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Pros and Cons of doing your own mastering
Old 19th April 2020
  #1
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Pros and Cons of doing your own mastering

Reflecting with Covid pandemic...I've had quite a few bad experiences sending stuff off to mastering lately. This includes some very well respected MEs I will not name. It's left me really disappointed and disheartened BUT it now has me thinking if I could offer mastering for my mixing/tracking clients. How many of you guys do this? In the past, I always believed that this was a mortal sin but I'm starting to reconsider purely because of these bad experiences. I've invested in more serious room treatment and monitoring of late. Also been doing it for long enough now that my mixes usually translate well and I so often don't really hear the value added from mastering engineers for my own projects despite feeling like I'm somehow supposed to. Recently a couple of clients just used the mix I did because we all preferred it to the master. I've had hundreds of things mastered from many different people so not a spring chicken by any means here. I mix using analog gear on mix bus but thinking of doing the mastering ITB.

I obviously fully understand that this is not ideal in a perfect world. A good dedicated mastering engineer has an amazing room, unique experience, an extra pair of wonderful ears etc. I'd really love to utilise this power but being a lesser known producer, I so often feel that my projects don't get the attention they deserve for for the price my clients are paying. I don't want to assume anything but it frequently really feels like some mastering engineers don't do the same quality job for little old me that they might do for a well known producer. It's super common the jobs come through sounding like the dude didn't listen properly to the final chorus or something that got loud for example because it's pumping too much there OR there is poor communication. You ask three questions and one gets answered. I'm getting really tired of it. Unattended sessions seems to make this problem worse. Clearly these ME's are way better than me at mastering but I figure I might just be better than them on my own projects if I take four times as long and take 10x the care. Client still ends up paying less. Maybe I've just been unlucky here and there is one brilliant mastering engineer you can all direct me to use. In the meantime, should I try to master my own productions and see what happens? It's a big psychological barrier for me. Also living in Australia, our dollar has tanked to 60c so the USA mastering prices are pretty tough anyway. Please don't take all this the wrong way. I'm not having a go at MEs. It's just my experiences.
Old 19th April 2020
  #2
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Really sorry to hear of your experiences. Two things I would say:

1. The start point here is usually 'like the mixes, but more so'.

2. I have clients who are Grammy winners, others who are the band from down the road, and everyone in between. They all get my full attention in taking their music as far as it will go, no half measures or -heartedness.

I'm confident the majority of full-time MEs here are no different, and believe you've been unusually unlucky.

Last edited by lowland; 20th April 2020 at 08:01 AM..
Old 19th April 2020
  #3
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Trakworx's Avatar
It is possible to master your own mixes. But you need full range monitoring, a good room and most of all - mastering experience.

You might be best served by continuing to search for a compatible ME while you teach yourself mastering instead of jumping straight into the deep end. Many MEs offer free samples. Or it might be worth paying a few different MEs to master the same single until you click with one.

And good communication with the ME before you start is essential. They need to know what you want instead of guessing what you want.

Best of luck!
Old 19th April 2020
  #4
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nick b's Avatar
 

Many mix engineers do their own mastering, but I suppose it depends on your expectations. If your main concerns are loudness and formatting then sure.

Two obstacles I see are perspective (too familiar with the project) and the compounded effects of your room acoustics. If it’s possible you have separate spaces for mastering and mixing it may help, though that’s not realistic for most.
Old 19th April 2020
  #5
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I've been increasingly dipping my toes into these waters myself. I'm finding that when budgets are tight and my clients can't afford to go with a proper professional, that 9 outta 10 times I will do a better job mastering my own work then some random 'affordable' joint. And I'll do it quicker.

While I've traditionally found mastering to be a tedious and uncomfortable process for me to do, over the years I'd still occasionally take on mastering gigs from some of my mixer friends as a favor. Interestingly, as I've been doing more mastering (and getting a better handle on it), I'm starting to enjoy it a bit more, and as my comfort level with it increases, I'm sort of 'building it in' to my own mixing practices. I'm quite liking the results, and for projects where my clients will still seek out a professional third party masterer, I've yet to hear any complaints or negative feedback related to my increasingly-aggressive mix buss treatments (which consist mostly of surgical eq and some clipping or limiting, but occasionally I'll use a band of MB compression or something similarly-extreme).

