For years, I'd have everything in: I would be slapping this and that on, trying different equipment and plugins all the time. But that wasn't my problem. It wasn't the EQ, not the limiting. My problem was I couldn't hear what I was doing. Now, I don't have masses of equipment and plugins anymore. I don't need them, because I realised that the secret to great mastering was to have a room that I could hear what I was doing in.

Now, what I do is spend a lot of time trying to get my room sounding better and tighter, and just get used to the sound of the room. For me, that is fundamental to getting a good sound. I need to know that I can hear the change when I'm doing a 0.3 dB tweak. For that, it's vital to have your room as clean as a whistle. If there's some fundamental problem with the room and you need to use something like Sonarworks, go for it.

And while there's no such thing as a flat room, you should still try and get it as flat as you can. You need to get correctly-sized speakers in the right positions and cover reflection points, so you don't get reflection where you're sitting in the room. All these basic things let you hear what you're doing, so you only do as little as you can.

I do far less now, and I get results that are 10X better than what people who slap loads of stuff on get, because I can hear what I'm doing. Unlike them, I can hear those little tweaks, and I don't have to do major changes on stuff. That's because they have reflection points all over the place and they can't really hear what's happening, so they just put stuff on, hoping that will sound good.

The fact is a lot of the music they've listened to on their speakers hasn't played back correctly. So even if they're referencing tracks from other artists, they're not listening to them the right way. Despite your hopes, that won't make you that big engineer.

But your room will, so you need to be upgrading all the time to get yourself to that level. Tweak, tweak, tweak, and tweak, until you get to the point where you can really hear your speakers and your room, and you will do much better at mixing, mastering, recording – everything.

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