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How does one become a mastering engineer?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Josh Ryan, Nov 22, 2002.


  1. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I have good ears (I think). I have a working knowledge of current mastering software. I've done it before for folks who already have a mixed final product with great success. Do I need a piece of paper as proof? Is there such a thing as an apprenticeship anymore? What do you all think? I need to quit my current job in the worst way. I sort of closed my eyes and tried to think about what I'd be really happy doing, and mastering peoples music correctly came up as one of the top choices. Seems like a really hard fields to break into though.
     
  2. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Anyone can get into the business, really. It's just that you have to start your own company. No need for schooling or diplomas, get some useable equipment and place an ad. See if you get any customers...

    If you want to do work at a big mastering house, with no schooling or documented experience... then I don't know. Perhaps you could ask people at Masterdisk and the likes what they did to get to the postions they're at today and what they'd recommend you to do.
     
  3. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    i have to disagree with oysterhead. This is a very competitive field. You do need to go to school (U. of Miami has a degree in this) It is completely based on acoustical physics and is, after all, engineering.

    I considered going into the field. My college profs told me to go for it if i wanted but that it is as difficult as becoming a symphony conductor - and not even for a great symphony...

    Think of it as being a very talented basball player. you might be tremoundously talented but just below making the cut to the big show. It's the same with this. Just make sure you know what you are up against.:)
     
  4. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Im looking into the same thing.

    Besides UM, I believe Northeastern, Berklee, Full Sail and several others have programs for this.

    Im still trying to decide where I should go for this.

    Peace
    Nick
     
  5. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Of course it is, I never said anything else. If you want to become someone in the business, you do need schooling. But even talentless, uneducated ME's with mediocre gear get some jobs because of good marketing and competitive prices.
     
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Well, I hope to avoid becoming a talentless hack at any rate! What do you all think of the online cert. programs? I don't see how they could possible help, as they take your ears out of the picture. -Maybe with the theory, but not possibly with the practice.
     
  7. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    it's like taking a theory class. You not only have to understand the theory but you have to apply it to really learn it and know how to use it. IMO:)
     
  8. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Yep, I agree. I think I'm moving to Boston soon anyway, there's opportunity there. Thanks for the replies everyone.
     
  9. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    If a REAL engineer read that, he would laugh until his milk came out his nose. When you go to school to study how to be a "recording engineer", you are not getting an engineering degree.
     
  10. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Really ? Have you ever taken a look at the math and science requirements for a university recording engineer program ? Under what discipline does "acoustics" fall ? Physics, I'm afraid.
     
  11. You might try looking at some of the local studios around your place, I am thinking of doing the same thing and there are two studios here that offer 8 months certificate programs. They are listed as private vocational institutes rather than being affiliated with the major schools, and offer tons of lab time.
     
  12. Johnalex

    Johnalex

    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    Here at the University of South Carolina there is a Media Arts program, in which you can specialize in Audio Engineering. THe only problem it is mainly film audio.

    Also there is SAE (school of Audio Engineering) in Nashville, Miami and NewYOrk. THey seem to have a lot of good stuff there so check them ouy.
     
  13. Really. There aren't any schools that I know of who offer recording engineering as a B. Eng. If there were I would be there instead of doing a B.Eng in electrical engineering. There are B.Eng programs in Acoustical engineering but this is not the same thing.

    Blisshead, maybe you could contact a mastering house for some insight into how to get into it. Check out places like Masterdisk or Gateway (Bob Ludwig). Actually, if you're going to be in Boston, Gateway isn't that far away (Portland, Maine). maybe they'd give you a tour or at least some information.
     
  14. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Thanks Mark, I will do that. I've found a few cert courses at Boston studios as well, I might do that first to make sure I'm on the right track.
     
  15. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    Yeah, I have, considering I was in a recording engineer program. The most complicated math and physics you do there are the things real engineers draw cartoons about.

    Since then, however, I have transferred to the acoustics program, which is a different program. Like Mark said, if you want to have an engineering degree, the closest thing is electrical engineering. What I am studying, acoustics, which is a different program than engineering, is a lot of physics, so you are right on that matter. Taking a physics class doesn't make me an engineer, and I realize this. I'm not going to be an engineer. The term is "acoustician". I will work WITH engineers more than likely, but I will not be one. Nor will anyone in a "sound recording" or "sound engineering" program.

