It seems that nowadays mastering means - LOUD.
That is actually the exact opposite of what mastering is and our continual battles in the Loudness Wars seems to be paying dividends. More and more home studio producers are learning that it is more about dynamic range and not loudness, about depth and separation and not loudness, about maximizing and optimising for a specific genre and not loudness.
I myself always use a mastering engineer for my own productions. Mastering your own music is a little too personal and critical decisions will be made as to what you 'like' as opposed to what is 'needed'. However, that is not to say you cannot perform demo masters. I actually encourage producers to try to master their own demos. It is a great learning experience and one that all should try at some point.
But let us assume you want to use a professional mastering engineer for your productions. The most important contribution you could make is to make sure your productions are ready for mastering. This is not as technical a subject as it sounds but it does require a learning curve.
Creating transparent pre master is quite challenging because if you are anything like me you want to instantly hear a coloured (processes that alter the sound in harmonic ways) change to the mix. It is far easier to get emotional about a sound that is warm and fuzzy and has been teased with a lovely valve compressor than it is to hear that which is termed as 'correct' but has little colour. However, transparent pre masters are like hens' teeth for mastering engineers as they are now in charge of colouring the mix and the fact that the pre master is transparent means they can apply any process without fear of compromising for the genre the pre master is intended for.
In this video I will run through all the processes required to create a transparent pre master.
Topics covered in this video are:
MixBus/Master Bus architecture
Dynamic Processing in Series
Cleaning and Equalisation