While searching for some good articles on how to master music, I stumbled upon an interesting write-up about WHY mastering is so important for your music, where you can get it, and how to make the most of it. Its an oldie, but still contains a lot of relevant concepts about mastering. The article has a lot of great quotes, and I’ve compiled a few great ones into this post.
Why you need mastering
Here are a couple of quotes taken from the article that make some very valid points about why mastering is the necessary final step in the creative process of recording music…
“Mastering is the crucial, critical, and final creative step in the process of making an audio recording,” – Art Sayecki, Art Mastering
Mastering helps to balance everything out to have a listening experience of continuity from beginning to end for the consumer. This is true of all audio, no matter what the playback system. – Nancy Matter, Moonlight Mastering
In almost every mastering session, the following actions are performed:
- Optimizing average and peak volume levels for proper relative loudness
- Signal processing – compression & EQ
- Arranging tracks in final sequence
- Timing of the space between tracks
- Establish a sonic “field” for all tracks
- Place track markers at head of all tracks
- Remove unwanted noise like clicks, pops, hiss
- Clean-up start and ending of each track (including fades)
- Insert Master Track Log – the PQ codes required for replication
– The G-Man, MusicBizAcademy.com
Where to get it
The article gives links to many mastering studios in many different locations around the country. The author of the article says to expect to pay around $120/hour for professional quality mastering services. However, since the article is a few years old, and recording equipment has become much cheaper to obtain, you can find quality mastering services for much lower prices.
Even some short-run printing companies, like Sire Press, have gotten smart and started bundling mastering services in with their unique CD duplication and packaging services.
How to make the most of it
“In order to achieve the maximum impact on the listener, certain creative elements of psycho-acoustics, psychology, use of proprietary techniques, and knowledge of the music market have to be applied in the context of the intended audience – all while recognizing the goals set by the producer and the record label.” – Art Sayecki, Art Mastering
If you’re thinking about mastering your music (duh) and you’re unsure whether its worth the money, check out the rest of the article, because it will most likely answer many of your questions.
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