Home recording ain’t what it used to be–it’s much, much better these days. Technology, software, and know-how trickling down from the pros to the masses have made home recording projects sound near-ready for commercial use. But that’s just it: it’s near-ready. A near-ready project isn’t ready. It’s almost, but not quite. You’re in the general vicinity, but you’re not at your destination. Even though you have plug-ins designed by well-known producers with presets to get that pumping effect for your dance track, it’s not as easy as dropping that VST into your master bus and calling it a day. No, plug-ins aren’t smart enough to do that. It can’t sense when to engage and when to back-off.
Some composers and producers perform the job of recording engineer quite well. There are enough home recording tips and audio mixing tutorials in the internet to get you laying tracks down on your DAW in no time. If you’re one of those artists, then consider yourself very lucky. You save time AND money doing the job of both. However, DO NOT do your music a disservice by attempting to master it yourself. “Mastering 101” articles are great reads, but it will not turn you into a mastering guru. The role of a sound engineer and a mastering engineer are very different. They require different approaches and a different mindset altogether.
Let’s take a look at just how different the roles of the Mixing Engineer and a Mastering Engineer are: A Mixing Engineer works with the artist and producer (or is also the artist/producer) in blending all the individually recorded tracks and adding effects, often helping with the arrangement as well. This is a highly skilled and creative art. A Mastering Engineer takes that final mix, and ensures it is ready to be released to the world. This is much more of a clinical role and not as creative.
As you can see, one aspect of the project ends, and another begins. While you may have basic recording techniques down, attempting to master your own project is taking on one-to-many roles. It’s not how its done in the industry, and it’s not how you should proceed if you want your music–your art–to be taken seriously. For that to happen, you should employ the skills of a Mastering Engineer.
Let’s drive the point home with these Top Reasons To Hire A Mastering Engineer:
1. Sound great through any device
Mastering Engineers have the ears, equipment, and environment to ensure that your project will sound great through any type of output: monitors, headphones, earbuds, car stereos, or club PA systems. You can rest assured that those with the expensive pair of headphones will have the same pleasurable listening experience with your project as those with the set of earbuds that came standard with their cell phones.
2. Blend well with the rest of the DJ set
Producers are engulfed and consumed by their own project, but that passion for their work also makes them incapable of coming up with a “balance” in terms of their project’s sonic characteristics. Mastering Engineers are free from the binds of artistic chains and can therefore focus on the science of sound. They can ensure that DJs will be able to mix your project with other tracks they are playing and be on the same plane in terms of quality, loudness, and balanced tones. Your project will not get passed on in a set because of blending issues.
3. Avoid the mark of the “demo”
As we said in the beggining: Home recording has gotten much better. But a home recording is still a home recording. Don’t let your project get the “demo” stigmata. Demos are works in progress, and your role as a producer is to produce professional masterpieces, right? There’s a lot of competition these days, and you don’t want “poor sound quality” to be the reason your project gets dismissed by someone important.
Not to end this article with a cliche, but you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Mastering Engineers are here to help you make a great impression.