Audio Mastering is the final step that is made before publishing a new track – both in terms of technical and creative points of view. I will present some mastering techniques used by many sound engineers. Mastering using these techniques will help you understand better what you need to do before you start working on mastering a new song, and when and how to get the best results.
A sound engineer in charge of mastering is (or should be) a specialist who devotes their time to perfecting the art of audio mastering. He is the last person who will contribute to a musical project. A sound engineer should have in-depth knowledge both in music and in the technical, high-quality audio equipment and experience to use them at their true value, and last but not least, some very good ears.
A mastering studio should contain only one set of studio monitors with a wide frequency sound reproduction positioned properly in a room whose acoustics is very carefully calibrated. In a mastering studio acoustics is the most important thing. The equipment is very well maintained and the signal lines are as short as possible, to minimize interference between wires.
To achieve a better result, the master engineer who handles mastering should be other from the one who recorded tracks and certainly should be different from the person who composed the music project, by the way, and studio should be changed for good as a result.
To do a good master, the best thing would be to let some time pass after the completion of the final mix and master – to give the human ears and brain a chance to relax and be able to judge the real quality of sound. Is recommended a minimum of one-week break – during which you can work on another project.
Try as much as possible to work on mastering at hours when the body is in good condition – and not and 03:00 AM! This tip applies also to recording/mixing. The best time to master a track is in the morning immediately after waking up – the human ear is most sensitive to sounds, not yet invaded and “tired” by the noise always present in a city landscape; the brain is rested and not dealt with other issues – so you can focus on the mastering process.
One more thing, I call the “re-calibration of ears” – a useful technique not only during audio masterization, but also during audio mixing. Meaning: from time to time, start another song that sounds good and is in the same style as the one you mix or master. This is useful because while working, the ear tends to get used to the sound of the song you mix without more do you know if there are imbalance tones.
One of the main purposes is that the final mastered song to sound adequately into any audio system, either a hi-fi system, a set of ordinary desktop speakers, a car radio, or headphones.
Repeat the process for as many audio systems – depending on your possibilities and most important is to compare your final mix with other commercial songs and make the difference.
I did not go into technical details in this article, effects, tools, technical data, numbers, and figures. I think these tips are useful for anyone who wants to learn to master music and is a good starting point for anyone.