What the Hell is Mastering?


Mastering is one of the most universally befuddling processes in music production. Most music fans have some vague understanding of what it is, or at least know that all albums go through a mastering process after the mix but before final release, but have little knowledge of the specifics. As far as I’m concerned, mastering entails running audio through a little black box, sprinkling pixie dust all over it and bing bang boom, done.

Who better to delve into those specifics than Alan Douches (pronounced “dow-chiss”), one of the most well-known mastering engineers in the world and one of the most prolific in metal (his work appears on hundreds of metal albums)? Gear Gods recently sat down with Douches in his studio at West West Side Music to ask him some question about the nitty-gritty of mastering; what tools he uses, how he approaches each album, what inspires him as a mastering engineer and more.

One question Alan doesn’t answer in this video: what mastering actually IS. This video assumes some basic knowledge and dives a bit deeper. So if you have zero knowledge of what we mean by mastering, we highly recommend you read this very brief primer on the mastering process first.

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