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Unbiased Growth Time

-" I am not to judge the song or the skill level of the musicians, but to judge the final product from a technical stand point in regards to playback ability on a variety of playback systems and balance throughout the audio spectrum." ...That's a mantra I've live by when I started mastering music for commercial playback and still live by today. Grab a coffee and lets talk about hearing bias when mastering. My name is Dave from DC Audio Mastering and I'm The Modern Mastering Engineer. There is one distinct reason mastering is a completely separate stage in music production. The mastering stage usually requires a different studio than what the music was recorded in or mixed in and also requires a different engineer entirely. Why is this? The same tools are usually used and a mix engineer is totally capable of mastering. So why is it that at the professional level, music is sent out to a new facility with a new engineer to perform the mastering process? Put simply a mastering engineer will have no audio bias meaning he hasn't heard or seen the recording and mixing process and therefore can decide what the track may need to bring it to a commercial polish. If the mix engineer is also the mastering engineer (nothing wrong with that, in fact I teach mix engineers to transition into mastering for mastering their own music) He/she may miss things that a mastering engineer may hear. The mix engineer has heard the track so many times that faults in the final mix become normal. Its the same effect if you mix for hours without proper breaks and then come back in the morning and you wonder what went wrong. A mastering engineer will have an unbiased ear because they are hearing the music for the first time. The mastering engineer will analyze the track on a technical stand point and decide what is necessary to do. As a mix engineer what do you do then to become unbiased to your own music? Truthfully you can never be truly unbiased, there will always be a part of the music that will be engrained in your mind. That being said time is the only thing that can help you become unbiased. Make the "final, final, final mix 23" and print it. Now walk away, and by walk away I mean work on other projects or get away from your studio. This spacing yourself from your music is crucial. Don't listen to your final mix anymore just put it away and come back in a week to two weeks time(I call this "unbiased growth time"). Yes you read that correct, for me one full week was the sweet spot. When I would start mastering a mix after my "unbiased growth time", I felt I could truly trust my ears. As time went on, two days was all I needed to make unbiased mastering decisions on my own mixes. There are other factors that come into play as well when transitioning into the mastering phase, but ill save those for another day. The most important take away of todays email is that mastering engineers have a clear unbiased mind before they even listen to the music. This is a key lesson when learning to master. Anyways friends if you've made it this far I truly appreciate it and stay tuned for more.


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