One of most common questions associated with music production is what exactly does audio mastering even do? This is for some people that enigmatic and sometimes nebulous final stage of music production which many people realize is important but maybe don’t know why. Let’s talk about what does audio mastering do so that you have a much better idea of what goes into it and how it improves your recordings.
The purpose of audio mastering is three fold. First and most importantly audio mastering improves the quality of the audio itself. Even after a song has been recorded and given a final mix, there are still changes and improvements which can be made, even if that song was recorded in the highest tech studio in the world for the largest budget in the history of music production.
A person who ideally had nothing to do with the recording or mixing processes referred to as the mastering engineer takes that final rendered down Wave (or similar format) file and uploads it to their computer where they can add different effects. I say ideally that they had nothing to do with the earlier stages of the audio production is because it helps to have a fresh and unique ear hearing a song for the first time to listen objectively and decide where it’s lacking and what it needs.
The most common effects used in audio mastering are compression, reverb, and especially equalization. These effects give the file more atmosphere, unity throughout, and can smooth out abrasive ranges in the mix. The overall purpose is to enhance the recording without sacrificing dynamics of that track.
A capable audio mastering engineer knows how to artfully apply these effects when they are needed and just as importantly how to not overdo anything or use effects needlessly.
In addition to simply improving the quality of individual tracks, the audio mastering engineer can also be in charge of creating the file for the complete album itself, particularly if the artist needs a physical copy of that record. This isn’t as common as it once was as digital formats and versions of music are now the sole focus for a lot of artists as well as their fans.
Still, the engineer creates a unified album file where all of the songs are of comparable volume and the individual transitions between tracks are at the artist’s wishes. The overall goal when creating an album out of a collection of songs is to get that final one file set to be sent off to the CD replication plant so it can be copied over and over without issue.
In summation, while audio mastering is certainly not a necessity before you put out your music, the point is is that it will add a great deal to your music and give it an overall more professional sound even if you recorded it in a decidedly lo-fi or unprofessional environment.
It’s also very affordable depending on whom you go with, plus most respectable audio mastering engineers offer one free test master of one of your songs so that you can hear the difference firsthand without any commitment.
Music Guy Mastering offers free test masters so that you can experience firsthand how much better your music could be sounding in the capable hands of the Music Guy himself so click on the “free test master” tab above to upload your song immediately and enjoy the difference with turnaround times of under 24 hours.