Mastering is and always will be a divisive subject, as evidenced in our most recent Talking Tech question, ‘what are your mastering tips?’ Whether you prefer to do-it-yourself or pay a professional, we can all agree on one thing. Get your mix right!
Catch up on all previous Talking Tech topics here.
Thomas Nguyen: “Ignore mastering and focus on getting really good at mixing. For self-masters, use a limiter and turn up db while monitoring the dynamic range and the compression amount. If you mixed the track well, it will sound good.”
Bas de Zwart: “If you produce at home, if you are going to invest in anything, invest in a hardware compressor. It will almost always have a better and richer sound than software compression. Don’t master your tracks separately, but create one long master for all your tracks. Don’t be afraid to experiment with drastic effects.”
Trevor Mundye: “Get the best monitors you can afford. Give space to your track instruments with panning and don’t overload volumes, keep any vocals upfront, listen to the mastered track on different sound systems and in the car before finalising. Oh and yes! Use your ears.”
Turf Daz: “Try out your track on as many different speakers and monitors, Even in the car and on laptops etc before finishing to make sure the sound is right.”
Kipros Tsokkos: “My mastering tip is never do your mastering if you do the production of the song…”
Christopher McGinnis: “The first thing I was ever told was ‘if it sounds better after mastering, you did a good job. If it sounds the same or worse, you need to try again or have someone else do it.'”
Cameron Bashaw: “Now that today’s biggest listening outlets are all streaming services implementing loundess control algorithms, don’t try to master as loud as possible. The loudness wars are over. And, if you think the song in question is destined for radio play, just know that radio stations apply their own heavy processing on top of your master anyway. Loudness is a relative thing.”
Stephen Brindley: “Music is far more than just hearing it, you have to be able to feel it.Keep it simple remember all great music should lift the spirit. Ears and your feelings are your best mastering tools.”
Charlie Tee: “Tip #1: Don’t pay for mastering if you can learn it. Tip #2: If you recorded and mixed it the right way, mastering should take less than 10 minutes per song. Tip #3: Yes, in the box can sound pretty good.”
Shimron Elit: “Make 3 copies of the master and mix them with different compression on each, including inverted dynamic.”
Mike Hillier: “Get a great sounding mix and then pay someone else (like me, hint hint) to master it.” – Regular contributor to MusicTech.