There’s nothing better than finishing a mix. Nothing is more complicated than explaining mastering, except for mastering itself.
Mastering is a misunderstood and confusing art. When I first ended up at a mastering studio 4 years ago I probably couldn’t have told you exactly what mastering was, in fact, I definitely couldn’t have.
Mastering is all about making your tracks sound incredible, and as good as everyone else. The art is to finely smooth out, warm up, clean and add sparkle to your mixes.
Most people who send their tracks to a mastering studio are amazed at the transformation just from a stereo .wav file. In fairness, it is pretty cool what you can achieve with just the stereo mix file, you can completely change the feel of it, which is awesome.
How do we do it?
Well, it’s a mixture of things really. Mastering engineers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to get you that sound you want. It’s usually done with a mixture of EQ, compression, stereo adjustment and limiting. What makes an album stick together is the mastering, it glues the tracks, and helps make everything sit well and be consistent.
Is it all analogue?
Not all of it. The majority of our work is done through the analogue chain, I’d say about 95% of the work is done here. Digital equipment has its uses. The great thing with digital is you can totally hone in on one frequency and tame it, you don’t have the same versatility with analogue solutions. So, using some cool tricks with digital equipment and a nice analogue chain, the masters have that refined and polished sound.
These days, is mastering important?
At my desk right now, two of us write and record music at home or on location, and we’re pretty okay at it, but could we get a good master at home? No. Luckily, we have use of a studio.
Mastering, done properly will really make your mixes shine.