I don't think anyone here things you're a bunghole, but as you point out you ARE a newbie.
Would you go to a newbie to master YOUR music?
I think you could ask anyone here what gear they use, and find that people are using all sorts of stuff, yet still delivering great results. I.e. it's not about the gear (although the Finalizer isn't helping you any...
So while mastering isn't rocket science or brain surgury, it does take one thing that pretty much any endeavor does if you really want to be good at it:
I think that both Not_so_new and Bruce both had excellent points - what is it you're trying to do? What's your busieness plan/goal? If your serious, you'll need to learn, and you'll have to start from the beginning. OTOH, you do have a nice setup for tracking and mixing. In my experience, getting those huge sounding masters is 90% the tracking and mixing, we're just giving the last little kick in the *ss and making sure your home stereo doesn't blow up.
So if you want to work with mastering, you might want to see if there's anyone who'll take you on. There was just recently a thread here (or on RecForums, not sure) about apprenticing. The best way to learn, IMHO. Other than that, I would recommend learning to listen and sharpening your listening skills and listening environment as much as possible. Coming from an audiophile background, I already knew how to hear the difference between speaker cables, power cables, and magic discs placed under equipment
... As well as having auditioned countless hi fi setups, room treatments, etc.
But seriously, like any trade, you need to learn. Wanting to learn is fine. Hanging up a sign saying you're an ME because you have some gear and have read a book or two is not. Would you buy a hammer, timber and nails and offer to build houses for people?
So I agree with the people who encourage you to first figure out what it is you really want to do, and become as proficient as you can at that one thing. Expertise is underrrated, but will pay you back in the long run. If you want to learn, that's great. I think people (here and elsewhere) will be more than willing to help you learn. But learning doesn't start with a shopping list of what gear to buy to 'be a pro'. Nor does learning mean you can or should charge people so that you can learn. Don't quit that day job just yet...
You've already received many posts explaining in general how to arrive at superloud levels. My advice (worth exactly what you paid for it) is to get some great sounding records of different types of music (classical, folk, jazz, world, pop, rock, country, metal, etc) and learn to listen. Read the acoustics forum at RecForums or elsewhere. Get your room treated, evaluate quite a few pairs of monitors and see how things change from system to system. Train your ears. 'Practice' mastering mixes you do, friends do, even Cd's you don't think sound too hot. Compare, listen, compare some more. Come here and ask (intelligent) questions.
As for Lucey and the other 'let's not come down so hard on him', I agree there's no need to bash on the newbies for sport, but his question shows what's wrong with the whole attitude and understanding of our (or any) trade. DIY is fine, but presenting yourself as something you're not to others commercially is bogus. Better to nip it in the bud, IMHO.
My 2 euro cents.
Originally Posted by bartrose
I thought the purpose of a forum like this is to help others? I'm trying to learn, and I WILL get better. I'm not just going to "give up" and "get out of the mastering game". Thanks to those of you who are willing to help and not try to make newbies feel like a**holes. BR