Top 5 Mastering Myths | Label Worx
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Top 5 Mastering Myths
Posted By : Laura Holness
|
Posted Date : May 3rd, 2020
We have mastered thousands of tracks through our LW MSTRD service, and over the years we have heard people share the same myths about mastering time and time again. This month, we'll be shining a spotlight on our mastering service and to start things off, we thought that we'd debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions we hear.

Find out more about our mastering service via the Label Worx website.

1. 'The mastering engineer will fix that, don't worry about it'

Absolutely not true - a master is only as good as the mixdown, especially when it comes to the volume levels of elements and stereo placement. There are a few tips and tricks that can be done to get things sounding 'better', but very rarely can things be fixed. For example, If a vocal is completely lost in the mix, there is no magic way of bringing this out and making it shine like it should. If anything, you will harm the rest of the mix trying to fix it.

Simple things such as stereo bass, overall EQ, and some minor phasing issues can be corrected, but all at the cost of the quality of the end result.

Get your mix right: the better the mix is, the better the master is.

2. 'Can you please make it really loud and really dynamic?'

The answer is. NO. The harder a track is pushed into limiters, harmonic processors and compressors, the less dynamic your track is. So, if you're searching for an overall loudness of -7LUFS, don't expect any dynamics to be present when looking at the waveform.

A very well-mixed track can be pushed this loud and works for many styles of dance and electronic music, but rest assured - it certainly will not be 'dynamic'.

You can achieve a far better result with a well-mixed record - if the track isn't pushed so far and the loudness is a lot quieter overall, just turn the gain knob up on the mixer and listen to the club rumble!

3. 'Mastering is a waste of money, I can do it just as well with my own plugins'

Plugins - or in more expensive cases, analogue hardware - can't fix problems. There are no magic shortcuts. Although some plugins offer some very clever tools, it's all about the judgement and decisions made by someone who understands the sonics of your record and who can make the best choices to bring out the best in it. Speaking from personal experience, I have ditched so many plugins and use a very limited set of tools that allow me to do everything I need. There is a lot to be said about simply learning how to EQ better and WHEN to compress.

You're not necessarily paying someone to master your track because they may have £500 or £50,000 worth of equipment, you pay for someone's skills and dedication to doing something that you don't sit and do day-in, day-out. Focus on writing better records and getting your mixes right.

4. 'You can only get a really good master if you use analogue gear'

Absolutely not true. A lot of very famous engineers mix and master entirely in the box - no analogue summing, no hardware routing - it's all done on their computer. This is becoming more and more common since we now have a wealth of incredible emulations available to us. It all comes down to the engineer understanding their tools, how they use them to achieve a certain result, and implementing these tools and choices wisely. I've had experiences in the past where I was certain something was done in an analogue studio, but it was actually done in FL Studio with a couple of extra waves plugins - with a good master, you honestly can't tell the difference.

5. 'You get what you pay for, I'd rather pay £100 for a master than £15'

A reputation can't be bought and has to be earned, and although most very expensive mastering engineers have earned their stripes to charge that amount for a master, it doesn't always mean it is better. Mastering is subjective - some people may prefer the sound that a certain engineer crafts over others, but this doesn't mean the more you pay, the better the result. We are now mastering records at Label Worx for clients that previously paid over £100 per master and are now paying £15. This has been the cost of a master with us since day one - so, why not give Label Worx a try next time you've nailed a mix?
www.label-worx.com/mastering/tracks

 

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