DG: It’s not optional! If you’ve made a sincere commitment and investment in your music, then you should endeavor to present it in the best possible light, and the mastering step is an important part of the process.
There are no secrets or mysteries to mastering, and it’s not a panacea. I would rather artists budget more time and/or money to properly track and mix than trying to correct un-fixable mistakes in the mastering session.
There are services we supply, outside of the mastering session itself that are important, and valuable to the client that many do not know about or appreciate: quality control is big. We are often the last humans to listen critically to the master, and we review every master that leaves our shop in order to catch any mistakes or problems with the audio, the physical media, and the metadata. We are often the conduit between the client and the pressing plant, download service or aggregator.
And, though we are not in the business of archiving our clients’ assets, we are frequently called upon to provide replacement or additional masters decades after the session.
AF: Listen everywhere, don’t let your project exist on an island. And don’t be afraid to ask for the ears of the experts (like a mastering engineer). Sitting down in a completely foreign listening environment with someone’s fresh ears on it will help.
Get feedback. Feedback makes all of us better engineers and artists, and we’re all in this together, right?
AF: Build mastering into your budget from the very beginning. It’s not something to skimp on. Why on earth would you put all this time and energy into getting everything perfect in recording and mixing and then drop the ball on the final product? It absolutely shouldn’t be an afterthought.
And get your mastering engineer involved before your mixes are done. We’ve heard a lot of bad mixes and a lot of really great mixes. Get our feedback, get fresh ears.
- David Glasser & Anna Frick, Airshow Mastering