When it comes to making a record, mastering is usually the last thing on most people’s mind. After all, there’s a whole lot more that goes into it before you even come close to the mastering process.

However, this lack of forethought often causes a problem.

Too often people wait until the last minute (just after the mix has been completed) before they put any thought into their mastering.

This can be a costly mistake.

The biggest reason is that it often puts you and the mastering engineer “Under the gun” to get it done fast. And, when this happens, it’s often impossible to get the best possible sound from your music.


Well, the most important reason to get music mastering is the fresh, skilled, and independent ears. This is because they are the only way to catch mistakes and ensure your music has the “Hit” sound before it’s released.

Otherwise, only those who have a lot invested in the music (or people with some type of bias) are going to give you feedback on your music – and that’s how deadly mistakes often occur (Click here for more on this topic).

So, when you give the mastering engineer only a day or two to get it done fast, then there’s no guarantee you’re going to get the best possible result. 

Plus, you’ll often find that the best mastering engineers are booked weeks in advance and so they have to pass on your project to one of the less busy (and in relation, often less good) mastering engineers.

Yet, this is what most people do. They go with a mastering studio that promises to get their music done in a short time and expect the same results than if they went with a “Real pro.”

You see, the best mastering engineers take enough time as it takes to get the master right. If a song doesn’t need much, then they can finish their job more quickly. But, if there are serious changes that need to be made, then a pro is going to take his time to make sure the best possible sound is achieved. And since the pro has many happy clients because of this approach to work, he is often booked weeks in advance.

This includes talking with you to get a clear picture of what you want… and giving the music as many listens and adjustments as it takes before he feels confident in his work. If his ear gets tired from listening to the music too many times in a row, then he’ll take a break to let it rest – and have new ideas come-up.

Simply put, what all this means to you is simple… don’t wait until the last moment to start thinking about your mastering. You should begin by communicating with your mastering engineer during the recording and mixing phases to make sure you have the best sound for the engineer to master.

Because, remember, the mastering engineer can make a good recording sound great, but he can’t rid a bad recording and remove all of its flaws.

Then, when you finally get to the mastering phase, you should give the engineer as much time as it takes to work his “Magic”— because you know that rushing is going to mean you can easily miss-out on some killer improvements.

This means, if possible, pre-book a slot in his mastering schedule far in advance to make sure time is not an issue (because his schedule is too full to take in your project in your desired time frame).

About the Author:
Lorenz Vauck is an Audio Mastering Engineer, Musician, and Internet Entrepreneur from Dresden, Saxony, Germany. He is the Managing Director and Chief Mastering Engineer of XARC Mastering, one of the world’s first online audio mastering studios established in 2003.