Do you need to hire a mastering engineer?
To answer this question let me ask you this: do you want your music to sound professional?
Here is what you can expect from a mastering engineer:
1. He will adjust the level and perceived loudness of a song to make sure it meets the standards set by the genre or the publishing platform.
2. He will make sure that the song sounds good on any device, be it a high-end Hi-Fi system, or just your grandma’s smartphone.
3. He will place the finishing touches on the mix to act as a second opinion or a second set of ears.
4. If you are working on an album, the sound engineer will be responsible for taking each individual song and making sure that they’re consistent and cohesive when presented as a full album.
Let’s talk about the biggest difference between mixing and mastering:
1. The mixing engineer has control over each individual track.
2. The mastering engineer only has control over the stereo left and right track provided by the mixing engineer.
Now let me answer the main question: should you hire a mastering engineer?
a) did a great mixing job and your track sounds perfect on every playback system and
b) if all your tracks on an album sound unified and consistent — then you don’t need a mastering engineer.
But I can tell you from experience — most of the time it is not the case.
Most every song would benefit from a trained mastering engineer who knows his stuff. Because mastering is an art. It can make or break your track.
If you’ve spent hours listening to a song in the context of mixing, it can sometimes be difficult to take a step back and look at the big picture like a mastering engineer would. Getting a second set of ears to add their artistic and technical contributions to the song is always good.