It’s staggering to me how many people WANT to call mastering “voodoo”. They really want to believe that there are a bunch of little gnomes inside some box about to sacrifice a virgin to get their tune to sound awesome. As usual, that kind of thinking holds a person back.
It ain’t magic. I attended a mastering session with Eric Conn (ultra robo Nashville mastering engineer). He was very skilled. He used compression, EQ, and limiting. What? The same tools every one of us uses every single day? Yes! He clearly had a room and the finesse to do this right. It reminded me a bit of an olympic diver. All you really need is a bunch of water and a tall thing to belly flop. (I’ve got THAT “mastered”.) The Olympic divers have just a tad more skill using these same tools.
One of my gigantic aims at RecordingReview.com is to empower the little guy. (Other than my ever-growing gut.) The guys in suits want you to believe that you, the home recording dude/chick, are inadequate. All the while Skrillex made $15,000,000 last year mixing on a laptop and BOYCOTTED BRAND headphones. Someone empowered him and they did it with knowledge and skill.
As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of iZotope. They are one of maybe two companies making plugins that are actually designed to help (Voxengo is the other, btw.). By “help”, I mean they aren’t rebadging stock Cubase compressors and such with vintage-looking graphics. They are coming up with intelligent ways to actually make recordings better using all the tools at our disposal. I believe Alloy, Ozone 5, and Trash2 (review coming soon) are OUTSTANDING tools.
After fully understanding what they are doing and why they do it, it’s easy to see how soooooo many plugin companies are being lazy and putting an vintage graphic on the front.
Today iZotope released what I’m calling a beginner’s guide to mastering. It ain’t going to turn you into Bob Ludwig or the guy from Cheers (not sure how that’s relevant), but it will suck out a whole bunch of of the rip off voodoo out there.
What I like most about the guide is it is all about Pretend Mastering. That’s a term I invented. (Yes, I’m cool. SMILEY) Any mastering not done by someone else is, indeed, pretend mastering. There’s no other way around it. Your perspective is fried. They say this in the iZotope guide. That’s a good sign they know what they are talking about.