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The equipment you need to master at home

A post by David Mellor
Monday July 24, 2006
Doing your own mastering can be a recipe for disaster. But if you really are determined to master in your home recording studio, what equipment do you need?
The equipment you need to master at home

IMPORTANT - Please read the note at the end of this article.

In a recent feature in Audio Masterclass, I described mastering at home as an oxymoron - an oxymoron is a phrase that contradicts itself.

Clearly there are two sides to the debate. One side says that mastering should only be done by a specialist mastering engineer. The other side says that if you have the skills to record and mix, then you have the necessary skills to master too.

I'll have more to say on my personal viewpoint at a later date. But one of the most interesting comments on the article came from FATnSASSY Mastering of Pismo Beach, California, USA.

FATnSASSY Mastering is, from what I read, a mastering studio around which the owner's home is built. Clever idea - I like that!

So it is technically a home studio. But hardly a bedroom studio. Here is the equipment list...

  • B&W 801 series main monitoring system
  • Klipsch RB15 reference monitors
  • YAMAHA HS50/80M
  • Mercedes CLK 230 BOSE system with the top down
  • SONY, PIONEER and RCA systems for "field" testing
  • Manley, Alesis, Avalon & Lexicon 3E compressors/EQs
  • SOUNDFORGE, WAVES and PROTOOLS utilizing over 200 shared Xplugins
  • Apogee Rosetta 200 A/D/A converter
  • Alesis MasterLink ML-9600 High Resolution Master Disk System
  • Gateway, DELL and self built boxes including: (Intel Pentium 4) 2.8 to 3.4Ghz processors All with 2 GB DDR RAM 800Mhz FSB Hyperthreading, 1 Terabyte ATA HD Storage 20dB quiet
  • THERMAxFlow cooling Plextor PlexWriter Premium CD-R/RW Drives
  • Apogee UV-22 HR Dithering
  • Cobalt, Mogami, Planet waves & MONSTER cabling PRO jointed & soldered
  • Blue Circle parallel power conditioning
  • Auralex acoustics
  • ARGOSY furniture

Hmm, the Mercedes CLK 230 is an interesting feature. You don't often see that kind of thing in studio suppliers' catalogs.

This then pretty much confirms my suspicions about mastering at home. If it takes this much equipment just to master, then maybe hiring a mastering studio and engineer, as and when you need it, is simply a more economical solution.

I suppose now someone will tell me that you can get all of the above as a plug-in.

Including the Mercedes?

Since this article was published, a number of visitors have questioned the honesty of the mastering studio mentioned, in particular that the equipment list is that of another studio, as is the photo which is actually of a mastering suite at Discmakers. Audio Masterclass advises that you check the credentials and track record of any provider of mastering services.

A post by David Mellor
Monday July 24, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)