Complete info about mastering process
Mastering is the final stage of production sitting between mixing and manufacture or distribution online. Bringing specialist equipment and expertise a mastering engineer will ensure that your record not only performs in terms of tonal balance, stereo width, and depth of sound, loudness and also has the right creating a record that flows from track to track in an engaging way. A fresh pair of ears to your project that understands the technical demands of the end format, whether that’s an Audio CD, Vinyl or MP3 meant for download.
With technology constantly improving and becoming more affordable, more and more artists are finding that it is possible to record amazing sounding music from home studios. This saves a lot more time and money as opposed to going to a professional studio. There is some debate of whether or not sending music into a professional mastering. If the mix does not need modifications, it is at a perfect volume level, fades are well done, EQ is consistent throughout, compression is right on, etc…then there is no need for mastering. In reality are other aspects to consider. Even some of the best mixing engineers work get the advantages of mastering. A lot of artists spend loads of time and money on gear and recording, so why not go the extra mile to further improve the sound: especially with competitive rates that are offered from various mastering houses.
With affordable computer-based recording being so prevalent these days, a great deal of music is recorded and/or mixed in acoustically inaccurate monitoring environments. As a result of this, the role of the mastering studio is more important now than ever; as it often provides the only opportunity to accurately hear what’s going on in a recording and iron out any problems. Many producers now even get their demos mastered, in order to be sure that they will compete in the marketplace.
If your project is commercial in nature, you probably want your master to compare with others in your genre, and to have a contemporary, dense and upfront kind of sound. In other words, you want it to be LOUD. We can do this for you. With pleasure. On the other hand, your priorities might be more towards retaining every dynamic nuance, creating a finished master which is as open and natural sounding as possible. We would generally aim to find a balance between these approaches, but our priority at all times is to make sure that you get the sound you want.
Using the beautiful wizard that we created.
This varies from job to job, some clients provide a list of pointers and instruction on a track by track basis and some clients just allow the mastering engineer to do his work and do the best for the music with a completely fresh and unhindered approach. Of course, there are some jobs that have a combination of the 2 with some basic guides or sonic references for the engineer to work. Is the reason why we designed our mastering wizard interface with steps which will inform us about all the aspects of the process you want to be included. Other aspects will be added along the way based on the project. We can be in permanent contact for the best direction.
Contact us to discuss your project details and get your free mastering sample. As well we will take pleasure to discuss your music project and even to point you to learn more or to help you in your process.
Our studio setup combines the accuracy of digital and the character of analog processing to give your masters the benefit of both worlds. We call it hybrid mastering.
Here are the usual steps are addressed in the process:
Key benefits of the Mastering process. Our main aim.
The final step usually involves preparing the song or sequence of songs for download, manufacturing and/or duplication/replication. This step varies depending on the intended delivery format. In the case of a CD, it can mean converting to 16 bit/44.1 kHz audio through resampling and/or dithering and setting track indexes, track gaps, PQ codes, and other CD-specific markings. For web-centered distribution, you might need to adjust the levels to prepare for conversion to AAC, MP3 or hi-resolution files and include the required metadata. There is no doubt that adding mastering to your project will improve the quality of your music. Without it, your chance of making it in the highly competitive music industry decreases dramatically. For such a big responsibility and amount of expertise, hands-on work and time & affordable rate these days there is no argument: mastering is a necessity.
Mastering usually works with the final stereo mixdowns but can also take the form of stem mastering. This utilizes groups of instruments (i.e. drums, bass, guitars, vocals) to further enhance the result. Mastering is very different from mixing which is where the multi-tracks or sequenced elements of the music are individually equalized, compressed, effected, automated and leveled.
Stem mastering is a type of mastering that differs in that it uses ‘groups’ of instruments such as bass, guitars, drums, keyboards, vocals. There are a number of advantages to stem mastering. The ‘collections’ of instruments allow the mastering engineer to create a master with more targeted corrections and enhancement to the equalization, dynamics, depth and balance of the instruments in mixdown.
Stem mastering affords additional scope to target specific problems and further increase the subjective enhancements and apply an “expensive” sound to the production.
Mastering is normally capable of adding space, depth, punch, thickness, perceived volume increases, warmth, air (sparkle) and other global tonal changes, to a mix.
Consideration also has to be made for how the individual tracks work together when played one after another in an album/release sequence. Is there a consistent sound? Are the levels matched? Does the collection have a common “character” and playback evenly so that the listener doesn’t have to adjust the volume? Coherency throughout the track listing is achieved through the process of level matching, compression, and volume consistency. Taking on this process yourself, without the appropriate ear or experience, can often leave an album sounding flat. A professional will help make each track shine by itself, while also creating a tonally refined collection. EQ is leveled out to give the album its own consistent sound throughout as opposed to each song sounding like it was recorded and mixed at different times and places.
There are many alternatives these days to the handful of true high-end mastering studios which used to encompass the market. Whilst genuine mastering equipment is still very costly, there is now a range of more affordable options mainly in the form of computer plug-ins which has resulted in the explosion of mastering services operating today, mainly offering online mastering at sometimes very low prices, and all of them claiming to be “professional” and – that phrase again – “high-end”. The first benefit of professional mastering comes with experience. A professional has spent years defining tracks and pulling out the winning parts. A professional can also help you go that extra step, finding techniques and sounds that work with your ideal sound and manipulating your work to ensure the right tone is achieved. Finding an expert on the same page as you in this respect is invaluable. A professional mastering engineer will add value to your musical releases without leaving anything to chance.
The goal of this step is to correct mix balance issues and enhance particular sonic characteristics, taking a good mix (usually in the form of a stereo file) and putting the final touches on it. This can involve adjusting levels and general “sweetening” of the mix. Think of it as the difference between a good sounding mix and a professional-sounding, finished master.
Long, tiring mixdown sessions mean that details can be missed, it may be that you miss a click or a pop in a mix and this is best removed before it is heard by your listeners. Some mix down environments may not benefit from high resolution, large format loudspeakers in an acoustically treated room. This means that there can be a sonic inaccuracy that needs correction before release.
There’s also the hard truth that better equipment really does equal better results. You can hack your way through free trial software or an old mixing station, but today’s top of the range technology still produces the clearest, punchiest results. Unfortunately, it’s rare you’ll find this gear lying around so submitting your work to a professional with access to, and deep knowledge of, the latest technologies will give your tracks the best possible starting position.
Your mastering engineer may also use compression over the track, and there are many types and approaches to dynamic processing so that it can be used to add punch and fatness or to hold a lead element in place on the top of the mix, or simply to add that bit of “glue” that holds a mix together.
When done correctly, the dynamics and impact will remain largely intact while your tracks become comparable in perceived level compared to most commercially released songs.
When done poorly, your tracks can end up sounding overly loud, harsh and draining, or even small and crunchy, with little to no dynamics present. flattening effect on your music, as the gentle parts of your songs sound as if they’re at the same volume and intensity level as the energetic sections, sucking the life out of what should be the most impactful moments in your tracks.
Be sure to select the loudness vs. dynamics balance with your mastering engineer or select the range during the wizard steps the top of your session.