Hey, once again, newfag here. I've been reading a lot on the forums, and there is quite a lot of things that are over my head (probably due to my being a complete idiot and requiring people to explain things with examples in person), though I will keep reading, and keep trying to build my knowledge and understanding. But I come to you all on the simple, yet not so simple, topic of mastering. Complete understanding of this subject eludes me, however, what little I have come to really take in seems to confuse me even more. For example: My understanding of mastering, is that once something has been recorded and mixed, then (after a break, if self mastering) one goes and edits the plug in chains for the master bus, to get the perceived loudness one wants without actually driving the volume up and getting distortion, and to add in the final touches to the entire mix (removing problems, enhancing tones, ect.). Now, if this definition of mastering is wrong, I'm sure you guys will let me know (in fact, I am somewhat relying on it, as the threads i've read on mastering are kind of vague on what mastering, as a whole, is). Now I will get to how this confuses me, with a little background on my experiences. My recording/mixing experiences have generally gone the way of recording all of my tracks, mixing them & getting them to sound exactly the way I want them, and then calling it good. When I have had problems, it was usually due to, say, my guitar tone being crapy, the settings on my vocal processor (my humble, but decently effective Line 6 Pod X3 Live, which i pretty much use for EVERYTHING, as money is a very big issue with me), or simply the technique i used to perform the tracks, aka, cupping the mic (which i now know was a horrible mistake), and things like that. Now, i fixed those problems, by not repeating them: making a new, better, guitar tone on my pod and having that satisfactory BEFORE I went into my computer, editing those vocal settings, and learning from the mistakes I made in performing and the recording environment. This seems to have worked for me. The concept of mastering is quite new and alien to me, (since pretty much everything i have learned, thus far, has been from isolated experience, and i have had very little insight into proper terminology and techniques used in a professional setting). Like i said, i've always pretty much just gotten everything the way i wanted it to sound in the mixing phase, and then just called it good. And, I sort of understand using limiters, and even saturation plug-ins, to get that perceived loudness without intense clipping. However, the "enhancing of the song's feels and removing of the issues" aspect sort of escapes me. If one is doing all the stages by themselves, and they have a mix that they are completely satisfied with, would simply "calling it good" necessarily be a bad thing? And, if one applies a limiter and compressor and all that jazz to the master, and they find problems, wouldn't that person just go back to the mixing phase to eliminate those problems, or to enhance tones? Pretty much what i'm asking, is if someone gets it right in the mixing phase, is the mastering stage necessary? Another, sort of off-topic inquiry: If you mastering someone else's work, would they simply send you a rendered file of the whole thing and you work on that, or would they individually render the vocals, the guitars, the bass, and the drums for you to work with? If it's just a single file with everything on it, I can see the need for the mastering process of finding the problems, and eliminating them from the whole thing, but if they send you the guitars one one file, the vocals on one file, the bass on one file, and the drums on one file,all separate from each other, then wouldn't you sort of go back to a pseudo-mixing phase, and editing the guitar track's problems separately from the vocal track's issues, and the bass's issues, and so on. I know i have taken quite a round-about way to ask what is a pretty direct set of questions, however, i felt i needed to add in some context, so that the questions can be considered and answered thoughtfully and effectively. These questions my also result from my lack of understanding on what mastering is. If that is the case, I really would like to have a thread devoted to mastering: What it is, what it helps with, and the basics on how to go about doing it, as most of what i have read on mastering is quite circumstance specific, and very vague on what mastering, as a process, is. And even if that isn't the case, i feel such a thread would be very helpful for newfags like me. Anyways, i'll stop rambling.