Improving a song and making it listenable on various systems, devices, and media formats is known as the music mastering process. A track is mastered by considering a mixed-down sound and applying EQ, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement to the ‘pre-master’. Using these instruments is hoped to bring out particular subtleties, bring the volume to the right level, and create the ideal atmosphere for the music.
Engineers can also add exciters or saturation to bring “color” to the tracks, among other treatments to a pre-master. For the purpose of taming harsh high frequencies in the music, they may also employ correction tools like de-easing. It is essential to get a high-quality mix before mastering because the file is processed as a whole during mastering, making it hard to delete undesirable or unsightly components. For instance, if you’re focusing on particular frequencies to fix a problem with your hi-hats, it can also affect how the pad sounds in that area. A track will be improved by good mastering, but the process isn’t absolutely magical.
You’ll have your “masters” after mastering, which refers to the original files from which all copies are created and distributed. These are kept as lossless files, such as FLAC, WAV, and AIFF, which are as true to the original audio as is possible to store. In fact, copies made from masters are frequently compressed into smaller files, like mp3s, so they are not necessarily exact replicas of the originals. These are of inferior quality, however, they may work better on some platforms or media. Even though all of the music on YouTube is compressed, it’s still beneficial to have your music there. Additionally, lossy files keep “the most important” aspects of the audio; you might not even be able to tell the difference unless you’re using a high-end system and paying careful attention.
How To Master A Song Step-By-Step
PREPARE YOUR TRACK
In fact, copies made from masters are frequently compressed into smaller files, like mp3s, so they are not necessarily exact replicas of the originals. These are of inferior quality, however, they may work better on some platforms or media. Even though all of the music on YouTube is compressed, it’s still beneficial to have your music there. Additionally, lossy files keep “the most important” aspects of the audio; you might not even be able to tell the difference unless you’re using a high-end system and paying careful attention. Take another break, and preferably on a different day, make sure you return with fresh ears. You’ll probably hear things in the mix again that you want to tweak. You could go back and rectify these, but it would just mean that the cycle would never end. Of course, that is your decision, but eventually, you will have to draw the line and make do with what you have because your first instinct will be to listen for anything you can “fix.” So I’d advise you not to go back and change the mix unless you can’t fix it or it’s such a major issue that you can’t move on.
EQ YOUR MASTER TRACK
On how to approach your track best and in what order to apply EQ, Compression, and Limiting, there is some dispute. Discovering your preferred working style will again depend on experience. Additionally, if there are many adjustments that need to be made, an engineer could choose to apply EQ both before and after compressing, first to eliminate any harsh frequencies or resonances and, second, to further shape the sound. Whatever option you select, remember to exercise caution and keep track of what you are doing and where in the signal chain you are. In general, it is advisable to deal with any specific frequencies you suspect are the problem first with a very modest and unexpected cut, just as you would when dealing with resonance in mixes.
COMPRESS YOUR MASTER TRACK
Apart from more experienced engineers who could utilize particular outboard compressors for effect, multiband compression—which you can use with EQ for tonal enhancement—is what you’ll be concerned with here. As long as you apply it to a specific frequency band, this is the ideal tool for bringing out tones you want to be more constant in the track. However, be careful not to set any makeup gains that would increase the soft noises and thus negate the effects of the compressor. If you want more low-end throughout the track, set the gain decrease to a few dB at the most and the range to 30-120Hz. Again, use discretion when applying.
Although it’s not required, many mastering engineers will add some tape saturation, an exciter, and stereo widening to the track (while making sure to preserve the subfrequencies in mono, which you can achieve with a built-in plugin in your DAW). Stereo widening is used to give a track the professional gloss that pop records have by making it seem as though it fills the space. However, using too much stereo widening might lead to phasing problems. Similar to distortion, saturation adds color when used sparingly but creates terrible, crunchy-sounding music when used excessively.
Bounce your track using a dither option and the same specifications as the premaster. Use one of the pow-r settings (probably 2) to effectively put safeguards in place to prevent any additional distortion when the file is being bounced to a new resolution. POW-r 1 is best for low dynamic range content, such as spoken word, POW-r 2 is better for medium dynamic range content, such as rock music, and POW-r 3 is best for wide dynamic range content, such as orchestral music.
Making music sound as excellent as possible is a goal of both the mixing and mastering processes. Since you deal with every component that goes into a song as a whole during mixing, that is the major distinction between mixing and mastering. To create similarity in the overall sound, you work on the track as a single element during mastering.