Mitsonian Institute ~ Professional Mastering By David Mitson
What Is Mastering?
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What is Mastering and why should I do it?
Mastering is the final process in recording music. A mastering engineer will
take the final mixes of the songs and turn them into the finished product.
The songs are "tweaked" sonically with use of equalization (fancy
tone controls) and compression. This gives the songs a continuity of sound
to the whole cd but not to the extent that songs lose their individual character.
It is also where songs are "level matched" so that the listener
is not reaching for the volume control whilst listening to your record. It
is where the songs are assembled in order and the spaced so the cd flows to
compliment the songs. Sometimes the gaps between the songs can make a real
difference to the listening experience. Intros and fades are made clean and
precise. Any music editing can also be done to make longer songs more acceptable
for radio play etc. Mastering is a very different listening discipline from
tracking and mixing. We listen to the overall sound, if the hi-hat is a little
too loud, that is mixing, not a mastering issue. If the song is, for example,
bass shy overall, then that is a mastering issue. If you get a chance listen
to the difference between a mastered and unmastered track. I am confident
you will be quite surprised. It can make a budget recording sound quite professional
and competative. The saying is that mastering turns a tape into a record.
Mastering is usually charged on a per hour basis. Preparation saves dosh!
Usually the process takes 5-6 hours for a ten song album. More time if it
is a compilation with different sounding artists or line ups. If you have
your sequence in advance, that saves time, too. Talk with the engineer first
to see how it applies to your project. Mixing and tracking engineers, even
the "A-list" guys, are not mastering engineers, as I have stated
before it is a different listening discipline.
But I`m an independent
You still want to be competitive in the local/regional and national marketplace.
A listener will want to hear your record alongside label releases and for
the smallish cost involved you can stand proudly next to them. Contact Dave Mitson.