Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range? In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
If I compared a hair stylist to a mastering engineer, hair length would be mix headroom.If someone came in with 18" of hair, the skies the limit as to how she could style it.But, if they came in with only 1" of hair, her style choices (options) are very limit.In audio mastering, no headroom limits your options.
In the audio mastering process, a series of EQ boosts and cuts are performed.Most of the time you're going to need to boost something, even if it's only a little +2db boost at 100hz.Well, if the song is already at 0 volume level or higher, you might not be able to make a necessary boost without distorting.
And if a song has very low dynamic range (the meter barely moves) it's probably over-compressed. Which means it could lack punch, power, clarity, or could even limit EQ options.
I want a song mix with some headroom and decent dynamic range. "I" want to EQ it as necessary, "I" want to compress it as necessary, "I" want to be able to set the overall volume as necessary, and I don't want to work with a distorted mix.
This section actually ties in with a previous one where I talk about not giving the mastering engineer a song that's already 75% mastered by you.Don't do it!And if you do, just master the other 25% yourself and save your money. Read more....
The Music Production Secrets Series by John Rogers
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!
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.
Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS. Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes. During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released. It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs. In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.