Many musicians recognize audio mastering as an important step to music production but don’t necessarily know why or understand what goes into it. It’s the final step in music production and it’s not even that costly depending on whom you go with and also depending on whom you go with, you can significantly improve the quality of your music.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; in this article I’m going to cover 3 reasons to get your audio mastered.
Audio Quality – I just alluded to this in opening, but getting your audio mastered significantly improves its quality even to the average listener. Once the song is rendered to a final mix/a single track, it is sent to the audio mastering technician who then applies additional effects and plugins to the track as a whole.
Typical effects include reverb to give it more atmosphere, compression to give it more unity and cohesiveness, and equalization to highlight or downplay parts of the mix. All of these are in an effort to put together a better sounding final product and can be used to achieve a number of different sounds and styles.
These edits and changes to the audio are also helpful because they give your music a second experienced ear and an unbiased one at that to decide what is missing or lacking in your current mix. The bottom line is that in the hands of an experienced mastering engineer, analog or digital effects will seriously improve the quality of your sound and are the number one reason for why you should get your audio mastered.
Data – The audio mastering engineer is also in charge of writing any data to an album or music file. This includes the name of the artist and track, ISRC codes, and anything else you want included.
Creating an Album – Finally, the audio mastering engineer is in charge of creating the final album file itself which includes a sense of cohesiveness to the entire album in terms of setting the levels and creating the transitions between the songs.
Each song should be at parity with the next in terms of levels but the engineer will also generally ensure that the level of the album as a whole is comparable to levels of other popular records of the day so that when someone listens to your song and a song from another artist back to back on their music player, they don’t have to adjust the volume.
When all is said and done, the album file that the engineer creates with your tracks needs to be able to be flawless and exactly how the artist wants it so that it can be distributed as digital files right then and there or more importantly if a CD needs to be replicated as this can be a costly mistake if it’s not perfect going in.