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Most mastering engineers start in recording before they transition into mastering, but Gene Grimaldi took a different route, beginning his career at Sony’s New Jersey CD pressing plant instead.
But Los Angeles called and Gene’s mastering journey began at the venerable Future Disc, from there eventually working his way up to chief engineer at Oasis Mastering. Along the way he’s lent his talents to big hit albums by Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding, Niki Minaj, Ne-Yo and many, many more.
In the interview we cover everything from working production in a mastering studio (a big and expensive part of the job in the pre and early-digital days), to working exclusively in-the-box, and doing it without using limiters.
On the intro we’ll look at an upcoming hot controversy – Warner Music and Avenged Sevenfold going to court over California’s arcane “7 Year Rule.” I’ll also talk about evaluating monitor speakers and what to listen for.
Colin Leonard is one of the hottest mastering engineers going, and he’s so busy that he can’t get to all the work he’s offered. So he’s created a new online automated mastering process called Aria that uses his analog signal path to the do the job. That’s right, it’s online automated analog mastering!
On podcast Episode #123 Colin discusses how he came up with the process and the differences between other online mastering sites.
In the intro we’ll take a look at the music business in Japan and how it’s really still like the US was about 15 years ago in terms of CD sales (and even rentals), and I’ll look at a study that shows how only the right kind of music can help us concentrate. You won’t believe the genre that’s the best.
Enjoy the show!
Let’s face it, recording budgets are tight these days and we can’t always send our final mixes to a true mastering engineer. With so many of the same tools that mastering engineers use now available to every mixer, it’s now possible to do a pretty good self-mastering job. If that’s your situation, it’s best to follow these following 7 steps excerpted from the latest edition of my Music Producer’s Handbook.
1. Don’t master on the same speakers you mix on. If you do, you won’t be able to make up for the deficiencies of the speaker.
2. Listen to other songs that you like before you even touch an EQ parameter. The more songs you listen to, the better. You need a reference point to compare your work with, and listening to other songs will prevent you from over-EQ’ing. EQ’ing is usually the stage when engineers who are mastering their own mixes get in trouble. There’s a tendency to overcompensate with the EQ, adding huge amounts (usually of bottom end) that wreck the frequency balance of the song completely.
3. A little goes a long way. If you feel that you need to add more than 2 or 3 dB, you’re better off remixing! That’s what the pros do. It’s not uncommon at all for a pro mastering engineer to call up a mixer, tell him where he’s off, and ask him to do it again.
4. Be careful not to over-compress or over-limit your song. This can lead to hypercompression. Instead of making a song louder, hypercompression sucks all the dynamics out of it, making it lifeless and fatiguing to listen to.
5. Constantly compare your mastering job to other songs that you like the sound of. Doing this is one of the best ways to help you hear whether and how you’re getting off track.
6. Concentrate on making all the songs sound the same in relative level and tone. This is one of the key operations in mastering a collection of songs like an album. The idea is to get them to all sound as though they’re at the same volume. It’s pretty common for mixes to sound different from song to song even if they’re done by the same engineer with the same gear. It’s your job to make the listener think that the songs were all done on the same day in the same way. They’ve got to sound as close to each other in volume as you can get them, or at least close enough so as not to stand out.
7. Finish the songs. Edit out count-offs and glitches, fix fades, and create spreads for CDs and vinyl records.
If you see a self-mastering job on the horizon, you’ll find that your results will be far closer to that of a mastering engineer if you follow these tips.
You can read more from The Music Producer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.