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My rates are low at Safe&Sound Mastering, it is not expensive mastering, currently £30.00 for a single track and £230.00 for an album. I know you can pay €130 for a single track as an example of expensive mastering and that is not even the Top 10 tier. Is this better than my mastering ? Which is at a much lower price point. I am fairly sure that there are those who see my low rate and continue with expensive mastering. Thinking that the rate is too low, reconsider for a moment. Price perception is an interesting aspect relating to a professional service.

There is only one way to find out as fact, try me, knowledge is a good thing when it comes to expensive mastering. It is really quite simple, find out what you can get for £30.00 a track ! I take my mastering career very seriously.

I don’t just talk the talk and there is no harm in having some well tempered self confidence, after 13 years dedication to mastering music (and 10 years as a employed pro sound engineer) I believe it’s reasonable. As time goes on your start to realize where you sit within the professional realm within which you operate. That may come as a surprise to some, that it has little to do with service pricing.

I wanted to pose a question to those who are paying for expensive mastering. If you can afford €130 for expensive mastering you can probably also afford £30.00 to find out if your high price mastering engineer is offering significantly more than I can. They should be for that significant premium. (or am I producing better end results than the expensive mastering ? Interesting question.). It is not a hard and fast “You get what you pay for.” rule with mastering. I have seen masters squared off (clipped) with audibly distorting vocals and poor global tonality that have come from studios costing significantly more than I charge. Some of the results are frankly, surprising to hear.

All the gear and I have definitely got the idea, after 13 years day in, day out specialization.

This is worth finding out

If I was paying for expensive mastering I would just have to find out. (and not take tedious second hand opinions from YT videos by sound engineers/mastering engineers with their own advertorial agenda.) This is not about having a direspectful attitude towards expensive mastering engineers. They are 100pct free to charge you what they wish or need to. What it is about, is you knowing for sure. Keeping it short and sweet, for some my low rates may understate the high quality end result.

I have 12 years experience solely mastering all genres every day. 10 years prior professional full time studio audio engineer experience, high end equipment, fully treated room, I have worked with world class artists and have top end monitoring (PMC IB1S large 3 way monitors – Crane Song Quantum DAC and Hypex amps – analogue rack). Precisely the same as mastering studios who want to charge you between €70 and €130 per track. (and in many cases my experience goes far beyond) This is not a race to the bottom, more like a race to the top in the hardest times the music industry has ever encountered. I will always make small incremental cost of living increases but you owe it to yourself to at least double check your expensive mastering service. I have a deep sense of pride in the mastering work I have done for the last 12 years. Biog link below:


Order mastering now on this page, send 24 bit depth files, no clipping or limiting via wetransfer and drop me an email outlining your project :

Expensive mastering is the opposite of what I provide, yet clearly the experience, equipment and room is there. The core information I require is if you need a streaming master or a very loud master for a few specific dance music genres. (or both for small extra fee £15.00 for secondary master) I am happy to proceed with or without a reference when working with new clients after some effective and precise email dialogue. Let me know if you wish for a mix appraisal which is included in the fee. (applicable when a job is paid for and proceeding) Always consider when comparing masters that they should be volume matched by ear in a DAW otherwise you just prefer the louder one. Along with issues of pitch, perceived volume is what the human ear hears first.

Here you can get a clear understanding that I know what I am talking about, with my in depth technical blog articles. I don’t just talk the talk, I do. It is time to review if your expensive mastering service is providing the best results or not.

Just as a little context I have recently heard and seen masters that had the following traits from mastering engineers charging vastly more than myself. Way too much top end (like nails in the ears with harshness at times at moderate playback 75dB SPL volumes) – masters that are excessively lacking in top end, very thick and muddy. Not to mention one with clipping, which audibly distorted a vocal phrase. Frankly, I was surprised and a little shocked and disappointed for a few reasons. These are not small artists, they are big artists where the mastering budget would be large. With the probability of being able to use any mastering engineer.

We cannot make hard assumptions about these results even though they surprise. They could have happened for a few different reasons. Artists/producer control, label pressure, hearing damage, taste (though it would be hard to understand that for some of the results) possibly even mistakes. I imagine it may be a way of standing out at times, we could say if we were diplomatic there is no such thing as wrong. It is also difficult to be sure how the mixes sounded before the mastering engineer received them. However such extremes of master tonality inevitably result in reproduction compromises. Your music is unlikely to be played on “flat” tonality systems very often.

So there is merit and good reasoning to produce a master that shoots down the middle of dynamics and tone. This will satisfy the most number of listeners the most amount of time. A sonic goal held in high esteem. I am not going to apologize for having a well reasoned opinion based on a middle path for the genre master tone. I have heard enough questionable mastering and have enough confidence in my own professional skill to promote my abilities to maximize the potential of your music.

When we work together, I will present to you what my objectivity on your music suggests to me in a respectful way. With any potential trade offs related to sonic preferences deviating from the “middle path tonal/dynamic translation” for genre, whilst respecting artistic aims.

I am confident how things should sound for most genres of music, if you wish you can also guide me with your aims. A bit of both often works sonic wonders.

You can also view multiple videos site wide with myself talking in the studio, I invite you to check them out. (There is one at the bottom of this page)

Biog :

In short, 22 years full time professional audio engineering career, 12 solely dedicated to mastering (not just as a “bolt on money spinner” secondary service to mixing. I specialize because I am good enough to.)

So there is only one way to find out if I can match or exceed expensive mastering services and that is to try mastering a track with me. This may well be the most financially illuminating read you have made in a while. If you produce 6 tracks a year you might save €500.. if you make an album a year, even more. At the very least you will be truly informed and not second guessing if the results the expensive mastering gives really are the best available. If you have got this far down the read then it is now time to try high end, inflation busting mastering with myself, Barry Gardner.

I will also make mention of my popular stem mastering service which allows a more targetted mastering approach (8 stems permitted) for £56.00 (much less than some expensive mastering in stereo) full details of which are available on this page:

You can make a payment via paypal on this page in the link below. Thanks for reading, your time and consideration. (Please send tracks using wetransfer and my email is : safeandsound123 at

I require 24 bit depth, non limited and non clipped mixes, .wav is the ideal file format at the sample rate of your DAW mix project/session. Headroom below 0dBFS is not critical as long as they are not clipped. I look forwards to working with you and your music so you can compare what superbly priced mastering sounds like, versus expensive mastering.

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Barry Gardner

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