Many artists are
self taught engineers when it comes to tracking, mixing,
and mastering their own projects. Everyone who
records wants professional results. All too often, artists make the mistake of trying to do more than
they are capable of.
They try to be engineers as well.
Now that's not a bad thing. There's nothing wrong
with artists learning all they can about
their craft, and that
includes engineering. However, most artists are
professional musicians, not professional engineers.
six Basic Elements In Producing music That Sounds Professional
1. Inspiration 2. Arrangement 3. Performance
4. Recording/Tracking 5. Mixing 6. Mastering
Think about what happens when an artist tries to
accomplish each of the above elements on his/her own.
Once motivated by
inspiration and completing the arrangement, they give a professional
performance and record their own
tracks. Then they mix
their project. After
attempting to apply some mastering techniques, they decide
their project doesn't sound as professional as
like. So, what's the next step? They send the
project out for professional mastering. All to
often, when they get their
project back from the mastering house, they can't
understand why it doesn't sound like the "Rolling
Stones Greatest Hits." The
question is, why doesn't it? The answer is simple. It's
because only the first three elements above were a professional
other three elements, 4, 5, and 6, are the weak links that
prevent the project from achieving that professional sound.
often than not, the mastering will be blamed for the
inferior sound. After all, mastering is the last step.
It's supposed to solve
that weren't taken care of during the previous steps of
production, right? That's a misunderstanding of mastering.
Mastering is about quality control and adding the
appropriate amount of polish. That's it!
Mastering is not remixing, nor is it a
fix it stage designed to correct what went wrong during
tracking or mixing. For a CD to truly rival a
commercial release, all the
above elements must be
performed by professionals. Artists with home
studios that send their projects out for mastering will
always have to settle for whatever their tracking and
mixing talents are able to produce. The final
product may fall a little short
when elements 4, 5, and 6 are not performed by professionals.
Mastering is always mix dependent.
If you're an artist with a home studio, don't despair.
Never quit trying to learn all you can. Think about
how long you practiced
your musical instrument before you
became proficient. It takes time to become an
accomplished musician. It takes time to
proficient audio engineer as well. Equipment dealers
may sell you the latest digital work station with all the latest
audio production software.
However, what they can't sell you is the years of
engineering experience it takes to obtain