What Do I Need To Master My Recordings?


I have a Sony Vaio Studio CPU. I Put 2 512 MB of Ram and two 120 hard drives in it and I have the Mbox interface with Pro Tools with a Power Akg Mic and some good headphones.

What else do I need cuz everything comes out studio clear already but I have people telling me I need a mixboard and good sound card when all my sound comes out of the Mbox and not the sound card and with the AKG Mic this butthead said AKG mic's are not good mic's..............I just think it's hate coming my way...what ya'll think?


You will need:

1. A calibrated room with amplifiers and loudspeakers and about 100 to 1000 hours of listening to post mastered material in it.

2. A good 2 track recorder. Hi word length and bit rate compatible. This device should be able to check for errors in the bit stream.

3. Excellent editing software. Sound forge 7.0 works well for this application.

4. Skill in translation. It is most imperative to know what your mastering will sound like WHILE it is being performed on several different types of audio playback systems, from clubs, to high end to boom box to walkman headphones. This can only be gained by trial and error experience. After close to 30 years of doing this, I must stay brushed up on this to be in the game.

5. A basic understanding of recording, mix down and playback levels whereas you can fit your mix down into mastered state to TRANSFER it to the consumer realm. A mix down is in the professional realm, the 2 mix mastered final is in the consumer realm. BIG differences in dynamics and equalization curves to make it work proper.

6. Read books on the subject to get to know what all mastering encompasses. It is not just eq and compression. It is art. It requires you listen for things that the normal person will never listen for.

7. Practice using high quality works. Listening to over the top compressed and squashed poor mastering as of late and trying to duplicate it seems to be a fad. For much less than what it will cost you in time and trouble and purchasing the hardware, learning to use it and doing hundreds of hours of experimentation, you can have a pro mastering house do it much better, much less cost.

Consider if you are going to solely be a mastering engineer. The premise of mastering is to be another set of ears, separate from the performers or the mix down artist to take the music to a whole different level. Recordists and mix down engineers usually make very poor mastering decisions and it shows.

Michael Fossenkemper

Distinguished past mastering moderator
Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2002
I'm not sure what a mic has to do with mastering. I think you might be confusing mixing and recording with mastering.

Thomas W. Bethel

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2001
Are you asking what you need to "master" (meaning how to gain control over your recordings) your recordings or how to "master" (make them sound better) your recordings?

Microphones have nothing at all what so ever to do with mastering and if you get 100 recording engineers in the same room they will have as many ideas as to what constitutes a good microphone for certain instruments and where to place them as there are engineers in the room. There will be names that are heard more often than some others and these may include AKG, Neumann and Shure since these are microphones everyone uses every day. What makes one "better" than another only the person using it will be able to determine what is better for his or her current situation.

When you asked about needing additional equipment ... if you are happy with what you are doing and using then use what you have. Lots of people have lots of different ideas about what kinds of equipment other people need to do recording. Take all such "advice" with a grain of salt. Everyone has equipment that they think is the "GREATEST" and want to tell others to use the same thing.

I have heard AMAZING recordings done on 4 track cassette machines and I have heard really messed up recordings done on Neve or SSL consoles. Most really good recording and mastering is done by people with good ears, who have the experience to do the things they are doing and know what they are doing by actually doing it and not reading it out of the pages of Mix or EQ magazine. When ever you read a magazine article about a particular microphone or outboard processor being the BEST realize that this same reviewer probably said EXACTLY the same thing about another piece of equipment within the last year and also realize that because it worked well in this particular situation does not mean it will work the same way for you nor in every situation. Just because the reviewer found the XYZ compressor to be very good when doing RAP voice tracks does not mean it will be able to do as good a job on Classical music or for film sound and if you are buying a piece of equipment JUST because it got a good review in Mix or PAR then you will probably be disappointed when you have it in your own studio using it for something different.

Hope this helps...