C

Chenjerai

guest
Is there anything wrong with the idea of self-mastering your own mixes or music?

Usually, most people, in general, suggest that an extra pair of ears is always necessary.

Y'all agree with that?
 
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There is no harm in trying. What you may also wanna do is to master your own mixes and have them simultaneously mastered by someone else who has a good track record.

Consequently, you make a comparison between the two, and should the version that was mastered by someone else win, what you have got to do is self-explanatory. It's not rocket science, so don't fret too much about it. In addition, you can also ask other sound engineers what they think about your self-masters.

@Sadzandiuraye some opinions (i.e. skilled audio mastering engineers input) have a higher probability of success than a rookie with his/her nearfield/midfield studio monitors or perhaps Bluetooth headphones.

Scorpio

grand master
Music is not a science.

Even the term "professional" in music is overused by too many cornballs. A lo-fi record can also generate more money than something made in a million-dollar studio. And why should that be possible in the first place? Should that be considered good music too? But like I said, music it's not a science.

Anyhow, there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone deciding they want to do their audio post-production. The fundamental question though is how do you know your DIY mastering skills are unrivaled? And what makes you think beyond reasonable doubt that the final master you've done is the best version of your music could sound?
 

Sadzandiuraye

initiate
Quick answer, yes and no.

It depends on whether you can deliver a listenable mix in the first place—most people can't, but some can. If you can mix well, guess what? Chances are you can easily deliver a great-sounding final master too. Always remember this timeless adage: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO).

The most important thing is getting a good mix and slamming it into a mastering brickwall limiter, audio maximizer, or whatever. You've got to punish it, why not? Everyone does it though. Loudness wars have shaped the music industry into what it is now. If it's not loud it's wrong—just listen to all the re-mastered albums and various music playlists for further confirmation.

Note: there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a record sound loud, it's how you make it loud that matters.

Of course, with great caution and common sense because audio mastering is way, way, way hyperbolically overrated and so costly in a disproportionate way. Perhaps that explains the insurgence of instant online mastering services like LANDR Audio, CloudBounce, etc.



But on a serious note, yeah it's 99.5% all about the mix and production. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't doing you a favor at all. It's usually those FIVERR freelance audio mastering engineers with a copy of iZotope, Inc. Ozone, FabFilter Mastering Bundle, Soundtheory Gullfoss, and Sonible smart:EQ+.

For example, what does every audio mastering engineer dream of? The goal is to constantly work with top-tier mixing engineers compared to noobs because the job itself revolves around the QUALITY of the MIX if you ought to make a living unless you want to be a hobbyist or low-rate bottom-of-the-barrel music mastering engineer.

Your résumé (or curriculum vitae) will look bad if you repeatedly try to polish several turds with your name attached to them, which is why you should be a calculated individual and strategically decline terrible mixes as much as you can. It doesn't matter if your sound engineering peers and mates reckon you as a psychopath or sociopath—they can all get lost or get with the program. The end justifies the means.

Pro Tip: whenever possible, a music mastering engineer with good business acumen should always avoid working with unpromising recording artists and bands because their work will not be noticed, and so does your career as a mastering engineer remain stagnant (i.e. dull and sluggish).

A second way to reject low-quality mixes is to slightly set high prices so that you will mostly receive good ones. However, you'd need to build a good reputation for your prices to be justified, but building a recognizable brand is extremely difficult since, like everything else, it's not just about your knowledge, it's about your connections—you know solid album credits but the irony is how do you get them without connections and even more connections?

There are lots and lots of sound engineers who go unnoticed because of this. I'd say they fail to balance the technical side of things and business. Perhaps they forget that sound engineering is literarily a business driven by capitalism. You have to be shrewd, crafty, and cunning. You don't always have to take the path of high resistance to prove that you know your stuff—why work harder when you can work smarter?

You see, the game is meant to be sold not to be told.

