That was a quality post by Lrmusic earlier in the thread Kids and small bands will always think of mastering as the holy grail, as it's just another thing that they can ask for to "make it sound good" . . . a bit like the misconception that a barrel-load of compression will make the music sound "fat".
Educating people about what mastering truly is would be a better solution. Otherwise the legitimate literature after the word change would be painfully disconnected from legitimate literature before the word change. And even more people would be confused and mislead and the problem would be even worse than you describe.
If she thought your stuff was good then why didn't she just release it the way it was?
Sorry about the problems you encountered but again NOT ALL MASTERING ENGINEERS are BAD...
Have a great weekend!
Thanks for the info-- the long story short is... she thought it HAD to be mastered because it was her first "proper" album. Sad thing was, she always had the punk mentality of "I don't give a crap what it sounds like, as long as people like the songs. It could be noisy, hissy, or polished and shiny. I don't care. I just want people to hear it."
So, she took it to be mastered, and decided, because the engineer said my source material was too noisy, that it was "too noisy."
She is an extremely talented guitarist, but also changes her mind on a dime and is EASILY influenced by various people or opinions. I, on the other hand, am not.
It's a great record. It's much better quality than the "pro" studio she used and the EP she subsequently released.
I've read through this entire thread and have one main point to add:
Mastering still retains its mystique because it is the one last thing hobbyists and bands can't figure out how to do by themselves.
Most every singer, musician, artist and/or songwriter has been "the keys to the kingdom" in a computer based recording system, like garageband, that is the equivalent of a 4 track tascam cassette deck in comparison to a truly pro system. They gradually add a few pieces of passable gear like a better preamp, a passable microphone etc... but it's still nowhere near the league of a professional recording studio. But they can't really hear the difference as long as it's loud and clear enough.
But mastering? They just can't figure that out. So it maintains its necessity for all the singers, musicians, artists and/or songwriters out there.
But when we hear mastering that destroys good work we are reminded that the majority of "mastering engineers" are also in the hobbyist category and that there are very few who can actually take quality recordings made into quality mixes and merely tastefully tweak them into finished masters with minimal EQ, compression and peak reduction (off spikes).
There is one guy I routinely work with where I go to his small mastering studio, and sit with him as he tastefully tweaks everything into a finished master. Everything we do is done to improve the final product.
The processes done are:
1. Fade ins, so that any CD player can find the start of the song without missing the queue.
2. Fade outs, for songs that fade or to carefully end the tails of any song (instruments dying out, reverbs, delays etc) to "clean up endings".
3. Mild compressiong to control dynamics in a pleasant manner.
4. Brickwall limiting to bring the overall volume up by limiting any large spikes, transients especially, and peaks.
5. Assemble into running order with proper gaps, names of songs and credits and ISRC codes.
This takes about 8 hours for an entire 12 song record. And it costs a maximum of $400.