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Interaction with the mastering engineer
Old 14th June 2016
Interaction with the mastering engineer

Hi Mark,
I'd like to ask you a little more about what your experiences with mastering have been please.
Do you have tips for us what to look for and what to do?
Did you use mastering services in the beginning of your carreer? Any changes?

In an interview you said about the "Under the Sun" album:
"From the mixing side of things I wanted to get away from the bright, loud, limited of mastering that's happened over the years," he says. "I was striving to make it sound like albums from the 60s and 70s and some 80s, with the gear I've got and the way I do things, [but] I didn't want it to be a retro affair."
So your intention was to give it a 70s 80s finish but still use modern sounds and mixing techniques?
Did you sit in during the mastering session to give directions?

In the other thread you mentioned delivering stems to the mastering engineer to allow him a bit more flexibillity.
So do you make a final mix, and then deliver the stems with volume printed, and leave the final touch to him? Where does the mixing stop and mastering begin?
Old 14th June 2016
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Mark P's Avatar

I have always used a mastering engineer for everything i have released.
I think from around mid 90s i have used John Dent at Loud mastering. There are so many great records that John has cut! Its a amazing list. That not even anywhere near everything that he has done either.
LOUD Mastering – Professional Audio Mastering

John is based in Taunton Somerset, when i lived in that part of the world i would always attend. I still do if I'm over touring and the timing is right. Most of the time now i upload the masters and John does his thing, sends me something back i check it and then he runs it off.

I had a idea of what i wanted mastering wise, but as soon as John heard the music he said i'm going to approach this like i would a Classic or Jazz album.

With the Under the sun album, First he level balanced the whole album b4 doing anything so no processing at all, i don't do any pre mastering. He sent me that and some of the tracks sounded good as they were. He told me that he just found a way of getting the gain up that suited the music, he tried out different methods keeping things natural.

Then he went in and sorted a few things that he was hearing and also from the detailed notes i sent him looked at a few tracks where i was worried about certain freqs or issues.

I think maybe 2/3 tracks had limiting in the end, very subtle though, probably the manley slam. Other than that he used the Weiss to multi band or Weiss De esser to hold back certain freqs, we are talking .'s of a db like .4 .5 of a db type stuff.

So you could say well he didn't really do much why pay I mean it was a nice feeling for me that he didn't as it meant i had done a good job But its his ears expertise and the way his system works. He uses Sonic Solutions. I can't get any where near the sound he gets with plug ins, i don't even try now, i don't even want my masters going through a plug in. Even with mixing if i do put plug ins on i often take them off as i don't like what they are doing to the sound (This could be another thread in itself and could be tricky to explain John has also noticed this, he always tells me that my music quite quickly has a tipping point when he is trying to up the level.
I spend weeks on tracks and basically i don't want the balance of the music to change in any way once its down. Ideally i just want what i send him exactly the same just louder

So in that respect there is a clear divide with Mix mixing down the final version and then Mastering. To me they are 2 separate things. The Stems thing is just a safety thing really if i have made a mistake or if john is having to limit a track say on a club tune and say the vocals now have come up or down he can adjust that if needed.

Ill send him the track as a mixmaster all together and then it will be usually Track no bass, Bass only or it will be track no bass/vocal and the Bass only and vocal only.
I don't go further than that.

He always cuts from the stems though and they always sound better and we don't really know why
I thought it could be something to do with my desk but i don't think its that anymore as i have been working at pretty low levels for a good while.
John suspects its just Sonic solutions playing back the stems correctly and a summing thing thats happening in the way his system is set up.

With this album i would say John nailed 70% of it on first versions. Then there was a few that he sent me a 2 versions of and maybe a couple where it could of been 3rd attempt. I put them in a arrangement and A/B against my mixmasters to make sure no vibe has been lost. And on his 2nd 3rd attempts ill A/B between them to see what feels the best for me.

Im not saying this is the right way to do things, there is no right or wrong way its just what works for me. In respect to me and plug ins it could just be that the specific skill of mastering or that process is just something I'm not good at. If I'm totally honest though, i don't think thats true, i think you could simply say i could have my master running through some plug ins in my room and get one sound. Or i could have it go through a system thats been set up by someone who has been doing it for 30 + years who has lets say half a million quids worth of gear And has great ears and a great understanding and feel for all different types of music. And also who i totally trust with my music as well.
Its not cheap though and thats a whole other issue in todays current climate of the music industry!
Old 14th June 2016
excellent Mark, thank you very much
interesting to hear his summing is that good, compared to that desk you have (which is supposed to have a clear sound, as broadcast high end).
any idea what he uses for summing?
Old 23rd June 2016
Gear Head

I keep wanting to ask a question but as i keep going through all the posts it really feels unnecessary, your answers are so detailed!

Big fan here sooo THANK YOU
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