Hence, over the years audio mastering (i.e., audio post-production) has been a convoluted pseudoscience and to be something where you always need to either:
  • spend gwap on multiple plug-in bundles (some of which literarily do the same damn thing)
  • spend gwap on high-end studio monitors (but you can always listen on multiple devices though)
  • spend gwap on room treatment (you can use headphones—if you suck, you suck and will still suck)
  • to have a second opinion (yeah, sure if you are a noob)
  • use analog gear (yeah, outboard gear has a warm 3D sound, it's better than sterile digital audio plug-ins).
  • etc.

Well, the main thing about audio post-production isn't what you use but the results you can deliver. There is no need to brag about what gear you have or use. Although in reality, hardware keeps getting older and irrelevant whilst software keeps getting better, go figure!

No one cares about your "audiophile" floor-standing speakers either. They only care what it sounds like when they listen on their wireless earbuds because that's what everybody and their mama are doing these days—blasting music on wireless earphones. In other words, a reasonable argument is that modern music just might as well be made for laptops, smartphone speakers, and Bluetooth headphones.

What about the need for a second opinion?​

Yes and no. You don't a second opinion from anyone but that doesn't mean you should become a know-it-all narcissist. Second opinions usually matter if you are not confident about what you are doing, especially during the times when you are getting started i.e. learning audio mastering. Second opinions can give you more interesting ideas but that doesn't mean you will like them either.

It all comes down to taste because music is not a science like what @Scorpio said.

However, if an artist is signed to a record label, they have a BOSS to report to. All signed artists are employees it doesn't matter if they have a little bit of creative control. Anyway, some know it, some are in denial, and some are clueless.

They believe in the idea that "we are a family."

Okay, you're one united family then, at least for now, only time will tell, perhaps one day you will soon realize your job is to create a commodity that a record company can capitalize on for its shareholders—this is why the music business corporations make it difficult for cash cows to go off easily unless they have been milked to the point of irrelevancy—which is a right thing to do if you are running a record label—it's a controversial subject but whatever, it's capitalism in its pure form as it should—there is no such thing as free lunch.

But an audio mastering engineer will make it sound good on all speakers​

Yeah right... y'all sure about that? Do you mean something that music production and mixing are heavily responsible for? This is yet another reason contemporary audio mastering has turned into so much an audio processing pseudoscience with too many flawed arguments as though it can fix a bad performance, a bad recording, a bad arrangement, or injudicious sound selection (i.e. frequency masking phenomenon of two or more sounds competing for attention), etc. Nevertheless, it's still business and many uninformed people remain clueless.

Quite frankly, audio mixing is what makes music translate well to any audio system you play it on. Audio mastering is merely a second opinion on this matter, which is helpful and welcome, even though nothing can be done with a turd except getting a second opinion that your mix is bad, oh boy, of course in a nice way otherwise, you will lose future business. You've got to be emotionally intelligent too.

The thing is, it has to be remixed, but many contemporary audio mastering engineers mislead people by overemphasizing the need for their esoteric recherché techniques of mastering compression, mid-side (m/s) EQ, stereo wideners (or stereo enhancement), harmonic enhancers (or saturation), clipping, etc.

However, at least there can be communication with human mastering engineers. I don't think any cloud-based AI mastering service is gonna give you feedback whatsoever. Best believe audio mixing feedback is gonna be a premium feature before a song is mastered on platforms like LANDR Audio, Inc., SoundCloud Mastering, etc... don't believe me, just watch.

So what's the moral of the story?​

The moral of the story is that audio mastering is overrated
Do y'all still remember that adage? Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO).
All mastering guys should be called audio consultants instead.
When a song is mixed it should be 99.5% listenable without being brickwalled.
 
@Sadzandiuraye some of your points are valid.

But you can't say the work of mastering engineers is overrated just because some sound engineers can master their own mixes with good results. You gotta know a different perspective can bring out certain elements and nuances that would otherwise not be brought forward to the forefront for listeners to enjoy.