So I say go for it! If you or your clients are unhappy with the results, there's still always the option to send it off to someone. But I don't see any particular reason to not experiment with it.
Old 19th April 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
It is possible to master your own mixes.
It really isn't. It's possible to process your own mixes further, but that is not mastering. The key ingredient in mastering is objectivity.

I've compressed and EQ'd plenty of my own mixes back in the day, but they were not mastered. There is huge a difference.
Old 19th April 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
I obviously fully understand that this is not ideal in a perfect world. A good dedicated mastering engineer has an amazing room, unique experience, an extra pair of wonderful ears etc. I'd really love to utilise this power but being a lesser known producer, I so often feel that my projects don't get the attention they deserve for for the price my clients are paying. I don't want to assume anything but it frequently really feels like some mastering engineers don't do the same quality job for little old me that they might do for a well known producer. It's super common the jobs come through sounding like the dude didn't listen properly to the final chorus or something that got loud for example because it's pumping too much there OR there is poor communication. You ask three questions and one gets answered. I'm getting really tired of it. Unattended sessions seems to make this problem worse. Clearly these ME's are way better than me at mastering but I figure I might just be better than them on my own projects if I take four times as long and take 10x the care. Client still ends up paying less. Maybe I've just been unlucky here and there is one brilliant mastering engineer you can all direct me to use. In the meantime, should I try to master my own productions and see what happens? It's a big psychological barrier for me. Also living in Australia, our dollar has tanked to 60c so the USA mastering prices are pretty tough anyway. Please don't take all this the wrong way. I'm not having a go at MEs. It's just my experiences.
I'm sorry you've had such bad luck. There is a lot of ****ty mastering out there, a lot. Even from big names that did records that we all love in the past.

But....there is some great work being done too.

Are you assessing the mastering outside of your control room? Way too many people judge their mastering in the same room that they mixed in and this is deeply flawed. I know you mentioned that you've been at this for more than a minute but I know high level pros making this mistake every day.

The communication thing is a personal pet peeve, I hated never actually getting to communicate with the mastering guy/girl back when I mixed records, sending notes via an assistant.

I honestly don't think that mastering yourself is the answer, and I say someone who took that road on many projects back when I recorded and mixed. I regret it.
Old 19th April 2020
  #8
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Pros: You'll learn some things along the way as you experiment with mastering your own material more seriously and that could be really valuable experience

Cons: You'll be using the same listening environment, and same ears to evaluate your own mixes, so all objectivity is thrown out the window and you'll double down on your own blind spots and biases. You won't ever find a mastering engineer that works well for you, which could be an invaluable relationship to have over time.

I say split the difference and work on your own masters while still shopping around to find some truly great ME's that work well with you and your clients. Maybe the client picks your master half the time and goes with the outside ME half the time. Either way, you're still learning and still getting out there to provide your clients with the best possible master in the end.
Old 19th April 2020
  #9
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Some excellent feedback and advice here guys. Thanks so much for the thoughtful replies. Yes the mixing and mastering from the same room is a super tough one, as is the objectivity. I often play session drums and guitars etc as well so objectivity is often craved. At the same time, I feel that if I have a week or so off from something, it's like I have fresh(er) ears again and bring some objectivity. I'll have a think about all this advice and maybe offer clients a choice explaining pros and cons honestly.
Old 19th April 2020
  #10
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
offer clients a choice explaining pros and cons honestly.
This is what I do, and the results have been pretty ideal. Lower budget projects land in my lap except in cases where the band has a trusted mastering engineer. Clients with higher budgets and more experience can opt for a mastering engineer that best suits their needs. It's perfect.
Old 20th April 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
Some excellent feedback and advice here guys. Thanks so much for the thoughtful replies. Yes the mixing and mastering from the same room is a super tough one, as is the objectivity. I often play session drums and guitars etc as well so objectivity is often craved. At the same time, I feel that if I have a week or so off from something, it's like I have fresh(er) ears again and bring some objectivity. I'll have a think about all this advice and maybe offer clients a choice explaining pros and cons honestly.
Careful now, if you keep being this reasonable and level headed you'll break the internet.
Old 20th April 2020
  #12
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Originally Posted by Ruairi View Post
Careful now, if you keep being this reasonable and level headed you'll break the internet.
Ha ha.... So true
Old 20th April 2020
  #13
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It can be a good exercise to do some post-mastering on a project you've worked.

