Collaborating with a mastering engineer
By Rob Stewart - JustMastering.com - July 1, 2013
Last updated on July 9, 2017
I have put together this list of tips to reveal the process of working with a mastering engineer, and how to make the best decisions for a given project.
Working with a Mastering Engineer during the music mastering process
Share your ideas. I suggest making a list of your goals for your project, and also any concerns you have about your mixes. Share that list with the mastering engineer. He or she will offer suggestions on things you can do before the mastering stage that will address some of your goals or concerns. Later on, any mastering decisions that the engineer makes will also be made with your goals in mind.
Ask questions. The mastering engineer will most likely share details with you about the processing they have applied, and the reasons why, but if not, please ask questions. It's important to understand exactly what was done, and why. Knowing this may help you when recording and mixing future projects. Always feel free to ask as many questions as you need to, to feel comfortable about the process.
Try not to fixate on a specific process, or processor. As consumers, we are bombarded every day with marketing for every product imaginable, and audio products are no exception. The industry is full of buzz words and fads. This is nothing new, but the reality is that audio products are tools - nothing more, nothing less. Always keep this in the back of your mind. You may have thought that having your mix run through a popular processor might have been exactly what your mix would need, however the mastering engineer will only recommend a process if they feel it benefits the song.
Be open to revisiting your mix. Since mastering cannot fix serious mix issues, a very big part of a mastering engineer's role is to address any technical issues with the production and mix, and suggesting what needs to be done to correct them.
If your goal is to get the very best sound possible, revisiting the mix is sometimes a necessary step before proceeding with mastering. The mastering engineer will offer suggestions that will make a big difference in the sound of the final product.