Mastering to me is a bit like applying stain to wood: done correctly, it brings out the definition of what’s there rather than covering it up. But making mastering effective is a really special art. Danny Wyatt, a veteran mastering engineer now working as an instructor with Dubspot, has some serious credentials both on the mixing and mastering side and as an educator. He’s worked with a range of artists over the years (Wax Poetic featuring Norah Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Thievery Corp., the Roots, Ultra Records, and Mos Def, to name a few). But he also doesn’t mystify his knowledge: he’ll tell you straight what he believes, both face-to-face and as a teacher.
I feel I know Danny’s work a whole lot better, too, having had him master my new solo electronic album, which will be released soon. You can get sort of a loose sense of how someone works when they’re manipulating someone else’s material, but you really get close to their technique when they’ve got their hands on your own stuff.
I like handing over work to a mastering engineer both because they can then provide some objective distance, and because they specialize in the craft. But knowing basic mastering technique is increasingly essential for anyone working in sound – aspiring engineer or not.
Danny has some free videos out, included here, that explain some very useful techniques and tools:
- How to use a limiter, here illustrated with iZotope’s Ozone 4, including its “Loudness Maximizer.” We’re talking distortion-free loudness, not nasty, justly-notorious brick-wall limiting.
- Mid-Side EQ, which I’ve heard Danny call “ear candy,” for widening the stereo effect of a track (here with another of my tracks as the example). Again, he uses Ozone, though other tools could work, too.
- Compression of a bass with URS Classic Console Strip Pro – dubstep-style here, but applicable to a wide range of things. especially with the emulation of the LA-2A modeled compressor.
If those videos whet your appetite, Danny’s class is now taking enrollment for an in-depth online course, so you can benefit from this level of instruction without having to be in New York:
And stay tuned, as I did an interview with Danny that digs into his workflow and approach, which we’ll have here on CDM soon.
Have a look at the videos right here: