I think we just need to accept that different people express themselves in different ways, and try not to take it personally. Ego/cock fights don’t really benefit anyone, no matter who’s in the right or wrong.
I try to read confrontational posts as being written in a friendly, conversational way. However, I appreciate that because I’ve got Scottish roots I’m happier than most to accept argumentative points in a friendly spirit! It’s in the language;
“See you, Jimmy?” advancing with raised fists and a grin
My relationship with mastering’s evolved a bit as I’ve developed. I think I wrote about it a few weeks ago. But just to give an illustrative example;
The first attended mastering session I paid for, the mastering guy did lots. Big low end boost, My mixes were very bass light and overly congested in the lower mids. Also big high end boost to try to inject some life and sparkle. M/S EQ used to deal with issues ranging from whistle tones in the aggressive vocals to thinning out an overly thuddy snare to getting rid of low mid resonances on hard panned acoustic guitars. Compression to try to get some movement and punch going. The engineer was, shall we say, a busy man that day.
It was a huge eye opener because the above mentioned issues… I didn’t even know they were things that could happen! I had no concept of them, and wasn’t listening for them as I mixed. Very educational.
And from then on, I knew that resonances could be problems and looked out for them. I knew that generally I could push the bottom and top more, and move away from the natural sound being picked up by the mic - that over-hyping sound could have a place. Of course that also fed back into the way I recorded - the choice of tones, mic placement etc.
A couple of years later I was better at mixing, and at that time I learned a different lesson about low end. I had started using mix bus compression, and gone with settings I thought worked in the mix room.
In the mastering studio, I could hear the low end much better and suddenly I could hear that the bus comp settings I’d chosen, and all my mix decisions, were wrong - the low end was pumping and strangely brittle, and now that I could hear it, the whole mix was like a house built on sand - nothing made sense any more.
Again, a learning experience. And this learning carries on all the time, in fits and starts and backward steps and the sudden clicking into place of things that had hitherto eluded me.
I recently produced/mixed an album and felt confident enough in what I’d done that I suggested to my client, who’s working on a limited budget, that rather than pay to get it mastered, he’d better spend that money on other things that would have concrete benefits far beyond what mastering would add.
It wasn’t that good mastering wouldn’t be a net benefit. It was just that, as mixed, it already sounded way, way better than the last album I did for him. So to get a mastering engineer who could add significant value would have cost a lot of money - I was confident that I could do better than an automated system or a cheap engineer. In the reality of the budget, there are better ways to ensure the album sees the greatest success.
So I mixed it to the best of my ability, and at the end I compiled all the mixes together, worked out track spacings, brought the volume up to what I considered a healthy level for the genre, compared and contrasted different songs. I paid attention to the micro- and macro-dynamics which involved everything from more compression to simple limiting to manually changing the clip volume of sections of the songs (always with an eye on how the album flowed together) to simply doing nothing.
I wouldn’t call it mastering. I’m not a mastering engineer. It was, as mixing is the process of turning individual tracks into a cohesive mix, turning individual mixes into a cohesive album. In some cases, I went back into the mixes and changed elements of the mix where certain tracks weren’t sitting right against others. Interestingly, it was almost always some aspect of the low end.
A boring anecdote I’m sure, but the process did make me think about the relationship between mixing and mastering in a new light.