What is mastering?

Mike Marsh Mastering

Mastering is the final stage of the music production / creative process, before your music reaches the ears of the outside world! Without it, your music could sound sub-standard and flawed with technical defects.

It really is your last chance to make your music sound as good as possible on a wide range of playback systems as mastering is objective listening, final quality control, fine tuning and enhancement, and, where sonic problems that may have occurred during the recording process are fixed by a Mastering Engineer who actually knows what your mix should sound like! 

Mastering Engineers are very experienced audio engineers who have listened intently to thousands of mixes spanning all genres of music – in a well trusted acoustically controlled environment. Having one working on your project is having an unbiased set of fresh ears, someone who is able to bring new things to the table!

This ensures your music sounds as good as possible when it’s released on vinyl, CD or via digital platforms online by way of digital downloads.

Using equalization, compression, limiting and other audio outboard equipment your mixes are treated individually but also collectively in respect of an album. Often, this involves making sure that a selection of tracks, either recorded in the same way, or made using  different studios and / or engineers, all work together as a consistent body of work to create a final audio master. If your mixes actually sound great to begin with, then little is done to alter them – however, on the occasion where lots of work is needed then every effort is made to extract the very best from flat, lack-lustre poor sounding pre-masters!

It’s also at this stage that final musical editing of tracks takes place; track running orders are finalised as well as applying fades where necessary. Digital related data, CD text and ISRC code information are also entered during the mastering stage.

With the closure of many recording studios and professional environments in which music production used to take place, mastering is more important than ever now.

There is much more music being made in a home or makeshift environment and often by musicians and engineers who have little or no experience in professional audio.

With technology as it is today, it’s fantastic that making music is within reach of many more people than it used to be. No big studios to pay for or any time constraints and budget restrictions in place regarding the time taken to finish a project. The flip side of this is there is often no experienced audio / sound / mixing engineer involved in any stage of the making music process.

Often this leads to great songs not sounding great. Using an experienced mastering engineer to finally oversee your production will ensure that your music is in safe hands and all efforts will be made to make it sound as good as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you!