This guide will answer what music mastering is, the difference between mixing and mastering, and its importance. So what is mastering?
What Is Mastering Music?
Mastering is the last step after the mixdown is complete. In mastering, the sound quality of the final mix is optimized so that it sounds good on various audio playback systems. It involves fine-tuning and polishing the track before it gets finally published.
What this post covers:
- What is Mastering Music
- Mastering vs. Mixing
- Does Mastering Really Matter
- What Goes Into Mastering a Song
- How Do I Master A Song
- Is Mastering Music Difficult
What is Mastering Music?
In short and simple words, mastering music means adding the final touch to the song and preparing it for distribution. It is the form of the audio post-production process.
Some of the things that one has to do while mastering a song are as follows:
- Taking all the tracks that are going into a project.
- Make sure that their relative volume and timbre match.
- Make sure that the volume and tone remain consistent from one track to another.
- Do necessary editing and create the transition from one track to another.
- Polishing the sound of the entire project so that it’s cohesive and sounds good when played on different systems.
- Listening to audio recordings and vocal tracks
- Adjusting audio levels in music production software
One who does the mastering can be called the mastering engineer, who can be thought of as the last line of defense before the song or album is finally published to the world.
Audio mastering engineers generally work with a single stereo track and does everything possible to make the track sound well and perfect in every playback system.
The mastering process is focused on ensuring that each song fits with every other song in the project.
Related: 50 Best Mastering VST Plugins
What’s the Difference Between Mastering And Mixing?
|It is the step done after mixing.||It is the step done before mastering.|
|It is the final stage of audio production.||It marks the start of post-production.|
|It involves polishing the various songs, adding the final touch, and making sure that they form a cohesive whole on an album.||It is the process that involves adjusting and combining individual tracks together to form a stereo audio file after the mixdown.|
|It is the process done by the mastering engineer to make the song ready for distribution.||It is the process done by the mixing engineer that labels and organizes the track into their similar groups.|
In simple words, the job of a mixing engineer is to carve and balance the separate tracks in a session to sound good when they are played together.
But mastering is when the mastering engineer adds the finishing touch to the song by enhancing the overall sound, creating consistency across the album, and making it ready for distribution.
Does Mastering Really Matter?
Mastering songs matter because it makes them sound cohesive and prepares the music for different distribution formats.
For example, when a song is finally published, then it can get distributed and used across different formats and platforms such as MP3/AAC, Streaming services such as Spotify, broadcast, etc.
So it is important to make sure that the song sounds well and consistent across all these different formats and platforms, which makes mastering the song – adding that final touch, really important.
Here are some of the benefits that make mastering the music necessary:
Maintaining Uniform Volume of The Track
In mastering the music, the overall level of the track is raised or lowered, and the volume of each track is maintained at a uniform level.
Doing this helps in listening to the music in a variety of different sound systems such as home stereo, car stereo, earbuds, headphones, etc.
Mastering helps in leveling EQ and thus helps in giving the album its own consistent sound throughout.
Each song in an album might have been recorded and mixed at different times and places. But mastering the music leveling the EQ helps in making the album sound consistent.
Apart from these, adjusting the EQ by mastering also helps in improving the imperfections in the song that were not handled correctly in the mixing process, like adding or subtracting the lower or higher ends.
Mastering music enables incorporating better fades for smoother transitions.
These and space can be added at the beginning and end of the track to give a customized feeling for the album. Also, other things can be added, such as album sequencing, track names, and more.
What Goes Into Mastering a Song?
Following are things that are involved and taken care of while mastering a song:
- To make the track sound louder
- To make the track sound better
- To make sure that the track sounds well in all different kinds of speakers
In short, mastering a song involves taking a piece, enhancing the sound qualities and characteristics, adding the final touch, and making it ready for distribution.
How Do I Master A Song?
Here are some tips and steps that can be helpful while mastering a song:
- Make sure that you have a perfect listening space.
- Make sure your mix is finished because mastering is the last step.
- Make sure that none of the audio is clipping.
- Bounce down your stereo track as its own file.
- Give your ears a break for some time to start fresh again, as mastering is the process of polishing, noticing, and correcting the fine imperfections in the song.
- Open up a new project, import your mix into it, and import your references on the track beneath it.
- Make a full analysis, control the dynamics.
- Fix the tone, enhance the mix, limit it and complete your final checks before you are done.
Is Mastering Music Difficult?
Mastering music is not difficult as long as you have the experience of doing it. Like any field, it takes some time to achieve excellence in mastering music.
In short, mastering music means adding the final touch to the recording, removing the imperfections in the track, and making sure that all the songs sound well and consistent.
So for mastering music effectively, it is important to have proper ear training, good listening skills, and experience in order to sort out and fix the problematic frequencies in the audio track.
Summary of Mastering
Mastering is the process of optimizing the final mix’s sound quality for various playback systems. It involves polishing and fine-tuning the track before it is published. The mastering process follows the mixdown.
We hope you found this information helpful and we answered what is mastering music for you.
If we missed anything, please share it in the comments.