie free, not that this is a bad thing, just occassionally mind numbing.

    Regarding mastering, and the lack of sharing information, it reminds me of the two age old questions. What is the best mic for recording vocals? What is the best preamp? The answer is, it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

    Mastering is EQ, volume and compression, applied for a certain effect. If you want specific answers you gotta ask specific questions.
  20. BarilkoLives

    BarilkoLives Guest

    Kurt Foster said,

    I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic to make a point, or genuinely serious. Did you really mean that only people who can hear frequencies of 20,000 Hz or higher can/should consider being a mastering engineer? Great ears are one thing, but I would think one would have to lead a virtually acoustically celibate life in order to finally be in a position to use one's "golden ears" for the purpose of mastering, especially in today's sonic climate.
    When does technology become the determining factor? Wouldn't the ability to hear extremely subtle differences in A/B comparisons take over after about 15 kHz? (I can't hear the difference, can you hear the difference....)

    I was under the impression that if you couldn't hear anything above 20kHz, you were normal. correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the 20Hz-20kHz standard established by Bell Labs and the U.S. military by testing strapping young men with absolutely perfect hearing during an era that, compared to today's, was "all quiet on the western front?"

    Just how many super-humans are out there mastering our music? :D :c:
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