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Steve Lyon is a producer with more than twenty years of experience working with top people at the highest level of the industry. His credits include The Cure and Depeche Mode. He is currently working with Italian artist Laura Pausini, whose sales are in excess of 38 million.
Here's what Steve recently had to say about mastering in an interview with Audio Masterclass...
"It’s probably the only process where I really don’t want to know what goes on. I've gone through the whole process from rehearsals, going down to the pub with the band, seeing the band play live, talking endlessly about what you are going to be doing before even starting recording...
"I really want to give it to someone else who I trust and say, 'OK, this is what I've done. What do you think?' - Someone who is outside of the record company, production, management, band, girlfriend. I want to give it to someone and go, 'Right, get on with it.'
"So I'm fairly studious about who I want to use mastering-wise. I need someone whose opinion I can trust. I have a great working relationship with Andy VanDette who works at Masterdisk in New York. I can send him stuff by FTP and he can send it back.
"I can listen to it on a system I know, or on occasion I'll go over there, depending on the project. That's invaluable. I think there's a tendency for people to send it off to some Internet site who say they do mastering. They get it back and they go, 'Oh wow, it's been mastered'. I've heard some awful mastering on the Internet - and in professional studios. So you don't really know what you're going to get back"
When a producer with this much experience chooses not to do his own mastering, it is a telling comment on how specialized a process mastering is.
Of course, there's nothing to prevent anyone doing their own mastering. Indeed, it is extremely valuable to gain insights into the processes involved.
But even if you become an expert at mastering, you wouldn't have the independent opinion that an outside mastering engineer would bring.
You can hear more of Steve Lyon's thoughts on mastering, and many topics besides, in the Steve Lyon video, which is available free with enrollment onto the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering course.