Abbey Road mastering engineer Oli Morgan answers your questions

Abbey Road mastering engineer Oli Morgan answers your questions

Abbey Road mastering engineer Oli Morgan has been working at Abbey Road since 2019 and is our resident stem mastering expert.

He recently sat down for a live Instagram Q&A session where he pulled back the curtain to reveal what goes on behind the scenes at Abbey Road Studios.

Here’s what he had to say…
What is mastering?

“So most broadly, mastering is the last bit of producing a record. It’s the last chance to make any adjustments or changes.”
What’s the difference between mixing and mastering?

“I find the distinction between the two is that the sonic identity of your recording and your production is all mixing.

“And then once you feel your song feels right and feels the way you want it to you hand it off to a mastering engineer with the aim being that everyone gets to hear your creative intention in the same way – so it sounds to everyone like it sounds to you in your room."
Do you have any advice on becoming a good mastering engineer?

“So, the main thing for me about mastering is the mindset – the way in which you're approaching something.

“It's having the respect for what you're delivered and not deciding that you know best for this song.

“You're not destroying anything in order to finish it. So that's my main bit of advice is to recognise what you're there for and what you're trying to do.

“If you want to become a good mastering engineer you need to get mixes and work on them.

“There are plenty of YouTube videos and stuff out there, but the only way really that you can learn how to do it is just start doing it. Make a master and then see how it sounds in your car next to other records or other listen to it on the train after listening to your favourite album and just start to recognise where the differences might lie and where those differences might come from and think ‘is there anything you can do about that?’

“But otherwise it’s just repetition. Just do it. Do it enough times and answers start to become clear and your route through it starts to become clear.

“My job isn't to do something to a record. That's not why I'm here. I'm not here to put my print onto what I'm working on. My job is to make sure that what I'm working on is realising its full potential.”
What is the next big development in audio?

“Now we're dealing with spatial and Atmos formats, Dolby Atmos being a big player in that.

“That's the next frontier, I would say, going from mono to stereo to surround to immersive, it's all about putting the listener in the middle of what you're creating.

“There are more elements to it, so instead of two points of reference (which is your left and your right) you have more of a 360 point of reference – and height is part of it as well.

“There are more discrete locations that can be used to create a sound field that you're putting the listener within.

“So in the same way that stereo did that, immersive does it further – it's an extension of surround.”
How can I get music mastered at Abbey Road?

“There are a few options.

“There's the online mastering which is all done on the website which is quick, convenient and easy.

“We can do attended sessions, which is you coming in and sitting in and attending the session. You get to come in and talk about your project. We have options for, I would say, anyone in any part of the world doing anything!

“The bottom line is that we want everyone to be happy with what they what they've got. That's the reason we're here – to finish your record.”
What makes Abbey Road a great place to get your music mastered?

“I think that we have the best combination of all the elements that make a great studio. We're in an amazing building with a lot of history that's doing a lot of great stuff now as well.

“We have the best engineers. We have an amazing technical department who keep everything to such an incredible standard.

“You can book online through our mastering portal, where you can contact Lucy or Peach, who will walk you through the booking process to either book remotely or to come into the studios and master with us in person.”

Watch the highlights below


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