Free Mastering


#1

I’m not (yet) a professional mastering engineer. If you can get past that, please read on!

I’m offering to do free mastering work for a limited time to anyone who might be interested. Free for how long? I don’t know yet and just have to see how it goes. My overall goal is to develop this into a profitable endeavor (at least one that pays for additional gear) and hopefully full time down the road, but that’ll take some time and incremental steps. To start though, I’d like to begin gaining more relevant and current experience by offering to help others which in turn helps me.

My passion, ear and experience is really for bass heavy styles of electronic music, particularly (broadly) house, techno and electro. That said, I’d be willing to give anything a try as long as it’s understood it might not be within my usual genres. I’m doing this to progress my skills, build confidence, build a portfolio and for the enjoyment. I’m really passionate about whole process and helping people achieve and realize their goals with each track.

What I can do for you:

  • Be a 2nd objective set of ears and provide any feedback or suggestions
  • Master a stereo mix of your track(s) providing you the final digital output of your choice (e.g. WAV, MP3, etc)
  • Provide a reasonable number of edits/revisions upon request and your feedback

My goal is to help you enhance and realize your final vision in any way I can through the mastering process.

What I request in return:

  • Receive credit for mastering wherever you’d normally do so (e.g. track notes, website info, Discogs, etc) whether commercially released or not
  • List your track(s) under my portfolio of work using your artist name and any other relevant info
  • Use brief (e.g. 30-60 second) samples of before/after results on my website and/or various social media accounts (optionally providing artist, track details and links upon request)
  • Feedback from you! How am I doing?

What I’m not experienced in:

  • Mastering for vinyl. I’ll provide you a master, but additional processing may be required by either someone experienced in vinyl mastering or the facilities handling your pressing.
  • Mastering in the context of a full album. I only have prior experience with singles or EP’s.
  • Specifically mastering for Itunes, similar services or masters that require specific formats or labeling. I can discuss and attempt, but have no prior experience.

About me:

I’m in my mid 40’s and did a good bit of engineering work from 1997-2005’ish, then took a hiatus from anything production or gear related aside from listening to music until late 2016. My own original production work was always with a collaborator/partner. My strengths were always around engineering and some mastering. That’s where I get the most enjoyment and while I still work on my own tracks solo these days my heart is still around the engineering aspects more so than my own production.

I’ve got probably somewhere around 20 production credits for 12" singles going from memory, but those were all back “in the day” and most of those aren’t available on sites like Discogs. The majority probably never sold more than few hundred copies (the initial pressing run), so they’d be difficult to track down at this point, but I have finished copies of a small number along with a couple acetates and test pressings. I’m currently working a couple projects that should see commercial release later this year.

My prior work is under the name ‘sinix’, ‘Entoptic’, ‘Entoptic Studios’ or ‘Kinesthetic’ if you wish to Google.

Examples:

** Edit: I didn’t realize Discog links change (thought they were more permanent), so fixing a few broken links from last time I noted them. Also adding in some YouTube links I found.

Discogs links:

https://www.discogs.com/Resident-Alien-Radio-Killer/release/74453 – (mostly mixing)

https://www.discogs.com/Various-Florida-Electro-Artists-EP/release/1828119 – (mixing / restoration / mastering)

https://www.discogs.com/Exzakt-Musik-Is-The-Drug/release/74559 – (remix / initial master)

https://www.discogs.com/Excel--Metaminds-Dont-Stop-Now-From-the-Outside-Looking-In/release/142425 (mastering)

YouTube links:

Resident Alien - Radio Killer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8uQKAh3jT0

Florida Electro Artists EP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA280B86yNE

Exzakt - Musik Is The Drug (Kinesthetic’s Soul Search Mix): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gha_qkwRuLw

Excel - “Don’t Stop Now”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp_6TcKAjGk

Studio work isn’t a full time endeavor for me right now and still a side project when time allows for it. I can likely handle 2 or 3 tracks per week (in total from all parties) with turn around times taking an average of 2-3 business days. However, I may need to retain some flexibility should something unexpected arise. It typically takes me 2-3 hours per song for the initial master right now as I’m very critical of the work, listen in a few different environments (different speakers, headphones, the car, etc) and learning/tweaking my overall process and tools.

