There's loads of mastering engineers out there, is this gonna be a good fit?
My area of expertise leans towards the left of centre, I'm not looking for the next pop sensation, there are better people out there for that type of work. Having said that my interests are super broad. I tend to work fast and can master a track for free so you can be the person to decide if it's a good fit for further work.
Can you listen to my mix first?
Yes, I'm always happy to listen to your mix and provide constructive feedback when I can. That's without any obligation or niggly feeling that you really should get me to master your mix afterwards.
What format should I send you?
I need an uncompressed audio file (.wav or .aiff). Ideally this would be a 24bit file but whatever it has been recorded/mixed as is the version to send and leave the sample rate as is - no need to try converting bit rate or sample rate. Please do not apply any dither to your final mix.
How should I prepare my audio files?
You'll hear talk of headroom, this can be a nice thing for a mastering engineer but the crucial thing is that you are not using a limiter on your mix. Any heavy compression or limiting will narrow my possibilities of breathing dynamics and excitment into your master. As a guide you can leave 3 to 6 dB of headroom (space before you hit the red meters) on your mix, using a meter that measures dBTP is ideal here. If you are about to record your music, may I suggest you record in 24bit.
I want it loud, can you make it so?
Making a loud master can rely on the mix balance, but yes if you want it a little in-your-face we can work towards that. Providing a reference track that jumps out at you is always useful in this case.
I've worked on this mix for weeks but not totally confident about it. Can you help?
One option which can really work well is stem mastering. You send me stems of groups of instruments so that any internal balancing or EQ can be done and it's a half-way house between mixing and mastering.
Do you ever mix music or are you strictly a mastering engineer?
I love mixing music and have been doing it for twenty years. It's a bigger job and we'd need to talk more about your hopes and expectations for the music but yes, absolutely.
What formats do you provide?
A 16bit wav file @ 44.1kHz is the standard issue. If you are pressing CDs, Vinyl, Cassette or seeking masters for Apple Digital Masters, TV broadcast, film screening etc this can all be catered for.
What is Apple Digital Masters?
Formerly known as Mastered for iTunes, this is a proprietary format devised by Apple to compress digital audio and can only be carried out by a Apple certified engineer. When your listeners see your music listed as Apple Digital Masters in the Apple Music Store there is a quality assurance that the track has been carefully mastered for best audio quality.
I listened to the master - WOW - but now I hear all sorts of details in the mix that I'm not totally happy about. Would it be ok to fix some small things and resend?
Yes, we can do this and this happens plenty. The ideal situation, for me, is if this can happen quite soon after you receive the file and if I'm lucky the machines will still be set up from your session.
Can you do any revisions of the master, or is it this version or nothing?
Absolutely I can. In my head this is a collaborative process and it's important for me - for the music - that the artist is absolutely happy (or as close to happy as the artist gets).
Do you master for vinyl?
Yes I do. Strictly speaking a mastering enginner makes premasters for vinyl which the cutting engineer uses on the lathe to make the master. You probably already know that creating music destined for vinyl has specific limitations in terms of length, etc. Feel free to ask about that.
Where are you? Can I come and watch you master my record?
I am working out of both Dublin and Galway, Ireland. With current Covid restrictions meeting in person is not possible. However, I've tried the people-looking-over-my-shoulder approach to audio production and it's just not for me! I slow down, make silly mistakes and can't get the job done as efficiently as I like to. Trust me it's for the best!