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Do I Need Mixing or Mastering for My Music? What’s the Difference?

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This article originally appeared on Soundfly.

 

I still recall being a young aspiring musician recording my first ever album with my bandmates. We spent weeks working on perfecting our recordings, getting the takes just right. The engineer helped us along the way with mixing in amazing effects, EQ, and panning to get it sounding just how we wanted. When it was all wrapped up in the studio, we smiled and patted each other on the back and truly believed this was the finished product we had all been waiting for.

Then the engineer said something I will never forget.

Mastering Isn't a Dark Art, It's Just Misunderstood

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This article originally appeared on TuneCore.

 

At Sage Audio Mastering, we realize that, for years, mastering has been viewed as "mysterious." It has been described as a “Dark Art,” and some think of it as the “Wizard” behind the curtain. Most people within the music industry don’t know what actually happens in the mastering stage, even though every single song that ever gets heard has likely been deemed “mastered” and ready for release.

Mastering: Decoding the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of It All

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This article originally appeared on Soundfly.

 

Your music has been carefully recorded and painstakingly mixed, but there’s still one more step before it’s ready for the listening public: mastering.

Mastering is the bridge between the studio and the listening room; the last round of tweaks before calling it done.

But why is it necessary at all? “I wouldn’t have approved the mixes unless my music sounded exactly as I intended it to sound,” you might say. “Why would I pay someone else to keep changing it?” As it turns out, there are several very good reasons, many of which require some experience to fully grasp. Mastering, perhaps for this reason, seems mysterious to many.

Let’s pull back the curtain on this process and its objectives, bit by bit.

How to Get the Most Out of the Mastering Process

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While many indie artists these days have become experts at recording and mixing their own music, mastering is the one step of the music-making process that still confuses many musicians. Because mastering is such a fine art, many artists have found that it’s best to leave this process to the professionals. At the same time, working with professionals can be a daunting task, especially for those of us who have a hard time handing over control. If you’re concerned about getting the best results from the mastering process, keep in mind that you can still influence the process, even if you’re not the one doing the work. Here are a few ways to approach working with a mastering engineer to ensure you get the best possible results.

mastering, Honing Your Craft

Apr 26, 2016 07:00 AM

Bobby Owsinski

The Basic 6-Step Mastering Technique That the Pros Use

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This is an excerpt from The Mastering Engineer's Handbook by Bobby Owsinski. It has been reprinted here with permission.

 

The actual mechanics of mastering can be broken down into a number of functions, namely maximizing the level of a song or songs, adjusting the frequency balance if necessary, performing any editing, adding fades and spreads, and inserting PQ codes, ISRC codes, and metadata.

What really separates the upper echelon mastering engineers from the rest is the ability to make the music (any kind of music) as big and loud and tonally balanced as possible, but with the taste to know how far to take those operations. The DAW functions, on the other hand, are somewhat mechanical, and although there are tricks involved, they usually don’t get the same amount of attention as the former. We’ll look at all of those techniques in this chapter, but first, let’s look at the basic approach used by most pro mastering engineers.