After everything has been done, music mastering (or audio mastering) comes into play. Mastering is the last step in any recording process where additional audio treatments are applied to the mix to eliminate any frequency problems and improve the overall musicality of the track. You can think of mastering as the final polish before the record is released.
What is an audio master?
An audio master (or master audio) is the final version of the track that is ready to be sold, downloaded, streamed, or mass-consumed in any form by the public. This audio master is also used to make any future copies of the track – it’s the master copy, the parent that spawns all other copies of the record.
Why is mastering important?
Mastering is the finishing touch that’s given to the record you worked so hard on your producer and engineer to create. Why would you put all that work in jeopardy by not placing the cherry on top? That’s like saying you built a house from scratch yourself and when everything’s done and the house is almost ready to be sold, you did not give it a coat of paint.
Not mastering music is a big risk. All artists put in mastering as the last step in their music release plan. That’s because it brings your record at the same level as the millions of other songs available out there – and it gives you a fighting chance. You really don’t want your song to be muddier than all other songs on the playlist.
What does the mastering engineer do?
When the song is handed over to the mastering engineer (who is sometimes also the mixing engineer), he puts in the final touches such as adjusting the overall volume of the song or additional compression – these steps allow the mastering engineer to “sweeten” the music and make it more appealing and ready for commercial release.
Remember: a good mastering engineer will enhance the quality of your mix. Mastering can’t save a bad mix but it can definitely ruin a good one! That’s why it’s extremely important to find a good mastering engineer to do the job.
Some people use plugins in DAW and standalone Mastering programs, but algorithms and software can never have the ear or feelings that a human can! And what’s more – the time you spend learning these tools is time that could have been spent on writing or rehearsing your music. So why not let a professional take over the tech side while you get creative?
How do I know my song is good enough?
If you’ve hired a good mastering engineer, you know that they’ll work their magic on your record. But even a great mastering engineer can’t save a bad mix this is why you must also have a good mixing engineer. Some sound engineers both mix and master – like our engineer at In The Box Mastering
Clayton Doran is the Chief Audio Mastering Engineer with tons of experience on stage and in studio. He has a great ear for sound and having grown up in music, he knows what it’s all about.
Drop us a message – we’d love to hear all about your music!