#034: Carl Saff – Mastering Your Album

Excite, sweeten, widen, and color your mix. Mastering can make or break an album sonically. But what is it exactly? Why do albums need to be mastered anyway? How do you know if your album is being mastered properly? How can you tell between a well mastered album and a poor one? Join Kevin in this interview with veteran mastering engineer : Carl Saff

Carl Saff Mastering

Tech Note : We increased the volume and compression on this episode due to some feedback we’ve gotten from listeners. Hopefully this makes listening to our podcast even better πŸ™‚

  • Can’t believe you guys aren’t inundated with comments. Well, as requested I posted a review on iTunes. I get loads from these podcasts. I particularly enjoyed your round table about this exciting new format!
    Do you ever watch a totally ridiculous TV ad, something so embarrassing that you cringe, then think to yourself – wow, some ad guy has sat round a table in a meeting full of suits and managed to persuade them to spend loads of money on something so dreadful. I think that happened with SanDisk.
    Now, can I interview you for my podcast series (search for digital musician in iTunes). You rock.

  • Leanard Jackson

    Dear CDbaby. I enjoyed your pod-cast about digtal mastering Carl Saff has a true talent for recording and being the “old school” guy that I am I relate to everything discussed in the podcast as I listened I could only smile as I could not jump in and join the disscussion and when he spoke of John Golden I nearly fell from my seat .John mastered and I a record I recorded and mixed for the late Norman Whitfield “wsihing on a star” by Rose Royce in 1977 I still have the cassette run off from that day 7-6-77 lucky huh? *smile. I was so moved by the podcast I decided to email John and let him know I was thinking of him. Below is part of the email I sent. Thank you again..Leanard Jackson BLK.OPS.Records

    >>>>Hello John,

    Let me take you back a few seconds to Kedun & k disc. its is me Leanard Jackson, perhaps you will remember the days I recorded and mixed for Norman Whitfield, the Rose Royce stuff IE. Wishing on a star and others I was listening to a pod-cast at CD baby and they spoke very highly of you so I decided to look you up via the web and here you are.I am happy to know you are doing well with your talent and career. From listening to the pod-cast I was impressed to hear what a impression you left on a mastering engineer named Carl Saff listening to this pod-cast brought back memories of our short times together both at Kedun and Kdisc I think I still have test pressings from both *smile. This short note is just to say hello and thank you for your invaluable talent and friendship.

    Always………….Leanard Jackson BLK.OPS. Records

  • Hey Leanard,
    Good to see you are still doing your thing.Im on cdbaby as Sema’j,james backwards.My Smooth jazz cd’s are doing great,I tell people all the time about your mixing and mastering back in the day.You mixed two songs for us Rare Gems on casablanca records at fort knox and paramont studios.Im playing more than ever and im still in contact with Rose Royce.Check out the website on http://www.mirecmusicentertainment.com Stay in contact
    Jimmy Gough
    Mirec Records

  • Anonymous

    Hey these podcasts are great!! Just listening the the one on mastering. Very informative. Thanks.

  • Thanks you CDBaby, because this episode made us choose Carl Saff as the mastering engineer for our album “Rape the world” by Jennifer Delano. Carl did a great job mastering our album. I never knew it would make such a big difference (this is the first thing I ever had mastered profesionally). So keep up the great work and I love your podcast!

    Hens Zimmerman

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  • This is a great podcast, as a completely solo, DIY musician, Carl taught me so many things that I will do differently on my 2nd (next) CD project. I am so excited to know about him, and I LOVE CD Baby! I think some of my music was not mastered right for my genre. There IS a tendency for guys to master loudness, as a saxophonist, my music doesn’t lend itself to be just loud, or with the booming low end for a hip-hop artist. Food for thought, I feel empowered, enlightened!

  • Pingback: Lauter, Lauter, Lauter!!! Ein Podcast ΓΌber das Mastering « alexis macht holtadipolta()

  • Dr. Wilson

    Carl, I’m so glad I found you! You left before we had a chance to speak and the contact information you entered seems to be out of date. Well, the test results came back positive. Now don’t worry, although incurable, in most cases this condition can be successfully managed. But left untreated it can progress into something much worse. And because it is highly contagious when there is that much seepage, it is imperative that you get treated immediately. The next step would be for you to schedule a follow up appointment right away. Especially considering it’s been more than four months since you were tested. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

    Dr. Wilson

    P.S. You still owe $374 for the initial visit and lab work. Please bring payment when you come in so we can move forward with your treatment.

  • H’ this is courtney thank you for being helpful with your info. on mastering, i hope to use your mastering company in the future. keep up the good work. thank you cdbaby for this info.

  • Really enjoyed this podcast,

    It’s really quite a hard thing to explain, and this guy did a great job πŸ™‚


    Brigs, and all us Super Punk Muffins πŸ™‚

  • This is a great topic. I have beenproviding mastering for seven years now and must say that is is one of the most important parts of creating music. I really get a rush when I take a great sounding mix and make it sound better. The look on my clients face after listening to my work is my real payoff.

  • Reggie Bowen

    Hi..thanks for the advices…how can I reach Carl Saff…..you have my email…I have a master I need mastering and with cd to be print and ready and delivered to me prior to May 20th…is there such a possiblity for 500 to 1000 copiesplease email or call me 813 997-2671

  • Great podcast. Especially the discussion of over compression/limiting on what start out as acoustic recordings, which is kind of a curse sometimes. A lot of my favourite recordings were made straight to stereo originally (or live with a number of mics, no overdubs), and they are great *because* they capture the feeling of the moment. Right now I’m very happy that I found a very talented young engineer who loves doing acoustic recording, I an really looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

    Lots to learn here, especially the stuff about brightness and so on.

    (But guys, there are mobile phone interference noises at around 21 minutes … get those nasty noise generators away from the mic cables! Leave them at the studio door! πŸ™‚

  • LJ

    this was great. I don’t want my music to be the loudest. I want it to be mixed and compressed properly and volume will take care of itself. Because if you want it loud something else is going to suffer. I rather have my music where you can turn it up (you know that knob in your car or on your stereo) and everything become louder and not distorted. Great job on conveying this topic.

  • WOW, I used to write heaps of helpful hints on my website called Blind Beatroot. I think CD Baby and all of the FANTASTIC info you give has made me read more of your info, and pass it on, than write for myself for the past couple of months.

    THANK YOU!!!

  • very informative, thanks so much. I just finished my mixes for our album, and will be mastering it now. Yes, DYI ! It was great listening to Carl. Thanks

    ps – feel free to check out our page

  • Interesting – I’m trying to work with an Alesis Masterlink.

  • Hey thanks for the tips, very interesting I love the stuff you guys are doing I wish CDBaby had been around 30 years ago when I first started playing. Who said you can’t teach an old dog now tricks!!

  • Very well done…

  • jsh

    Interesting stuff, especially the historical aspects. Carl actually mastered our record. We had liked most of the mixes a lot already so we were never all that sure exactly what had changed…but the CD sounds good everywhere I play it – ’nuff said!

  • Nice podcast!

  • Tootie

    this is a great interview