Mastering engineer Oli Morgan began working at Abbey Road Studios in 2019 and has worked on projects for artists such as Roger Waters and FKJ.
Having studied Creative Music Technology at university, he now specialises in stem mastering – a process that allows greater control over the sonic balance of a track.
Oli is also available to work with artists through our online mastering service that allows anyone from anywhere in the world have their music mastered at Abbey Road.
Here Oli takes us through his journey so far and explains why mastering is so vital…
What made you want to get into music?
“Music has always been a part of my life. I played bass and drums in bands growing up, and then started making electronic music, so moving into this field felt very natural.
“I was lucky to have a teacher at school who could guide my interests in music technology, and then during my time at university I interned at a company called Fluid Mastering. I then worked there as an engineer for a few years before joining Abbey Road Studios. I now spend a lot of my time working on stem mastering projects.”
What is it like to work at Abbey Road Studios?
“It’s incredible to walk through the doors every day knowing everything that has happened here over the years. It’s not something I think I’ll ever take for granted – and if I do find myself getting a bit blasé about it then I’ll stop and have a word with myself!”
What are some of your favourite tracks you’ve worked on?
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked on some amazing projects since I started at Abbey Road. I've mastered for the likes of Bastille and Olafur Arnalds, and cut classic records for Bob Marley, ABBA, Ariana Grande, and others.
“I’ve also been lucky enough to stem master the Green Planet OST release and have just been working with FKJ on his latest album, which is something I’m really excited about.
“Every project has its own challenges and rewards though and everything gets the same level of attention.”
How has technology changed your job in the past few years?
“The fact that I have a job offering stem mastering at Abbey Road Studios – something that probably wouldn’t have happened even 5 years ago – shows the industry is changing and that Abbey Road is at the forefront of those changes. It’s a really exciting area to be involved with and the technology is getting better all the time.”
Why is mastering so essential?
“It’s about getting your music into a different room with a different pair of ears. Having a fresh perspective is really important as people who have been living with a track for a long time can often become so used to it that they can’t really hear what can be improved.”
Can online mastering make a bad track a good track?
“You need a good mix to begin with – a mastering engineer is never going to be able to make a bad mix sound amazing. As for whether mastering can make a bad track sound good? Who am I to say what’s good or bad? It’s all about the creative intention.”
What are the most common mistakes you see when people master tracks themselves/don’t get a track mastered?
“There can often be a lot of time spend fiddling with small things that aren’t fixing any of the issues. It’s also difficult for people to consider the differences in their room set up and how that’s affecting the sound. At Abbey Road we work in brilliant spaces and know how a track should sound in those spaces.”
What is your process when mastering a track? What are the first things you look for?
“It sounds obvious but the first thing I do is listen. I spend time listening to it, familiarising myself with the music and understanding what the artist is trying to do. After that it’s about making sure that, first and foremost, any changes aren’t affecting the song in a negative way and that you’re not compromising on quality – that you’re getting the EQ right, getting the limiting right and making sure the track feels right”
If you could give one tip to aspiring artists when it comes to production/mastering what would it be?
“You need to make sure you’re servicing the song – make judgements on what you’re hearing rather than simply doing things because you saw a YouTube tutorial about how to distort your bass sound! Trust your ears.”