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Audio Mastering Companies/Services

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posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 04:11 PM
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All right, so after over a year of polishing and mixing songs for my latest independent album, I'm in the market for getting them professionally mastered.

I considered using Discmaker's Soundlab, which is about $50 a song. After deciding I wanted more personal attention to the songs, I've been looking for both local and non-local services. There's one here in Atlanta that does quite a bit, and when inquiring about the rate, it's $200 a song flat. That's outside my budget.

Another service I found charges by song unless you have an album, and then it's per minute ($15 and $20) of music. With 11 songs running around 60 minutes, that is something I can handle: $600 fits my budget.

So, does anyone know any good, reputable mastering services that will master an 11-track, 60 minute album for around that price? I don't want a service that runs songs through software and uses algorithms to automatically "master" the tracks, but I want an individual with, preferably, both digital and analog equipment to master each song individually.

Music is mostly alternative rock.

Suggestions?




posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 04:24 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence

PM me some contact info. I have a friend working for a studio here in Nashville who does mastering on the side. He is pretty good and I bet not nearly expensive as most places. I can inquire for you and see if its a good fit.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 04:45 PM
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a reply to: RickyD

What does he do, is he an engineer? And does he master both in and out of the box?

An inquiry sounds good, thanks. Never can hurt to look at and consider all options.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 05:22 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence

This is a side (though related) subject but I have come to the conclusion that audio mastering (the way it has been known in the past) is soon to be obsolete. With the exception of course of those who desire going through $100k worth of analog outboard gear as a final step, there will always be a niche market.

We have all of the tools available in the box to make sure that our mixes don't need post-mix polishing. Mastering a stereo mix is to me like someone doing Photoshop work on a picture. There is only so much you can do when working with a whole mix.

As an example, if a problem is spotted after mixdown lets say a hi-hat is too harsh then all EQ'ing/compressing done to tame that hi-hat during mastering affects everything else happening in the mix at those frequencies. It is much better to go back and re-mix while taming the hi-hat on its own and not affecting everything in a certain set of frequencies. Just like it is a lot better to change lighting, camera settings, etc. during a photo shoot than it is to try and fix it with photoshop. This is just an example but you get the idea.

So really, to get the best overall end result, having mastering skills available during mixing is the correct final answer that the music industry should arrive at.

I don't expect this to happen overnight because mix engineers would all need to have the knowledge of what makes a good 'master' for the industry to change. But I see it coming on fast as more and more people are learning and the tools keep getting cheaper and better.

Regarding the main topic, personal touch is essentially the mastering engineer doing their tried and true algorithm (very similar to the automated algorithms) with the added benefit of them actually listening to it for a final quality check. I'd agree that the extra quality check is worth a little more money.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 05:52 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence

He worked with me at the production company I work for until recently. He had been wanting to focus more on his side business mastering as well as more of the studio production work he wanted to do and our job didn't allow time for that. Now he has a pretty nice studio gig with access to lots more gear than he did on his own. He is definitely the gear nerd type. I will reach out and ask him about it and if it falls in your price range I'll forward along your contact or vice versa rather.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 06:59 PM
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We sent a track through Abby Road.. Not sure about an album price but a single track was surprisingly reasonable considering the BIG name and all. You can even go as far as choosing your producer. Their website is really easy to navigate and they list pricing there. I'm in the US and the pond was no issue.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 07:24 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence

A simple suggestion to prevent a mistake that a lot of people make 1st, 2nd time out.

Whether you do it at home, in a studio, a friends basement, a club, recording truck. Dont just master/mixdown in one location without testing that mix on different spkrs and sizes, types, headphones, even out in the car or bus.

More musicians (even some here) say they are spending inordinate amounts of time...sometimes months and months recording, mixing and trying to master at a desk....and when its all done and outta the studio (or bedroom)...it doesnt sound good in the car or with headphones...or cranked up.

