The role of a mastering engineer is often misunderstood. Some newer DIY producers and artists may be tempted to master their own music. After all, you’ve done your own writing, tracking, and mixing, and you’re happy with the way the mix sounds in your studio. You’ve been 100% involved in the technical process behind your music so far, and love the result. Why would you now give it over to a 3rd party at the mastering stage?[line]
6 Great Reasons Why You Need A Mastering Engineer
- Fresh, objective perspective. Its very admirable to be your own tracking and mixing engineer. Being so closely tied to your music, it can be difficult to take a step back and listen objectively. A mastering engineer can serve that purpose, with critical listening skills trained over years. You will get honest, accurate analysis of your audio. Our primary goal is to make your music sound the best it possibly can.
- Experience. There are so many amazing new producers today. Its very inspiring to work on their mastering projects. Often, I hear a fantastic mix that is held back by just a small problem. For instance, phasing issues would normally be caught by a veteran mix engineer, but newer artists seem to forget about mono compatibility. This is still important, especially in EDM where a dance club is your primary listening environment. There are some things that can only be heard by a trained ear and learned through experience. Most successful mastering engineers have many years under their belt, with a background in tracking, mixing, and production. We can often provide very helpful tips, as well as identify and correct undiscovered problems.
The mastering stage requires brutally accurate monitoring. Mastering monitors must be absolutely faithful in their playback of your mixes. This type of monitoring is typically impractical for a small studio due to both studio size and cost. Serious mastering speakers require exact room positioning and a large amount of space. The custom Tyler Acoustics Decade D2 mastering loudspeakers we use are quite awesome and reveal every detail of your mix.
- Listening environment. A proper mastering studio is a purpose-built room. It is designed, treated, and tested for the singular task of mastering. The environment must be free from harmful reflections, frequency problems, and anything else that colors your mix. A pro mastering engineer works in a studio with acoustic treatment like suspended clouds, bass traps, diffusors, and absorption panels to minimize these issues. At Nagasaki Sound, even the studio furniture has been designed and built to minimize sonic impact.
- Premium analog and digital gear. Independent musicians and mixing studios can gain access to the sound of some truly incredible pieces of gear by using a mastering engineer. Let’s face it – many of us mastering engineers are gear geeks! To a really ridiculous degree. We can talk endlessly about AD/DA converters, compressors, equalizers, and overpriced studio interconnects. Bottom line, we are kind of obsessed with great sound and helping you get it with our mastering chain. A great mastering engineer has carefully assembled a collection of analog hardware and specialized digital software with that focus. You might need a mastering engineer to help your music break free of that digital “in-the-box” sound.
- Quality assurance and standards compliance. There are very strict industry standards and practices that must be followed in the preparation and creation of your final masters before submission to replicators or distributors. For example, Nagasaki Sound prefers and encourages delivery of album and EP masters via Disc Description Protocol image (DDPi). This delivery method is the modern standard for albums and far superior to the old physical delivery method. The DDP format requires precise attention to detail. It is the very last chance for corrections before your music is distributed. Mistakes at this point can be very costly, so you need a mastering engineer you can trust to do it right. Even iTunes now requires specialized mastering standards and practices if you want to meet the new ‘Mastered For iTunes’ (MFiT) qualification.
I hope this short list helped point out some great reasons to hire a professional mastering engineer for your project. If you’ve found it helpful, please share with your fellow artists and bands using the social buttons below. If you are looking for a great mastering studio with fast and friendly service, give me a shout to discuss your project!