Restricted to only the stereo file ... one can appreciate the challenge of making 'corrections' ... along with EXPECTATIONS that the Client
would like to have ... without a Re-Mix.

Additionally .... this post-mastering can be useful to send to the Mastering Engineer as a Reference of what direction/change you like to lean toward.


2nd point.

Keep track of the Real Time spent in this 'post-mastering' portion. Bearing in mind ... what may be thought to be a 15-30 mins, in actually, could be hours
actually put in by you. [how time flies when actually clocked].

oh ... and how much TIME did you authorize for the Mastering Engineer to do it [$budget$].
Old 20th April 2020
  #14
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
Reflecting with Covid pandemic...I've had quite a few bad experiences sending stuff off to mastering lately. This includes some very well respected MEs I will not name. It's left me really disappointed and disheartened BUT it now has me thinking if I could offer mastering for my mixing/tracking clients. How many of you guys do this? In the past, I always believed that this was a mortal sin but I'm starting to reconsider purely because of these bad experiences. I've invested in more serious room treatment and monitoring of late. Also been doing it for long enough now that my mixes usually translate well and I so often don't really hear the value added from mastering engineers for my own projects despite feeling like I'm somehow supposed to. Recently a couple of clients just used the mix I did because we all preferred it to the master. I've had hundreds of things mastered from many different people so not a spring chicken by any means here. I mix using analog gear on mix bus but thinking of doing the mastering ITB.

I obviously fully understand that this is not ideal in a perfect world. A good dedicated mastering engineer has an amazing room, unique experience, an extra pair of wonderful ears etc. I'd really love to utilise this power but being a lesser known producer, I so often feel that my projects don't get the attention they deserve for for the price my clients are paying. I don't want to assume anything but it frequently really feels like some mastering engineers don't do the same quality job for little old me that they might do for a well known producer. It's super common the jobs come through sounding like the dude didn't listen properly to the final chorus or something that got loud for example because it's pumping too much there OR there is poor communication. You ask three questions and one gets answered. I'm getting really tired of it. Unattended sessions seems to make this problem worse. Clearly these ME's are way better than me at mastering but I figure I might just be better than them on my own projects if I take four times as long and take 10x the care. Client still ends up paying less. Maybe I've just been unlucky here and there is one brilliant mastering engineer you can all direct me to use. In the meantime, should I try to master my own productions and see what happens? It's a big psychological barrier for me. Also living in Australia, our dollar has tanked to 60c so the USA mastering prices are pretty tough anyway. Please don't take all this the wrong way. I'm not having a go at MEs. It's just my experiences.
Have you considered why you’ve been having bad experiences with so many different MEs of late... especially “very respected” ones? Are you saying that you used to have good experiences with MEs, but, recently you’ve been having poor results?

If that indeed has been your experience perhaps something is going on with your mixes... Otherwise, it would seem to be unusual that all of sudden different MEs just started crapping the bed.

Or... is this really about keeping more of the client budget in house? There’s nothing inherently evil or wrong with that; however, I don’t know exactly what sort of direction you’re expecting to find here... particularly from actual MEs... “Oh, yes, please! We’d love to have another recording engineer advertise that he tracks, mixes, produces AND masters”...

Can you do it? You can do anything... your clients can also take your mix and send it to LANDR for $20 or hire some dude on Fivr to run your mix through [email protected] versions of Ozone. Does that mean the project has been properly mastered? No.

Assuming you already have the ears and the taste (I’ll give you those!) Invest in a mastering room and proper master gear...

Otherwise, you’re just another dude who is giving a band a “deal” on something that you really aren’t qualified to be charging for to begin with... all while taking opportunity away from guys who’ve done the work and made the investment to be actual MEs.

I mean... [email protected] how’d you like it if your clients all started saying to you “yeah, we’ll pay you 10% what you’re asking for otherwise we’ll just record ourselves at home”... you’d argue about all of your gear and experience and your room, etc... and they’d laugh and go record in their basement.

