Smoke & Mirrors?
Chillllll … get your best meditative, pasture fed, organic yoghurt yoga-bliss on, kick back with your favourite tipple .. or spark a fat one. If all else fails, watch the parental guidance embedded video.
Check your mixes & masters on systems you know well, at your leisure. Emperor’s new clothes approaches that rely on you believing it must sound amazing cos of where it’s done, or how much you’re being rinsed, might well leave your mix naked and ashamed on a big club system, or streaming tears on Spotify. Been there… as the artist… back at a big Soho mastering house in the 90s. The monolithic Kubrick monitors were too unsullied for our reference tracks .. mmm…just supreme-being, golden-eared gnosis, right? The ritual anointing of the CD master gave enough holy-relic reverence to damp down the cognitive listening dissonance every time the hallowed disc graced a CD player… for a while. But aural reality broke the veil and led down a Confucian rabbit hole. Where, at some pretentious, smokey big-jock club nite I finally smacked face-first into the comedy Kung Fu Panda mirror :
Doh! Idiot, that big mastering house guy was disappearing up his own tailpipe…
Wizard’s cloak pulled, contrite self re-mastered those tracks. Properly this time.
Sorry for bustin any safe-space bubbles, but there really is no magic mastering secret. Doing it consistently well takes ability, discipline, years of experience and a willingness to really listen – to the tracks, references and the artist and producer. Better get some decent kit and monitors too. And good luck with the automated one-fit services. FFS any YouTuber can do better than LANDR – just get Izotope Ozone or Slate’s magycal mystikal FG-X. You might even avoid slicing the bottom-end punch off the mix like Steve Slate does in his hilarious demo – listen to it on some decent full-range monitors 😮
Give it a few millennia though – Artificially ignorant (AI) automated services might be really good when they stop messin with the peezy stuff like drivin taxis and planes, and figure out the stochastic hill-climbing algorithms for the meaning of life. Cos as Thomas Hardy nearly said “computers won’t existentially self-learn that sometimes beauty lays not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolises, any time soon.” Or as they say here in Notts:
Knew the 3 years of AI PhD research would come in one day. Namste.