What Is Mastering

Mastering is the last opportunity to enhance your music and is NECESSARY if your music needs to be radio ready. A song that has been mastered will undoubtedly be perceived as more professional because listeners over the years have become accustomed to hearing music as a polished and fully finished recording.

Mixing vs. Mastering

Mastering is the final step in the professional audio process and is sometimes confused with mixing. While mixing is the process of combining multiple tracks into a single stereo file, mastering is the process of manipulating the stereo file (typically .wav files) with the intention of making it ready for radio airplay and/or distribution.

Consistency Across an Album

Consideration is also given to how the individual tracks flow together when played one after another in an album sequence. Is there a consistent sonic quality? Do the levels match? Does the album play back evenly so that the listener doesn’t have to adjust the volume? 

What Does Mastering Include

In almost every mastering session, the following actions are performed; optimizing volume levels for relative loudness, compression, EQ, clean-up before and after each track, adding fades when appropiate and applying signal processing to enhance the music.

Preparing for Distribution

The final step in mastering includes the arranging of the music tracks in their final sequence, the addition of digital silence between tracks, the setting of track indexes, PQ codes and other CD-specific markings. At the completion of this step the stereo files are converted to 16 bit/44.1 kHz audio through resampling and/or dithering and the red book standard CD master is created.

Do You Need Mastering

The mastering process consists of using processors to emphasize the tonal qualities of the music. Every recording project has different sonic goals but if you are considering whether or not your project needs mastering - remember that all professional songs / albums are mastered!


Equipment List

Trident Series 65

Computer & Software
Apple iMac
Digidesign Pro Tools LE
Bias Peak CD Mastering

Tascam DA-88
Tascam DA-38
Tascam 112mkII
Panasonic SV-3800
Marantz CDR620

Outboard Gear
Behringer Multigate XR1400
Aphex Expressor

Signal Processing
Lexicon LXP-15II
Yamaha ProR3

Yamaha NS-10m Studio
Mackie HR824
Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes

Audio-Technica AT4050
Audio-Technica AT4033
Audio-Technica AT8033
Sennheiser MD421U
Lewitt Audio LCT 340 DC Pair
Electro Voice RE-20
AKG D112
Rode Microphones NT3
Shure SM57
Shure SM58
Shure PG52