Rogue Planet | noun. A planetary mass that does not adhere to a traditional star-based orbit.
When I first thought of this name, it appealed to me because it sounded cool, but it wasn’t until some time later that I connected the analogous relationship between what it represents and what I represent.
To some, mastering is a kind of a dark art; running audio through some box that just makes the thing “sound better.” To others, it’s the usual suspects: compression, EQ, limiting, and putting the tracks in the right order with the right amount of spacing. For many, this is enough - a great sounding room with a great set of ears and some solid equipment can be the recipe for a very competitive master. But can we do better?
The fact is that music production, delivery media, and listening equipment are constantly evolving. The techniques and tools used to prepare music for its final distribution medium need to evolve as well.
Today’s productions have a completely different set of strengths and weaknesses, and listeners have a totally different set of expectations.
So professional mastering needs to be able to highlight these new strengths and address the weaknesses.
The digital work environment has truly undergone a golden age of advancement in recent years. Tools, processes, and workflows that were unimaginable not long ago are now easily within reach. The internet has created a forum for independent equipment designers to create, perfect, and distribute equipment that would have been nothing more than a sketch a generation ago.
Make no mistake, I love a tried and true vintage design as much as anyone, but what if that one new tool you pass up is the one that will bring life to your music?
It is easy to lean on the classics. When you take those classics and combine them with the classics of tomorrow… well, that’s where something special begins to happen.
There is one very important idea that makes all of this possible. I am supremely confident in my monitoring system, listening environment, and my ability to accurately interpret what I am hearing. Once that’s set, everything else falls into place. If something sounds great, I know it. If it sounds bad, I know it.
Music, however, isn't the only thing I need to interpret. Perhaps even more important is being able to understand where the artist’s vision lies. The methodology may vary from project to project, but the goal is always the same: help the artist realize and EXCEED their vision.
I'm a mastering engineer, I do nothing else. My room and equipment are designed and configured for nothing else.
I did however cut my teeth producing, engineering, and mixing literally hundreds of albums. I've toured the country as a musician, and done immeasurable amounts of session playing on several different instruments.
It's also worth noting that i did not take the step toward mastering because the other facets of my work didn't pan out. On the contrary, at the time of my decision I was booked well over 6 months in advance. I chose mastering because it's the part of the process I enjoy the most and I truly believe I am best at. I'm not one to sell myself or gloat but I hope that if you've read this far, I've made enough of a case for myself that you're willing to experience what truly exceptional mastering can do for your music.
Mike Kalajian - Rogue Planet Mastering.