What is Mastering?

By Vanessa Beckett | Mastering

Aug 12

What is Mastering?

The team had a short field trip the other day to our local coffee shop in an effort to break the monotony of the every day hustle. While working on all of our miscellaneous tasks, we made an effort to understand the company a little bit more and really dive into what it is that we do exactly. I had an interesting conversation with our head engineer about what mastering really was and why it’s important. Here’s what he said:

What does it mean to “master” a song?

When it comes to making music, mastering a song is the final step of the process. The purpose of this step is to make a song loud enough and comparable to others so that it’s competing with the song that came before it. It also makes it so that every song is translatable to any platform, say: CD’s, vinyls, MP3s, Spotify, iTunes, etc.

Every platform has different specifications and it creates a sense of uniformity, especially when it comes to a track list on an album or playlist. The last thing you want is for someone to have change that song every time it comes on because it just kills the vibe.

Who is a good person to master a song?

Basically any audio engineer with professional experience. There are engineers that are really good at mastering and are labeled “mastering engineers”, but they’re not necessarily the only ones that do mastering. If you are working with a studio, make sure that the studio is certified to master for iTunes (MfiT Certified).

How long does it take to master a track?

Generally, mastering a track can take me between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the track. But in all honesty, I hate this question. Mastering is a service that is necessary for a track to be competitive. It’s like the clear coat on your finished painting. Don’t skimp on the material no matter how long it takes you to apply it because without it, your painting isn’t likely to last very long. It’s something you won’t regret investing in.

What do I need to get my song mastered?

Your song needs to be Mixed FIRST. The best thing we could receive is a professionally mixed song, but if you do your own mixing you can follow these guidelines:

Balance levels
Add eq and light compression
Make sure your track isn’t clipping (or distorting) on your output

If you’d like a free trial of our mixing and mastering services click here for more information.

What Mastering ISN’T:

Mastering cannot adjust the volume on particular instruments, it cannot add effects to anything, it cannot balance your mix. Like I stated before, it’s just the finishing coat over a painting. The project needs to already be good. It’s not VooDoo, it can’t make your song something it’s not.

Is Landr and eMastered Bad?

If you’re strapped for cash and it’s the only option for you, it is definitely a decent option. They’re artificial intelligence mastering services that make mastering accessible to the masses. At the present moment AI software isn’t very intelligent. Perhaps one day it will be, but for a more in depth look at this topic, read our blog: Don’t try Landr without reading this first.

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