How much headroom before mastering should you leave in your mix? Here's the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.
Here's the basic hardware you need to master music:
So, what is the best room size for audio mastering in your DAW home recording studio? Technically, you can properly mix or master in any room size. But, I believe a smaller room is better than a very large one for someone who's just starting out. And when I say smaller I mean closer to 12'x15' than to 20'x30'. I've mixed and mastered songs for a number of years in a 20'x30' room. It took me a few days to get used to it, but after that I could do it.
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Here's the monitor speaker setup I use for my DAW, and the setup I recommend for your home recording studio.
Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process. When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style. Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc. I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.
If you've mixed songs in the past, you more than likely can use that same software for audio mastering. As long as you can add effects to the stereo/main out bus, you're good to go.
I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing. I must say, a very exciting 15 pages! Ha!
I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option. I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime. And also before they started making very high quality plugins.
Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range? In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.
Here's another popular question I see online, always with the wrong answer! "There's no such thing as radio ready mastering!" REALLY?
Note - This section is basically a tip for those of you working with clients or if you plan on submitting your mixes to a mastering engineer.
Why do songs need to be mastered? I've seen this question on the Internet many times. The answer I always see is "Because all songs on the radio have been professionally mastered, yours should be too." This is a true fact, but not an answer.
I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training. He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it. And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn! Ha!
What does mastering do to a song? Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.
What is audio mastering? I've seen a lot of different answers on the Internet to this simple question. Some were pretty technical and confusing.
What's the difference between mixing and mastering? A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.