Genre in Mastering with 15 Professional Mastering Engineers Part 1
In this three-part blog series about the role of genre in mastering, we’re exploring the question, “How much does genre determine what happens in mastering?” In Part 1, we start by looking at deliverables and level in general. Read Part 2, Processing Techniques and Part 3, Workflows. To understand the meaning of the question, it’s helpful to break that down by asking, are there clearly definable attributes that live inside genre definitions? If the answer is “yes,” then it would seem to follow that a mastering engineer who is mastering a jazz record would have a different “process” in mind compared to someone mastering an electronic record.
You might be tempted to jump to the conclusion, “Of course that’s true,” but I decided to step away from assumptions and ask a panel of experienced mastering engineers to speak to the same set of questions from the perspective of a single genre. It’s interesting to see themes contrast and agreements emerge, sometimes in surprising ways. There’s something to be learned here, about mastering itself and how certain core values stand apart from issues of “style.”
Below you will find the list of engineers who generously gave some of their time to help all of us think about this together, as well as a song that each worked on. Before going further, I think it’s important to understand that most or all mastering engineers are incredibly versatile in their output, musical taste, and sensitivity. In this case I asked each to help us by selecting a single genre for this comparative piece. I hope you enjoy Part 1. It may answer some questions and it may raise others. Feel free to weigh in on social media.