For the last few days I was searching for the right engineer to master my mix of “Sommer”. Mastering is an area that I’m not comfortable to cover myself as this calls for very schooled listening and very specific setups. Actually, I do think that the role of mixing and mastering are both equally big – while with mixing you shape your song according to the vision you had while producing it, mastering is more about giving a song a certain tonality, making finer adjustments and so on.
That’s two areas you can mess up, both equally critical to your song. So I decide to spare me from messing up the mastering stage and having a professional do that. But how do you choose the right engineer?
I guess it almost goes without saying that you wouldn’t give a mix engineer your pop, heavy metal or whatever song to mix if this particular engineer is famous for doing amazing classical mixes. Same same with a mastering engineer – before I decide to go for someone, I check their track record, see whether I can see my particular mix have a feel like one of the songs that he already did. Maybe that mastering engineer is well known for a certain sound? Does he like to ultra-crush the dynamics of songs? If so, do you think your song would benefit from that? Is he known for delivering very transparent masters? And so on.
Where to start
A good place to start is by looking at songs that have a similiar feel to yours and then scouting discogs, wikipedia, allmusic or the likes. Try to find out who was responsible for the mastering of that particular song or album.
Lots of decisions, but in the end all that counts is whether you’re happy with the sound or not!