Mastering a song means making sure that your listeners can enjoy consistency in how the entire track or music is presented.
If a track lacks consistency, chances are it won’t be able to stand out on the myriad streaming platforms that are available today.
The process of mastering music is not an impossible feat, but it is certainly not easy. It takes time and years of practice and experience to achieve excellence in this field. That is the sole reason why many people in the music production community look at music production as a difficult task.
If you are learning how to make music or looking for music production courses in Toronto, then this article will be of great help to you as we break down the processes of mastering music.
What is Mastering in Music?
In simple terms, mastering is the process by which an audio track is made to sound clearer and louder for the audience or listeners regardless of which audio system they are using to listen to that audio. Without mastering you will be able to notice that a track sounds different at different levels or on different devices and is based completely on the already programmed volume boost that has been integrated with them.
In case you are wondering what difference it makes in a song, think of it this way. In the beginning, it makes a massive impact in setting the mood for a song or any audio track. If it is not mastered well, listeners won’t get to enjoy the thumbing effect that they are likely to get in a bass-heavy song or music genres like EDM or hip-hop.
1. Gain Staging
When a mixing engineer is preparing a track to master, the volume level must be kept in account. It should not exceed -6db at the time it is sent to the mastering engineer. This allows them enough headroom for navigating and tuning the track based on the desired output.
The mood of a song is entirely damaged if the track is given to a mastering engineer with no headroom.
Once the track is imported into audio production software, the very first step is to add an equalizer that will adjust or magnify certain frequency levels that need to be highlighted in a mastered, completed song. The most critical step during this process is to analyze which parts of the mix are good to go and which parts need to be dropped to get to the final output. It takes good listening ability throughout the frequency spectrum in order to get there.
The step that follows the equalizer is the compressor. Normally, a bus compressor is used for compressing the equalized audio tracks. The whole point of adding a compressor is to increase or reduce the dynamics in a mix that is getting mastered. The more a track is compressed, the worse its audio quality will be.
Saturation follows compressed which is a process where the harmonies in audio are extenuated and properly represented in order to achieve a perfect soundtrack. When mastering a track in the audio production software, saturation is never put to 100%.