The Mastering Show

The Mastering Show Podcast

with Ian Shepherd and Jon Tidey

The Mastering Show # 50 - Mastering on Headphones ?!

May 10th, 2018 BY Jon Tidey6 Comments

You can’t master on headphones, right ? Well, let’s see…

This year’s Dynamic Range Day Award-winner broke all the streaming records in it’s first week, debuted at Number 1 in the Billboard chart and... it was mastered on headphones.

In this episode we talk to Glenn Schick, the engineer who mastered KOD by J Cole about his decision to become a “mobile” mastering engineer, including:

  • How (and why) he closed his analogue mastering studio to go mobile
  • Why he thinks it actually helps him to get better results...
  • And makes his job easier
  • The type of headphones he uses, and why
  • His mastering process for KOD, and
  • The decision to master with more dynamics


Dynamic Range Day Award Winner 2018
Glenn Schick Mastering
JH Audio
Chord Electronics
Other Dynamic Range Day winners:
TMS #11 - Matt Colton
TMS #32 - Bob Ludwig

6 comments on “The Mastering Show # 50 - Mastering on Headphones ?!”

  1. Great subject and great guest. I learned a lot, and found it very interesting as I am trying to mix and master with headphones. There were a few other things I wanted to know about how Glen works:
    - Which custom molded in-ears is Glenn actually using?
    - Which headphones?
    - Does Glenn use anything like Sonarworks for eq’ing his headphone feed, or 112db Redline monitor for emulating a soundstage?
    - What DAW is Glenn using and does it matter?
    - Does Glenn have any tips about how to get a good fitting for custom molded in-ears, or is it just to keep remaking the mods until you get a good pair?

    Thanks for bringing mastering to the masses, and keep up the good work!


    1. I'm also wondering about Sonarworks. It's definitely improved my mixing skills but I'd like to know the most professional and efficient way to use it.

      Always been curious about the headphones only approach, great interview and keep the good work guys

  2. I’ve been learning/mastering on headphones for the past 4yrs or so. If you consider BEAT headphone sales alone it actually makes sense to step into that head world he’s referring to. I’ve found that once my limiting, compression and eq were set properly the dynamics of the music comes. That thump your referring to via monitors is there as well, only I now refer to it as head thump once I dialed in the tools used to achieve what I was listening for. Great post!

  3. I'd echo the comments from Eric Dwayne. While everybody ends up having to tailor their setup to their own ears, economics, etc., it is really helpful to have a very specific, detailed info as a start point to consider. Especially from a genuinely successful, high credibility expert like Glenn. You're certainly one of those people too, Ian, but my situation absolutely requires an entirely "in the box" approach for many reasons- so Glenn's exact gear and chain he used for KOD would be of real interest to me. I understand that he's "in process" with Audeze etc. but what he used for the immensely successful KOD album is what would be of interest thus far.

    As an aside, I'm not a rap type guy, but a hard rocker (but not metal by today's standards). If there might be differing choices for my genre that Glenn would recommend, that would be of interest for sure. (Though I suspect things would not likely change, I know consistency is key.)

    Thanks again, Ian. One of your many posts I've found really good to listen to! Really appreciate Glenn taking the time to talk to us "amateurs" as well.

  4. This was probably my favorite episode from the podcast so far, as I’ve been diving in to mastering since taking the HMM early last year - and working primarily on headphones.
    As a musician and aspiring mastering engineer, it was truly fascinating to hear Glenn reinforce the thought process of primarily adjusting to your listening environment, and developing your ear and skills.
    Backing up the process of mastering ITB is also something you don’t hear a ton about from the pro mastering world, and along with Ian and John, it was super interesting to hear more support for this approach.
    Passing this along to several friends.
    Awesome stuff!

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