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RSR454 – Joe Hutchinson – How To Master A Record

Uboats will float your Atomic Instruments! Joe talked about his new mastering studio Garage Masters, how to get loudness right for streaming, set up your mastering session in Presonus Studio One, do song spacing, and choose limiters, eq, and plugins.

My guest today is Joe Hutchinson, a mastering engineer at Garage Masters in Nashville, TN where Joe has been providing mastering services for over 10 years. 

Joe works in a well-designed room built in 2022 and uses a combination of analog and digital tools to give each song or project what it needs. Every project is different, and what happens in mastering can vary from heavy-handed processing to being almost transparent. Often mastering will catch little things missed in the production/mixing process since a mastering engineer offers a fresh set of ears, and in that sense acts as the quality control at the end of the recording process.

Joe was my mastering engineer at the Hay Bale Studio at Bonnaroo for many years and has been a guest on the podcast for episode RSR013 where you can hear his backstory. Today we will talk about what's new in mastering and see what we can learn for our own studios as well.

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Website Links:

RSR013 - Joe Hutchinson - Garage Masters & Bonnaroo
Instagram: @joehutchinson

Additional podcast editing and production by:
Brayden Stremming
Vlad Vasilcenko
Liz Hulitskaya Learn how to mix using stock and free plugins in Pro Tools. Get a look at how I recorded my song "American Winter" with downloadable multitracks to mix in your own studio and even include in your mixing portfolio. Are you ready to make your best record ever? Then go to to get started for free now!

RSR013 - Joe Hutchinson

RSR013 – Joe Hutchinson – Garage Masters & Bonnaroo

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

If you dig the show and find it helpful I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR013 - Joe Hutchinson - Garage Masters & Bonnaroo

My guest on the show today is a friend and studio team member, Joe Hutchinson. Joe is a professional mastering engineer right here in Nashville TN. But he masters records for artists from all over the world. Whether Canadian blues, Austrian folk music, or American Christian music Joe often helps indie artists finish their records with a major label sound.

Joe is also a part of my team at the Bonnaroo Hay Bale Studio and The Pilgrimage Sessions, where we record, mix, and master up to 40 bands and a hundred songs in a single weekend! Recording amazing artists like The Avett Brothers, Ben Folds, and Cage The Elephant Joe will deliver finished masters ready for upload and airplay on the radio as fast as an hour after the performance.

Get a FREE

Test Master

For Your Record!

If you are at the stage where you have finished recording and mixing your record then you might be wondering if you are ready for mastering now. I want to master your record and make it sound great! But also want to help make that an easy decision for you make!

I realize that while you know your own work intimately, you probably don’t know my work yet. So you are probably wondering whether my mastering would be a good choice for your music...

No worries, I can make it easy for you to decide.

I’m not happy unless you’re happy!

I will be glad to do a test mastering of your favorite song on your record so you can see whether it’s the right sound for you. This way you can decide if I am a good fit to help make your record sound fantastic at no risk to you!

-Joe Hutchinson​

Joe Hutchinson Garage Masters

What is mastering?

The final step in the recording process. Making sure the album fits together and its balanced. Checking the loudness and over all levels. The goal is to make the track sound comparable to commercial songs being played on the radio. There are ways to make things louder without raising the volume. compress the track a little, a bunch of times. I’ll use 3 compressors sometimes and vary the attack and release times.

Joe Hutchinson 
Garage Mastering

"Music is the short-hand of emotion.” Tolstoy 

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Jam Session

What was your biggest obstacle at first to getting started in mastering

  • A general lack of knowledge

What was your first recording setup?

  • M-box interface a sure sm57 and an apple macbook with pro tools.

What was the best advice you received when starting out?

  • To listen. You can get caught up in new gear or watching the meters but listening will take you far.

Can You share a Pro Tools hack that Rockstars can use right now?

  • Use parallel compression! It can bring out different dynamics. Just add a little bit of the “squashed” (heavily compressed) mix to the uncompressed or “raw” track to get more excitement from your mastering.

Favorite books or movie?

Favorite piece of gear?

A good business resource?

  • My accountant! He saved me a lot of time and trouble with my self employment venture.

  • Gene Riley of Brentwood, TN. Zeal Financial Services

If you were dropped in a strange town and could only take a simple setup to record, what would you take, how would you find people to record, and how would you make ends meet while you got started...

Best way to find clients?

  • Get a part-time job to meet new people and networking are the best ways to find clients.

  • Remember It’s okay to do work for free starting out.

What’s the one thing someone can do right now to become a Recording Studio Rockstar?

  • Just working, making mistakes, and doing things right. Definitely get an internship.

Get a FREE

Test Master

For Your Record!

I will be glad to do a test mastering of your favorite song on your record so you can see whether it’s the right sound for you. This way you can decide if I am a good fit to help make your record sound fantastic at no risk to you!

-Joe Hutchinson​

If you have any or questions about recording you would like me to answer on the show or suggestions for the show please email me:

If you dig the show and find it helpful I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

FREE Mix Training

Check out the Mix Master Bundle!

FREE Mix Training with over 2 hours of video, the recording eBook, and complete multi-tracks​ and mix session.

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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Credits: Thanks so much to Merissa Marx and Hunter Hansen for assisting with editing audio and show notes. You guys totally rock!