Whenever I tell people this, the normal reaction I get is:, “why? I master my own mixes all the time.” So in this very short blog-post I would like to explain why I think so, and also look at what the definition of mastering really is.
Here is my own definition of mastering:
Mastering is the process in which you employ an external and fresh “pair of ears” (the mastering engineer), in order to get an objective analysis and opinion about your mix. He/she will then make any necessary corrections to the overall mix (if needed), to improve the tonal balance or fix any problems. Also, a great mastering engineer will have a dialog with you, and will give his honest opinion about your mix. If there is something that should be changed in the mix stage, before he masters it, he will let you know.
You learn so much from having a good relationship with a great mastering engineer, simply by having someone giving you feedback and an honest opinion.
So yes, in theory you can EQ and compress your own mix, but I’m quite sure there is no mix engineer in the world who can objectively analyse his own mix, and have an un-biased opinion about it. Therefore it is impossible to master your own mix.
I would strongly recommend finding a mastering engineer that you like working with, and then sticking to this person. People often say: “an engineer should never change his speakers” (as knowing your speakers is one of the most important factors when mixing or mastering), but I also believe that “a mix engineer should never change mastering engineer).
Equally, I am strongly against mastering services like ‘LANDR’. Yes they are cheap, and yes, you can get your song “mastered” instantly. But think about the things I discussed above, and what mastering really is about. I would say that using these services is total waste of money, however cheap it is.
First of all, what these services are offering cannot be considered as mastering. What LANDR does is simply analysing your music scientifically (which is scary to begin with), and then applying EQ and compression to it. All this is done to please the software’s pre-determined algorithms and expectations. This is a bit like using a software to write a song, or even to make the production or mix. Mastering is an art that needs to be done by a human being, just as any other stage of the music production. And as I mentioned before, a human mastering engineer will give you his opinion about your mix as well, which is equally as important. You could never have such a beneficial relationship with a computer software.
If you are ever thinking of using such a service, please send the track to me first, and I’ll happily offer you a free master (for the the first song), along with a very affordable price quote for future masters.
Mastering is an art that can improve your mix or can ruin it, depending on who and what (if it’s a robot) is doing it.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MIXING? THEN CHECK OUT MY NEW E-BOOK THE ART OF MIXING, available form Apple iBooks.