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Beginners Guide to Music Mastering.

By Harry Subscribe to RSS | February 13th 2012 | Views:

The process of making music can be complicated to understand, there are 3 distinct phases in the production of a musical end product. Recording is where the musicians gather together in a music recording studio or other suitable place and record their performances. The musicians will play and each of the instruments or voices will be recorded to a discrete track of it's own.Then next stage is mixing which is balancing these recording tracks to make a pleasing mix for the listeners. Mixing is performed on a mixing console or within a digital environment known as a digital audio workstation. (or DAW for short). DAW's are usually based on either a PC or Apple mac computer. The final stage of production is mastering where the stereo 2 track mix files are further adjusted to ensure they translate on the worlds many different types of sound play back systems. The last stage is audio mastering, this stage is very important as it is the final stage before the music is released. During audio mastering the final decisions regarding the tone, perceived volume and fades will be decided upon. Audio mastering for musical performance offers a final opportunity for a skilled engineer to resolve any missed problems. The mixing session is often time and budget pressured and as such it is not beyond the realms of possibility that small details can be missed. The focus of the mixing session is to achieve a pleasant balance for the listener and so in some instances sonic defects can be missed. These defects can range in nature from microphone vocal pops, low frequency rumbles, clicks, bad editing and other unwanted environmental sounds that are undesirable. These issues can be spotted and rectified during mastering.

As well as this important stage of quality control, a music mastering engineer will be listening on audio equipment that is very revealing. The acoustics of the room will be tuned to perfection so that accurate judgments on the tonal response of the tracks can be made. If required the music can be equalized. Equalization is a powerful tool that the music mastering engineer can use to correct imbalances in the tonal response of the tracks. He may add some bass, reduce some high frequencies and a subtle adjustment to the mid range. It will all depend on the mix down, the acoustics, the quality of speakers and skill of the mastering engineer as to what action is taken. The music mastering studio can also adjust the dynamics of the music, making the perceived volume louder to the ear. In addition the tracks will be balanced in volume so there are no awkward jumps in level between previous and subsequent tracks.

These days music mastering also seeks to subjectively enhance the music, making it smoother, warmer, punchier, deeper, wider and more exciting for the listener. A music mastering studio will have various tools to ensure that this can be achieved. These tools will be equalizers, compressors, limiters, de-essers, and stereo width enhancers. These types of tools can be either digital tools or analog tools. It is very common to find a mastering studio uses both types of tool as this produces the most effective audio enhancing results.

Most mastering sessions used to require the artists or band to attend the mastering studio.Online mastering has made the audio mastering experience much easier and yet the musicians remain in complete control of the final sound. The mastering engineer will send short preview files to the band or producer to listen to and approve. Sometimes adjustments are called for and these are made and then approval can occur.When seeking a music mastering studio online you should do so with care. It is important to check the mastering engineers credentials, recent client portfolio, equipment photographs, before and after website examples and also obtain a free mastering test file. This will ensure that you choose a reputable online mastering engineer. Mastering adds significant value and quality control to a musical artists releases.

Harry - About Author:
Barry Gardner is sole mastering engineer at SafeandSound music mastering. The studio offers high quality, low cost mastering services to musicians, bands, producers and record labels. Free preview master is available, time permitting.

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