About my process:

I do my best to deliver a master that’s loud, but retains plenty of dynamics. I’m not aggressive in any overall correction, treatment or loudness. For example, any compression is usually in the 2-3db range and any final limiting no more than that as well. If you desire to have something really pushed in terms of treatment, compression or limiting, I’ll provide it to you upon request, but that’s not what I’d initially deliver on my own. I’m willing to work with you to give a result you’re happy with though.

I’m 95% ‘in the box’ right now with the only external processing being an Elektron Analog Heat which I optionally use for subtle saturation at times. My interface is a UAD Apollo and I have an extensive library of plugins from Universal Audio, Plugin Alliance, Softube, Kush, Slate, Fab Filter, Sonnox, Izotope and many (many) others. For mastering, I prefer to work in a combination of Studio One and Izotope RX (as needed for conversions). I primarily monitor on Sennheiser HD650 headphones along with a pair of inexpensive Mackie monitors. I plan to incorporate studio/reference quality monitors later this year along with an outboard EQ and stereo bus compressor in the near future. My studio room isn’t highly treated and far from ideal, but as I progress, so will the equipment and room setup. Right now, I don’t want gear or the room to hold me back from getting started working with others, learning and diving in.

Again, I can only handle probably 2-3 songs a week right now. Depending on workload, I’ll likely only accept 1-2 tracks at a time per artist to see if my work is suitable for you before taking anything additional on. This is purely at my discretion but if you’re interested, please PM me as I’d like to discuss and see if I can help you out.

Thanks!

Edit 3/7/18: Clarification


Louder Than Liftoff Silver Bullet
Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Creme
Your setups
YES a real analog Compressor, but which one? Drawmer? Elysia?
#2

I’ll occasionally update\bump this thread as I add new hardware or something like that. It’s been 2 months since my original post. My intent isn’t to be spammy or anything like that, so apologies if you feel that way.

An update that I recently added a Tegeler Audio Creme analog compressor/eq to the setup. It sounds beautiful, especially the EQ!

Here’s more about it in a separate thread I created: Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Creme

I’ve had several forum members here ask me about doing masters for them and a few have sent over tracks. The feedback has been positive so far! Hopefully they’re not just being nice. :wink: I’ve gotten a pretty wide variety of tracks and honestly I was really impressed with them! There’s some very talented musicians here!

I’m still offering, so feel free to contact me if interested.


#3

UPDATE FOR FALL 2018

Things have been busy and exciting! :happy:

I’m trying not to come off as spam or adverts for projects, but felt like sharing to highlight things I’ve been working on as it’s relevant to what I’m still offering here for any of you.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting to announce this and finally today is the day! I’ve known Larry McCormick (aka Exzakt) for close to 20 years now. I’ve worked on several of his early releases as both Exzakt and his collaboration with James Wolfe as Resident Alien in addition to doing my own remix for Musik Is The Drug as Kinesthetic with Daniel Lezcano. One of his more recent releases, ‘Ride Low’ released by Shipwrec has been picked up by Fabric to be featured on their final mix compilation series Fabric 100.

I was asked by Larry to re-master the track for the compilation. I’ve been a huge fan of the Fabric series and Terry Francis (since the mid 90’s), so to even have a very small part in this release is incredible, especially as it was selected for the final release. I’m beyond happy and excited! I love the track and can’t wait to hear it in Craig Richard’s mix.

More info: https://www.fabriclondon.com/blog/view/newsflash-craig-richards-terry-francis-keith-reilly-have-mixed-fabric-100

I’m also working on another project involving the release of Exzakt:EvolveD. Larry is working on a special release of his entire back catalog and a new album. I’m lucky to be involved in helping to re-master some of the older material and discovering or rediscovering some of these gems has been amazing. His attention to detail in packaging and presentation is top notch – these are physical, collectible items in an MP3 world. If you’re a fan of Electro, please check it out, I’ve bought one of the collections myself.

Lastly, a recent addition to the gear and let’s face it, we all love the gear! I’ve acquired a Louder Than LiftOff Silver Bullet for the mastering chain. I wrote my initial thoughts and observations in another thread here, so I won’t rehash it again. I can say it’s been getting heavy use since day one!

