Ok, so you record a song in ... let's say .. Reaper (or whatever), and you want to mix it down.
And you want to master it too. I know a lot of people will say, "you should pay someone else to master it," and that's cool and all. But let's say that:
A) You can't afford to pay anyone else right now, and/or
B) You'd like to learn how to master yourself, so you have to start somewhere.
Keep in mind I'm talking about just a single song, so the other aspects of mastering, like making the sound consistent between songs, sequencing the songs, etc., don't really apply here.
What's the process most people use?
Do you mix the song down (i.e. render or export or whatever) with no effects/EQ/dynamics processing on the master buss and get it to sound the best you can? And then do you bring that stereo mix file into a mastering program (or back into your DAW) and then apply the dynamics processing/EQ/etc.?
Or do you, while you still have the multi-track mix going, apply all the mastering EQ/dynamics/etc. to the master buss and take care of it all in one fell swoop?
Is there a difference, sonically, between the two methods?