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Mastering is the all important final step when it comes to getting your music as professional sounding as possible. Major labels demand that their artists’ music be mastered as the final step in audio production, and you should settle for nothing less for your own music. If you’re not convinced that mastering is important for your music, then you should get a test master to hear how good your music could be sounding. Many professional mastering studios offer a free test master so that you can hear the difference in one of your own songs before moving forward with them.
But what does mastering do?
Admittedly, there is a lot of mystique regarding audio mastering. Artists send their finished mixes to the mastering engineer, and they perform some kind of aural magic, and it comes back sounding better than it did on the in. So what are they doing to make your music sound better? It basically comes down to a handful of important aspects of audio processing.
One of the most important aspects of audio mastering is working with the frequencies of the song and using equalization to bring out the best aspects of the song. In equalization, the engineer breaks the song into different bands and increases or diminishes their influence in the song, highlighting specific ranges in some cases to bring out the song’s full potential.
This is where a masterful ear is required to meticulously sift through the audio of the song in every spectrum and raise and drop accordingly to improve the quality. A good job through equalization will make the audio sound cleaner and give it a lot more presence.
A typical byproduct of this is that the song will sound louder. Oftentimes people mistake mastering for simply making a track louder, but there’s so much more that goes into it. However, a mastering engineer can also further bring up the volume of a track to be on par with industry standards.
You don’t want your track to be buried in a playlist of other songs which are a lot louder than yours as this makes your song sound less professional. The trick is to use just the right amount of compression as a mastering engineer to give the song that extra boost but without sacrificing the dynamic inherent nature of the audio.
If you’re not convinced that mastering is for you, then you should get a free test master of one of your own songs and experience the before and after difference to hear firsthand why you owe it to yourself and your fans to get a good mastering job done on your music, without the risk.