Back to the topic of this post

Where does this leave my offering of ‘Free Mastering’ ? Well, I’m still doing it! At least for now. Any commitments I’ve made will be met, but I’m starting to focus a little more on House, Electro, Techno, D&B and the like as that’s my specialty and experience. This recent Exzakt:EvolveD project is first priority ATM and will have me steadily busy for the next 3-4 weeks. However, if you have a single, I can still probably squeeze you in. PM me and we can discuss. If not, I’d be happy to do it when I can.

More gear will be on the way in 2019 and I’ll update again when there’s anything of significance.

Thanks for reading!


#4

my experience is better paying for a professional mastering engineer, than getting semi professional for free!

looks like others share the same oppinion …

sorry, i‘m also offering this service and i would finalize my own production only by pros!
especially for vinyl …


#5

Don’t have anything ready for mastering right now. Just want to say I think what you’re doing is awesome. This is what real community is all about. Helping each other in a way that benefits everybody


#6

Yep :thup:


#7

Not me…
I believe you can always get a payed pro master and a free semi-pro one, then compare, then give some suggestions to the aspiring engineer. I know this is going to be a little more lifetime consuming…but hey…who knows when something special can happen? You might end up discovering that you wasted money and not time


#8

It’s totally fine! Everyone can have their own opinion on the matter and if you’ve found a process or someone professional that works for you, great! I’m just one of many (many) options and sharing my efforts and experience on a personal journey. If I can help… awesome and if not, that’s OK too. If I do work and someone thinks it’s terrible or doesn’t like it compared to their ‘pro’ I welcome that. It’s specifically the feedback (good or bad) I want.

I’m simply trying to offer something that (hopefully) helps a community I get benefit and pleasure from. I’m old school… back from the C-64 dial up BBS days. I like forums over Facebook! For me, this community is generally very welcoming over the toxicity found elsewhere. I don’t offer what I’m doing on Facebook or other popular music forums for a reason. :wink:


#9

If I ever have anything worth Mastering I’ll be sure to give you a shout!


#10

cool!

luckily i got this thread rolin 4 u after 6 months :wink:

i got over 100 tracks to master,
you won‘t do this for free dude, and if you do i‘m getting sceptic with your techniques and sensibility!


#11

Generally is the key word here. :aw:

Keep doing what you’re doing. Very generous of you to offer.

Just saw a new thing you might be interested in - SSL Fusion. Looks pretty cool for small project studios.

https://solidstatelogic.com/studio/fusion


#12

Trust me, I’d never agree to 100 for free… :rofl: :sweat_smile: Appreciate your feedback on the thread either way, so TY.

Please post up your finished music somewhere if you can. I’d like to check it out.


#13

Hey there, funny, I thought about the audio quality of my recent tracks today, and if they are worth to maybe put them in other hands for quality check. And then I read this thread. So, I don’t know, if you have some time, you maybe listen to them at:

If you have some helpful feedback for me, just contact me.
I know that I’ve not reached a representative level yet, but I’m trying hard. My main goal is to put a nice record out there that represents my own taste of music.

Cheers


#14

I don’t judge people’s music especially so publicly – that’s their art and creative work. I might comment, “Great track!” or something along those lines when it’s within one genres I personally like. Otherwise, it’s not up to me to decide who and who isn’t “worthy” of having something mastered or released. That’s up to you.

I’ll say this though… it’s pretty common for someone to PM me and say something along the lines of “I don’t know if this is good enough…” – the quality, the idea, whatever. Well, if you feel it’s good enough, then it’s good enough! But that’s also the problem, I think most people are too hard on themselves and overly critical. I know I am.

You have to start somewhere… you have to put yourself out there if you want to be heard. I had to do the same with this mastering. I was constantly feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, but it had to start somewhere otherwise I was only going to think about it and never actually do it. I’d never get experience if I didn’t put myself out there.

In terms of asking me to work on something it’s entirely up to you. I’m not judging and not going to say “you’re not ready” or anything like that. The worst you’ll get from me is if something was really out of place and I thought you might want a 2nd opinion.

You decide… :slight_smile:


#15

@sl1200mk2, it’s very cool of you to offer to do this. Would you be willing to consider mastering the results from the Halloween challenge I put up?


#16

Yes, absolutely. Happy to do it as long as its a reasonable number and I’ve got everything else accommodated. PM me and we can discuss.


#17

No chance! My sound will never reach the web!!!
But there is a big chance you already heard my sound :wink:


#18

i just posted a finished track in the “our music” section that wayne was kind enough to do the mastering on. he really did a great job, i can’t say enough good things.

thanks again. :slight_smile:


#19

@sl1200mk2 hi , where are you ?

Just wondering if I ever get a track ‘finished’ , would you consider showing me how to prepare a track ready for mastering , or letting me sit in ?
I’m not trying to do you out of a job , just get my material in a more usable state.
If you are near London , it’s even better for me…


#20

@re5et you’re more than welcome to come by, I can show you the full process I go through, but I’m a bit far away. I’m located in the US, specifically South Florida area.

If you Google “preparing a song for mastering” you’ll find a lot of info. Really though, once you’ve found someone you want to work with it’s best to ask them and they’ll provide you any specific info relevant to their workflow or professional preferences. You’re paying them for “help”, so it’s part of their responsibility to answer any questions or concerns you have and provide guidance. If they aren’t willing to do that or rushing you, then maybe you’ve not found the right person and need to reconsider.

For me, I try to keep it relatively simple. I feel like for dance genres of music some of the traditional rules don’t always apply. Here’s some of my preferences.

  • A lot of what you read online may explicitly state to never hit 0dBFS and not use any master bus processing at all. I don’t feel like that’s realistic… most people are going to be mixing into some type of compression/limiting. That’s how you’re getting part of your overall sound and vibe and I don’t want to change that. As long as you’re not giving me something that’s already overly limited I can work with it. I’m not going to do a bunch of final limiting anyway unless you specifically want a really loud master. However, realize that the more limiting/compression you’re doing the less I have to work with. If you give me a final export that’s at -4 RMS with 2-3dB of dynamic range there’s very little if anything for me to work with. I just ask for a bit of headroom and dynamics. If in doubt, give two versions – one with all of your bus processing and one without.

  • Give me your ‘final’ export (bounce) as a stereo track in whatever sample rate you’ve been using. 44.1, 88, 96 – whatever is fine. Don’t upsample or downsample – just bounce the track as is. Either WAV or AIFF is acceptable. I prefer the highest bit rate, so if you’ve been working in 24 bit or 32 bit float that’s great. If you’re already at 16 bit it might not be easy for you to change that, so I’m generally going to tell you to send it as is.

  • Let me know what you’re planning on doing with the track. Meaning, is this a single release for a service like Beatport, something you’re just giving to friends directly or meant for a streaming service like SoundCloud, Spotify, etc? If it’s a combination of these that’s fine too. What I’m trying to do is establish a target level for overall loudness as some of these services will enforce (normalize) the source material level that’s uploaded.

  • Provide reference track(s) if possible. This is hugely helpful! Something you like (either your prior material or someone else’s) in terms of overall balance and loudness.

  • Tell me the final format you want. Example: 44.1 / 16bit WAV or AIFF. If you’d additionally like MP3 that’s fine too… I know you can do it yourself, but it might also change final settings on a limiter. For example, if I know you’re going to be using a track specifically for MP3 export, then I’ll usually keep the output at 0.30 since later converting to MP3 can cause higher peaks (you want that headroom as a safety) whereas purely keeping as WAV/AIFF I might go lower.

  • Above all else, ask questions and have fun with the process. Don’t be afraid to ask for changes when you get the first revision back if you don’t like something. What I’m doing is to taste… both yours and mine. I expect some amount of back/forth and possible revisions. Is there something we might disagree on? Sure, absolutely. In either case though, it’s my goal to give you something you’re happy with. You might like a more or less (insert whatever) sound than I delivered and that’s fine. It’s your music representing you, so your being happy with it is the most important thing and not my feelings.

I hope that gives you some ideas of what to expect and helps.