How Important Is A Good Mastering Engineer?

How Important is a Good Mastering Engineer?

Affordable mixing and mastering services engineer will tweak, correct, and make slight adjustments to the condition of your audio track to maximize the quality of the sound, for multiple or all playback devices and streaming platforms. Hiring a good mastering engineer can be crucial for your audio track to be heard in the best way it possibly can by your listeners. 

It’s important to have your audio mastered by a mastering engineer before being sent out for distribution. A good mastering engineer will complete the final touches and adjustments, that meet high standards and common trends in today’s music world, to your soundtrack for optimum quality in sound. 

Having someone provide audio enhancements to your music could be the difference between your tracks succeeding or failing. Having your sound engineered for quality playback on multiple streaming and audio services is a huge bonus for your track(s). But finding a good mastering engineer could be the tricky part. Read on below to master the ability to pick out a good mastering engineer from a substantially large mastering engineer crowd. 

Why Use a Mastering Engineer?

Using a mastering engineer to perfect technical audio adjustments can greatly impact the way your soundtrack is heard by the masses. A mastering engineer can provide your audio with a more positive consumer experience using expert knowledge and the finest technical equipment. 

Without a mastering engineer, your sound may only have a great sounding playback on the devices you listen from. Rather than being skillfully mastered to be played back on multiple other devices, including the radio, and other playback systems available today like speakers, headphones, etc. 

Through years of practice, learning, and training, mastering engineers have an ear for detail and this is their greatest weapon in altering the sound to meet the highest standards required today. A mastering engineer can hear things behind the music that you, as an artist, might not. 

Here is what a mastering engineer keeps an ear out for when hired to make the final touches to your sound:

  • Volume levels are equal across all tracks
  • Identifies and compresses all highs and lows so they are equalized 
  • Detect glitches and hiccups where they don’t work or belong
  • Quality and clarity of the sound
  • Unnecessary distractions
  • Consistent playback across multiple listening devices (stereo, radio, vinyl, cd’s, headphones, speakers, etc)

A mastering engineer won’t change your sound – they are not paid to mix the tracks – they will enhance the sound in a way that improves the quality of the audio so that your music is ready for sharing with the people. 

Mastering engineers typically have experience with mixing audio too so might make some suggestions regarding mixing. It’s your choice whether to take the advice or ask them to complete the mastering without adjusting or altering any mixing. 

How Much Should You Pay a Mastering Engineer?

A mastering engineer is paid to provide you with the final edit of a perfectly tuned and quality sounding album or track. What would you pay for perfection?

What you should pay a mastering engineer will depend on their experience and your budget. In some cases, you can negotiate the price to make it more affordable for you and your band (if you have one). But experienced mastering engineers might not come cheap. 

Here are a few things to note about how to pay a mastering engineer:

  • Mastering engineers generally charge per track
  • Some mastering engineers will offer “packages” at set prices
  • Some studios will charge per hour
  • Not all mastering engineers will offer full refunds
  • The cost will vary depending on the level of expertise

And here is what you might end up paying a mastering engineer to perfect your audio:

  • Anywhere between US$50 – US$200 per track for mastering only
  • Mastering a whole album can cost up to US$2000 +
  • Approximately US$150 – US$700 for mixing and mastering
  • Mixing and mastering a full album can cost up to US$7000 +

Here are some tips to consider when choosing a mastering engineer:

  • Mastering a full album may qualify you for a discounted rate with some mastering engineers
  • Costs might not include manufacturing of cd’s etc so always check what’s involved

You might have to pay a deposit, which is only fair as they will be proving you with a service. But full payment is usually taken between the last approval from the artist and final edits are delivered. Once you’ve approved the sound and made the agreed payment, the final mastered soundtrack will be delivered to you. 

If your budget is tight and finding an experienced mastering engineer to provide you with the final edits of your album is proving too expensive, consider hiring a master engineer in training. They’re cheaper, but it’s always a great idea to get a new pair of unbiased ears to hear your music before it goes out for distribution. Plus, you’d be helping out with getting a newer mastering engineer with some more experience and exposure. 

Please keep in mind payment is different across the board and the above information is a general payment information structure. 

How Much Does a Good Mastering Engineer Charge?

A good mastering engineer will charge you exactly what they believe their professionalism and skill are worth. Good mastering engineers, experts in their field, can charge hundreds per hour or track and it’s generally because they’re worth it. 

When we say “good mastering engineers” what we mean is experienced mastering engineers with years of training and expertise in the field of audio and technical trends that suit consumers listening to your music. 

Not all, but many, experienced mastering engineers typically work from soundproof studios that have been designed specifically for perfecting the sound. Think foam coated, multiple speakers small and large, hi-tech mixing tables. Equipment that holds a lot of value and is worth a lot of money.

As a music lover and artist, you already know that playing music from different speakers and in different positions will alter how you hear sound. For example, if you’re listening to music from your mobile phone and place it in a bathroom sink (without water of course) the sound will either be muffled or create a type of funnel that ‘turns’ the volume up – try it!

A soundproof, acoustic-treated studio offers mastering engineers a purer sound true to the listening ear so they can easily pick out and tune-up impurities in the quality of the sound. Evidently, these studios, or renting these studios, do not come cheap. 

  • A mastering engineer using a professional studio environment might charge per the hour
  • Mastering engineers that are renting the studio space will charge you enough to cover the costs of the rent as well as their mastering services
  • Engineers that have years of experience and expertise in vinyl’s, cd’s, cassettes, MP3s, and more, will charge more
  • You should expect that a renowned, award-winning mastering engineer will charge you up to US$300 per track or approximately up to US$500 an hour

When you’re working out your budget for your album, you’ll need to discuss or decide what level of mastering engineer you want for your work and put a decent budget aside for the mastering of your music. 

Conclusion

We recommend hiring a mastering engineer, who’s trained and experienced in their field, for applying the final and finishing touches to your music for superior results in the quality of the sound. A good mastering engineer might not come cheap, but when they provide you with outstanding and noticeable results in the conditioning and value of your soundtrack, you’ll see why they come at the prices they do and that hiring a good mastering engineer is important and is usually worth it. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *