We sat down with Mylkyway, aka Dano Kvak, to learn a little bit more about mastering in this MA Exclusive Interview
Mylkyway is the man behind a lot of the mastering for MA Music, and has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. He tells us all about what mastering is, the importance of it, preferred equipment, and a few useful tricks and tips, so keep reading to find out more.
Hey Dano, thanks for joining us today! How have you been?
Thanks for having me. Busy with new projects, as usual.
My first question for you is what IS mastering?
Mastering is a final part of post process. That includes adjusting stereo width, adding some timbre (tone color) through exciters, setting up the final loudness and so on. Mastering engineer is basically your extra pair of ears, someone who has fresh view on your music and can adjust the little details your music is missing.
What is the most noticeable thing between a mastered and unmastered track? Can the untrained ear easily tell the difference?
How long have you been mastering, and how long did it take you to get to your current level of skill?
It’s been more over three years now and like they say – you learn something new every day. J The important thing is to spend as much time exploring sound as you can – I’ve been studying music at university, been working with TV stations, popular singers etc.
What special skills are required to master well?
Practice, tons of practice. Hours and hours of re-listening to your favorite albums or completely new music. Also, as weird as it may sound, the proper knowledge of physics can be really helpful.
What do you use to master?
The most important thing for every mastering engineer is flat studio monitors – without them, you’re only guessing the frequency response. After long testing, I decided to go forFinnish brand Genelec.
For digital-to-audio conversion, I use high-quality soundcard Apogee Duet 2. My favorite plugins are mostly made by Waves although I love to use different coloring compressors.
Do most producers master their own music?
My clients are 50% individual artists, 50% labels. Many bedroom producers have decent sound lately but some of them are still struggling to push their sound into modern standard.
Can you tell us some of the biggest artists you’ve mastered tracks for?
The list is currently pretty long but the biggest artists I have had the opportunity to work with are, for example, Spag Heddy, F.O.O.L, Endor, Dubba Jonny, Badklaat and many, many more.
How long does it take to master a track on average?
The final process takes around 2 hours, although the usual ETA is around 2-3 days. Going back through the final mixdown with artist takes most of the time though.
Are any genres easier to master than others?
Not really – but different genres always need different touch.
Do you ever have disputes with the original artist over the process?
I’m happy to compromise during the process as the artist is always the one who tells the story. But we both need to be happy with the result – that’s my main motto. If that means one of us isn’t 100% sure about the final master, I don’t want that version to be released (and to be paid).
And finally, what advice would you give to people learning to master their own tracks?
Read forums, watch tutorials. You can learn many interesting tips & tricks which can be hard to learn on your own.
Thanks for sitting down and teaching us a little bit about mastering!