top of page

"I have tried quite a few automated mastering algorithms, and not 1 of them was up to my expectations. Every single time, I can do a better mastering job myself, and I'm not even considering myself a mastering engineer." - Jan 'Yarn' Muths

In this episode

  • "Is Mastering a Scam? Why can't they just turn it up?"

  • Yarn explains Mastering in simple terms, and explains what it is, why it's not a scam and why it's not just as simple as turning things up. 

  • What is mastering?

  • Mastering is the last step in the production process, before distribution. It is the final quality control, which is best left to someone experienced, with a fresh set of ears. 

  • Mastering includes tonal polishing and careful loudness adjustments.


About the 


With over 2 decades of recording, mixing and music production experience, Muths interviews musicians, producers and engineers from the Australian East Coast and the world. Always curious about production workflows, gear, software, techniques, and strategies. The Production Talk podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in music production from the Northern Rivers and far beyond.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music


Warning! Some websites promise cheap automated mastering. There’s also software that promises mastering with a one-click ‘mastering assistant’.

In all these cases, a computer algorithm will apply a mastering preset.

I've tried and tested all of them, but the results were disappointing.

While algorithms may be acceptable for a no-budget demo, I strongly suggest not to use algorithms for a release.

My tip: Get your music mastered by an experienced human - because the algorithms make dumb mistakes, and they have no sense of taste!

Here is a list of very experienced mastering engineers, whose work I highly recommend:

Bob Katz

Bob Ludwig

Ted Jensen and Greg Calbi

Leon Zervos, Steve Smart and Tahlia-Rose Coleman 

Michael Worthington

Kamal Engels

You could also google for 'free mastering sample', which is an interesting option if you want to compare different mastering houses.

A good mastering engineer will give you a master for approval, and be open to reasonable adjustments.

How can you tell a good from a bad master?

Most masters will sound louder than the mix - however, loudness alone is a bad measure for the quality of a master: The loudest master is probably not the best-sounding one!

Here's my tip:

  1. Load the mix and the master into software that allows for volume adjustment. A DAW like Logic or Ableton comes to mind, but even simple tools like iTunes or QuickTime will do.

  2. Turn the volume of the master down until it matches the loudness of the mix.

  3. Let another person switch between the two for you.

This test works best when you have no idea which version is playing (blind-test). A good master will sound a little more detailed and a bit more musical.

However, if you like the mix better than the master, then take a few notes and ask the mastering engineer for a revision.

Sounds really confusing? Let me do a free master check for you!

I'm happy to check your master for you. Just reach out to me and upload the master to my website. I'll listen critically, and I’ll give your master a technical 'health and safety' check.

Here's more info on the loudness war:

Subscribe to The Production Talk Podcast
on your favourite streaming service now!
The production Talk Podcast on Apple Podcasts
The production Talk Podcast on Spotify
The production Talk Podcast on Google Podcasts
The production Talk Podcast on Amazon
The production Talk Podcast on Castbox
Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio

Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.



(auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error)

