Mastering

Getting your mixes radio-ready...

If you've already mixed your single, EP or album, let me take care of the finishing touches and get your music sounding as good as it possibly can in preparation for its release.

I provide mastering services for streaming/download, CD and Vinyl.

 

If you'd like to discuss a mastering project with me, please get in touch via the button below.

What is mastering anyway?

These days, the term 'mastering' is generally used to describe the process of preparing audio content for consumption across a broad range of devices, so that it will sound equally good on any system (i.e. it 'translates' well). 

There is a both an 'artistic' and a technical aspect to mastering. 

Artistic Mastering

The artistic side is concerned with the aesthetic of the mix. It deals essentially with the following 3 areas:

1. EQ - is the overall EQ of the mix balanced? Are the lows, mids and highs equally well represented? Is the mix too boomy, muddy, thin or harsh?

2. Dynamics - are the dynamics sufficiently well balanced and controlled? And does the mix have enough 'punch'? 

3. Loudness - is the mix loud enough to be competitive in a playlist? Or is it already excessively loud and at risk of causing clipping? 

There is a degree of subjectivity to each of these questions (with the exception of the issue of clipping, which is a technical matter), but ultimately the end result is to make sure the mix stands up against established records in the genre. A good way to do this is to simply use high quality reference tracks as a comparison and make any necessary EQ/ dynamics/ loudness against these preexisting benchmarks. For a good mix, any such adjustments will usually be subtle. 

Mastering may also be used to make more drastic improvements if necessary. In the event that the mix contains some technical flaws (e.g. substantial masking and general lack of clarity, or maybe some artefacts or glitching), it may even be possible to 'fix the mix' by using stem mastering. In this approach, the main stems of the mix (drum group, guitar group, vocal group etc.) are supplied to the mastering engineer separately, to allow for a more surgical readjustment.

 
Technical Mastering

Once the artistic decisions have been made, the tracks then need to be prepared for release on whatever media have been selected by the artist.

Invariably music is released digitally these days, but there is still a demand for physical products (CDs and vinyl). 

Technical mastering ensures that the final masters are prepared in a suitable format for each of these forms of consumption. For digital release, it simply involves creating 24bit wav files. For CD and Vinyl, a DDP image (Disc Description Protocol image) needs to be generated.  

Whatever queries you may have about mastering, I'll be more than happy to help. Feel free to send me a message via the contact button below:

The Loudness Wars: How loud SHOULD you make your music?

1. What is loudness?

As musicians, we're all familiar with the units of 'decibels' that are used to measure the loudness of a sound (the loudness in this case being related to the sound pressure levels recorded at a particular point). But when we talk about loudness in recorded music, we're actually referring to an intrinsic property of the recording/ mix.

Clearly, the absolute loudness of a recording depends on the level at which it's being listened to. But the intrinsic loudness of a recording becomes clear when compared to different pieces of music played through the same audio system set to the same level (or volume). Some tracks simply sound louder than others. 

 

This is more than a matter of genre - of course a flute solo will sound quieter than a dubstep track. Rather, within the same genre, some tracks are simply mixed to sound louder than others.

 

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