Why Should I Master My Music ?

As you may, or may not know, the process of mastering is the last creative step in the recording process before cd, cassette or album manufacturing.
As an artist, producer, engineer, or independent label you may ask yourself, "Why do I need to master?". Of course this is a valid question, particularly when you are on a tight budget and mastering represents (among other things) spending more money! There are several reasons to consider mastering:

• to perfect the spacings and level changes between songs on your release
• to perfect the overall tonal balance of each song which may not have been achieved in mixing
• to perfect the dynamics of each song so that the record is at it's optimum level in terms of overall loudness
• to gain consistency between songs on the release so that transitions between songs are not abrupt
• to have a master (either a PMCD, 1630 tape, or 8mm DDP Exabyte tape) that is flawless and ready to be accepted by a manufacturing plant.

All of these factors will result in a release that is far superior in sound quality to one that is not mastered, or that has poor mastering. It is important to have your music mastered by a person you completely trust to do a good job. After all, you are relying upon this person to make final judgments about the sound of your music.

What should you look for in a mastering studio and engineer?
Does the studio specifically do mastering, or is it "secondary" to their recording operation?
It seems there are many recording studios these days that claim to perform mastering, but do they really? Just because the studio has a digital audio workstation and a cd burner does not mean they can properly perform mastering on your music. Mastering requires an accurate listening environment, specific outboard gear (that is not normally found in a recording studio), and a mastering engineer (just because the engineer who recorded your music did a good job recording it does not mean he can master it equally as well).

Why can't the guy who recorded/mixed/produced the record master it?
It's a big mistake for both the artists involved and the engineer and/or producer to not hire a mastering engineer to master the record. After spending weeks or months on a recording project it is very difficult to evaluate objectively. If you look on major records (who have some of the most capable recording/mix engineers working on them) almost without exception they are mastered by a dedicated mastering engineer. After all.... you don't hire a mastering engineer to mix your record, do you ????

What past releases has the engineer and/or studio done that impress you?
This should always be a question you ask not only of a mastering engineer but also of a recording/mixing engineer, producer, record label, or just about any one or anything that could have an effect on the quality of your music. At mastermind we understand that our reputation is on the line with each and every project, so we make every project sound the best it can be. If you would like recording studio referrals we would be more than happy to provide recommendations.

Will the studio or engineer explain what it is they are doing and why, or do they portray their mastering process as some type of "black magic" that is unique to them?
There are many mastering studios that claim they have some "magic" technology that is not available anywhere else. Although it would be nice if there was some "black magic" box that would make your music sound incredible, this is simply not true. The quality of mastering is determined by only two things: the quality of the mastering studio and the experience and expertise of the mastering engineer.

If you have questions please feel free to contact us!