Hello and welcome back to the next episode of the Production Talk Podcast. It's amazing to have you on board again. Thank you for tuning in I've had a busy week I've completed an album lately and an additional single for another artist. And I've also been recently involved in the production of another podcast series where I just worked as a contractor for recording editing and mixing um and this has also just gone live. So I've been really busy in and the last couple weeks and ah, finally. Had a bit of downtime on the weekend and in all honesty I probably need another day or 2 because today is Monday I'm recording my podcast and I still feel a bit exhausted as things happen sometimes and I'm sure that you know how that feels and it happens to the best of us I guess so um. But let me just steer back straight to to the subject. Let's talk about music production and a subject that we put on the on the back burner some time ago is mastering. We touched it every once in a while but we've never gotten into more detail. So today I would like to take the opportunity. To answer a question that was posted online a couple of weeks ago and a friend of mine reached out and said is mastering a scam. Why can't we just make it louder. So that is an interesting question and then I thought about it and it's pretty obviously not a scam I think we all know that but then a thought aboutic explaining why and um. Pretty quickly I realized that this is actually not simple to answer and therefore it's actually not a simple question at all. It's actually a very complex question and I'll try my very best today to answer this question as good as I can and I'll remind myself not to venture off into too much technical detail I hope. You can forgive me if I do so The first part is mastering a scam. No. Absolutely not mastering is an art form also a highly technical job that has been around for many decades and has changed a lot over the decades. It's. Not snake oil. There is a lot of scientific and technical thinking to it but in the end it all comes down to how it sounds and how we perceive things and how we fear things and therefore I would say mastering is 1 of the most mysterious elements of music production. That's definitely true at the same time is also the job that is reserved for the most skilled most senior engineers. So if I had to draw a typical career of a mastering engineer. They often started as let's say as a recording engineer early on in their life. And it's not incommon that they then had about 10 years of experience until they moved on to become only mixed-on engineer and invested another 10 years into their career in this field and eventually then sort of graduated into the mastering world mastering definitely is not the kind of job that engineers start. Directly from from audio school or start their career that way that's usually not the case because it just takes so much experience. So what I should really point out here is that the question as it was asked suggests that all mastering engineers do is make things louder. And that's definitely not the case if it was that easy then look anybody could do it but it it definitely is not because the way they make it. Louder is is very well aligned with how musicians and listeners like music and for that there is no measurable. So. Gale for that. There's no button that you could press that would do this straight away effectively what they do is they make it more likable more lovable and as as a side effect that also gets louder so I would say that um, if you look at the most experienced. Engineers ah mastering engineers they often don't re-approach a song with the attempt of ok now I dedicate time to make it louder That's not really on their mind. They try to make it better. They try to make it more detailed more musical. They look at the tonal balance. They look at making it. Sound as good as possible on as many different playback systems as possible so that it translates well from big speakers to p a s to headphones to laptop speakers and that the essence of the song the lovable elements still come through and I would say that along the way. The loudness of the music will increase as well. But it's literally not as simple as turning a volume put up unfortunately because we are basically at the edge of clipping with most music today and if we just turn things up and things would start to clip. Well. That is not ah that's not what we want. That's definitely not the right thing to do and that will make things a lot worse. So if the question is can't we just turn it up and make it louder actually in all honesty often. The the answer is simply no because technically we can't um when. Mixed files have mixed out the digital domain or the digital scale I should say and this is probably something that needs a bit more explaining so in in a previous episode. We already touched on bit depth and sample rate but bit depth is is what we really need to focus on here. So what that means is that the volume or amplitude of an audio signal a mix or an individual recording doesn't matter for in this context here. But they all have a finite number range to express the amplitude. And this number range is rather large. So if you recorded let's say something at 60 bid you would have about 65,000 and a few volume steps to express how loud and quite something gets and that sounds like a big number but actually it's it's definitely needed. And I would say that in some situations we need better than this and that's why I also recommend to record in 24 bit 24 Bit um would then allow for a resolution of about sixteen million seven hundred seventy seven thousand and a few more individual volume steps. Which is a ridiculously large number and it sounds like that's absolutely unnecessary. But in all honesty it actually is and there is an audible difference by having that. So just to quickly shine some light on the mouth behind it. We talk about 24 bit. Each bit can have the position 1 or zero. And we have 24 of those and that gives us a number range or a range of possibilities of to to the power of 24 and hence sixty million and 7 hundred seventy seven thousand and a few good okay so now that we've spoken about this. Basically what happens if you just turn things up. We reach the clipping point and the clipping point is when we ah run out of numbers. In other words, the range from quiet to to to loud in our song blitci has used up all of those 16 million resolution steps and we try to make it louder and it has no ah no place to go. In other words, we've used up all the numbers and the volume is if you still try to increase the volume. It just doesn't get any louder. We've reached the maximum and for every sample it now repeats the same maximum and that manifests itself in the click or clip as we call it. So if you record your own music at home I'm sure you you know how it sounds it has happened to everybody I'm sure that we just turned something up and it clips so we had to turn it back down so nobody likes the sound of clipping and that's the real problem here. Why can't they just make my master louder that means that the the Peaks the. The drum hits usually that stand out most that consume most of the volume when you mix that they already reach the maximum point pretty quickly and from this moment on you can't just turn it up anymore instead you need to use other methods to per. To change the perceived loudness and that's a tricky thing. So a simple fader move upwards or a button that we could press that adds sixty bs simply doesn't work anymore because the side effects of that would be clipping. Let me just have some tea for a second. Excuse me. So um, what mastering engineers do is part of the art is apply dynamic range reduction or dynamic range compression. So dynamic range just to clarify this for everybody is the difference between loud and quiet. So if we think about ah about orchestral music. For example, we can expect fairly significant dynamic ranges because if an orchestra orchestra gets really loud. Oh my god it gets loud. However, if they get quiet. It gets also really quiet which makes the dynamic impact and that's why. Watching an orchestra life is quite phenomenal experience if we then think about ah other music for example and let me just think about you use your keyboard to play some pad sounds if you if you just. Play a couple of pad chords for a while you've noticed that the volume of those usually just wave us around the same pocket and doesn't move much We can also talk about music genres. Let's say edm or some metal genres that are basically with a very low that that have a very low dynamic range. Means there's very little difference between loud and quiet. In other words literally everything is loud but the problem with music is that if you make everything loud. Well it can get fatiguing to the ear so to the listener it might just. Yeah, subconsciously make them turn it off after a while if it's just too much and it also takes the interest away because the problem is you know if you've ever listened. Sorry if you've ever read a text in full caps. That's a little bit annoying. There's actually not my analogy I picked this up somewhere on the internet. But it's the same phenomenon if everything is loud or in caps eventually nothing has impact anymore because the contrast is no longer. There. So from a mixing and what's a mastering perspective and I would actually extend this and say even from a music production and songwriting angle. It is a good idea to consider those things and plan a song or arrange a song so that there is a certain room for impact. So if you make everything if you start with the intro at foil volume. You've got no more place to go Nothing can be louder than that. So sometimes it's a wise idea to just turn it back down for a moment so that the next element can be more impact for them. That's a very important songwriting technique and music production technique that carries itself on in mixing and mastering as well and effectively in mastering. That's the last chance for anybody to. Yeah, do something with this and improve it somehow and that's when the final balance is basically laid so what you basically do when you hire a mastering engineer is that you get the final quality control sorted and ideally you basically. Yeah, hopefully you'll find a mastering engineer that you dearly trust that should be somebody who's much more experienced than you and yeah, what you will get is the certainty that somebody with a lot of experience and very very high resolution speaker system looked over everything 1 more time. And make sure everything is fine. It's the peace of mind that you get from mastering that this is now at the very best it can possibly be That's basically the magic mastering engineers bring to the table. But I think I'd like to steer back 1 more time to to the concept of dynamic range. Because dynamic range is is a funny thing where I basically would go as far as saying that every genre and even within each genre every song may require their own dynamic range and by dynamic range. Let me go a bit more technical I would say that's the difference between the peak of the signal. Loudest transient and the overall loudness of the song that's often known as r s or also in my modern technical terms l u f s those units measure the loudness of a sigm. So just to demonstrate what what can go on. Imagine. For example, you record. Ah, snaram if you just have if you look at a snareroom channel and you know just assume a normal backbeat performance chances are that you would find you know very loud snas they sit usually up in the mix so they often fail loud. However, the space in between is very quiet. So if we were to average this. Average or root means square r s that's the same mathematical concept in in simple terms if you were to average this the loudness wouldn't be actually very high because there's a lot of ah quiet area in between. So in order to make up the snare needs to actually be louder on the onset when when the snare drum or when the Drumstick hits the the skin. That's the attack of the snare