It is a mortal sin to offer yourself professionally for a gig that you haven’t the tools nor the experience.
Old 20th April 2020
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
I don't want to assume anything but it frequently really feels like some mastering engineers don't do the same quality job for little old me that they might do for a well known producer.
This is a big assumption.

The difference is that the Ludwigs, Jensens, Coynes(RIP), Grundmans of the world are used to getting mixes and productions that are the very top of the heap, where not much is really needed to be honest...which should be the goal for every mix engineer worth his salt.

Ideally if you send a mix to an ME, it should come back 99% sounding the same. I know you are thinking "then why spend all that money", but the ME job is to listen to the mixes and determine if its ready for distribution.

Now if you or the client thought that the ME should fill in whatever gaps is lacking or to give it that "radio ready" sound, then the mixes/productions are not ready to be mastered to be honest.
Old 20th April 2020
  #16
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No I've always had these issues but reached a point recently when I had the confidence to think and voice it. It almost feels like blasphemy. Some replies here seem to agree. I have plenty of self loathing on hand to blame myself when my mixing is at fault, which is of course very common. That's not what I'm talking about here though. For clarification, all I’m ever expecting sonically is the mastering engineer to make it sound 1% better and fix consistency and subtle quality control issues. I do know what mastering is! I have never expected the ME to 'fix' anything in my mix or give it a sheen or anything that people have suggested. Basically I just don't want them to make it worse. I’m also expecting some rudimentary level of communication from my ME. Call me crazy. I really don’t think I’m asking too much. To be specific, these are some issues I have had with some MEs in the last year or so so people can decide if I'm being unreasonable or not.

1) Obvious clipping on a more chilled dynamic acoustic mix on an EP (other heavier songs on EP OK) This clearly not a creative choice of my ME. It felt like the more like they didn’t bother to listen to the last chorus when things picked up a bit and then the mastering limiting or clipping setting became too obviously squashed. Sounded fine until that point. Sloppy work. Exactly the stuff that drives me crazy.
2) A good job but then terrible communication. I simply ask hey what did u end up doing to the mix. Any feedback for next time? No reply. That’s useless to me because impossible to learn anything, let alone build a relationship. All I want is a mere sentence in return.
3) On the subject of terrible communication, ignoring clear client feedback from the beginning. Ie had example where client said she not interested in a loud mix and wanted to retain dynamics. There was no response to this directive. It then came back totally slammed louder than anything I’ve ever heard as though note was never given in the first place.
4) One time, way too much de essing in a mix that simply never needed it. Totally crazy. Made the singer sound like they had speech impediment. Shake of the head stuff.
5) Strange stylistic choices. Ie making a dark indie thing super bright like a pop song. Again inadequate basic communication when U respectfully give feedback.
6) Adding crazy hip hop low end to something that didn’t call for it or that is not suggested in the mix and stylistically incongruent. Like they used some dbx boom box. Why? I've also had examples where low mid was taken out too much and made the song brittle.

Like I said, I might have just been very very unlucky or maybe I'm just fussy? I do think unattended sessions are part of the problem as perhaps smaller people like me are easier to brush off. I think suggestions here to offer both options to clients in a honest way are a good path forward. That's if I can actually pull it off. It’s not a financial thing at all really for me. I’d actually prefer to use MEs but I hate having to second guess things and check everything. It’s just been so creatively disappointing all too often. I finally cracked it last month with a particularly bad experience with a big ME. I really felt like the bottom of the food chain and made to feel grateful for simply transferring cash to this mastering house. I still have an open mind about it though. Maybe I'm too cynical. I apologise to all the wonderful ME here who are not like that. It totally might just be bad luck but I wanted to get some feedback. I appreciate the 'constructive' replies.
Old 20th April 2020
  #17
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
1) Obvious clipping on a more chilled dynamic acoustic mix on an EP (other heavier songs on EP OK) This clearly not a creative choice of my ME. It felt like the more like they didn’t bother to listen to the last chorus when things picked up a bit and then the mastering limiting or clipping setting became too obviously squashed. Sounded fine until that point. Sloppy work. Exactly the stuff that drives me crazy.
2) A good job but then terrible communication. I simply ask hey what did u end up doing to the mix. Any feedback for next time? No reply. That’s useless to me because impossible to learn anything, let alone build a relationship. All I want is a mere sentence in return.
3) On the subject of terrible communication, ignoring clear client feedback from the beginning. Ie had example where client said she not interested in a loud mix and wanted to retain dynamics. There was no response to this directive. It then came back totally slammed louder than anything I’ve ever heard as though note was never given in the first place.
4) One time, way too much de essing in a mix that simply never needed it. Totally crazy. Made the singer sound like they had speech impediment. Shake of the head stuff.
5) Strange stylistic choices. Ie making a dark indie thing super bright like a pop song. Again inadequate basic communication when U respectfully give feedback.
6) Adding crazy hip hop low end to something that didn’t call for it or that is not suggested in the mix and stylistically incongruent. Like they used some dbx boom box. Why? I've also had examples where low mid was taken out too much and made the song brittle.
Intuitively addressing those points on a mastering job should be the default for any ME with a few years' experience.

