What makes a mastering engineer ?
I’ve written about the question “what is mastering” before, but when you try to explain where the boundary between an enthusiast and a “real” mastering engineer lies, things get more complicated.
I’m a professional mastering engineer. People come to me and ask me to make their music sound the best it can be – and I do.
And the truth is, if you want the absolute best for your music, I think you should do the same. Send it to someone like me to have it professionally mastered.
It took me years to get to this stage. I’ve done way more than my “10,000 hours” – and I know that experience counts.
But on the other hand, I run both this website and the Home Mastering Masterclass, where I tell people that you could get great results mastering your music at home !
Talk about conflicted.
How can I have it both ways ?
How can I say my work is worth what I charge, when I make YouTube videos showing people how to do exactly the same things ? How can I justify the time and effort I spend, when I keep telling you that mastering is simple ?
There are a host of “how to master” videos and blog posts out there – some are great, some are garbage. But what’s the difference ? How can I say that mastering is only EQ, compression and limiting, but also believe that it’s so much more than just putting plugins on your 2-buss ?
Here’s the answer.
The answer is me.
My ears, my experience, my perspective, my skill.
Me. I’m the mastering engineer.
Pretty arrogant, right ? Well… no.
Because it could also be you !
Many of my clients have tools, ears and monitors every bit as good as mine. They sit with me on the session and they hear what I hear. They could be making exactly the same calls.
But they still choose to get me to master their music for them, because of my experience, my perspective, my skill.
But that doesn’t mean you have to…
How to be a mastering engineer
If you have tools, ears and monitors as good as mine, plus plenty of time and patience, you can master your own music, too – and get great results. And if you want to, who am I to say you shouldn’t ?
So, if you want to master your own music – go for it. Just remember, it’s not about which processors you choose, or the order you use them in, or the amount of money you spend on them, or any of that stuff.
It’s about YOU.