I have been mastering a fair amount of audio here as of late and wanted to take a moment to post about it. The misconceptions about the process are starting to become apparent and, judging by the relief I sense in the wake of some initial conversations, this post might be of some use to some questioning the process.
For starters, you don’t just send me your audio and get it back “mastered” mysteriously hours later. That is ridiculously presumptuous and insulting to you as both creator of noise and as a human with ears and opinions. I can compress and limit audio with relative ease and send it back to you at a volume that would “impress”. I just don’t find that respectful to the time you put into the work- or that anything sonically significant would result.
I believe mastering can, and should, be more of a collaborative process. Maybe your acceptable threshold of compression is less than mine? More? What if we were able to adjust frequency to get around heavier compression? What if you don’t give a shit about the dynamics and just want it deafeningly loud? What if I were able to suggest a few mix changes that I think would lead to the sound you are looking for? You get the point. Its a fluid process that can be approached in a variety of ways. My aim is for you to understand how our different options can influence the output. The decisions from there tend to be much less complicated.
And yes, you just read a mastering post where someone didn’t bitch about compression trends, overusing limiting, ear fatigue, loudness wars, etc. Its your noise, deliver it as you see fit.