This week, today in fact The Masters begins. I don’t know much about golf although I can appreciate it for what it is to me: something I will most likely never be really good at, and will never have enough spare change to do it as much as I would like-so that I could get better at it. I would like to be better, but only just for fun. BUT-I will never be “Tiger Hoover.” Tiger is a true Master…at golf.
Golf and music are very similar to me. I often use the comparison to people I record with: “You had a good golf game today!”-this said just after a nice recording session. Why? They are so similar! Golf and music bring us many of the same things: relaxation, self satisfaction, self improvement, a sense of accomplishment, just to name a few positives. There are also negatives they can both bring us, but mostly, they bring us fun. Golf + Music, both = Fun.
In recording, at the end of a project comes what you may have heard of; a process called “Mastering”. It can be a nebulous term. It can be difficult to describe, especially if you haven’t been involved in it. One good way to describe it is “Extremely Important Fairly Dust,” if you ask me.
It is the final stage before recorded/produced music goes to the pressing plant to become a real CD. It is final EQ, compression, and anything else under the sun that a good mastering engineer deems necessary, to make a record sound as great, pretty, warm (and many other semi-vague terms) as it possibly can to the listener’s ear. So my advise? Make it compare to your favorite current record, in quality and volume! Even if it’s retro music, it needs to work next to the Big Boys in an iTunes shuffle. Do you want your record to compete? Well yeah…
A good mastering engineer is a very important thing. When I hear people in the recording business say, casually “oh, I’ll master your recording too, just after I mix it” I always feel the need to snicker. The whole point with mastering is to get someone else who is objective and is in another room, (not yours) to listen and possibly improve your recording. He can sometimes hear things that you or your engineer can’t, such as acoustic problems, technical issues, a myriad of things. Good mastering engineers are Witch Doctors-Magic Men.
If you simply can’t afford to do mastering, I understand. Been there….not done that too. But remember, you get what you pay for. Did you buy, with your recording time and money “a lovely, juicy steak” in the form of music? Did it sound perfect when you finished with it? Yes? Then why, may I ask-are you covering it up in ketchup? Bad Mastering=Ketchup on a top-shelf steak….a bloody shame.
So, during commercials and between beers, while watching The Masters, do yourself a favor if you love and record music: Google these three top-shelf mastering engineers I have had the pleasure to work with and notice their track record. There’s a reason…..
No need to google Tiger Woods. We know he’s a Master too. Never heard him sing….hmm. I’d like to…I think?