Finalizing Open Thread...
So, that being the case, I'd really just be paying for a second opinion. And as you all know, I have plenty of opinions to go around, so that's kind of pointless.
In mastering my own records, I find that I'm best served by loading everything in to CD Architect, moving everything about until I'm happy with the transitions and flow, then setting it aside for a week or so. I then go back and do the EQing and compression necessary, then set it aside again for a week. If, when I finally come back to finish it, nothing jumps out at me, it's off to the pressing plant.
This will be an L3-free album, as I'm seriously against square-waving my music. I don't get a lot of club play, no radio play to speak of, and the TV shows that use my stuff are gonna squish the fuck out of it on their own, so I usually leave that to them.
So, that's my method. What's yours? I know that this is a black art to a lot of people, and the Direct-To-MP3 rendering that is common in the non-commercial music creation world precludes any sort of actual mastering. Obviously, great benefits can be gained with even simple mastering, but you can also fuck your music up beyond recognition or usefulness pretty quickly. Tips and hints time.