And where client wishes are misunderstood in the first instance, after the necessary consult/redirection I would normally expect things to be nailed on a second pass by anyone worth the name. I'll perhaps see one of those every couple of years, but that's not a bad hit rate on an annual project throughput in the hundreds.

I suspect most full-timers will be nodding in agreement - this really is the norm.

Last edited by lowland; 20th April 2020 at 10:24 AM..
Old 20th April 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
mixing and mastering from the same room is a super tough one, as is the objectivity...

...if I have a week or so off from something, it's like I have fresh(er) ears again and bring some objectivity.
+1

As has been stated earlier, these two factors are key.

If I have to master my own mixes I always:

a) move to another room and use a different set of monitors
b) try to leave at least a week between finishing the mix and mastering

Point (b) - but what about critical deadlines etc, I hear you cry? So if I have clients who are insisting that I do the mastering (for whatever reason) I explain that a 'blank week' is part of the deal - if they want it mastered by yesterday, well, that's part of the service they're sacrificing by not talking it elsewhere, and even then there's no guarantee another ME could schedule it quicker. None have ever complained.

By the way you've titled this thread "The Pros and Cons of doing your own mastering" - the only 'pro' I can think of is that I suppose you're guaranteed not to completely wreck your mixes; all other things being equal, everything else pretty much goes in the 'con' column. I'd always rather someone else competent masters my work.

Last edited by James Lehmann; 21st April 2020 at 08:36 AM..
Old 20th April 2020
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
No I've always had these issues but reached a point recently when I had the confidence to think and voice it.
I think these are valid concerns and I'm sad to say it's not the first time I've heard them. What concerns me is the impact that experiences like these have on people's perception of the profession of mastering as a whole.

Doing your own mastering? As a mastering guy, I don't think I can offer an objective perspective on that. But what I would like to say that there are still plenty of mastering folks who care about providing a professional service and who have not forgotten that every job is someone's art.

Quote:
No reply. That’s useless to me because impossible to learn anything, let alone build a relationship.
Building a relationship. Now this is where the real magic happens! Getting to know tastes and preferences; developing a common language; enjoying and respecting each other's work; feedback going both ways. Working as a team to get a result that's more than the sum of its parts!

I don't think I'm alone in saying that I would love the opportunity to show you that a mastering service can be different. And I KNOW there's plenty of mastering folks - some of whom have already posted in this thread - who care about making the artist, the mix engineer, the label AND the listeners happy. THAT'S the job.

Don't give up on us!

Last edited by SmoothTone; 21st April 2020 at 11:11 AM.. Reason: redundant "to"
Old 20th April 2020
  #20
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Maybe you’re just sending your mixes to the wrong guys?!

Perhaps they’re too heavy handed for your taste, changing your mixes too mix.

Generally we don’t charge anyone until they’ve approved the master.

Cheers, JT
Old 20th April 2020
  #21
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
No I've always had these issues but reached a point recently when I had the confidence to think and voice it. It almost feels like blasphemy. Some replies here seem to agree. I have plenty of self loathing on hand to blame myself when my mixing is at fault, which is of course very common. That's not what I'm talking about here though. For clarification, all I’m ever expecting sonically is the mastering engineer to make it sound 1% better and fix consistency and subtle quality control issues. I do know what mastering is! I have never expected the ME to 'fix' anything in my mix or give it a sheen or anything that people have suggested. Basically I just don't want them to make it worse. I’m also expecting some rudimentary level of communication from my ME. Call me crazy. I really don’t think I’m asking too much. To be specific, these are some issues I have had with some MEs in the last year or so so people can decide if I'm being unreasonable or not.

