It’s happened a few times now, where I’ve had to dig some old relic I made in a former life and master it.
Luckily back in the old days I was thorough, and have a 24-bit premaster with headroom, but that’s beside the point. It’s also beside the point that the mix prompting me to post this, is pretty much a laundry list of things I whinge about to producers these days (mix compression/high passing subs/boobs and bums/etc). It’s both amusing and kind of reassuring that all the things I moan about, I moan about because I’ve made those mistakes myself in the past.
But I digress. That’s not what this post was about really. The one I’m listening to (and getting quite emotional about) as I type this is eleven years old. Eleven bloody years. While I’ve performed it live many times, that live version was a) booming out in some venue somewhere, b) had no drums in it, as I was playing those myself. Point being, I haven’t listened to this mix in eleven years. A whole lot has changed in those years. My entire life aside, it’s no longer the trusty old Sennheiser HD270s (or was it the 600s?) I mixed this tune on, but an all-singing, all-dancing mastering room with daft acoustics and ridiculous speakers.
And it’s still incredibly difficult to be objective about it.
It’s not the first time this has happened either, although if I remember correctly the last time it was only 7 or 8 years between listens. And as I recall, that got me about 10 minutes of objectivity before I didn’t know what the hell I was doing any more, whether it sounded right/wrong/better/worse.
There’s a *huge* post in the writing (3 years so far, sorry everyone) about this whole side of things, and there are many other posts around the internet about it, of course. But stark, personal examples like this really do hammer it home. There are of course exceptions to the ‘rule’, and the odd freak who is either mentally disciplined or skilled enough to remain objective throughout the whole creative > production process. But I’m definitely not one of those – having eleven years away from a track got me something like twenty minutes before I had to check I wasn’t pushing the paint around.
So the point of this post is the absolutely obvious one – the old thing about the most important factor in mastering being objectivity. As a wise man once said, you only get one chance to hear something for the first time. If you want your stuff to sound its best, give it to someone who’s never heard it before.