and that's also what we call a transient so in order for drums to to sound powerful and energetic. They need a bit of room above everything else for for the short transients to stand out and yeah, so therefore if you think about a mix. For example, if you had no really full-on synthesizers or the stored guitars or let's say a woolly organ sound. All of those signals usually have a very high loudness but very little ah peak value. So There's no transients involved. In other words, they don't need ah a headroom to make mixed space for transient. So if if those are mixed too loud to start with then there's just not enough room for the transients to. To do what they need to do above and you might hit the ceiling the clipping point and yeah, that's definitely not something we want to do so what we generally do in recording in music production and also mixing is to gain stage or signals. Sufficiently so that we have enough space for for the transients to do what they just want to do in other words, a mix should not be very loud yet because the overall volume pocket is therefore a bit quieter compared to most masters. But there is definitely some transient motion above now there's Headroom. For the the kicks and snares and percussions to do what they want to do best Good. So I guess that also explains why when mixing we should never focus on how loud it is compared to other things a mix naturally sounds a little bit quieter because it. Quite ah in comparison to finished and produced and master music I have to say and that's because um, the music or the mix is probably still a bit more dynamic and needs more head room for the transients and that's where mastering engineers come in and their job is to. Yeah, reduce the dynamic range very carefully and very skillfully while maintaining the integrity of the music and the tools they use for that are commonly known as compressors limiters and probably a range of other tools as well. But those are the most. Common ones. They also use equalizers and situation and things like this but let's focus on tools that reduce dynamic range for now. Um so chances are if you've ever started your remix. Ah you probably get a rough idea of what the compressor is. Ah, compressor basically makes loud signals above a certain threshold quieter thus reducing the dynamic range the the difference between loud and quiet getting those things closer together. So here's the problem with compression compression is a tool. Just like I don't know a chisel or a hammer or any other tool and it's only as good as the craftmanship behind it. So what I'm trying to say is it doesn't matter as much what you use but instead how you use it. And how carefully you listen when using that and here's the problem with those compressors. They take an awful long time to really learn. So if I think about my own learning curve starting in the late Ninety s I learned the parameters quickly that it wasn't too hard to wrap my head around it. And I also started to use them in in Mixes. But if I listen to those mixes today I have to admit that I didn't fully understand what I was doing nowadays I see all the mistakes I did back then. Ah, where I for example, had and a tech time too short on ah on a snare drum and you know things that I would definitely do a lot more carefully these days. So I guess that's probably also my sense of taste. You know I have changed as a human being so the way I perceive things and I want them to sound today. Is definitely different as well. But in all honesty over the years of producing I had several breakthroughs in my compression techniques where something really started to sink in and make deep sense even years into my career and it's now been about 20 something years for me. And I'm pretty sure that I still haven't learned everything. There is to know about compression and hopefully I will still and come across an epiphany here or there where I still learn some more about it. So it's actually an art form to use them very very carefully and and skillfully. And then we also need to look at the signal flow of a mix and um distinguish at which stage we compress and limit because I would say that if you go to an an individual source. Let's say a shaker. High hatt um an a weight or a vocal doesn't really matter if you go to an an individual signal and compress it the potential for error or for damage. Let me phrase phrase it that way potential for damage is well. Not quite as complex as further downstream so compressing a kick drum or a bass is easier than to compress. Let's say a drum submix or an entire string section or eventually a fool mix I would even go as far as going on the record here. In stating that the more complex the signal you compress the more delicate it becomes and the easier it is to make mistakes so compressing a kick drum. No big deal. Most people would get get this right? However, compressing an entire. Drum set as a submix is something that requires a lot more knowledge and skill because there's also a lot more potential for um, for the compressor to misbehave and therefore takes more skill to get the signal through the compressor coming out the other end actually sounding better. And then if we go further downstream to the entire mix to process an entire mix flawlessly and inaudibly that takes some serious engineering and serious artistic skills to get that right? and the potential for error here is very high I would say that. When it comes to compressing or maybe limiting a mix in the mastering stage I like to so describe it as you know there are probably a thousand ways to do it maybe more and I guess nine hundred and 80 of them all sound bad There's very few ways to do it actually better and. Mastering engineer is the person who has got the skill to do this very very well and flawlessly without negative side effects because well hopefully without negative negative side effects. So if we take a mix that hasn't been compressed much at all. Ah, but is great sounding a mix if you start compressing it for the first couple of degrees of compression chances out will get louder and is such more detailed and probably better in every regard at the same time as you increase the compression. You also start to buy yourself some some negative side effects. And I would say that for the first db and a half of gain reduction chances are the prose really outweigh the cons if done skillfully. But for every additional db the more ah you squash and compress your music together the more potential there is for. Compressors to also cause damage and that takes a very skilled very experienced engineer to navigate through without hitting you know, ah a wall of distortion on 1 end or pumping on the other end or so there's always a lot of things that can go wrong. That as an inexperienced user. We may not even be aware of but mastering. Engineers definitely are and experience engineers definitely are so it's a smart idea to trust those people with what they do good I would also say that each song has. Its own loudness potential by loudness I refer again to the amount of compression applied and how loud the song eventually gets and the sweet spot for each song may be a little bit different. So 1 song can handle a lot of compression or a bit of compression really well and sounds really nice, but the next song. Might be very difficult and might be very temperamental in responding to compression and negative side effects may come up really quickly and a mastering engineer will basically look at not just 1 song most of the time but usually at an e p or album. Little note for all the listeners if you want to release your music as an apo album give all the songs at the same time to the mastering engineer and let them know you can't you can't do this as individual singles and then expect that as at the end of it. They all sound like a finished album actually that's 1 of the. Core workflows or core tasks of of a mastering engineer to take a collection of mixes that all sound slightly different and make them sound as if they belong together on the same album the same tonal qualities the same same beauty and nicely leveled against 1 another. So there's a lot of um, yeah, attention to detail that needs to be put in here. Good? Ok so ah, yeah, back to the extra question mastering is definitely not a scam the art of mastering is ah several decades old. It started in the old days when mastering engineers. Transfer engineers and their sole job was to take a recording from. Let's say magnetic tape and get it onto viner or even before that wax cylinders and so on so the transfer had to be made from 1 medium to another. While then later in about the Seventy s that's when it actually started with ah processing when mastering engineers started to you know, apply a bit of of ah processors to make things sound ah actually Better. So that's a fairly recent. Well not that recent about 50 year old Development in the mastering history. But there was definitely a long time before where mastering engineers didn't do any of that good. Let's just keep talking about this for a moment. So when this cd came up a lot of old vinyl records were transferred onto cd. Hopefully from the original master tapes is always the better way than to stream it or grab it off a cd and when these recordings were put onto a cd things changed a little bit technically because previously in. With tape and and vinyl records what set the limit for for loudness on on the medium was usually the the chunky bit the um rms the loudness the transients that stack out of it weren't you usually a problem. There was enough space for that and. Just wasn't the limit but it was just the overloness that was the limit when we moved digital with Cds it was the opposite so cds sounded equally good so to speak almost across the entire dynamic range until you hit the clipping point and that's when it immediately turned sour and distorted. So when people first transferred their master tapes to a cd they realized? ok um, it's now nicely aligned. It comes out exactly as it went in. However, the transients actually didn't quite reach the absolute maximum and that was a time when mastering engineers could literally just do 1 thing. Bring up the fader and make it louder for a couple moredibs to chew up the remaining headroom that basically was the best way of of mastering a record because it had literally absolutely no. It had no side effects no compression involved. It just turned it up but then we hit the clipping point. So well we couldn't turn it up any further. There was a limit to it and then as things progressed in and the 80 s and ninety s people then realized that they could actually get a little bit more volume out of it by just applying some. Processing and shaving off the transience and that's when limiting came into play this unfortunately set off a complete madness-feeding frenzy which we today know as. The loudness wore and I often refer to those times as the dark ages of music production and it all went around the following lines that artists walked up to the mastering engineer and said look um. That band just released a record. It was really nice and loud. So can you make all records just as loud and just a little bit louder just a little bit and so they did and they became the loudest so the next band listened to them and said oh whoa, they are loud. So can. We also be that loud and maybe just a bit louder. And that kicked off what we know as the loudness wars or loudness race and I would say that the loudness wars definitely dominated the sound of the Ninety s especially in the late Ninety s the two thousand s ah got really really crazy. And and the early 2010 s um, the wave literally hit the pier. We hit a point where it couldn't get any louder anymore. It could only ever get more distorted in all honesty at that time a lot of damage had been done by collective madness I would say. However, ever since? um, the ya well early twenty ten s um there's been a lot of motion in the industry. A lot of movement for more dynamic range to re-establish dynamic range and what we've seen since is that this wave has