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Mastering explained
Article Post Date: Wednesday 07.03.2012

Mastering, is the final part of the creative process of making a record. Projects  quite often consist of mixes supplied by several producers working in different studios. The resulting tracks will often sound remarkably different to each other tonally.

With the increasing portability of recording equipment, music need no longer be recorded, or mixed in purpose built studios. The comparative affordability of recording equipment has made home recording and mixing more popular.

As a result the Mastering Room may be the only place where the audio is assessed critically in an acoustically treated environment. Mastering requires critical listening and therefore cannot be achieved without a Mastering Engineer. This is someone who specializes in ensuring that the tracks have uniformity and sound the best that they can possibly be.

Whilst software packages are available ‘Mastering in a box’ there is no substitute for an experienced engineer who by using equalization and dynamic enhancement are able to enhance the music. The final results still depend upon the accuracy of the speakers and Mastering Room.

Many mastering engineers still prefer to use analog technology as they feel it can still offer a more pleasing end result than current digital technology can provide. It is the Mastering Engineers expertise that enables them to decide the best path to pursue for any given project.

The process by which audio is Mastered will vary according to the specific requirements of each track. The Mastering Engineer will evaluate the supplied audio, the requirements of the client and any limitations of the delivery medium. As each track is different, there is no magic setting that can be applied to all tracks.

Mastering also includes ensuring that the tracks are at the correct volume to each other, that they start and end properly, adding fades if required. The Mastering Engineer will set the gaps between each track, use noise removal tools such as Cedar no noise, or de-click and generally ensure that the finished work is as it should be heard by the customer.

Finally, the engineer will produce masters, which are sent for manufacture (CD and Vinyl), or for upload for digital delivery.

From Barry Grint of Alchemy Mastering.

Alchemy Mastering is offering a special rate for City Showcase members - see Members Area.

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