Jun 28, 2012
This is a guest post by Björgvin Benediktsson from the Audio Issues website.
Every part of the audio production process is connected to every other.
If you do each part well, the end result will turn out great. But if you screw up just one part, you’ve made the job much harder for other engineers down the line.
A recorded, mixed and mastered song will only ever sound as good as the weakest link in this chain.
Everything Links Together
If you order a medium rare steak and you get it well done, you send the steak back!
Similarly, if you need a solid guitar part and the guitarist forgets to tune his guitar, you make him tune up and re-record until the take is great.
If you need to deliver a great mix but no matter what you do the vocals are beyond repair, you send it back. You make the recording engineer re-record the vocals until you can make a great mix.
If you’re mastering an album and all the songs are badly mixed, you send it back. You can only do so much at the mastering stage. If a mix doesn’t sound “mixed”, no amount of mastering will be able to fix that.
And when a mastering engineer sends back a mix back because it needs tweaking beyond the scope of what mastering can achieve, sometimes the mixing engineer is stuck for options. Sometimes the mix just sounds bad because none of the parts of the chain sounded good in the first place.
A kick drum that sounds terrible at the tracking phase will still sound pretty terrible even if it has gone through $200,000 worth of outboard processors. Before you think about the microphones and pre-amps, think about the sound in the room and how you’re gonna record it. Because the sound in the room is the sound that will end up on the record, and that’s the sound that will end up being mastered.
If that sound sucks, what do you think the master’s gonna sound like?
It’s all about the sum of the individual parts. You can’t polish a turd, regardless of how much you really really want to.
[Ian says - you can put it on a pedestal and highlight it's good points, though - but that's a whole other blog post !]
A mastered record will sound amazing because all the parts leading up to the mastering itself sounded amazing. Not because the mastering engineer waved his magic mastering wand and made everything better.
Learn to get your recordings great at the source. Björgvin’s new ebook, Recording Strategies is jam-packed with invaluable recording techniques that you can use for ANY instrument, regardless of your skill level.
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