We received an email recently from a guy at university who needed some questions answered in our field of expertise. We always aim to help young engineers who are studying the art of audio at university or college, because we know first hand how hard it is to get a professional opinion or a professional answer on any question when you are young. Most engineers are reluctant to share their view or feel they are too busy to help what they consider the little man for free. A philosophy I myself and company do not conform to. We enjoy helping others in any way we can. Which is why we answered the questions in this article and decided to publish them online for others to read.
Hello, I am currently studying a masters in Creative Enterprise at Southampton Solent University. As part of my studies I am writing a paper about audio mixing and mastering, more specifically the changes within the sector and what the future might hold for Mastering engineers. If you have some spare time it would help me greatly if you could answer some questions as you are a successful professional within the area. Thank you very much in advance.
Q1: How has the importance of a mixing or mastering engineer been affected due to the digitisation of hardware units to VST plug-ins?
A1: Whilst the digitisation of hardware to VST has meant that more and more artists can work on their music at home, it has also meant that more and more of the general public have become interested in creating music. So whilst we lost artists to the digital world who opted to become their own mixing and mastering engineer we gained twice as many due to music production being a lot more widely accessible.
Q2: What is your opinion of artificial intelligence within the industry? (Ozone mastering assistant, LNDR, smart eq)
A2: Pointless, it'll never replace the engineer. AI mastering is no where near the quality of professional mastering. There is and always will be people who strive to achieve the best results possible. Using Landr is a risk. You are putting your art and trust in a computer that can't differentiate between songs. No song is the same. It's a service that should have never seen the light of day. For the artists sake and the listeners sake.
Q3: What considerations do you give for how audio will sound on lower end speakers such as headphones and portable speakers?
A3: The end result of any master is for it to sound good across all devices. What shouldn't be done is the master should not be made to sound bad on a good setup and system just so it sounds good on an Ipod. More often than not if you get the masters sounding good in the mastering studio they will translate well across all devices.
Q4: How do you think the roll of a mastering engineer will change in the next 20 years? Do you view artificial intelligence as a threat?
A4: No because it is an inferior product and like all inferior products they lose appeal after the hype is gone. As a mixing and mastering engineer I feel these services are so bad that they actually bring more work in to professional studios. Since the rise of AI mastering our mastering service has increased in the amount of people that use it by well over half. There are unprofessional artists that release music with distortion in such as an AI master and there are professional artists which use a professional mastering engineer, there's a reason why these are the professional artists and that's because they release professional sounding music.