Bash a mastering job

Hey guys.

I recently worked for a local artist. He just released his music video which includes two songs, one of which I’ve mastered (the first one, Innermission) and the other (Tribe) has been mastered by the recording/mixing studio.

I need an outside perspective, specifically on the mastering jobs. The way I hear it, the tonal balance isn’t great on Tribe: low-end is muddy, there is too much sibilance and it is overcompressed. I actually had to overcompress Innermission too because I knew it was going to be matched against the other song and I didn’t want the loudness to be noticeably different.

I am not seeking comfort or sympathy, just a honest opinion on these specific aspects. If I’m wrong I’d be happy to hear it so I can improve. Here’s the video (first song starts after the intro at about 0:22):

Another issue is that the vocals are a little buried in the mix on Innermission and the hi-hat is loud. I already addressed this with EQ and multi-band compression but it is not enough. Should I have done even more at the risk of screwing the tonal balance or is it just something that needs to be addressed in the mix?

Hey, it’s really interesting to see someone entering this job :slight_smile:

For the main topic, my first question will be: what does the artist think about those two songs (regarding the mixing/mastering job)?
Whatever he likes, those two songs should sound closer to match each other…

My two cents…

The artist loves the results for both songs, but has received feedback that the lyrics were a bit difficult to make out on Innermission.

Regarding Tribe, my understanding is that he listened to the master in the studio where the song had been mastered, and made the decision to go with this one right away. I’m assuming the master sounds good in the room in which it has been made and that’s the reason he was enthusiastic about it. He actually suggested that I do a remaster of Innermission that matches the tonal balance of Tribe, but I don’t want to do that because A/ it is not going to fix the volume issues that are mix-dependent and B/ I think the tonal balance on Tribe isn’t good.

My opinion about your dilemma is, as a pro, you should go the artist’s way.
In your case, the client is buying your technical skills not your opinion.

To me, you should explain your point of view then do whatever the client wants, even if you didn’t agree with artistic choices.

As an example, I didn’t really know about artistic choices for making Death Magnetic album (yep, again :slight_smile: ) but there should be some conflicts at somewhere…

As a professional that is generally my line of work too. However when it comes to mastering I don’t think it is such a good idea to knowingly make a poor master, because it might turn over yourself someday. I believe that if the mix isn’t good enough it is best to mention it to the artist and find a solution together rather than accepting the job and let a poor master out there.

This is why I’m seeking advice on these mastering jobs. What about my initial question? (your opinion on these 2 mastering jobs, regardless of who did them)

By the way I did redo a master from scratch and to my surprise I succeeded in revealing the vocals more than I expected to. Here it is:

Good point.

I get your point too. I should admit this is a tricky question: refusing a job or doing something you’re not “proud of”?

By the way, the lastest master is very spot on and works really well for that song, to me.

Last thought, if the artist prefers the other master, why does the other studio not also master the song you worked on? (if the client prefers the studio “sound” for instance)

I don’t have the answer to your question. The artist has chosen me for the mastering of the full album to be released in October but he wants to stick with the other studio’s master on Tribe. Might be a people matter like the producer being friends with the studio or something, or maybe he truly loves it but I don’t really get why since to me it is pretty obvious that it isn’t good. But again, I might be wrong on this. I could use more external feedback…

I am happy indeed with my last version, and I have already received a good feedback about it.

Merci l’ami ! :wink:

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I saw that :slight_smile:

At the end of the album, you would get an overall color for all songs… maybe it would be obvious of redoing things of that specific song…
We’ll see :blush: