Ask Joe #32 – Mastering and more

The podcast is a few days late due to some traveling for the Gilder clan.

I’m back in Nashville and have a brand spankin’ new podcast for you

Some topics covered today:

  • Should I upgrade my computer?
  • Mastering individual songs vs an album
  • Electric guitar recording techniques
  • External converters
  • My approach to mixing
  • Choosing studio monitors

… and a lot more.

Happy listening!

Links from the show:

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What Mastering CAN and CAN’T Do For You

All this talk about mastering this week, but you may be wondering:

What can mastering do for me?

Some people view mastering as unnecessary and that mastering engineers are scam artists.

Others see mastering as a magical process that will make their crappy mixes sound like a million bucks.

Neither of those are true, pumpkin. (more…)

How to Get Your Mixes LOUD

From day one, you’ve faced this issue.

You’re working on a song, it’s sounding great in the studio, so you bounce it to CD (or your iPod) and proudly walk it out to your car to have a listen.

Then you become painfully aware how quiet the mix is.

You turn the volume knob on the car stereo as far to the right as it will go, and the mix still isn’t loud enough.

What to do? (more…)

My Plug-in Chain for Mastering

People tend to get a little “weirded out” by mastering.

They assume that since it’s such an important stage in a song’s life that it must be really complex.

It’s really not.

I used to think the same way, but the more mastering jobs I did, the more I realized how simple the process can be.

Let me make an important distinction here. There’s a big difference between “simple” and “easy.” Mastering (like anything else you do in the studio) isn’t easy.

It is, however, fairly simple. (more…)

Mastering: Regular vs Multiband Compression

Do you know what multiband compression is?

(If not, go to and watch the free video.)

A multiband compressor is one that splits the audio into 3-5 different “bands” of frequencies. It then compresses each of these bands separately.

It’s like having a separate compressor for your lows, mids, and highs, if you will.

A few years ago, I only used regular compression when doing any mastering work. I’d use my SSL compressor or something similar to squash the mix and help increase the volume. (more…)

Mastering Your Own Mixes FAQ

Okay, so you’ve finished your mix…now what?

There’s a crucial step between mixing and selling millions of copies.

That step is called MASTERING.

Will mastering help you sell millions of copies of your music? Probably not, but it WILL make your mixes sound as good as possible…if you do it right.

So today Graham Cochrane and I tackle the issue of self-mastering over on the Simply Recording Podcast.

Here are some popular questions we answer on the show:

Question: What IS mastering?

Answer: As my buddy Ian Shepherd puts it, mastering is like Photoshop for audio. It takes a great mix and enhances it. It does NOT take a lame mix and make it sound awesome.

Question: Is it bad if I master my own mixes?

Answer: Not necessarily. I’ve mastered plenty of my own mixes. I’ve also sent them off to be mastered by someone else. There are pros and cons to both, which we dive into in the podcast.

Question: Can I master songs in my current DAW or do I need special mastering software?

Answer: I’ve mastered in Pro Tools and Studio One primarily. I’ve nevered used Peak or Waveburner or Wavelab, or any of those dedicated mastering platforms. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them, but you CAN master your tracks in the DAW you currently own.

To dive deeper, listen to the full podcast here:

Happy listening!

Joe Gilder

P.S. If you’re interested in the mysterious topic of multi-band compression, Ian Shepherd has an eBook on the topic that totally rocks my face off. Check it out here: (affiliate link)

Step 5 – Mastering

Finish line @ the Portland Marathon '09Mastering…the final frontier. 🙂

The finish line is in sight. You’ve gone through four of the 5 steps of recording (pre-production, recording, editing, & mixing), now it’s time for mastering.

So what IS mastering? Ian Shepherd is probably better equipped to answer this than I am, but essentially mastering is taking a finished mix and making it ready for distribution, ready to be sent out, ready to be heard by the masses. It’s the art of finishing the mix.

There are plenty of reasons to use a professional mastering engineer. Here are two: