jrmasteringsmall

10 what is audio mastering

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.

 

Yes, everyone has their own slight preference adjustments like a little more bass, brightness, etc., but overall you want to be at least 80% similar to the current industry standard. The only exception is if a client specifically requests an old school master.  If that's the case, then you're going to have to replicate the sonic qualities of songs from a past era (specified by the client).

Once every couple months, a client tells me they don't want their songs to sound like songs on the radio, because they don't listen to the radio.  That's a good reason.  Ha!  Then they give me a few crazy mastering requests like "Make my song's volume level -8db below industry standard, or keep the song real muffled, etc."

My two favorite requests happened while writing this book:

Genre Hip-Hop, "I want my CD to sound soft and analog." Ok, you want me to master the first soft analog Hip Hop CD?  I talk more about this at the end of this article.

Genre Heavy Metal, "Can you make my CD soft and warm." That's like saying, "I want an ice coffee, but can you make it hot?"  Or, "I'm buying a Ferrari because I like to drive real slow."

When this happens, I pretty much refuse these requests.  Here's why.

Any song I master is at some point going to be played along with other professionally mastered commercial songs.  If a song is very poorly mastered and way off industry standard, it will be painfully obvious to any listener when played right after a professionally mastered commercial song.

When I first started in the mastering business, I did whatever crazy request a client gave me, they approved the masters and paid the balance.  Job well done.  Or was it?  Note - This is also why the customer isn't always right when it comes to audio mastering.

The problems came weeks later after their family and friends listened to these ridiculously poor masters.  That's when I got a nasty "You don't know what you're doing" email and a demand for a full refund!  Even though I gave them exactly what they asked for.

My Point Proven - While writing this book, a guy uploads 20 hip hop songs.  I master an initial preview (like I have 10,000 other hip hop songs) and upload it for him.  He tells me him and his producer want the songs warm and analog sounding.  I tell him no one has ever requested warm analog hip hop songs in my 17 year career (which should mean something).  They don't care.  They know more than I do about audio mastering.

So, I send him another preview with the bass up and brightness cut, a nice warm hip hop song.  Also, I noted this is wrong for hip hop.  He tells me its great, that's exactly what he's looking for!  I proceed to master all 20 songs this way (which I told you not to do in the previous paragraph).  Ha!

Update - The guy got all 20 warm analog hip hop masters, but I didn't hear from him for about two months.  Then I get an email requesting a refund of his 50% deposit, because him and his producer don't like the warm analog hip hop songs.  Really?  I'm so surprised they didn't like songs that have the OPPOSITE sonic qualities for their genre!  Shocking!!  Since the client went past the 30 day money back guarantee, his 50% was kept as a non-refundable labor fee.

Just another example of why you don't go against the standard sonic qualities of a genre.

The general public is used to, and expects, the sonic qualities of today's music.  This is why your goal is to try and replicate it.  If you don't, the general public will know it.  PERIOD!
{article 170}[layout]{/article}

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

Learning And Calibrating Your Speakers For Your DAW In Audio Mastering

3 calibrate speakers audio mastering daw

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.

 

Read more ...
How To Mix And Master Songs

If you're into "do it yourself projects" my mastering book will show you EXACTLY how I mastered every style of music on this website.  Get it here Audio Mastering Secrets!

Audio Mastering Software Processors

Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999.  In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them.  In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.

 

Read more ...
Stereo Widening Techniques | How To Use Stereo Widening In Mastering Music

Here are a few great stereo widening techniques and how to use them in music.  When you listen to music on a car radio, you want that wide stereo sound that extends from the left door to the right. Not just two feet wide right above the stereo!

 

Read more ...
Mid Side EQ In Mastering

This is a quick video on how a mid-side processor works, and how to check the stereo field of your mix using a mid-side processor equalizer.

 

Read more ...
Best Free Redbook CD Burning Software
Yes, burning your own redbook master CDs is very easy!  Here's how to make your own redbook CD masters for free! 
 
Read more ...
Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
audio music mixing mistakes
 
These are the Top 17 most common music mixing mistakes I see daily.  Correcting them could will improve your audio mastering results and make your mixes sound more professional.
 
 
Read more ...
Can Anyone Become A Great Sound Engineer?

11 become great sound engineer

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!

 

Read more ...
Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.  Read more....
 
Read more ...
Fixing A Bad Mix With Mastering

A lot of mastering engineers are afraid to make drastic changes to a mix they are working on.  That, or they're stuck in the familiarity of always making only small changes. 

In this video I show how you can turn a weak mix (definitely wouldn't call it bad) into a great sounding master, simply by pushing your levels a little more than you might be used to.

 

Read more ...
Why Do Songs Need To Be Mastered?

12 why need audio mastering

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.

 

Read more ...
The Sound Engineer SCAM! Does More Expensive Mean Better?


The sound engineer scam, the online recording studio ripoff, whatever you want to call it.  I hear about it 3-4 times a month from my clients, since 1999.  It never changes!

 

Read more ...
Mastering Compression Techniques

This video shows one of the more imptotant compression techniques I use in audio mastering.  In my audio Mastering Secrets Video Series, I explain everything you need to know about audio mastering.

 

Read more ...
Cheaply Soundproofing Your Room For Audio Mastering

1 cheaply soundproofing room studio

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!

 

Read more ...
What Is Chorus Effect In Music | How To Use Chorus

This article discusses what is the chorus effect in music and how to use it?  The chorus effect makes a single audio track sound like a group. It achieves this by taking a single instrument or vocal track, multiplying it, and then slightly detunes each newly created track. The result is a fuller lush sounding audio track.

 

Read more ...
How Much Should I Charge For Mastering?

I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999.  I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100!  Some prices worked better than others.  Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge.  Read more....

Read more ...
Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

How to set mixing levels for each instrument is a question I see all over the Internet.  I'm going to explain exactly how to set mixing levels in this article.

 

Read more ...
What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

Read more ...
How To Prepare Your Songs For Mastering
preparing mixes for mastering

In this article, we'll show you how to prepare your mixes for mastering.

 

Read more ...
What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

8 difference between mixing mastering

What's the difference between mixing and mastering?  A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.

 

Read more ...
Top 20 Audio Mastering Tips, Techniques, And FAQ
 
 

 

 

 

 

Here are the top 20 audio mastering tips, questions, and answers that I've been asked over the years.

 

 

Read more ...
Why Does A Mix Need Headroom And Dynamic Range?

16 why do songs need mastering

Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range?  In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
 

Read more ...
What Does Mastering Do To A Song?

10 what is audio mastering

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.

 

Read more ...
What Is Headroom In Mastering?

15 what is headroom in mastering

In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.

 

Read more ...
Should Your Mix Sound Close To A Mastered Song?

13 mix sound like master

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.

 

Read more ...
Go to top