What is mastering?
The Acceptable Standard
What is mastering? Mastering is the process of transforming the final mixes of your music into a “master” that is acceptable for replication and playback. Some of the steps of the mastering process are straightforward eg. sequence the songs into the right order, fades and adjusting levels so that one is not louder than another unnecessarily. However, making your recording sound like a commercial master is a whole different ballgame.
Sweetening the Audio
This is one of the main aspects of mastering and is a process which remains very mysterious to many musicians and engineers alike. It is not magic. However, the resulting master can indeed be a revelation from the previously supplied mixes. Simply put, mastering is the final adjustment of tone and space so that your album is consistent with great sounding records. If you know what it’s like to labour long and hard over final mixes only to find that there isn’t the same quality, depth and punch of your favourite records, then you are already on your way to understanding the necessity for mastering.
Competing on the Same Level
Every commercial release has been mastered. In order to compete in terms of loudness and quality then your music must be mastered too. Each track must be homogeneous in terms of level and EQ so that your single, remix, EP or album remains consistent throughout and competes on a commercial level.
Key things you will get with mastering
- Fresh ears to give a subjective view of the overall sound of the project.
- Overall level and loudness increased with a consistency across all tracks.
- Increased clarity, depth and clearness.
- Imperfections such as clicks and pops removed.
- Continuity in EQ across all tracks.
- Flow between tracks with correct gaps.
- A great sound across all playback systems.
- Metadata such as ISRC codes and CD-Text added to masters.
- The correct final format provided for digital distribution, broadcast and replication.