Mastering a track with acoustic instruments

Hi, Mike!

First off, thank you so much for your time in answering these questions. I am a huge fan and admire your work. I especially appreciate the low end you get from your masters. I did have a question, however, regarding punch and loudness. Is there anything happening within your console that is clipping the transients to get to the loudness you want? Or is the clipping happening more in the converters?

Also, if you are familiar with this, I have a track that is pretty fast with a 4 on the floor drum groove. Is there a way to keep the punch of the acoustic drums while also making them sound huge? I know it won’t sound like a Post Malone record for example, but any help would be greatly appreciated!

Hey Joey,

The clipping is happening at the converter,

As for the kick, I’d really have to hear the track to help you out, but I can say that it’s in the mix where the power comes from.

I thiink acoustic drums should be kept as natural sounding as possible. Coloring them with too much EQ at mastering is going to effect not only the sound, but also the attack and punchiness along with its relationship to the mix balance of the track. It can make that 4 on the floor feel slow, if that makes sense.

I’d concentrate more on finding that “bigness” in the mix and having it dialed in there. For what it’s worth. the Post Malone stuff was mixed by Manny Marroquin and the latest album by Spike Stent, giants in the mix world. You’re chasing some legends.

Hope this helps,


Hey, Mike,

Thank you so much! If you do have the time, I uploaded the track for you to take a listen. You might need to brush up on your Portuguese lol!

I definitely know what you mean about the 4 on the floor feel slow. I mixed this track myself, but I have been falling more in love with mastering for others than mixing.

I do have one more question if you have time. What would you suggest to someone to get mastering clients? Is it more relationships with artists? Producers? I have talked to a quite a few producers, and they all have said they do everything themselves.

Thank you so much!

I have had the luxury of working for a world renowned mastering facility that had established its reputation years before I joined the roster, so there was already an established familiarity with some mixers, producers and record labels.

I was a second engineer for 20 years before I got my opportunity to have my own room. The relationships I had made with people in the industry over the course of those years, I believe, helped them feel confident that I would be a capable engineer for their projects once I had my opportunity.

That being said, in the end, the quality of your work is going to be why you get hired and rehired. I would focus on relationships with any studios, producers and mixers in your area as they are the ones who will send you the work.

Maybe offer a test mastering of a song to show your skills. I have done some of that in the past on my way up. I would master half a track for someone (intro-first verse-chorus) so they could hear my approach and overall sound, but also not the whole thing so they could walk away and use it as their master without compensating me.

Good luck,