The Difference When It Comes to Song Mastering

Song mastering is different than more involved CD or vinyl mastering for a number of reasons. First, it exclusively refers to mastering your individual songs themselves so you don’t have to worry about sequencing. Sequencing refers to the ordering of tracks on a CD and the care in terms of spacing them out, creating a table of contents, mastering

You don’t have to worry about these kinds of things when you don’t have an album file which is going to be replicated, so song mastering is much less involved and exclusively targets the audio itself. That’s the difference, betcause you’re looking to release you music exclusively for online audiences in digital format.

But what specifically happens in song mastering? This is the part of audio post production where certain effects digital or analog are applied to your final rendered mix in order to attain the best possible sound from that audio. Song mastering can be used to significantly improve the audio quality itself even if the recording conditions were lacking. The mastering process can be used to compensate what you didn’t have in the tracking stage. How does this work?

Say you didn’t mic the guitar correctly and it didn’t pick up enough of the instrument’s natural bass tone. By applied equalization and boosting the presence of the low end in that audio spectrum you can thicken out a track which is lacking in the lower end of the spectrum at those lower frequencies.

Boosting the other end of the equalization spectrum will yield a different result as you can make the higher end more prominent in the mix to give the effect of removing the wrapping paper from around the mix so that it comes through much more clearly. The audio will be much crisper but you need to use these effects artfully and sparingly as if you don’t and go overboard then your audio will come off as sounding tinny and grating. Certain frequencies will annoy your listener and the sibilance will be much more perceptible at the cost of that mix’s quality.

You can give the impression of realistic room ambiance by applying reverb after the fact, as well. This can be used to correct a flat mix to give it a lift out of the headphones three dimensional feel to it with a great deal more life. You can think of song mastering as being like a painter crafting a beautiful work of art out of a blank canvas and a good mastering job will substantially boost the quality of your music and provide a much more professional product to your listeners.

Three Reasons to Pay For Music Mastering

Music mastering is not necessary but it will give your music a much more professional sound to it which can be the difference in obtaining a new fan and label interest or not getting any of that. In this article I will give you three reasons for why you should have your music mastered right now.

First, plain and simple music mastering makes your music sound better. Mastering engineers who know what they are doing use EQ and compression albeit sparingly to bring out sounds of your record which you didn’t think possible. It’s like unlocking the true potential of your mix. If you’re skeptical at all at the merits of having your audio mastered to improve the overall tonal quality and give it a much more glossy and professional sound, you should upload one of your songs and receive a free test master from Music Guy Mastering to be blown away at how much better it mastering

Secondly, the mastering engineer takes the various songs which make up your record and ensures that they are all at a volume which is unified with every other track on the record. This is a major problem when artists don’t have their music master because each track comes out at a different volume and when simply burned to a CD back to back in the track order they want, the levels of that CD will rise and drop suddenly and awkwardly between tracks. As the saying goes, a producer creates tracks, the mastering engineer creates albums.

While it’s more of a byproduct of a good mastering job rather than the ultimate goal which is a common misnomer amongst those unfamiliar with mastering, the process of mastering tracks raises the volume overall. Once the engineer has assured that each track is sounding as good as it can and is in parity volume wise with every other track on the record, if necessary the engineer can further boost the volume of that record to be analogous to other contemporary records of the day.

This goes back to the idea of your music sounding professional, if someone is listening to your music in a mix with other artists back to back, it’s awkward when they have to adjust their volume up and down because your music is likely that much quieter without mastering than virtually any other artist they’ll have on that mix who has been mastered. It’s a sign of professionalism and legitimacy ultimately which is why you cannot afford to not pay for music mastering.

You don’t even need to break the bank to get music mastering. Whereas some engineers charge $30, $40, or even $50 per track or more, Music Guy Mastering is offering a five dollar per track special through the end of the year. If you think the quality will be compromised for that price, I insist that you upload one of your tracks and receive a free test master from Music Guy Mastering to experience how good your music can be sounding. You won’t come near the same level of quality regardless of how much are paying to another engineer.

What’s the Difference Between CD Mastering and Audio Mastering?

While CD mastering involves audio mastering, more goes into delivering a final product than when you are simply affecting the audio itself. In this article we’re going to talk about the difference between CD mastering and audio mastering

First let’s discuss what is involved in audio mastering. This is what most people think of when they think of mastering as it involves purely sculpting and shaping the audio itself. This is accomplished through use of plugins and effects which can be loaded into your digital audio workstation, plugins such as equalization, limiters, and compression.

Equalization is the most commonly used effect in mastering if necessary because it is used to dissect the audio in different ranges from low to high to affect that section’s presence in the greater mix to achieve different kinds of results. Boosting the low end is very effective when a recording is lacking in a bass sound and you want to compensate for that void. A good example would be on a recorded acoustic guitar if perhaps it was recorded improperly and too far away from the cutaway sound hole in the instrument.

