If you’ve got the funds, it’s always best to get your mixes finalised by a professional mastering engineer if you can. That said, with so many powerful, easy to use and affordable plugins dedicated to mastering on the market, there’s certainly no reason not to give it a go yourself. Here are some things to bear in mind if you take the DIY route.
1. Make sure the mix is actually ready for mastering
You’d think this would go without saying, but there’s still a misconception among many producers that minor oversights at the mixing stage can be somehow ’fixed in the master’. As mastering should never involve heavy-handed remodelling of any kind, this is almost never the case; and given that you can have that mix open in your DAW in seconds, and the issue itself corrected in perhaps minutes, there’s really no excuse for not tackling it at the source, rather than attempting to compensate for problematic individual elements within the mix using a mastering EQ or compressor.
Of course, if you’re mastering someone else’s track, or the mix was made using gear you no longer have access to, you’ll need to either jump through the necessary hoops to get the offending element sorted out, or work around it as best as you can. If it’s something that’s crucial for the effectiveness of the track as a whole, though – a badly EQ’d vocal, say, or wildly unbalanced drum mix – don’t kid yourself into thinking that the latter option is workable when deep down you know it isn’t.
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