In a perfect world, you’d have the budget to hire a mastering engineer for every project you’d mix.
Down here in the real world, budgets are slim, and our clients need a finished, mastered mix, so the burden falls on us to come through for them.
While I’m no mastering guru, I’ve done quite a bit over the last few years, and I’ve put together a rapid-fire list of the things I’ve learned.
I hope these help.
- Focus on dynamic range, not compression or gain reduction.
- Have a reason for every plugin you use. If you don’t know why you’re using a plugin, ditch it.
- Use reference material, even though it can be really boring and time-consuming.
- Go for punchy bass, but be careful not to overdo it. Too much bass is a bad thing.
- When mastering an album, an easy way to make sure the overall volume is consistent from song to song is to match the volume of the lead vocal.
- When using EQ, boosts and cuts as little as 1 dB are actually fairly audible and effective.
- Don’t expect miracles from mastering. It will still sound like your mix at the end.
- Multi-band compression is an amazing tool. Don’t overuse it.
- Don’t be afraid to let the limiter work a little bit. It can be more transparent than a heavily-worked compressor.
- Start with EQ, and work from there.
There ya go.
And speaking of EQ, today’s the last day to get the 30% discount on my buddy Ian Shepherd’s Home Mastering EQ video tutorial.
Here’s my affiliate link:
And remember, I’ll be doing a special free webinar for everyone who buys using my affiliate link. During that webinar (which will be available afterwards as an mp3 recording), I will be sharing with you the biggest things I learned from this video series, and how I’m applying it to MY mastering sessions.
Just forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll let you know when the webinar is scheduled.
(It will be sometime next month most likely, after we’ve all had a chance to watch the videos.)
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