1) Obvious clipping on a more chilled dynamic acoustic mix on an EP (other heavier songs on EP OK) This clearly not a creative choice of my ME. It felt like the more like they didn’t bother to listen to the last chorus when things picked up a bit and then the mastering limiting or clipping setting became too obviously squashed. Sounded fine until that point. Sloppy work. Exactly the stuff that drives me crazy.
2) A good job but then terrible communication. I simply ask hey what did u end up doing to the mix. Any feedback for next time? No reply. That’s useless to me because impossible to learn anything, let alone build a relationship. All I want is a mere sentence in return.
3) On the subject of terrible communication, ignoring clear client feedback from the beginning. Ie had example where client said she not interested in a loud mix and wanted to retain dynamics. There was no response to this directive. It then came back totally slammed louder than anything I’ve ever heard as though note was never given in the first place.
4) One time, way too much de essing in a mix that simply never needed it. Totally crazy. Made the singer sound like they had speech impediment. Shake of the head stuff.
5) Strange stylistic choices. Ie making a dark indie thing super bright like a pop song. Again inadequate basic communication when U respectfully give feedback.
6) Adding crazy hip hop low end to something that didn’t call for it or that is not suggested in the mix and stylistically incongruent. Like they used some dbx boom box. Why? I've also had examples where low mid was taken out too much and made the song brittle.

Like I said, I might have just been very very unlucky or maybe I'm just fussy? I do think unattended sessions are part of the problem as perhaps smaller people like me are easier to brush off. I think suggestions here to offer both options to clients in a honest way are a good path forward. That's if I can actually pull it off. It’s not a financial thing at all really for me. I’d actually prefer to use MEs but I hate having to second guess things and check everything. It’s just been so creatively disappointing all too often. I finally cracked it last month with a particularly bad experience with a big ME. I really felt like the bottom of the food chain and made to feel grateful for simply transferring cash to this mastering house. I still have an open mind about it though. Maybe I'm too cynical. I apologise to all the wonderful ME here who are not like that. It totally might just be bad luck but I wanted to get some feedback. I appreciate the 'constructive' replies.
You're not alone here, Moondog. I've had similar experiences over the years, and felt similarly reluctant to 'blaspheme'. I've also been pleasantly surprised by the opposite (in particular, I have a very very fond memory of the late George Marino generously taking the time to share a LENGTHY phone call with me way back in my earliest days when he was mastering what was my first major label album), so of course, we're not painting with a myopic brush here.

But I think it's human nature (and even to a degree, good business) to prioritize certain clients. So while not everybody does it, it's naive to think that nobody does.

And just in case I haven't been clear in this thread: I want to state unequivocally that I would *MUCH* prefer a great mastering engineer work on my mixes to me doing it myself. I am not here to claim that mastering engineers are useless. I love my favorite mastering engineers and i strongly value our relationships.
Old 20th April 2020
  #22
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scraggs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
To be specific, these are some issues I have had with some MEs in the last year or so so people can decide if I'm being unreasonable or not.
You're not being unreasonable. After all that I'd be doing my own mastering too.

Back when I was a mixer, I dealt with some similar things, not so much bad communication so much as some very odd stylistic choices, or heavy handed compression/limiting that totally paved over my mixes.

It sucks. It's a crappy feeling. You work really hard on a record, getting it back from mastering should be a victory party. When it feels like a funeral instead...well, it sucks.

So I'll just echo what others have said, there's lots of good ME's who'd be happy to have you as a client and will treat you and your work with respect. It's certainly worth contacting some folks and getting some test masters, I'm sure any of the regulars here would give you back masters you'd be happy with.

