Continuing with my weekly series discussing questions that I frequently get asked, here's another one:
Can I master my own tracks?
The answer is clearly yes. But let's see why.
Mastering is a very secretive art. Mastering engineers are notoriously withholding of information. Often times they will even give intentionally misleading information, just to throw you off their track.
In fact, at many of the top mastering studios in the world, you are asked to pay an extra fee just to attend your own mastering session! Part of that has to do with flexibility in scheduling, but the other part points back to the tradition of secrecy.
I went to a mastering roundtable discussion two years ago at AES in New York with 6 of the most famous and decorated mastering engineers of the last 40 years. These guys were the kings of kings. The spoke for about 90 minutes. And guess what? They said...
I just finished a mix for a client and was preparing for mastering, when it occurred to me that I get a lot of questions about how to make proper stems. I thought it would make a good topic, so here we go!
Here is the typical list of questions regarding making proper stems for mastering:
Should I use the Buss FX or not?Which stems should I make? How many is too many?Should the stems have reverb and delay or should those be separate stems?What sample rate and bit depth should I use to make the stems?Do I need to dither the stems?Should I use stereo or mono tracks?Do I bounce from zero at session start? Leave space for reverb/delay tails at the end?How do you preserve the side-chaining?How do you deal with stems from parallel busses?
The first question you need to ask yourself is:
I. Are these stems for Mastering or for Performance?
The answer to that question will inform how you proceed.
If the stems are for...