As a mastering engineer, I am responsible for making projects sound better. Sometimes that means adding stuff, (EQ, compression, effects) and sometimes that means removing stuff. (Music edits, fades, sometimes entire songs!) I am very good at editing things out. If something’s in the song and you don’t want it there … zap, it’s gone! But if something isn’t there and you want me to add it … well now that’s a different story.
Many times I’ve had to deal with a disappointed artist because somewhere in the recording and mixing process, someone pulled a fade too quickly and the song ends in a way which is not how the artist originally intended (or the artist has since changed his/her mind and now wants a different ending.) Remember the old saw; “Measure twice cut once”? Well now I’ve got artists and producers coming to me and saying that they’ve faded it twice and it’s still too short! During mastering, I can step on the fade and try to fix up a sloppy one, but I can’t replace what’s not there. Unless a re-mix is done, it’s gone forever. To be assured of a result everyone’s happy with (not to mention artistic flexibility) fades should be left to the mastering process. I’m trying to be nice about this and I don’t want to start a war with anyone; some of my best friends are mixing engineers. But mastering is the place where the final touches are put on a recording and how a song fades out can be a pretty touchy subject. So let the mastering engineer do the fades. That way, if it’s not done the way the artist wants it done, we have pristine sources so we can just do it again.
Scott Murley is a Mastering Engineer Lacquer Channel Mastering in Toronto.