Makes sure finals are listened to in a variety of locations. Please. It'll save you a lot of grief, time and $$$$. Best of luck...*

*PS when done all by oneself "I play all the instruments, mixed it, wrote all the songs etc....", some things can get lost without a 2nd set of ears...and spkrs...in different locations and by different friends, people etc. You get it!

edit on 25-9-2017 by mysterioustranger because: spl



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 08:36 PM
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a reply to: mysterioustranger

Thanks, I am aware of listening to mixes on various platforms.

I mix, preliminarily, through studio reference headphones. Then, I mix them through my studio monitors. Then I listen to them, as exported wavs, through earbuds on a different computer, and tweek the mix accordingly, etc. And back again. Occasionally the car.

But I'm talking about mastering.


edit on 25-9-2017 by Liquesence because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 08:37 PM
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a reply to: wastedown


Not sure about an album price but a single track was surprisingly reasonable


Define reasonable.



posted on Sep, 25 2017 @ 10:48 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence


What recording format did you utilize? I specialize in analogue ( 2" 24 track machine and 1/4" 2 track mastering machine) but can do everything digitally from ProTools stems and files. PM me with number of songs and what you're specifically looking for and maybe we can work something out. I'd be willing to talk only business partner and see if he's be on board with master one song for free to see if what we can do works for you.



posted on Sep, 26 2017 @ 07:56 AM
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a reply to: peter vlar

Everything is digital: recorded and mixed with Pro Tools 9.



posted on Sep, 26 2017 @ 08:05 AM
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a reply to: bluesjr

Yeah, I'm pretty happy with the mixes, which I have spent considerable time on and have carved out, and/or blended, each voice to my satisfaction. The only thing that would be better is having a fresh set of ears (and actual engineer) mix it.

That said, since the mixes, to me, shine and sound very good in themselves, they need mastering, compressing, bringing the levels up, etc. While I can compress at the final stage of the mix, and while technically one can master using PT, plug ins, or similar software, it's not the same. I can compress and compress and push the level to near red, but it's not going to be quite as loud or as powerful as one that is properly mastered.


Regarding the main topic, personal touch is essentially the mastering engineer doing their tried and true algorithm (very similar to the automated algorithms) with the added benefit of them actually listening to it for a final quality check. I'd agree that the extra quality check is worth a little more money.


Yes, they know their craft. That's why I want the quality that comes with it.
edit on 26-9-2017 by Liquesence because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2017 @ 02:13 PM
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originally posted by: Liquesence
a reply to: bluesjr
I can compress and compress and push the level to near red, but it's not going to be quite as loud or as powerful as one that is properly mastered.


The loudness wars is another big topic I'm personally for more dynamic range and thankfully things are starting to swing back in that direction for radio in Europe, not so much in the USA. Interesting website here collects data on the dynamic range of albums:
Dynamic Range list

I don't want to sound like I'm against mastering, I'm not. Just saying that the tools are available to all of us to get that same result. But it does take some years of experience with the tools and not that many musicians are up for studying that trade when they could be playing.

Best of luck on your album release!



posted on Sep, 26 2017 @ 04:09 PM
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a reply to: bluesjr

Yes the loudness war is another topic, but that's not my intent it to be as loud as possible, just comparable. For instance: like, I said I can compress and jack levels and it still sounds great; but when it's on rotation with mastered releases the difference in volume is drastic and jarring, especially if I turn the volume knob up to hear an unmastered song at a volume I like, and the next mastered or commercial track comes on and it's so loud it practically bursts your ears.

But yeah, I could definitely learn to master, I just don't have time. What with everything in life, work, play, relaxation, writing, recording, mixing...as I'm sure you understand. I'd rather just leave it to someone who knows their craft, thereby bypassing the learning curve.


Hell, it's taken me long enough just to get comfortable and satisfied with mixing, lol.


Best of luck on your album release!

Thanks!



posted on Sep, 26 2017 @ 10:55 PM
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a reply to: Liquesence

So was I talking about mastering. DONT finalize a master until youve tweaked the mix on different devices and speakers. My point.*

Metallica had that problem....last album I think. Sounded great recording and mixing. Once mastered and pressed...it was all bassey and they were PISSED.

Lesson learned. Good luck!



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