The Song Path: Choosing a Mastering Engineer
Written by Andy Patterson
Choosing a Mastering Engineer
So, you’ve got your finished album, and you’ve decided to get it mastered. There are a few ways you can go about it, and there are a multitude of engineers out there… so how do you go about choosing one?
1 – Who does you favourite artist use?
If you like the music your favourite artist produces, then it follows that you might like the work that their mastering engineer does. Saying that, if your favourite artist is a Thrash metal star, and you are producing an English Folk album, that may not follow, but as a general rule, it can work. So, if you love Ed Sheeran and want to use the same engineer and facilities that his ‘+’ album, then you could try Christian Wright at Abbey Road Studios in London. Note this can work out to be expensive – read the budget option below for more info..
2 – Location Location Location
If you want to ‘attend’ the mastering session (an ‘attended session’) then it’s a good idea to be in the same area, or at least part of the country that your mastering engineer is, so you don’t then end up spending an extra few hundred pounds getting to the studio.
By the way, some engineers don’t allow attended sessions due to their setup and location, and some may charge more… it’s a good idea to enquire when you first book the time…
3 – Budget
Money matters, so whereas you may love Ed Sheeran’s album, and you may live in St John’s Wood (see point 2 above) you may still not be able to afford Abbey Road mastering. However, some studios, Abbey Road included, now offer an Online Mastering service. Abbey Road charge £90 (plus VAT) per track, with extras on top for whichever format you decide upon (CD, Vinyl or DDP). This is for an unattended session and you don’t get to name your engineer.. but may be a way of getting your album mastered in a top class venue for less.. http://www.abbeyroadonlinemastering.com for more info. Metropolis studios also do this: http://www.imastering.co.uk where £90 plus VAT also gets you an un-named engineer or £125 plus VAT will get you a named engineer.
4 – Ask people…
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.. So ask your friends who have used mastering engineers, who they used and their experiences of them, even if your friends are a thrash metal band and you are doing English folk..
We have used Dan Dan Fitzgerald of SoundSound.ie for the pat 3 SMCC albums, and we found him through the fact Andy had worked with him previously on a few other projects. He has now also mastered Ketebul Music artist Winyo’s debut album.
We’d obviously also recommend him… http://www.soundsound.ie