The cons of doing your own mastering have been stated by others, and you probably knew all of that anyway. Really I think the main thing is: mixing is hard enough already. I still mix my own projects, I have 25 years of practice and a killer room to work in, I still think mixing is hard. It's a lot of work! At the end of mixing a record, the last thing anyone should be doing is mastering it as well. You're done! Put your feet up! You just pitched 8 innings of shut-out ball, let your ME come in and close out the 9th for you.
Old 20th April 2020
  #23
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I might have missed this from the OP ...

have you contacted the Mastering Eng afterward about any change to the technique/result ?
Old 20th April 2020
  #24
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
I might have missed this from the OP ...

have you contacted the Mastering Eng afterward about any change to the technique/result ?
IMO complaining here about ME's master without providing a mix sample is an old useless adagio.
Old 20th April 2020
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
IMO complaining here about ME's master without providing a mix sample is an old useless adagio.
Why?
Old 20th April 2020
  #26
I send my mixes to ME’s when it’s the songs are from my band and I’ve been envolved in since the beginning (composition, arrangements, recording, mixing). I think I can’t make objective decisions once I reach the mastering stage.

When I produce or mix another band, my head is much more clear to make mastering decisions, so I do it myself (and most of the times those bands can’t afford the rates of the ME’s I like or recommend).

When I master mixes I’ve done myself, I do it in another pair of monitors which I keep unused until the mastering stage, just to have another perspective. If I had another treated room I would change from one to another, but it’s not my case.
Old 20th April 2020
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
IMO complaining here about ME's master without providing a mix sample is an old useless adagio.
Wow Such constructive feedback from everyone until this comment! (For so many reasons, the very last thing I’m going to do is put up samples) In any case, my main gripe really is poor communication. I want to thank everyone else here so much for all the great advice and nuanced contributions. My faith has been somewhat restored actually. So appreciative! Lots to think about here.
Old 20th April 2020
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
. I finally cracked it last month with a particularly bad experience with a big ME.
Who is this big ME who brushed you off?

The biggest complaints i've heard over the years from clients( and not engineers) with the "Big ME's" is that they don't enough or do almost nothing.
Especially for the price they are charging.

The only times i've heard "Big ME" masters where the EQ was really tilted( either lots of hi's or lots of lows), distorted or crunchy, slammed, was when the feedback superceded everyone from either:
1) record label 2)producer or 3) the clients/artist who was paying for the mastering themselves.

In these cases there is really nothing you can do, because who ever is paying for it, really calls the shots in what the results should be.
Old 20th April 2020
  #29
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Who is this big ME who brushed you off?

The biggest complaints i've heard over the years from clients( and not engineers) with the "Big ME's" is that they don't enough or do almost nothing.
Especially for the price they are charging.

The only times i've heard "Big ME" masters where the EQ was really tilted( either lots of hi's or lots of lows), distorted or crunchy, slammed, was when the feedback superceded everyone from either:
1) record label 2)producer or 3) the clients/artist who was paying for the mastering themselves.

In these cases there is really nothing you can do, because who ever is paying for it, really calls the shots in what the results should be.
In fairness to him, I don't want to say. In this particular circumstance, the job was actually fine but one ballad song (out of four songs) was seriously crushed in the final chorus like he didn't listen through properly. OK These things happen no big deal. BUT It was the poor communication that followed this that upset me. He didn't even reply the first time I raised it. Waiting and waiting. No response. It was finally fixed (kind of) but it felt like it was done so begrudgingly. This was the final straw for me to rant on here.




my view seriously bad. My biggest gripe was that
Old 20th April 2020
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
He didn't even reply the first time I raised it. Waiting and waiting. No response. It was finally fixed (kind of) but it felt like it was done so begrudgingly. This was the final straw for me to rant on here.
I hear you that would piss me off as well.

If it was Sterling, then sometimes you have to go through their booking managers, but the booking people are nice as well.

When i dealt with Tom Coyne(RIP), Chris Gehringer or Howie Weinberg(when he was there), i would email them directly and they would get back to me asap. When it wasn't clear they would just call me directly. Ted J when he was hot as a firecracker(2000's) was tricky only because he was so busy. I never worked with Greg Calbi, but i shared a nice conversation over a coffee and a muffin when they were in downtown manhattan. Bernie Grundman is Bernie and you can always learn something new from Bob Ludwig just by talking with him(or if you can afford it).

None of those guys seemed unreasonable to me to be honest, only the opposite. Maybe i just got them on good days?
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