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Why You Need a Pre-Mastering Mix Evaluation

Could you benefit from some sage advice?

Everyone who is making and recording their own music wants to get input from others. Collaborators, colleagues, the doorman, and even Mom. And all of these people have great intentions, but they often won't tell you what you really need to hear.

Are your mixes ready for pro mastering?

What does that even mean? Mastering—the way I do it—involves at least an hour of studio time per song and some significant experience, perspective and commitment, both from the mastering engineer and from the producer, artist and/or label. This costs money, of course. What I’ve found is that many artists who are self-producing their songs, and especially those that make their own mixes, do need some guidance when it comes to the final stages of their mixes. I offer this pre-mastering mix evaluation service to give my clients this valuable feedback that I hope guides their hand in tweaking their mix sessions with the ultimate result of a better outcome after mastering.

The magic of mastering

You have heard that mastering makes a difference. You have probably also read that mastering can help tighten the bass, fix vocal levels, calm sibilants, add some air and excitement, and bump up the levels with compression and/or limiting. All of that is true. But that doesn’t mean that I can correct any problem. There are always compromises. To fix the vocal level, the EQ needed may make the track too midrange-y. Or to tighten up the bass instruments, the piano or guitar might not sound right.

If you are at a point in your mixing when you think it’s done, but you are not certain that you got everything where it needs to be, then you can send me the mix, and I will spend some time with it. And you will receive a list of things that I find are getting in the way of your song—things like vocal levels and bass/kick drum levels. I can tell you if the effects are kind of puny or if the song is clipped off at the front, as well as more detailed comments like, do you really want that second guitar?

Fresh ears

Maybe you just want a second opinion. Did your mixer “get it right?“ Can you trust mom to give you an honest opinion with music industry-specific comments? I’ve found that most people only truly listen to opinions that they have paid for. And as the opinion giver, I find that only when someone hires me for my opinion are they willing to accept and consider the changes I’ve recommended.

Now here’s the disclaimer.

Please take note: I'm giving you my opinion. I have a lot of experience, but I am not producing this record with you. If my comments go counter to your desires, then please go for it as you see fit. The purpose of my comments is to highlight things that you may have been struggling with. You may have heard your songs so many times that you have lost your objectivity.

I tend to be pretty straight, honest, and constructive with my evals, and I say what I mean. Don’t expect me to “love it.” Don't try to read into my comments—I choose my words to say what I mean and express exactly what's on my mind.

(End of disclaimer.)

Mix evaluations

A mix evaluation is a great way to get to know each other.

My clients tell me that it's a great way to learn more about their mix and their listening environment.. and every single time we review the mixes - we are making the final product better.

You see, if we can correct mix issues before mastering then, I can focus on details and finesse in mastering and not be as limited in my options as I would have to be to make larger corrections. For me, this is “mastering “ your mix—giving you some guidance and confidence to finish the project and put your best effort out for the world to hear.

I have seen that my client's mixing skills improve, and we get to know how each other likes to work. Ultimately you will want a relationship with your mastering engineer, not just an online mastering service that sends you back a louder and brighter version of your mix!

If you would prefer to chat by phone, that is also an option but not required. There are a lot of technical details to convey when I’m writing up my eval. It’s really best for me to deliver that to you in written form so that you can check each item off as you complete the tweak.

It's easy to get started

Get in touch and send me your file. Also, fill out the contact form and tell me a little about your project.

After I listen to your song, we’ll send you the appropriate links to pay for the pre-mastering evaluation, and then I can get down to it.

One final note

If you hired a professional studio with a professional engineer and producer to make your record for you, this service might not be right for your project. You have already consulted and collaborated with experienced engineers and producers to create your record the way you want it to be.

But, on occasion, I do get a request for a pre-mastering eval from an experienced mixer/producer because they want to check out their work environment before they commit to the final mixes. This is really useful when you have changed your mix room or your speakers. Or if you are working in a genre that’s a little different than you are accustomed to. The bottom line for me is if your mix is ready for mastering and it does not need me to write up a set of recommendations, I will not charge you for my time. I will simply celebrate with you on a job well done and encourage you to use the funds already sent ad apply them towards my mastering services.


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