New to Audio Mastering? Audio Mastering Explained.
Audio Mastering is the process of preparing music for distribution and broadcast. It is largely a quality monitoring process. You will often see it described as the "final step" in production, or that it ensures your mixes translate well to other systems. While that is true, there is much more to it than that.
Mastering often begins early in the production process when you are still working on your mixes, and ultimately ends when you have a finished master that is sent out for duplication or for distribution via a digital service provider such as iTunes. The process of getting there will vary greatly depending upon the mastering engineer you choose to work with, and how much time and resources you have to make adjustments to your mixes.
"My single is now mastered to perfection and on schedule for release. I'm looking forward to repeating this process again and again with Rob, whose service I'm dubbing 'The Most Pleasant Experience in Audio Engineering'."
Quality monitoring for music? Is that really necessary?
Simply put, Yes! Quality monitoring and assurance is an important step for every industry from software to automotive manufacturing, and music is no different. Releasing music without any quality control is risky. If you are producing music with the intention to distribute it or sell it, sending your work to an audio mastering engineer ensures that your mixes meet quality standards for radio and digital distribution such as iTunes.
Ensure that your listeners hear your music the way you intend.
Presentation quality: Tonality and musicality, with an ear to pops, glitches, bad edits and other noises
We have all been there. You have completed a great sounding mix and you run to your friend's house to listen to it on their system. Something isn't right - the bass is too loud, and the mix sounds dull compared to other commercial music. It didn't sound that way in your studio, so what's wrong with your mix?
Many of us are recording music at home these days, and with today's technology, it is relatively easy to achieve great sounding recordings and mixes at home. The challenge is getting that mix to sound consistently good wherever it gets played, so that it can compete with commercial releases. Often times music that sounds great in the home studio can sound dull, harsh, bass-heavy, thin or distant when played on other playback systems.
This is where the audio mastering process comes in. A mastering engineer will listen critically to your mix, and will let you know if there are any issues with it that will create problems during broadcast, or for streaming music playback. If they find any concerns, they will ask you to revisit your mix first to address the issue. If there are no concerns, the engineer will make a series of adjustments to help your mix have the same impact that other releases have.
Did you know?
- A radio station can refuse to play your music for any reason they choose. Marketability, production quality and style are certainly important factors that you can easily hear and control, but even less obvious things like tonality and dynamics come into play. If there is anything about your production that the station feels might cause a listener to lose interest and switch to another station, including tonal issues like harshness and dullness, they can and will refuse to play your songs.
- Newer standards/recommendations for mainstream digital distribution are in place, such as Mastered for iTunes, that are there to ensure the highest possible technical quality. Things like clipping avoidance pre and post conversion.
- Embedding the right metadata in your music files (ISRC for example) can help ensure you get paid!
Audio mastering involves:
- calling attention to serious mix issues so that the mix engineer can address them
- correction of technical defects with the audio (dropouts, clicks, glitches and more)
- preservation or enhancement of the musicality and dynamics of each song on your project achieving musically appropriate perceived loudness from track to track, and consistent sound quality from track to track
- when necessary, embedding metadata (ISRC, artist and album name for example)
Audio mastering myths:
Myth #1: The purpose of Audio Mastering is to make mixes as loud as possible. Mixes need to be loud to be ready for radio.
- The mastering engineer can certainly make gain adjustments, however, the primary purpose of mastering is about presentation quality; ensuring the highest quality, musicality and broadcast readiness of your mixes.
- "Radio Ready" is not about maximizing gain. It is about ensuring the listenability and translatability of your mixes - that is, the widest variety of listeners will find them enjoyable to listen to.
Myth #2: I don't have to address quality issues inside my mix, because it can all be fixed at the mastering stage.
- Audio mastering cannot fix a bad mix. At best, it can only help to compensate for it to a degree. Since any serious mix issues should be addressed before the mastering stage, it is important to work with an audio mastering engineer that will provide you with honest feedback about your mix and provide you with practical suggestions on how to resolve it, regardless of your background, level of knowledge, or facilities available to you.
- Audio mastering can address noise or other elements that detract from what is in the recording to a degree, but it cannot add fidelity that isn't there to begin with. A low fi recording or mix will still sound "low fi" after it has been mastered.
Why work with an online audio mastering studio?
JustMastering.com is an online mastering studio. Working with a mastering engineer online offers you a convenient way to have your songs professionally mastered. The process is relatively simple. Complete an online music mastering services request form to get started, and Rob will guide you through the process. After your masters are ready, he will make the the finished masters available for you to download.
Why choose JustMastering.com?
You will be working with Rob Stewart, who has a track record of offering prompt, professional and personalized online music mastering services. He works to ensure that you are absolutely thrilled with the end result. It all begins well before the final mastering process, and extends well beyond the finished masters. Please refer to the clients page to learn what Rob's clients are saying about him.
"I absolutely loved working with Rob, and I'm so grateful that I found him. Rob is so supportive and just a pleasure to work with. From helping me to improve my mixes, to creating a final master that I love, Rob was there for me all the way. Thank you Rob!"
Here is a summary list of the highlights of Rob's services:
- Comprehensive mix and production consultation and personalized analysis
- Live video consultation service available
- Very high customer focus, timely communication.
- All audio mastering services are delivered on time, per any timelines communicated to you.
- Extended after sales service - all audio mastering projects are archived in case you lose your copies.