What Is Mastering?
Mastering | Music Producer London
The final process of audio post-production is known as mastering. The reason for mastering is to attain a sonically balanced stereo mix in order to optimise playback across all formats and systems. A long established practise, the mastering process is usually carried out by a mastering engineer, although music producers and mix engineers are know to handle mastering on occasions, depending on the project. Mastering is accomplished using EQ, compression, stereo enhancement and limiting.
Consider mastering as the polish most effective for the highest quality playback on all devices, from earphones to club systems. The word itself originates from ‘master copy’, a source by which all copies and duplicates are created. These duplicates can be distributed on CD’s or vinyl, and streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. Mastering also creates consistency of multiple tracks on an album, creating continuity across all of your audio. As an artist, mix engineer or music producer, having your music presented in the best light is naturally always desired.
Whilst the most obvious part of mastering is volume, there is much more to it than just competing in the so-called loudness war. The objective is to ensure that your music or audio sounds as good as it possibly can on all platforms. Music in 2019 is consumed on more devices and formats than ever before. Mastering will ensure that your music will be heard the way you want it to be.
Can I Master My Own Music?
With the right tools, it’s possible for anyone to master music, whether you’re a music producer, mix engineer, or even a songwriter experimenting with audio production. With that said, the results may be quite different to those of a professional mastering engineer. As a London music producer, I occasionally master my own material. Most of the time though, it’s good to have a second pair of ears and hire a mastering engineer. I often find we are too invested in our own music to hear it objectively. Imagine hearing a song for the first time and instantly being able to hear what it needs, as opposed to having heard a song a thousand times, and deciding what course of action to take.
London music producers that I work with take a similar view. Sometimes I’ll have them master my music, and often they’ll have me master theirs. It can also depend on the project. If a song or album is being released, I’ll almost always use a mastering engineer.
A couple of key points that I believe are necessary for a good master are:
The room in which a song is mastered is likely one of the most important factors in mastering audio. This is also the case for mixing. If a room isn’t sound treated, you just can’t trust that what you’re hearing is correct.
As a London music producer, I’m often involved in conversations about speakers. Whilst it may not be necessary to have the most expensive speakers, you do tend to find that cheaper speakers won’t produce the full frequency spectrum accurately, if even at all. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, you can’t cut or boost a frequency if you can’t hear it.
To Sum Up
Mastering is the link between creating music and sharing it with the world. Mastering should complete your sound, leaving you with a professional and well balanced track. Mastering done correctly enables you to release your music with the peace-of-mind that it will sound right no matter where it’s played.
Jonathan Essex | Music Producer London