Without this natural bass, you can compensate by augmenting the low end via the EQ, thereby giving the song a thicker presence in the overall mix. On the other end of the spectrum you can add to the high end using EQ to compensate for an abundance of high end or you can alternatively diminish the presence of the low end using the EQ. Boosting the high end can also give a sharper sound to individual tracks in a mix or to the entire song in the mastering stage.

Compressors and limiters are also effective for ensuring that your entire record is at a similar volume with itself. Different songs are likely to be recorded in different environments with different instruments and settings whether it’s intentional or not, so it’s likely that the volumes of those various songs are not in unity with one another. Therefore, even if you’re not performing CD mastering, you’ll want to place all of your final mix tracks on one file in your DAW and consequently use these plugins to ensure that they’re all harmonious with one another level wise.

You can stop right there with normal mastering but when it comes to CD mastering you’re going to go that extra step and actually sequence the record and add data which will be written to the CD itself when replicated. Sequencing refers to creating a table of contents for the record and establishing the flow and breaks between tracks which can be according to the artist’s specifications and data is additionally written as a final step to add information like artist and song info to each track.

When CD mastering, it’s also important that you add that 2 second gap if your software does not do this for you automatically so that it complies with Red Book standards and there will be no playing issues on any CD players. Overall, the ultimate goal is getting a perfect image file, DDP file, or hard disk to be sent for replication so that there are no costly errors which are discovered only after replication has been performed at the plant.

What to Consider Before Online Mastering

Nowadays online mastering is a very viable option for the audio post production stage because audio can be sent digitally. All the mastering engineer needs from you besides your input is the final mixes for each of your songs.

Before you dive into online mastering, consider these points first to make sure you have the best possible experience with whomever you end up going mastering

First and foremost, ask for a free test master of one of your own songs with that online mastering engineer. Any reputable and on the level engineer will offer this and you need to start with this because you need to know what your music will sound like in their hands. It doesn’t matter if they are one of the biggest names in the game and have thousands of artists to their credit or even have a number of before and after samples on their site. What may sound good for one artist may not sound good for you and that extends to mastering just as it does to the recording and mixing stage.

You need to also specify to your engineer what kind of work you need done. This includes how many tracks you need mastered and whether you will need a file for replication, meaning whether or not you are interested in having a physical record either in vinyl or CD format. If you’re just interested in releasing your music online digitally, extra steps are required if you want a CD or vinyl version printed such as sequencing and data will be written.

Next, make sure that you know what to expect in terms of cost with that engineer. Different engineers charge different rates for their services and they may charge by different systems, as well. Some engineers may charge per song, others will charge per hour, and others may quote you a lump sum before even starting the project.

The latter is ideal because you want to know precisely how much you can expect to owe at the end of that session. More importantly, you need to establish with the engineer whom you go with that there can be edits free of charge if you require them. It’s good to establish as much as possible at the beginning of the process before any work has been completed so that there are no awkward moments at the end because the two of you were on different pages about any specific issues in the mastering of your music.

Audio Mastering Tutorial

With the boom in the home computer industry, home recording has really taken off and it’s quite manageable to record your own music at home and on a micro budget. Going one step further, a lot of artists are interested in mastering their own music to save on costs there, as well. This is possible, as well, though not as recommended because it’s generally never a good idea to have the same person record and master your music, especially mastering tutorial

It’s much more rewarding to get a second opinion from a fresh set of unbiased ears, ears which haven’t been listening to your music as you have during the entire tracking and mixing process.

While it’s not ideal, you can still certainly master your own music, so if you’re interested in doing just that then consider this audio mastering tutorial.

First, ensure that your final mix is exactly how you want it without applying any effects to the output and ensure that you’re not clipping at all. I like to bring down the mix a few decibels below clipping to give myself some room to work with. I mentioned not using any effects on the output as by adding compression, for instance, you limit what you can do after you’ve rendered it to a single file. Once the mix is how you want it, then render it to a single WAVE or AIFF file.

It’s ideal that you master the original rendered file and not any kind of compressed file format such as an MP3 as you lose sound quality. You want to master the highest quality file you can get, then compress it later for any MP3 needs you have after the fact.

Once you have your final mix rendered down to a WAVE, load that file back into a fresh project in your digital audio workstation. At that point fire up your favorite effects of choice starting with EQ. EQ will dissect your mix into generally 3 different bands, low, mid, and high which you can then tweak individually using the EQ plugin. You can boost or take away from their influence within that mix to achieve different results. You might first try the extreme ends of the spectrum such as the lows and highs.

Adding low will obviously give your track a greater bass sound whereas removing the low will take away its influence. Boosting the high end can give the effect of removing the shrink wrap from your mix but going overboard will make it too sharp and grating at those higher frequencies to the point where it’s sacrificing the quality of the mix.

Add or subtract as the track calls for and what sounds best when messing around with it. As you continue to master more mixes, you’ll become more comfortable and experienced with what to do and experiment with.