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Online Mastering Services

Postby rob_reido » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:10 pm

Hi all,
I'm a music tech student in my first year of A-level, and I'm currently working on writing and releasing an EP of original music. Whilst I am at present confident enough in my mixing abilities to mix the EP myself (and am part-way through doing so), I don't know anywhere near enough about mastering to master the EP to a level I'm happy with. Does anyone have any suggestions for places I can upload my mixdowns for them to be mastered?
My primary concerns are: cost-effectiveness, sound quality (obviously) and turnaround time.
My music is Britpop/Acoustic Singer-Songwriter in style (with no drumkit), and the EP itself will be an online-only release via Distrokid to all of their stores.
Thanks in advance,
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Re: Online Mastering Services

Postby James Perrett » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:14 pm

Why not take a look at your favourite releases in the genre that you are working in and see who mastered them. It is always worth asking whether they do special rates for unsigned artists.
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Re: Online Mastering Services

Postby CS70 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:51 pm

James suggestion makes much sense.

A few things to help you find what you look for (assuming you master for digital, vinyl is a bit different matter):

The main goal of mastering is to make so that when your mix is played on a playback system, it sounds as good as it can on it. In principle, a mastering engineer will try and keep the mix sound as it is, not change it. At most, for an LP/EP it may add a little subtle sonic common thread, but 90% of the sonics are done at mixing stage.

So mastering is generally not (like mixing) a creative, sonic changing, sound enhancing activity. Technically it's a relatively plain set of things one goes thru and checks and fixes if needed, using tools which you are likely to have already (there are specialized ones, of course, but they simply tend to aggregate many functions in one box, real or virtual).

So what matters aren't the tools or the technique - but the room, the monitoring system and the ears and skills of the person using them. Room and monitoring system because the only difference between a mastering and a mixing room is that the former is supposed to allow you to hear stuff you can't hear (and therefore, fix) in the latter. Ears and skills because a mastering engineer goes thru lots of material, and gets used to hear the stuff that can kill different playback systems.

The mastering engineer will also offer an unbiased opinion on the mix, of course, and that has a lot of value in itself - hopefully he/she's got more clue than your mom or friends :), so it's a first "test" of your arrangement, performance, recording and mixing.

In that sense you want to find someone with which you "click" - who's willing and able to tell you what improvements can be made (or tell you explicitly, and possibly without being asked, that it sounds just fine) while keeping you (composer, performer, often recording engineer and mixing engineer).. well, comfortable. :) In other words, someone you communicate well with.

All of the above, for obvious reasons, is damn hard to check online. But start with the communication, and the rest will come..
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Re: Online Mastering Services

Postby Rubber5oul » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:35 am

If you want an online service, check out LANDR. It’s quick and easy and, whilst you cannot beat a proper mastering engineer, it’s not bad. Worth a shot imho.
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Re: Online Mastering Services

Postby My Own Silence » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:24 am

I would find a good communicative mastering engineer. Stay away from expensive "tourist" studios and stay away from mastering guys who are doing it on the very cheap. If you search around there are some good places. Expect to be paying 60-100 quid a track for a reasonable job.

I also do not see the point in the automated mastering sites, I think if you are learning you should get someone who is human who you can engage with and at least get some feedback.

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