Sunday, April 05, 2009

Don't Master

Not that I really know, but this seems like great advice from musician Tarekith:
"Yeah yeah", I hear you muttering, "but how do I master my songs in the first place?"

To put it bluntly, you don't.


Let me say this again, in case you skipped over it. If you are writing and releasing your own songs, there is no reason to “master” them per se.

Everything you need to do to make a song sound good can be done in the mixdown, and this is where you should focus 100% of all your learning and attention if you ask me. There's only one exception, and that's getting the levels more inline with today's standards, and I'll come back to that later.

A good-sounding song doesn't need anything done to it by a mastering engineer. It already sounds good as is. This is what you should strive for. Putting things like multi-band compression, EQ, aural exciters, sonic maximizers and such over your mixed down song is the WRONG way to approach it. Those tools were created to give mastering engineers more flexibility when they didn't the luxury of going back and fixing the individual elements in a song. They were forced to work on a single stereo file of the song, and couldn't adjust anything in the mix. Thus tools like these were created for those RARE instances they needed to adjust something beyond what simple EQ or compression might fix. You have the luxury to go back into your DAW and adjust the problems right at the source, so use it!
I've been trying to improve my "finishing" skills in producing electronic music of late, and it's a daunting prospect. The overall message of "Patience!" is important, but the above quoted point seems important, too. Don't wait for a magic "solve everything" technique that descends from heaven at the end - build it properly all along. In electronic music, we really have that power these days.

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