Audio mastering finishes up the audio production process by applying various effects to achieve the best possible potential from a final mix. A good engineer can quickly identify what is lacking from a mix and react accordingly to achieve the best sound. Experience how good our engineers are by using the form below to upload your song for a free master on us.
EQ is a powerful effect for isolating and affecting the influence different frequencies of the overall final mix have. An engineer can bury offensive or lazy frequencies which aren’t contributing to the mix and just as importantly can boost the influence other ranges have if something is lacking from the sound. Boosting the high end will always give the mix a brighter sound whereas boosting the low end will give the track a deeper bass presence. Warming the mids will make it sound more wooden and natural, as well. A good EQ pass will significantly improve the aural quality of a final mix and give it that shine that it’s been missing, but it’s important to remember to use everything in moderation. Too much high end, for example, will grate on the listener’s ears, so it’s incredibly important to identify that “sweet spot” for every range in the audio map and tweak accordingly.
Compression is another of the most used effects regarding audio mastering. This smooths out a mix which is all over the place and gives it a more uniformed, gluey sound which will significantly improve the professional sound of your mix. Compression takes away from the dynamic range to achieve this, however, so just like with the EQ it’s important to use it with moderation. Too much compression will squash the range completely out of your mix so that it’s too uniform, coming off as sounding droney to the listener and too repetitive whether that’s picked up or not. Also like with equalization, you want to find that sweet spot with the compression which you apply to the overall final mix to both give the mix the glue and stability it needs while preserving the dynamics which are inherent in that track.
Other effects can provide cosmetic touches here and there as needed. A bit of reverb can help a mix which sounds too flat and give it a bit more life and dimension to it. Additionally, if you’re looking to correct a flat sounding mix, you might look into widening the stereo image so that it sounds less confined all to one space in the speakers but more all around you.
Audio mastering isn’t limited to touching up the audio itself on an aesthetic level but a more technical level depending upon how the artist is planning on releasing their music. If it’s just digital, the mastering engineer might just deliver the mastered audio in different digital formats with artist information encoded. On the other hand, if the artist is planning a physical release for a CD, it’s much more involved where the artist information needs to be encoded to a set of project files known as a DDP which are sent to the CD replication plant. Really every specific detail needs to be perfected before it’s sent off to the plant to ensure that every copy made is as precise as the initial master itself. This means getting simple but important things correct such as the tracklist, gaps between tracks/transitions, artist details including royalty information, and much more.
Even if the artist is interested in a vinyl release, the engineer still needs to make sure the sequencing elements are correct with that (in that case) single audio track.
Whatever your needs are as the artist, a solid audio mastering job will significantly improve the quality of your recordings and get them ready for release to the public, so make sure that you choose your engineer wisely.