Why should we be mastering our music?
A fine question. As always it will add the final touches, an impartial set of ears in a well treated and, arguably more importantly, different room and set of speakers to where it was mixed and/or recorded.
However, at the time of writing this, many of my musician friends and colleagues I have done work for in the last few months have been recording and mixing at home in less than ideal spaces. I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say this about the spaces people are working in as, right now it is the only option unless you have, like some of my pals, happen to have treated space in their home. With that being said, the sounds people have been capturing in these spaces have been really good and I’m amazed at the quality of considering the price point of some of the equipment thats being used.
It has been amazing during this 2020 lockdown how creative and resourceful musicians have been in terms of keeping an output for people to listen to but also, I’d imagine to keep the creativity flowing. I liken it to sportspeople keeping match fit even though they don’t have a game to prepare for or team training. The wonderful thing with the online space we are in now is that collaborations are so easy as you can send protools and logic sessions around the globe and get it back with some more tracks added within a matter of hours. I still find this amazing even though I’m very much of the hard drive generation rather than someone who grew up making music on tape.
Mastering music recorded at home
So what’s my point? Well, I’ve found myself in a position where I’m mastering a lot of music created and mixed at home recently. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to get into my studio during lockdown so I still have a room and a monitoring system that I know and trust, which means I’ve been able to work on some great music.
I have found myself doing more mix listens for my clients too. This is something I have always done with some existing clients, but with people working on portable setups on headphones or monitors in untreated rooms I have been doing this more recently when people want me to listen in and give feedback. In doing this, I aim to listen from a technical point of view as I don’t want to do be influencing the creative aspect of the mix.
An example of this might be a build up in a certain frequency that might be cancelling out in their own listening environment. With a couple of listens through, I find these and suggest changes that’ll make the mastering process, and therefore the final output, much better.
In this time I have discovered the wonderful software called “listento” by Audiomovers ,
which lets people listen in in real time to the mixing or mastering process. This, in addition to using zoom to talk to clients and share screen, has been working brilliantly and creates a much more collaborative experience that I enjoy when people attend mastering sessions. I found myself trying things that would definitely be considered an artistic move rather than a corrective move as you get real time feedback from whoever is listening in. While sometimes it may be a case of “no I don’t like that, pipe down big fella” there has been a lot of cases where people have embraced another layer of character that I have imparted.
For mixing engineers out there, just get audiomovers! Imagine not having to upload to dropbox (other cloud based storages are available) only to receive 5 lots of contradicting revision notes from band members? Get the band to listen in remotely on a system they know and changes can be made and discussed in real time.
Even moving forward when we are allowed to hang out with our colleagues and clients again I think this will be great option for many engineers as some don’t like hovering over them while working or, like me, their studio might be quite remote and not convenient for everyone to come in.
I hope everyone is safe and well and staying creative!