Here's another of my recording related rants. A friend of mine just
joined a new band who has just given $1600 to a local "studio" just to
master 7 songs. The studio [that has a very nice website! Looks totally
pro!] is a long room practically anechoic in nature due to the amount of
foam he's covered his walls with. I should know, it's all the foam I
had in my old studio back in Vancouver, BC that I sold to some youngster
when I moved over here to Vancouver Island.
Anyway, that guys mixes sound ok in his studio and do not
translate anywhere else. His prices are astronomical but he gets
business because there is a lot of good talent out this way who don't
want to compromise their quality and will/do pay top dollar for
recording. I'm not in that game anymore because as I'm sure many of you
know, musicains are difficult people to deal with and everyone has a
different idea of what's good... and I get mad at lazy people who tell
me just to fix it with protools.
I thought I'd make a list of reasons you shouldn't mix and master at the same studio.
Let me tell you what most engineers will do to a song in a small
time recording studio. They will put a plugin eq before a limiting
plugin. Then they will set the limiter to kill, destroying many of the
dynamics of your music. And then they will use that eq get rid of any
weird frequencies that jump out when they compress that hard. And then
they might boost up the bass a little or make the high end shine. It
takes maybe 5 minutes. There's no critical analysis done here. There's
no amazing feats of art and science fusion.
I will say that in my experience, getting music mastered by a
quality mastering house will take your existing mix and add a full 20%
of awesome to it. It's not cheap, but it's not the most expensive thing
you could do. It might be the difference between "making it" and not.
Now, I don't believe everything should be mastered. If you just record
at home and want to get some music up there on the web, by all means
throw a compressor and there to pump up the volume. But for an important
project destined for a cd release, the money is well worth spending.