What Is Mastering?
What is Mastering?
Mastering takes an audio mix and and brings it to distribution-quality. It’s the final step to balance your mix, unify sonic elements and optimise playback response for all file formats and devices. Mastering typically consists of a series of subtle audio processes including stereo enhancement, compression, equalisation and limiting. It’s the vital connection between your hard work as a creator and radio-ready sound quality.
Chances are your favourite song has been mastered. In fact, just about all music is mastered for listening across all platforms, streaming services, radio and television. If you’re serious about your creative process, mastering will ensure that your music is presented at its best.
Benefits of Mastering:
- Consistency across all playback devices
- Increase overall loudness without losing dynamic range
- Enhances essential frequencies to improve overall mix
- Fix problematic frequencies
- Sonic unification for albums
How should I prepare my music for mastering?
The first step in getting your music ready for mastering is to ensure your mix is well balanced and sounds just the way you want it to. Here’s a rule of thumb: mastering can take a good mix and make it great, but it cannot fix a problemed mix. Here are a few simple rules when preparing your final mix:
- Make sure your track isn’t clipping! Distortion can ruin a track and there’s no way to remove these unpleasant artifacts in the mastering process
- Don’t over-compress your master track. Leaving a little headroom is key for ensuring your track will sound amazing after mastering. A typical mastering engineer will require your pre-mastering mix to sit somewhere from -8dB to -4dB
- Avoid adding too many master effects. A little bit of global reverb is fine (aux sends are ideal), but if you go too far it can cause issues when mastering
- Listen carefully for over-accentuated frequencies. If the bass is too muddy, try adding a high pass filter to clean-up or remove excess or inaudible frequencies. If the mids are troubled, try reductive equalising to highlight the most important sonic aspects of each track
- Balance is key. Make sure you’re happy with how each track sits in the mix and relates to each other. This not only means volume, but also panning.
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