[LAU] Linux mastering services?

Mark Knecht markknecht at gmail.com
Tue Mar 30 17:37:20 EDT 2010

On Sun, Mar 28, 2010 at 3:30 PM, Ken Restivo <ken at restivo.org> wrote:
> We're almost done with a 12-track, 40-minute-long CD, recorded partially in Ardour and mixed entirely in Ardour.
> We should probably get it mastered. However, "pro" mastering houses want like $500 for a CD. We haven't made that much money in a year. I think we spent a total of $80 on recording it. So, not likely that we'll be justify big bucks to get it mastered.
> I suppose I could run it through Jamin myself, and just hope for the best, but I don't know squat about mastering.
> Are there any Linux-based mastering engineers around (i.e. on this list) who'd want to take on a project like this, for a rate that we might be able to actually justify?
> -ken

Hi Ken,
   First, good luck with your work. I hope it all comes out well.

   I guess I'm sort of the odd man out here. I see mastering a bit
differently than it usually gets talked about here. That's OK I guess,
but just warning you up front. I've only been involved with a few
project that we professionally mastered, and they were done by pretty
expensive places. That said the mastering engineers did some really
great work. So I'd say if you can afford it (which I cannot) then it
was a good place to spend money from my experience.

   The things we felt we got from professional mastering:

1) A more consistent product across all types of listening
environments. (As stated by others, high end stereos, low end stereos,
radio, cars, etc.)

2) A new set of ears that listened to the songs as a group and helped
with the order they should appear in, or helped with the overall
sounds so that one song supported the next. this gave us some good

3) Access to equipment that we couldn't afford, mostly in the form of
high end compressors and limiters.

   Reading that I've done would suggest that a good way to master
these days is to provide the mastering engineer from 4-6 stubs per
song - things like lead vocal, backup vocals, drums, keyboards,
strings, whatever, premixed with whatever processing makes sense in
the mix. The mastering engineer then takes these groups and uses his
own equipment to give the proper sort of dynamics that will make them
work. A good mastering engineer isn't going to change the song but
rather build a final house using your building blocks. It's not his
job to create the blocks - just to put them together in a gentle but
appropriate way.

   Anyway, as I said, I think I'm seeing this from a different
perspective so don't take me too seriously, especially since what I'm
talking about costs serious bucks which few of us around here (most
especially me!) have.


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