Like colour correction for video, mastering is about audio translating to chosen playback mediums.
Focus, impact, and enjoyment while listening is what we're trying to maximize, minimizing the distractions.
The listening environment is the most important part of a mastering room. You have to be able to hear more accurately than everyone else if you're going to be able to make objective improvements to the sound. A properly designed and treated room with accurate speakers is essential.
My job is to help you get your mix out exactly how you hear it, even if your room isn't laboratory quality.
Each playback medium has a specific challenge to sound its best. Most people don't go crazy making multiple versions for different formats, but we do our best to maximize each of moment of music, and provide clients with online release files, mechanical production masters, vinyl-ready masters, extra headroom versions, and you can even take the high-res files for archival if you like.
I've been pursuing the art of mastering music for 15 years now. Before I even learned how to use a mixing board, I was pseudo-mastering music through different PA systems at live events.
Trying to make music I knew sound good through different speakers and different rooms, I quickly got a handle and healthy respect for making music translate properly, while at the same time being aware of how easy it is to make something sound worse.
Most of my clients have been unhappy with previous mastering houses for whatever reason: doing too much processing, doing not enough processing, giving too much opinion, or not being willing to change their approach for that particular music.
I was at a famous mastering studio in Canada many years ago watching the engineer master some of my mixes, and at one point he stopped playback and began to give a lecture about how the guitar was just too loud panned to the right of the mix. The masters didn't sound amazing, and I ended up mastering it myself, putting me onto the path I'm on today.
The most important part of mastering I've learned is the conversation between the artist and the engineer. Play 10 different songs by 10 different artists, and they'll all have unique characteristics to the music.
There's no template, no blueprint, and finding exactly what you want to hear should take a few steps to explore. There's limitless options.
This is a before and after example of mixes that are close to being done. The idea is to enjoy listening for longer periods, louder, and to really take in the content. The mastered versions accomplish this while sacrificing little. Adding sparkle to the top end while taming harshness, warming the low end while curing rumble and boominess, these are counterintuitive things that we tackle every day.