Kenny's Tip of the Day - Never Master Your Own Mixes!!
As time goes on, budgets get smaller and we are all looking for shortcuts. It’s understandable. And even when I have the budget to do something right, I don’t always have the time. So shortcuts run thru our minds all the time when dealing with projects and deadlines.
Online Mastering services have become all the rage as of late. And I’m not going to discuss those here although that would be a useful discussion at some point. But let’s leave that aside for now.
What I want to discuss instead is Mixing engineers Mastering their own projects. My belief is that this makes little to no sense. Sure, if you’re trying to balance the levels of a 12 song album, any Mixing engineer should be able to handle that task. Probably could follow all of the Redbook standards and even the LUFS levels for streaming services. Not complicated stuff. Mixers can do it.
But what the Mixing engineer CAN’T do is be a last or final check of the final tonal balance or EQ and Compression balances of a song that he or she personally mixed. By definition, it’s not going to work. Unless you really have summoned or conjured up the spirit of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
It makes me think of a few very famous idioms where a lawyer who defends himself in court, has a fool for a client or the mental picture of a brain surgeon using himself as the patient. It’s NOT the best idea.
One of the most important parts of Mastering a track (leaving aside the balancing of multiple tracks for an album) is being the last person to touch the audio. Adding a fresh perspective. Where the Mixer has probably spent many many hours (sometimes days) getting the mix just perfect, the Mastering engineer can now quickly make judgements in a matter of minutes. And with ZERO prejudice.
After all, the Mastering engineer doesn’t care how long the Mix took. Or the battles that the process demanded. In the case of the Producer also mixing, the Mastering engineer doesn’t have the weeks or months (years?) into the project that could cloud the vision of the work itself. He or she is just hearing it for the first time. And every decision is being made, based on what he or she is hearing at that time. Nothing else matters. Something the Mixing engineer can no longer claim. Especially if he or she also produced the record in question.
So, get your music Mastered by another person. A Mastering engineer. Preferably a human. Definitely by someone you trust. And most definitely by someone you don’t see, when you look in the mirror each day.
You can learn more by watching my videos at www.groove3.com
I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia