Mastering Your Tracks
Mastering is the final audio processing step in most music projects. It’s a final layer of polish on top of the mix process to prepare music for distribution, whether digitally, on CDs, or on other formats. Read on for my thoughts on mastering and to learn more about what I offer as part of my normal mix process.
Light Master vs Professional Master
I can deliver your tracks with a “light” mastering job applied. This means I will apply processing to ensure the tracks arrive at a loudness that is competitive for your genre and sounds “finished”. A professional mastering engineer will also prepare your tracks to be competitively loud with that final polish, but the extra value of a mastering engineer comes if you want to publish to a few different formats. A great mastering engineer can set you up with a DDP image file ready for CD distribution. They can prepare your tracks to be published on vinyl, a process that can require tweaks to the overall sound of the tracks to avoid issues during pressing and playback.
For album projects, a mastering engineer can provide a cohesive mastering sound across the entire album. Many offer trimming and fading to create an end-to-end listening experience. Pretty Good Audio highly recommends using a mastering engineer for an album project for this reason.
More Ears on Your Tracks
A subtle but powerful advantage to having your tracks mastered by someone other than your mix engineer is the additional perspective they can provide to your sound. By the time your tracks reach the mastering stage, you’ve already been through rounds of revisions and spent an incredible amount of time listening to the songs you’ve poured yourself into. Your mix engineer has spent many hours dialing in the sounds to make you sound great. It’s only natural to miss critical details after spending so long involved in the project. A mastering engineer comes in fresh to the project and this can be incredibly useful at the end of the project.
While I don't have any specific relationships with mastering studios, and the choice of studio depends greatly on your budget, I do love the sounds coming out of these mastering studios:
Of course, I also offer mastering as a free addition to every mix project - so that is always an option as well.