HOW DO I WANT MY ALBUM MASTERED or What Do I Hope To Achieve From The Mastering Process?
If you haven't had an album mastered before, this may seem like an strange question. You may think the answer is "very well, thank you" but the fact is there is more than one way to master an album, just the same as there is more than one way to mix a song.
In the "old days", the days of mega budgets, it was not uncommon for record companies to pay for two or three different mastering engineers to master an entire album and just pick the version they liked better. These days, with more budgetary constraints, they are more likely to ask two or three mastering engineers to master one song for free and then, based on the one that they like the best, give that engineer the album to do.
All the mastering engineers involved in this sort of "shoot-out" are well-known and have major credits but we mention this to demonstrate that mastering can come in different flavours. Some mastering engineers are good at certain styles and others welcome a wide variety of material and take pride in doing a great job with as many idioms that come in the door (the latter would describe the philosophy at Silverbirch!).
There are also some mastering engineers who are compelled to put their own stamp on a master and others who do what's best for the music. We think its also a wise idea to also do what is best for the music and the client!
Occasionally we have an client in for mastering who has meticulously shaped their mix and does not want it altered radically or pumped up to the current average volume level if the process will change anything whatsoever. The opposite of this is a well-known producer who has sent a number of albums here to master but has never been to our studio nor given us any guidelines about what to do. After mastering about 12 albums for him, he called and was very complimentary about our work. He then proceeded to ask many questions about how our methodology and what equipment we used. The conversation closed with "..I've got to get over to see your studio..." but we haven't seen him yet! Most people come to us because they have heard albums mastered at Silverbirch or were recommended to us by a previous client and the majority want to see where we can take their music.
The point of this is to get you thinking about how you would like to have your album mastered before you come in.