P.S. To call audio mastering "overrated" is the same as saying QC (quality control) is overrated.
 

Black Panther

grand master
There is no harm in trying. What you may also wanna do is to master your own mixes and have them simultaneously mastered by someone else who has a good track record.

Consequently, you make a comparison between the two, and should the version that was mastered by someone else win, what you have got to do is self-explanatory. It's not rocket science, so don't fret too much about it. In addition, you can also ask other sound engineers what they think about your self-masters.

@Sadzandiuraye some opinions (i.e. skilled audio mastering engineers input) have a higher probability of success than a rookie with his/her nearfield/midfield studio monitors or perhaps Bluetooth headphones.
 
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Sadzandiuraye

initiate
@Mpumelelo von Mumhanzi overrated means something is praised too much and rated higher than its actual merit. Audio mastering does not contribute more than 0.5% as compared to songwriting, production, and mixing because it doesn't bring much to the table unlike what many normies think when they listen to the end product.

In other words, mixing engineers on a hierarchy of music production is a step higher than mastering engineers. Artists are at the top because they are the ones who should shine always. Everything should revolve around them, not engineers.

In an economic system of capitalism, some folks have to be at the bottom (i.e. session musicians, ghostwriters, backing vocalists, mastering engineers), some at the middle (i.e. recording, mixing engineers, topliners, songwriters, and music producers) whilst some folks have to be at the top (i.e. artists, record label executives and corporate shareholders).

The opposite of that would be socialism—meaning the song will be owned by everyone involved.

But y'all know very well record labels and recording artists could care less about neither topliners, songwriters, record producers, or sound engineers except using them like assembly line workers. They all strive to maintain a power structure in which the entire record industry revolves around them—any other mode of operation is completely wrong.
 
B

Benzorghini

guest
Whether or not you should self-master your own mixes is ultimately up to you and will depend on your level of experience and knowledge in audio engineering. It may be helpful to consult with an experienced audio engineer or producer if you are unsure about how to approach the self-mastering process.
 
K

Kiggala

guest
You can do anything you want to do. I am of the opinion that you should always send your mix to someone else to master and someone better than you for sure. The fresh ears do help put things into perspective and a mastering engineer usually has equipment that you as a mix engineer won't have. Those are two different approaches.
 
R

Romeo

guest
You sure can. Over the years mastering has been treated as some crazy special magic skill. But it's not.. anyone with some experience, a good ear, and a good monitoring system can do it. It isn't magic.
 
M

Musician X

guest
I honestly don't trust anyone else to master my work the way I want it to sound. Folks are right to say that there's a danger of losing perspective but I follow a strict process, use reference tracks and always wait 1 to 2 weeks or more between finishing a mix and starting a master so I'm hearing it with fresh ears.
 
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Octopus boy

guest
It is best practice to send it out to a dedicated mastering engineer. Not only because they are dedicated to the craft, but having that fresh set of ears for a second opinion on some things you may have missed because you got so used to your track, is great. A good mastering engineer will have feedback before they start working e.g., your bass is a little too boomy, or the vocals could be a little more present, you can fine-tweak those and make sure your mix is objectively the best it can possibly be.
 
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Edward van Persie

guest
While it is possible to master yourself, I would say before you are able to confidently do that, you need a lot of experience in sound mixing before you are able to judge what is reserved for the mixing stage, what is reserved for the mastering stage.
 
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Nyikadzino

guest
Yes, music software is very good these days. Referencing is important too.

Audio software is just the tools, but you need to know the craft. A carpenter may have the best tools and materials in the world at hand but that doesn't guarantee he's gonna make a beautiful table.
 
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Nugatti

guest
Worry about mixing the record. Being able to get a professional sounding mix with clean vocals is most the work. Then send it out to get mastered. Most people worrying about masters don't even have a good enough mix.
 
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