Having been mastering music by controlling volume by way of equalization, compression and limiting (in that specific order), for many years, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that making gain decisions about gain levels, dynamic range and frequency response isn’t for you.
Now, before you start making assumptions, keep reading.
I began mastering years ago. It’s been well over 10 years. Mastering was as they say somewhat of a “dark secret” to me until…until I decided to stop believing everything I read on the subject of mastering and applied more common-sense and basic obvious facts about music, the frequency spectrum, and other simple principles about music and instruments in general. I never felt that louder was better as an Audio Mastering Specialist. The “Loudness War” levels, have resulted in many a fan and audiophile alike listening to distorted and overly processed music for over a decade. Which of course, has in a major way, de-sensitized their hearing ability, so much so, that they believe this overly processed music, actually sounds good. WRONG!!!
Nevertheless, as much as that is the simple truth, mastering isn’t for you if you are still trying to finalize your own musical or other audio productions because you “think” you “know” what you are doing, instead of actually “knowing” what you are doing. Anybody can send their track through any maximizing plug-in or application and get the same “Loudness Wars” masters of the past decade or so.
To actually conclude that you “know” what you are doing, does one have to actually go to a school to make such a claim? Well, if that’s what you believe that it will take for you to make such a claim then of course, go to school. Will working for a major music studio as an intern allow you to make such a claim? Perhaps. None of the above applies to myself, yet I can 100% assert and guarantee that I “know” what I am doing. It is a great privilege to be able to make such a claim, and to be able to produce the results that back that claim 100%.
Conclusion: If you are in fact, the person that mastered your music, then naturally, you have no one to blame if in fact, your music does not “shine” in a light that says “professionally mastered” through and through. As in sound quality. Nor if you’re not as successful in sales where ever you decided to try to sale your music. Remember!, if your music does not sound as if it has been professional mastered then of course, your sales will suffer.
Mastering isn’t for you if:
You really don’t “know” what you are doing. Find someone that does, and make sure that whoever he or she is, really “knows” what they are doing. Otherwise, leave your masters/music to be somewhat adjusted by an Apple “Sound Check” device, since the Mastering Engineer/or you could not get “it right” the first time around in his or her studio. Pretty sad when that happens.
And finally, don’t expect a “Big Commercial Sound,” if you didn’t even start with a “Big Commercial Mix.” Be realistic about your expectations as to a final sound of your masters.
All The Best To You,
Audio Mastering Specialist
Professional Audio Mastering