Why get your tracks mastered?

The job of a mastering engineer is to try connect the listener to the artist.
Mastering is the last step in the production line before the music is released into the world and it primarily involves preparing and optimising mixes for release onto the many different platforms/formats in todays music consumption world, so that it sparkles in the best possible way for the listener.
Mastering ensures the correct balance is achieved in terms of tone, dynamics, stereo imaging and loudness . In terms of an album or collection of works, it ensures consistency in these elements from one piece to the next so that it flows seamlessly for the listener.
It also involves quality control, ie fixing any existing problems with the audio and also anticipation and prevention of any potential problems that might occur with the various streaming platforms and broadcast etc, which is essential these days as there are many different specifications for different platforms.

Automated Online Mastering Services Vs Human Mastering in Studio

In an automated online mastering system, in general a track is uploaded to a website and comes back altered or 'mastered' matching the specifications determined by the designer of the system. Generally these systems make level and tonal adjustments to the track. What comes back may be of value to you but also the machine may not have the best possible answer.

The process is certainly not a bespoke version of mastering. The automated system won't make any creative decisions about dynamics, tonal balance or the feeling of a track, unlike an engineer in a studio.

Also because of the 'one size fits all' approach of automated systems, the dynamic impact of a song might be removed as it seeks to level a track in its entirety and not 'think' about the best approach for maximising dynamic impact from quiet parts to loud parts of a track, or indeed maintaining a dynamic consistency between a sequence of tracks on an album. So the dynamic contrast that was part of the artistic vision for the track might be somewhat lost.

Music is creative and there is still definite demarkation between between automated systems and creative decisions and the context they are made in.

Submitting files for mastering?

Format: I only work on Digital files.
Digital audio files should be submitted at resolution used during production.
Sample rates: 44.1KHz - 192KHz (although anything above 96KHz is unnecessary)
Bit Depths: Highest bit depths are preferable. ie 24 bit or 32 bit floating point

Do not submit data reduced files such as MP3 or AAC for mastering.

Headroom & Mix buss processing:
Leave some headroom in the final mixes. At least 3dB is desirable.
Also it is preferable if no (or very little) Mix buss processing as compression and limiting can't be undone.
If the track(s) are mixed to mix buss processors then it is preferable to get two versions of each track. One with the processing and one without.

Different approaches for Recording, Production, Mixing, Mastering ?

I can take on projects where I am involved every step of the way from pre-production to final mastering.

While all of these stages require a slightly different approach and way of thinking, I can also always see the big picture and keep this in mind at every step, from creative to technical and everything in between.
However I will treat each stage completely separately and give it the attention it requires with the appropriate approach. For example I will master in a completely different session than the mix, so I won't be tempted to keep tweaking individual elements. When mastering I am only thinking about the overall stereo track.

So while recording and production might lean towards the creative side and mixing and mastering might lean towards the technical side, the final product and intended audience is always at the back of my mind!

Regarding pricing I can offer deals if you hire me to produce your entire project from beginning to end.