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Chenjerai

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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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It is perhaps better 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 ought 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

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Music is not a science.

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

Anyway, there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone deciding they want to do their own 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 your music could possibly sound.
 

Sadzandiuraye

Newbie
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Quick answer, yes and no.

It depends on whether you can actually deliver a LISTENABLE mix in the first place—most people can't, some can. If you can REALLY 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, whatever. You've got to punish it, why not? Everyone does it though. Loudness wars have done 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.

Yeah, y'all calm dong abeg. Mi nuo wetin y'all tingkin'... boy oh boy, mi don staat wahala... haven't I?



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? They hope 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 a 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 a 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. aka 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 NEED 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's 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, 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 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, 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 actually 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.

Anyway, 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.
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.
 
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Durban, ZA
@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 easily master their own mixes. You gotta know a different perspective can bring out certain elements and nuances that would've 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

Apprentice
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1,300
Location
California, USA
It is perhaps better 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 ought 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.
 
Answer

Sadzandiuraye

Newbie
Messages
42
@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 they are 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 nor 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.
 
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