i have enormous respect for the mastering work of Rashad Becker, he did the Timeblind 12″ I put out on Soot (and inscribed ‘Soot’ in the vinyl written in proper Arabic!), among many other projects.
Here he talks to Robert ‘Monolake’ Henke* in great detail about mastering [via]. If you’re into production or mastering, it’s certainly worth a read, I especially like his ‘don’t do it unless you have a reason’ vibe with its emphasis on simple intentionality.
excerpt: Most plugins provide too much visual feedback for my taste, which keeps me personally away from mapping the sound to my body, and to my ears – and thats how I master like: that I scrutinize the sound how it hits me. Not necessarily brutally, but how it addresses my body, and if I have to focus on a computer screen and operate with a mouse that is something else, its just a different world.
excerpt: Mistakes – there are a lot of things I have to cope with, which derive from being uneducated or inexperienced, like for example people keep sculpting their sound by boosting frequencies if they feel an element is not prominent enough in the mix. Lets boost it! If it has not enough bass or not enough high end – lets boost!!!
Instead I try to educate my customers to think the other way round: Scrutinize every singal for consistency, check for what disturbs it, and try to remove that, and not primarily check the signal for what’s too little…
I always think negative. I know this is much less fun actually, but the results will be much more consistent and also louder.
People try to achieve loudness by saturating media and thats just the wrong way, its the other way round! Saturation can be done at the very very end. If you saturate your medium from step one on, you will have music which will have a constant high level but will not sound loud.
The basic mistake is that people compress or limit without a musical vision.
* Monolake and I played a bunch of shows together in Brazil a few years back and ate really good food every single day. Right now I’m in the Newark Airport — stuck here due to weather conditions (I’m playing Montreal tonite.. or trying to!) — it’s November, humid, and the recycled air smells like fried food kept warm under heat lamps and is making my face greasy. Businessmen are hogging all the electrical outlets.