    EDIT: Please don't think I am trivializing the courses or schools in any way. I'm in one, for crying out loud. But there is a pretty distinct line between an sound engineer and a "real" engineer. You put a sound engineer with some grad-school electrical engineers, and have them talk geek talk, and it will be like putting a gold fish in with a group of sharks. To be a "real" engineer, it takes a years and years of ball-busting work. To be a sound engineer, you could take a six-month program.
     
  16. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    Good, because I have kids I have to feed while I do this! Again. thanks for the input everyone. Mr.SuperDuck, is there a program you'd recommend? -Things to look out for when choosing a program that one might not initially think of? Thanks
     
  17. awesome

    awesome

    Aug 14, 2002
    Belgium
    Mastering is all about dedication, experience, dedication and expensive gear.

    Don't think school will make a big difference in becoming a mastering engineer, altough you will get loads of theoretical knowledge, which is of great value... but school ain't cheap.
    Experience is more important, if your lucky you might find a studio where you can work for free and get some experience ...if your lucky.

    If you want to become a mastering engineer, you need to put all your time in it. (I hope your not to attached to your social life, and yes you have to quit your dayjob) and if your talented, you might get somewhere.
    Also, you totally have to change your way of live(...no alcohol/drugs, healthy food, sport, listening to music in your studio all day long, ... don't know if you get much time left for your bass). (At least, that's what one of Hollands biggest mastering engineers told me)

    This is if you want to become a pro, you can also get some mastering plug-ins and do jobs for local bands. If that's what your after, go for it. If you are serious about it, I wish you all the best
    ... you'll need it, it's a hard business.

    However, things might be different where you live.

    edit:
    As my answer to you question "how does one become a mastering engineer": Get cd's of quality productions of all types of music, and listen
     
  18. I've got 10 years in the live audio "school of hard knocks" from the tiniest of bar gigs to televised events that about a billion people watched, so I think that qualifies me as a sound engineer. Hopefully my EE degree coupled with that real world experience will get me work in the design end of audio with someone like QSC, EV, etc. Maybe I'll design the ultimate bass amp...:D

    Mastering is a skill that definitely takes experience and dedication. A healthy dose of electrical and acoustic theory will be extremely helpful. Sorry, Josh, I don't know of any programs in the US, but I'd guess Berklee might be somewhere to look into.
     
  19. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    Design us a bass amp that fit's in your back pocket and sounds like an avalon, demeter, or eden setup depending on what colour you think about as you wish for the power to turn on. ;)
     
  20. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    Always check the placement rate. See if they'll help you get a job, and see how well they've done the past. It's no small coincidence that I transferred to the Acoustics program when I found out they were one of the two in the school that has a 100% placement rate. The other is Sound Systems Contracting.

    Probably THE most important thing though, is to suck it up and take an internship and start networking. Hopefully, wherever you choose to go, they'll help with that, too. At my school, I can't graduate WITHOUT taking an internship.

    The problem is, going to some kind of university and getting a degree for this kind of thing will take time, because you'll have to do the whole shebang, like General Education classes. (English, Social Sciences, that kind of crap.) It sounds like you don't have time for that kind of thing, and just want to take a few classes. I know Berklee offers a few post-production and recording classes, so you might want to check them out. I've also heard good things about Full Sail, but have not had any first-hand contact. (www.fullsail.com) They offer Post-Production education as well.

    In terms of schools, I don't know much beyond my own. PLEASE don't put TOO much stock into what I say, and research a ton. I DO know that trying to get into the "recording engineer" field is a bitch right now. The number of studios is going down, while the number of hopefuls is going up. (There are over 600 schools (supposedly) where you can study that topic, and each one is churning out a few hundred students EVERY YEAR. Basically, the owners are what dictate your work, and the placement out of our four-year program ain't so hot. The sad thing is, almost everyone in the Sound Recording program has this romantic notion that they'll open up their own studio and life will be great. That can happen, but it's not going to be easy at this point. Having said THAT, I have NO idea what the market is like for Mastering. That's something you would need to hear from a professional in the field, or better yet, a teacher who is in the field. Mastering seems like a good niche market, offset from the main one people want, which is the engineering. Call some professors at Berklee and Full Sail, and see what they have to say. Good luck. :)