Originally Posted by WildStyle
I am my mastering engineer.
And it seems that most modern mastering engineers are given to the responsibility of making these tracks competitive in the loudness wars as well as doing their best to improve the track.
With all due respect, how can someone who is his own mastering engineer have any sense of the way most modern mastering engineers work, and what their responsibilities are in a commercial context? I'm not trying to bust your balls, I'm just curious as to how much experience you have with commercial record making (in particular, for record labels).
Loudness is determined by the mix. When you're making a record destined for commercial airplay, or some other market that requires loudness, you make the record loud from the get-go. Loud tracking. Loud arrangements. Loud mixes. When I complete a mix, I typically print a version with about 2-3dB limiting and a -0.2dbfs output ceiling to send out to clients as a reference. A mastering engineer *might* squeeze another two or three dB of perceived loudness out of one of my "loud" mixes.
After compressing, limiting, and maximizing all these tracks, I don't think its out of the realm that they probably have to make a few cuts to bring frequencies back in to balance that weren't an issue until the process began.
And loudness is a factor in modern hiphop as much as we may hate to admit it.
This does happen to a degree, with inadequate mixes. But most pros (certainly the household names you all know and we all look up to) are delivering mixes that sound more or less just like the record.
This need for MEs to compensate for the damage they've done by making a mix over-loud is precisely the reason we deliver them records that are mixed loud in the first place. We don't have to worry as much about the ME throwing the kitchen sink at a tune and ruining the balance we struggled to achieve; the one approved of by the mixer, the producer, the band, the A&R, and so forth.