This post is about the mastering process for my latest EP. The session was booked at Minneapolis’ Rare Form Mastering. Greg Reierson took the helm and did a really solid job overall.
First of all, I’m not the sort of producer who does mastering the same way for each album. For my own material, I prefer a light touch and lower overall volume. This is the sort of thing mastering engineers tend to prefer, so it works out well. Obviously, a metal album would be a different story altogether (and my next self-produced release will be more along those lines.)
I mixed most of these tunes in my living room, so I was happy to hear that Greg approved of the sonic integrity of the material. His only suggestion was that he wanted to hear more of the ‘lead’ elements. I prefer the vocals and whatnot to blend rather than stick out, but it seemed I went a little bit too far. No problem, Greg had some really cool phase canceling controls built into his monitoring section and was able to isolate the center channel to get things to pop a little more with a little bit of a presence boost. Cool!
Since I mix with no compression on the stereo bus, it was a treat to dial in some compression on his Requisite Audio compressors. They produced a subtle bit of pumping to enhance the artistic intention of the songs without wrecking the transients. I noticed he used fairly slow attack and release times for maximum transparency.
After compression, Greg tweaked mostly with his z-Systems equalizer, occasionally adding some tube ‘spit’ to things with his other EQ gear. We both agreed we wanted some more meat out of most of the tracks, so we dialed in a bit of sub bass to add some stomp.
Finally we routed the signal into Wavelab for about -3db of limiting with the Waves L2 limiter.
Since it was a short album, the whole process took about two hours from audition to master-in-hand. I was pretty happy with the results and certainly got away with a far cheaper invoice than when I mastered with Bernie Grundman on Sonoluminescence.
You can listen to the final product in lossless quality for free over at Vitruvian Marmot Productions.