Author Topic: Is mastering always neccesary?  (Read 15219 times)

Mat_Zo

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Is mastering always neccesary?
« on: January 06, 2016, 11:00:26 pm »
I sometimes see some people ask how they can master their tracks better, but is mastering even necessary?

I thought I'd give a rundown of when mastering is necessary and when it isn't.

Firstly, lets not get confused with mastering and processing your master bus. Putting a limiter and a few other plugins on your master channel is not mastering. Mastering is a whole process. First you bounce down your premaster (just a bounce of your track with at least -3b headroom) and then you edit and process the audio separately. You can also do stem mastering which is bouncing down the different parts, then editing and processing them in the same way.

So, do you need to always master? I personally believe it's not always necessary, especially in the world of electronic music. The purpose of mastering is usually to make things suitable for release on physical media, or radio. If your track is just going on soundcloud, then I don't think it's usually necessary.

The MOST important thing is getting your mixdown nice and balanced, if your mixdown is off then no amount of mastering will fix that.

Lets say you do have to get your track/s mastered, should you do it yourself? I got a lot of stick on twitter a while ago for saying you shouldn't master you own tracks, even if you can (probably cus of the way I said it). However, I stand by this opinion, because no matter how good you are at mastering, your judgement is biased when working with music you've spent a load of time on. A good master from a new set of ears can bring out things in the music you didn't even hear. If you master your own tracks you might miss something you didn't notice because you've gotten so used to it. Also, you tend to be a bit more precious with your own work. It's your baby, and no one wants to cut and slash at their own baby.

Remember though, this is just my opinion, so please discuss if you agree or disagree!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 11:20:23 pm by Mat_Zo »

Mussar

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2016, 11:18:18 pm »
I think if/when I get to a point where I want to release music for monetary value instead of for free, I would want to utilize another engineer's ears just to make sure I'm not completely biased in any way, but I think the idea of "killing your baby" can be easy or hard, depending upon what you're used to. I went to university for journalism and broadcasting before getting into music, and my News Editing 1 professor very bluntly confronted us with the analogy of killing your child when it came time to get your work ready for print almost weekly - People aren't interested in details, they want the news. It doesn't matter if you think it's important; you gotta cut anything that's not necessary and make it consumable for the average person. So while I'm certainly not immune to bias, I think I've developed a very shrewd mindset when it comes to sacrificing a concept or idea that I'm really attached to if there is a way I think it can be more appealing or enjoyable (without sacrificing my integrity, of course).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 11:20:45 pm by Mussar »

Dylan_Hanson

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2016, 11:21:06 pm »
@Mat_Zo I think you make a very good point. Have you heard of this company before? Would they be a good place for me to go for mastering my tracks? http://mercurymastering.com/
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 11:26:42 pm by Dhanson4499 »

Mat_Zo

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2016, 11:28:48 pm »
@Mat_Zo I think you make a very good point. Have you heard of this company before? Would they be a good place for me to go for mastering my tracks? http://mercurymastering.com/

No idea as I've never used them. I use www.wiredmasters.co.uk

Dylan_Hanson

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2016, 11:29:40 pm »
Thank you!

polymetric

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2016, 11:34:39 pm »
If putting just a few plugins on the master bus isn't mastering, I guess I don't really master my tracks. As I said in the "Post your mastering chain!" thread, I only use a Fruity PEQ2 + a LimiterNo6 and sometimes a few other things, and it works for me. So no, mastering isn't always necessary. It depends on what's easy for you, and what you want the final product to sound like.

Wontolla

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2016, 11:41:32 pm »
People always lump mixing and mastering together when they talk about it (I do it too), and so I guess some newer producers get the idea "mixing and mastering" is one process. Do you think calling them "post production" might fix anything?

Monoverse

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2016, 11:44:35 pm »
entirely agree with the sentiment that you shouldn't master your own work. i've been doing freelance mixing/mastering for clients and doing it for my own tracks never yields quite the same quality i can achieve for client work just because i'm too invested in my own work. when i can, i always take it to someone else to get that final stage done.

i highly recommend those who are releasing their material commercially find an engineer they enjoy working with that yields consistent results

Mat_Zo

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2016, 11:48:07 pm »
People always lump mixing and mastering together when they talk about it (I do it too), and so I guess some newer producers get the idea "mixing and mastering" is one process. Do you think calling them "post production" might fix anything?

Maybe, I guess post prod is just a term not used a lot in music, more in video. I'm sure people will understand what you're talking about if you say post prod, if they're not an idiot

auvic

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2016, 11:48:45 pm »
I agree with Monoverse, but another thing I'd like to point out is that Mastering is quite knowledge and practice intensive--a lot more than the popular consensus. There are many producers that believe mastering in the electronic music world (thus mastering in general) is brick-walling the shit out of your mix onto a shitty limiter... absolutely not. It's a whole art that requires a lot of practice and studying.

MifzanHerawan

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2016, 11:50:33 pm »
yeah i do agree ! if the purpose of mastering is to make it acceptable for mass release, then maybe not. i think invader! said something about not doing any mastering, and just stick to really good mixing hehe. maybe not him idk

Johann Stone

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2016, 12:24:03 am »
ive been using mark sherry alot. and usually i send a mastering "blueprint" (roughly mastered version by myself) to insure that what i get back wont be something out of the blue (bass vs drums relationship)
nothing more devastating then sending your demo to the mastering guys at the label you're releasing on and then you hear your track butchered on beatport

Monoverse

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2016, 12:28:25 am »
ive been using mark sherry alot. and usually i send a mastering "blueprint" (roughly mastered version by myself) to insure that what i get back wont be something out of the blue (bass vs drums relationship)
nothing more devastating then sending your demo to the mastering guys at the label you're releasing on and then you hear your track butchered on beatport

hah too true and so many trance labels are guilty of it. i've made the mistake of leaving it in the hands of labels before and i was never happy. in those cases when i can't afford to have an engineer handle it, i always prefer to self master rather than leave it in the hands of a label who doesn't care about what it sounds like in the end. 

working with mark was a great experience and he always nails the final product - although i will say he leaves them quite dynamic. wasn't a problem with me but the label wanted a louder product in the end :P i'd also like to plug Andy Tau, he's my go to guy and knows exactly how my tracks should sound in the end. like i said, really important to find who works for you!

bolier

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2016, 12:31:47 am »
my mastering is an integral part of how i want my music to sound

Johann Stone

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Re: Is mastering always neccesary?
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2016, 12:33:37 am »
ive been using mark sherry alot. and usually i send a mastering "blueprint" (roughly mastered version by myself) to insure that what i get back wont be something out of the blue (bass vs drums relationship)
nothing more devastating then sending your demo to the mastering guys at the label you're releasing on and then you hear your track butchered on beatport

hah too true and so many trance labels are guilty of it. i've made the mistake of leaving it in the hands of labels before and i was never happy. in those cases when i can't afford to have an engineer handle it, i always prefer to self master rather than leave it in the hands of a label who doesn't care about what it sounds like in the end. 

working with mark was a great experience and he always nails the final product - although i will say he leaves them quite dynamic. wasn't a problem with me but the label wanted a louder product in the end :P i'd also like to plug Andy Tau, he's my go to guy and knows exactly how my tracks should sound in the end. like i said, really important to find who works for you!
andy tau is definitely another one of those
dynamic in my books = the only way i want my music to sound :)