Do I Need To Go To School To Become An Audio Mastering Engineer?
Written by John Rogers
Do you need to go to school (college) to become an audio mastering engineer? The short answer is definitely "NO!"I never went to school, and I'll go head to head with any of the top audio mastering engineers in the world!
I don't have exact data on this, but I would say most audio mastering engineers do not have a college degree. The ones I know, most of them don't.And I know a lot of them.
And when I say school, I'm talking about a bachelor's degree from a major university.This is not a requirement.
But, you do need training. Books, videos, a 6 month to a year audio engineer trade school or course, and then either a hands on apprenticeship at a local studio, or even working at your own home studio using all the techniques you've learned.You have to put the time in and hone your craft.
How To Become A Great Mastering Engineer!
You become a great mastering engineer by learning the craft, practicing, and becoming great at audio mastering. This may sound like a silly answer, but these are the steps everyone takes.
The "learning the craft" part is where you have many options. You can go to a university, to an audio engineer trade school, take an online course, you could even learn from videos and books.
Of course, the best place to start is with my audio mastering book. 17 years of information wrapped up into 180 pages! You can read it here - Best Song Mastering Book.
The Music Production Secrets Series by John Rogers
I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999. I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100! Some prices worked better than others. Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge. Read more....
I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.And also before they started making very high quality plugins.
I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!Ha!
Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS. Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes. During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released. It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!
What does mastering do to a song? Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.
Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process. When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style.Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc.I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.
Millions of people suffer from tinnitus. A new study shows around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it in some form, but many have never even heard of it until they get it! Unfortunately, I was one of those people. It can happen quickly and it lasts a lifetime...
I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training.He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it.And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn!Ha!