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What is mastering exactly?

Why should I hire a mastering engineer?  

When you attempt to master a project that you have either played on, recorded, or mixed, you are going to lose perspective and will no longer be able to remain objective!  The reason is because you are now too close to the material and will not be able to hear the potential problems! 

A fresh pair of ears can be the difference between a good-sounding album release and a GREAT one!  When you hire a professional, you allow someone without bias, the opportunity to evaluate your music in a very accurate listening environment and determine how to get the most out of your production.

It is important to note that whenever possible, you should not try to master your project in the same environment that it was recorded or mixed in.  Doing so will only reinforce any acoustical or monitoring problems that my be happening.

Do you have a perfect room?  

Are you absolutely sure that what you hear is what you get?  If you have to print a cd of the mix and then go listen to it in the car to make sure, most likely you don’t.

My room features the very expensive…  ASC, “Attack Wall” and provides me with an extremely accurate listening environment to base my sonic decisions on.

The monitor speakers.  

After doing extensive research and listening tests, I have chosen to center my room around the, Trident HG3 monitors coupled with the, ASC, “Attack Wall” system.  The HG3  monitors feature a full range, 3-way design with a very flat frequency response.  They are like an audio microscope, which makes them perfect for mastering!  If there is a problem, I will hear it and then be able to determine where to take things…

The processing chain…

Plug-ins are great for fixing problems in a mix, but when it comes to mastering, you will find that the top mastering engineers all choose to work with analog gear.  I use an analog mastering chain along with high quality converters to bring out the best in your music.

The technical side of mastering.

Mastering is not just about making your music sound good.  There is also some very important data encoding that takes place behind the scenes.  

DDP files and mastering for a CD release.  

Most duplication plants prefer that you send them a DDP file of your master.  I provide my clients with a DDP player that will allow you to audition your master, export files if needed, and even burn a cd 🙂

Streaming services and mastering for the internet…

In the past, it was highly encouraged for mastering engineers to create music at the highest possible average level, because this made the songs noticeably louder when they were played adjacent to other performer’s songs on a CD or mp3 player. However, in the case of modern radio broadcast, online channels such as YouTube, and internal processing in iTunes and iPods, it is now likely that your music will be level-matched (based on average loudness) with other songs. In this case, it is advantageous to mix at a lower volume, and leave more headroom for short musical peaks which will make your mixes sound louder and better than the more heavily-processed tracks that were popular in the early digital era.