What does a brick have to do with mastering?
Yesterday, I had a quick chat on Twitter with Andy Wilson, mixing & mastering engineer at Masterdisk in NYC, about how I’d asked for new mixes for a Latin album I was to be mastering today as the original mixes were too hot.
With the much discussed loudness wars that we’re aware of now it is very tempting to grab a limiter and liberally use it over the stereo buss of the mix just to make it louder, which is what had happened with these tracks.
Once those transients, dynamics, and punch have been guillotined by a limiter, and your waveforms look like a freshly cut flat top haircut, it cannot be recovered. Having discussed this with my client, they were more than happy to redo the mixes with good headroom and 24bit files. With our modern computer setups this will only take about an hour or two for music that may last for years.
So, when you’re preparing your tracks for mastering, remember that mastering engineers can do wonderful work for you but we can’t do much with a hot limited mix. One of the worst things a mastering engineer wants to be presented with is a brick and asked to make it sound great!
Most importantly, if you have any questions about mastering for your project then contact the M.E. of your choice and ask. Any good M.E. will be happy to talk with you as they want you to provide them with the best mixes so they can deliver the best masters to you.
Thanks to Andy for the title of this post.