has hit the pier and it's now rolling backwards. So um, last week I think if you listened in I had a lot of critical things to say about streaming services. Let me go on the record today with praising them for establishing loudness standards because those loudness standards as they. Are in place today and progressed over the last 10 years were actually the tipping stone that ah made the wave roll back and that introduced more dynamic music back to the listener which is a great thing for everybody because it just sounds so much Better. So just to explain this loudness madness 1 more time. So there's a certain psychological phenomenon if I play a piece of music to you and then play another copy of the same music to you again and ask you to pick the 1 you like. Better chances are you would always pick the 1 that's louder. So all I need to do is just turn the same copy or a copy of a piece of music up by 1 db even half a db works reliably and in a blind test. Everybody will pick the louder 1 as the better 1 this is not an effect that only works on members of the public but it can also be reliably applied to so professionals like myself. You could fool me the same way. Obviously it doesn't make it sound any better just because it's louder. But it's just a certain perception that is built into our human Brains. So as a general rule as you produce if you compare 2 pieces, 2 different guitar Ms. 2 different microphones. Whatever 2 different syn synthesizers never jump to conclusion until you first balance out volume differences that way you make. Better decisions actually based on sound quality not loudness so everybody is subject to to this phenomenon that we always like the louder thing better and so are record company owners and a and r s and people like that. So it was assumed that in order to get a music deal. 1 would first have to impress the a and rs and the best way to do that is with just high loudness so that once they turn a song on it blows their socks off straight away that is generally a good idea. However. If that's achieved by hyper compressing music. It has so many negative side effects that this really outweighs any imaginary advantage 1 may have so the idea is that apparently louder music sells better and that has been proven wrong again again again. And again because what everybody here in the equation so far completely ignored is that you as the listener at home. You've got a volume dial. Maybe the button's on your iphone. Whatever this may be but you can control volume and if something comes on that you like and it's too quiet. Chances are you're going to turn it up and if something else comes on that is too loud and you don't like it chances are you'll just naturally turn it down so everybody who tortured music with hypercompression during the Louden words always assumed that this volumerese now carries through to the listener. But they will just turn it down if they don't like it so that's a bit of a conundrum and I would say that large proportions of the music industry completely fell for collective madness here and chased an imaginary ah goer that actually didn't make much of a difference in real life. So. If you want to impress an a and r still blow their socks off with the first few chords but don't do it by hyperprocessing your music do it by playing your instruments ridiculously beautifully? Well so if you if you start or very very loud. At some stage. Just let it go for a moment and let it build up again. So if if music is always loud without any interruption I personally find it very boring and there's very few examples of songs that are constantly loud that I personally enjoy. Most of the music that I enjoy from almost any genre is music that has a bit of light and shade and loud and quiet and you know I call this the intensity curve That's the the journey that the music takes you on and if that's only ever loud I get bored of it pretty quickly. So. Be loud if you want to but also be quiet and it's the contrast that really makes all the difference and if you produce if you write your music like this. It will also mix much better and the master will come out really really beautifully at least that's my experience. So luckily the loudness wars are. Over definitely they are there are still some old blockheads in the industry who are somewhat stuck in the old way of thinking but look. That's just human nature. There is no more advantage to be gained for making music particularly loud these days. Because the way streaming services work is that they introduce a loudness normalization. In other words, if we put 2 songs side by side 1 with strong transience and more dynamic range and therefore a quieter over or loudness. Put right next to a song that has been hyper processcesed and is really really strongly compressed and limited where there's very little movement between loud and quiet anymore and now that we are in a world where most of the music comes from streaming services and they get control over this and they make it easier or make it better for the listener. By balancing out volume differences. So the same 2 songs the dynamic and the compressed 1 put neck to neck on streaming services would basically trigger the second song to be turned down so that when you listen across both of them the listening volume on your end is more consistent. And that means the louder sum has been turned down which now means there's several dbs maybe 1 or 2 maybe 8 who knows hopefully not 8 but there's a couple of debbs of the unused headroom now and that's fine because the advantage is that the listener and that's you and I everybody. Now hear 2 different songs at about the same volume and that is fantastic I love that so it basically means we are now liberated. We don't need to squash the music in mixing and mastering as much as we used to. We can allow for more dynamic range and. If we want to if we let's say produce a black metal song or an edm baner or something like this. We can aesthetically go for high compression rates and that's perfectly fine, but just be aware. It