Mastering engineering adds a lot to your final product when it comes to your record. Right now we’re going to identify 3 points of mastering engineering and get a much better understanding of what goes into it and why it is necessary.
First, and this applies to all mastering, but mastering engineering will significantly improve the quality of your audio. While a lot of people make the mistake of believing and assuming that mastering simply raises the volume on your music; the truth is this is just a byproduct of the process. Once a song has been recorded in full and the various tracks which make up that song are mixed together into a final mix, that final mix is sent over to the mastering engineer.
At this stage, the engineer artfully applies plug-ins such as reverb and EQ. These effects ultimately give the track a much more professional and glossy sound with reverb adding more atmosphere to the track and EQ placing emphasis on certain ranges in the mix.
The difference between a master track and on master track is generally very palpable and ideally should be more than just boosting the volume but should really make the audio sound cleaner and crisper. Even just a few tweaks can make your audio sound that much better which is why it’s such an essential final part in audio production.
Mastering engineering isn’t simply an exclusively about correcting and improving the audio itself, however. The second thing which mastering engineering adds to your record is that it creates a complete image for your full record. If you’re planning on sending your completed record off to be replicated into CDs or vinyl records, you need to create that completed file for the record.
The mastering engineer creates this out of the tracks and sets things like spacing in between each track and affects how each song on the record flows into one another. Ultimately the mastering engineer ensures that everything is perfect on that completed album file before it gets sent off for replication at the factory because otherwise if there is some problem such as a particular track doesn’t start when it’s supposed to, this can equal a very costly mistake once you’ve run off some pressing.
Finally, mastering engineering at data to your CD and the files on the CD. This includes the song title and artist information and ISR codes. It even includes things like copyright protection or lyrics to the songs which can be accessed via a computer on a compact disc version of your music.
Ultimately, you can think of audio mastering engineering as being that final step in putting together a much cleaner product for your listeners before it gets sent out. Without it, your audio will not sound nearly as professional and each of your mixes which make up the record will likely jump around being set and recorded at different levels so you need the engineer to tie everything together and that final step of mastering.
One of the final aspects of audio production involves mastering a track and this is typically when the ISRC codes are written to a track or a CD file. Many artists either do not understand what ISRC codes are necessary for and that’s only if they have even heard of the term before.
What Are ISRC Codes For?
An ISRC code is used to track sales of a particular track both for simple reporting purposes as well as ensuring that the owner of that song or better said the writer of that track gets paid the royalties which they deserve for having written that track when a sale is generated.
Each and every song which you write if you are interested in selling your music should have an ISRC code. This data is necessary when writing the data to a track or a CD as well as when you upload your music to a modern online merchandiser such as BandCamp or an online streaming service like Spotify.
Unfortunately there is a cost associated with obtaining ISRC codes for your own music. This comes at a one time cost to you from ADD NAME OF PLACE. Fortunately it is just a one time fee for you to be in their database and for you to obtain your unique code. Once you have your unique code (which consists of your 2 digit/letter country code + a 3 digit/letter unique code for your band/label), you can go ahead and begin creating your own ISRC codes.
A sample ISRC code would be: QM (the current country code for new artists and labels based out of the US)-HMR (a random code assigned to a particular band or label)-12 (to represent the last two digits of the current year when the song was released)-00001 (to represent that this is the first ISRC code created in that year). So once you know your country code and unique code, you can begin creating ISRC codes based on the order in which you release your music.
If you have a new CD with 5 tracks and it is the first thing which you put out that year, your code would be QM-(your unique 3 digit/letter ID)-12-00001.
You may wonder why the country code for the US is QM rather than US. The truth is it used to be US but the number of bands coming out of this country exceeded the number of combinations possible so they transitioned to QM.
You have your unique ID for life and never have to pay to renew your account or anything like that and can create up to 99999 ISRC codes for a given year. Obviously no artist would put out that many songs in a year but some of the largest labels on the planet create codes for every artist on their label using the same unique ID.
Audio mastering is the last part when it comes to music production. Once the artist or band has recorded the various tracks making up a song and the mixing engineer has mixed those tracks together and rendered them down to a final mixed file, that file is handed over to the mastering engineer for the final glossy touch.
While audio mastering is by no means a requirement in music production, it will substantially increase to the overall quality of your finished product so it’s extremely important that you think about having your audio mastered before releasing it to your fans. Many engineers offer free test masters so that you can experience firsthand the benefits of audio mastering without risking a dime beforehand; but this article is designed to inform you of the reasoning behind it.
Basically the benefits of audio mastering are threefold.
Initially, song mastering is essential for improving the overall quality of your music. Even after you have recorded your various tracks using natural as well as perhaps adding some digital effects to improve the sound, the mastering engineer can make use of digital and analog effects and plugins to really bring out the full potential of a song.
The major three effects generally consist of reverb, compression, and EQ. Reverberation first adds a bit more atmosphere to your tracks and can improve a flat sounding record to give it a sound of being recorded in a different and perhaps better space. Compression will give your track more unity from top to bottom without sacrificing the dynamics. EQ is important for emphasizing or diminishing the focus on certain areas or ranges of your audio spectrum over others.
A skilled and consummate audio mastering professional is capable of unlocking a track’s true potential through the artful application of just the right breadth and depth of effects such as these.
Secondly, audio mastering is used to create the finished product in terms of a record. This means putting every song on the record at the same level as every other track on the record, adding important data such as any text/credits/ISRC codes, and creating the sequencing of the record which includes the table of contents for the record, breaks between tracks, etc.
Finally, audio mastering can be used as a final check point so that a fresh set of ears can listen for problems in the audio. Not only can you go back and touch these problems up in the recording phase but the mastering engineer can actually go ahead and cover up and correct problems in the audio. While this is not ideal and certainly is not something which you should rely on, in some cases this can save you a great deal of headache.