Dear Mastering Engineer,

I'm sorry that I was:

?? unable to attend the mastering session.

?? unaware of your work.

?? unaware that the band is using you to master the project I did for them.

But I was really looking forward to hearing your mastering job.The band was:

?? really enthusiastic about the projects you've done for some of their friends and/or influences.

?? really enthusiastic about the last project you did for them.

?? really enthusiastic about your own enthusiasm.

?? really enthusiastic about your ultra- competitive rates.

I do have a few comments about the project and hope that we can get a few revisions done. I appreciate that you:

?? felt free to use your own excellent judgmentin regards to the song spacing.

?? referred to the specific list of requests I sent in regards to the song spacing.

?? tried to cram all the songs as close together as possible.

Also, I appreciate that you:

?? made the usual appropriate judgment calls on the audio.

?? "do things differently from other mastering engineers."

?? paid no attention at all to the low end.

?? liked that episode of Mythbusters where they shattered the wine glass.

But I feel that the equalization could have been:

?? more extreme.

?? less extreme.

?? engaged.

I don't really know anything about your particular setup, but was wondering:

?? what sort of gear you're using?

?? if you could entirely avoid the use of any piece of gear with the word "Maximizer" in the name?

Along similar lines, I like the fact that the album was:

?? louder

?? quieter

than the mixes I sent, but feel that:

?? it could be a bit louder still.

?? the amount of limiting is taking away from the sound and feel of the record's original intent.

?? convincing the deaf that they can hear is unnecessary.

Also, I think that songs X, Y, and Z could have been:

?? slightly louder.

?? slightly quieter.

?? considered "part of the album," in terms of volume and tone.

Thank you so much for:

?? calling/emailing with specific questions about the tops and tails of the songs.

?? doing a great job cleaning up the tops and tails.

?? ignoring the obvious need to clean up the tops and tails.

And thank you so much for

?? including a sheet with PQ and ISRC codes.

?? over-nighting the production master directly to manufacturing after an extensive QC check.

?? sending us one copy of a cheap, grocery store-bought CD-R with illegible ballpoint pen labeling on it in a used paper sleeve.

If you have any questions about anything at all, feel free to:

?? call or email me.

?? completely ignore whatever intentions might exist and "do your thing."

?? not really do anything that involves any effort on your part.

I genuinely hope that you

?? will be able to get these revisions done in a relatively short time frame

?? won't spend three weeks "getting the de-essing right"

?? won't be sending us these revisions at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning after an 80-hour work week

and that

?? these comments are helpful to you.

?? you're not offended by these requests.

?? you actually get this letter.

Sincerely, Concerned Audio Engineer

Dear Mix Engineer/artist:

Thanks for sending me your record for mastering. The mixes were:

?? so good they made me cry.

?? "really interesting."

?? 128 kbps MP3s.

I really liked:

?? the sense of depth and space and the overall mix aesthetic

?? the "creative" use of compression

?? the 12 dB of 12 kHz you added to the hi-hats


?? the guitar sounds in particular were incredible.

?? your innovative sense of "balance."

?? the way you got the bass to swallow all the other instruments.

I spent a good bit of time at the beginning of the session:

?? just listening to the mixes and marveling at your brilliance.

?? wondering about the politest way to ask if remixes were possible.

?? with my hands over my ears.

I did make it a bit louder, per your request, but:

?? I felt that any more than 2 dB limiting really detracted from the impact and wonderful dynamics of your mixes.

?? although you think your last name is Lord-Alge, the mixes really started to fall apart when pushed.

?? the fact that you sent me already brick-walled mixes that were clipping like crazy and averaging -5 dBFS RMS meant I didn't have a lot of room to maneuver.

As for your other specific requests:

?? they were no problem, and I was happy to accommodate you.

?? they didn't seem to have anything to do with the actual mixes, but I did my best.

?? yes, of course I can add reverb to just the lead vocal.

I really appreciate that you sent:

?? clearly labeled mixes and detailed notes.

?? mixes that were all in mono. Glad I asked.

?? a handful of grocery store-bought CD-Rs wrapped in Scotch-taped pieces of cardboard.

The revisions you requested:

?? were right on. Good call.

?? sound bad to me, but hey, it's your funeral.

?? were genius! You're right, the whole thing DOES sound better with 3 dB more limiting!

I'm really glad:

?? you booked the mastering session well in advance of your CD release party.

?? I was able to make it to FedEx before they closed.

?? you called asking about my turnaround time the day before you leave for tour.


?? thanks for enclosing a check with the mixes you sent. Much appreciated!

?? thanks for sending me the money after only one reminder.

?? do you think I could, like, get paid already?

I hope we can work on another record together in the future because:

?? wow, this one really was fantastic.

?? you can only get better.

?? I gotta eat somehow.

Sincerely, Your Humble Mastering Engineer

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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