will be turned down. So if you if you do this go for it and but do it for the right reasons don't do it to achieve loudness. Do it for tonal reasons make. Make the music glue together better and that's that's I Believe how how compression should be used these days so loudness normalization has received a little bit of criticism in the past especially from the people who became very good at hyper compressing. Ah. Mixes and masters overcooking them in my opinion. Um, those were the people who were a little bit disgruntled because now once the volume was turned down well the loudness advantage vanished but all the negative side effects that came with hypercompression they remain. They always remain and that's a problem that I have with many many masters and mixes coming out of the 20 tents. There's exceptions of course. But you know Metallica have received some fame over the entire fan base criticizing them for the sound based around too high. Ah, loudness. There's 1 example where it really backfired on them so rest assured that today all you need to do is to produce your music so that it sounds good and has a little bit of headroom and if you give it to a good mastering engineer. They will sort it out from there and probably. Just do whatever is right by the piece of music hopefully and once it's then played back on streaming services. It will just integrate beautifully I even find that songs that are produced more dynamically even perform better. They sound better after loudness normalization or the hypercompressed. Ah, sausages as some people call them. Um, often start to sound a little bit weak wimpy and so ah, quite often distorted so less pleasing so the punchier songs often the more dynamic ones in my personal opinion. Good. I know that there's still a little bit of controversy about it. So some people may not strongly disagree if you want to take this argument to my doorstep. You are absolutely welcome. I would love to talk to you about that in a nice manner. Of course you can find me on Facebook. It's the production talk podcast community. It's the official Facebook group please click there and I'll let you in and then we have a discussion there if you think that I miss something if you think that there's something more to say I would love to hear. From you about the subject of mastering. So how do you find a good mastering engineer. What are the pros and cons here. How do you work out who to work with so here's my idea instead of giving your album to 1 mastering engineer and hope for the best. Because there are rotten apples around like in any other industry people who do not live up to their promises instead look at the most influential records of your genre who are your heroes check their records and read the credits and check out which mastering houses they were using. Why don't you reach out to those people and ask for a quote and if you're not sure which way to go another thing you can do is just decide for 1 song first and invest a little bit of money by giving the same song. Let's say 2 or maybe even 3 different mastering engineers and see what you get back and then listen to them purely on an emotional level meaning balance out any volume differences put them into a blind test. Ideally so you don't know which 1 is playing and just judge by your heart which song makes you happiest. And that's the mastering engineer for you I reckon but just before a finish. Let me just add one last can of worms it's the can of worms of automated mastering services. You may have heard that there is quite a few different services around that. Allow you to upload a mix and seconds later you get a master back. Let me be perfectly clear. This master has not been done by a human instead. It has been done by an algorithm so it was uploaded sort of scanned for you know, whatever content. There may be. And then automatically something has been applied and is then returned to you I definitely believe that the algorithms are getting better every day and at some stage this may lead to good-sounding masters so far and I like to go on the record here. It's almost 2022 I have tried. Quite a few and not 1 of them was up to my expectations every single time I fear that I could do a better job mastering it and I'm not even considering myself a mastering engineer I call myself a mix engineer because mastering is not my day-to-day profession but still I feel like I can outmaster. Every single 1 of them if I wanted to so now think about what a specialized mastering engineer can do for your music somebody who does nothing else but mastering day in and day out and who's very experienced so on this note, be careful with those automated mastering services. For a demo. It might be fine, but for a release for an official release just consider that whatever you release there is there to stay forever and I've listened to a lot of music on streaming platforms where huge mistakes were made and. In the production mixing and mastering and that's always sad because you know that's now something that people have to live with forever unless they of course pull it. But I think you know if you release your music put it in the right hands find yourself a mastering engineer that you can trust and then work with them. Good. Obviously there's lenti more to say about mastering I barely touch the surface. Um at some stage in the future I hope to actually speak to mastering engineer a professional mastering engineer on this podcast if that's something you'd like please leave a comment. All of our episodes also have an additional information in the show notes like the link to the Facebook group of course and additional information on mastering as well as a couple of mastering engineers that I have worked with and whom I recommend it's all in the show notes. So just make sure at the end of the episode to just scroll down and have a quick look over there. Thank you for being on board today I'll see you again for another episode of the production talk podcast next week take care. Everybody have a great week.
bottom of page