At last, you, too, can achieve great mastering.

Mastering – a step by step guide to good sound by monolake

Sadly, as Robert Henke concedes:

i still think it needs to be louder and it lacks dynamics and punch. I STILL THINK IT NEEDS TO BE LOUDER AND IT LACKS DYNAMICS AND PUNCH!

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

No further comment at this time.

  • jengel

    This is brilliant. Added bonus, soundcloud lets you see the waveform as he takes it from something with dynamics and character and turns it into a giant black brick.

  • Robert Halvarsson


  • BirdsUseStars

    Now talk through a guitar distortion pedal to prove that distortion pedals are bad. 

    • dumafuji

      really good point. i think the audio example is brilliantly made. but to me, the point is not that "mastering" is bad, it's that you need to understand and listen well to what you are doing to the signal to do it well. blindly piling a bunch of processing at the end of the chain isn't going to get you a good result.

      making the waveform fat like a sausage can sound great earlier on in the process with certain sounds, but on the whole mix, you are just losing dynamics by making too much (less important) sound too prominent and too loud. the reverb and white noise distortion in the clip did a nice job of that.

      • Polite_Society

        I don't think that the point was mastering was bad, it's just having a dig at the typical mastering techniques that music seems to use these days.

  • I know some people are going to be against my opinion but why are we even attempting to Master? Just because we have neat mastering plug-ins shouldn't give people the green light to Master and release their own material. I still firmly believe that if you're producing demos in the box…leave the mastering to the pros until you're ready to step up to a nice mix down studio and then…at that point…send it to the mastering house leave mastering to the pros.
    That's the problem with music these days…there isn't any quality control anymore. I'm sure that's a discussion for another day.

  • cool story. comment popups kinda fuck it up though.

    • lionelvaldellon

      You can turn off the comments by clicking the word balloon in the bottom right corner of the soundcloud widget.

  • Dr. U

    haha so true. in the last 10 yrs people have found a whole bunch of buzzwords, exactly like louder, dynamic, warm, punchy, etc etc. my favorite is analog!

  • This is funny.

  • Paul

    Funny? It is cringeworthy to be honest. I mean, ok, this guy has a point to make about mastering. But let us not forget, it is a point he has already made some time ago. I think perhaps he is labouring the point some now.
    Its not that I disagree with the point about shoddy mastering, and the over use of compression (On the contrary, I quite agree). But christ, Simon Cowell has done more harm to modern music than shoddy mastering ever did. If bad mastering and the compression obsession was all we had to worry about with music these days, we'd be laughing.
    Fact of the matter is, much of the time, nigh on every stage that comes before mastering often sucks too.

  • rather than following certain procedures, mastering is most about listening, and you cannot do it just by compressing, eq, and limiting, adding some sub bass.. you have to listen to it, and evaluate the aesthetic context of the music… you don't want to master autechre, apparat, or monolake.. the way as you would master Dillinger Escape plan, Meshuggah, Mastodon or The Architects.. or a recording by Berliner Philarmoniker, etc. there are a common certain procedures specific for each genre (which tend to develop over the course of time as anything in music), but mostly it's about using years in a meaningful way

  • salamanderanagram

    i'd be more interested if he actually used the techniques he's talking about in a way that made sense, and in the end it actually sounded a little better. overdoing every part of the processing chain obviously sounds like shit, i certainly don't need that spelled out for me.

  • "The louder something is, the more loudness it has."


  • peterkirn

    Well, it's concise, though. The answer to how to make mastering *effective* is to … not do this. 😉

  • Bob

    You guys are crazy. Leave mastering to the priest class elite? Why ate we even making music then? Buy a cd. Leave it to the pros. Electronicusic is all about having total control and no limit to your vision. Must be working mastering guys posting here today.