How to Master Your Music
Mastering is an art. Of course recording is also an art but mastering can be very illusive.
If you read the back of 100 Cd's you will notice that most of these Cd's were mastered in only a handful of studios.
Why is this?
Mastering has a unique set of rules. These rules take a complex understanding of the recording and playback process.
The goal of the mastering engineer
A musician may spend several hundreds hours recording a CD only to have the mastering engineer change it in one session.
Here is a list of some of the elements that concern the mastering engineer.
Often times a recording can have dynamics that don't reproduce well over radio.
This can mean that the recording may not reproduce well over radio frequencies and car stereos.
Radio frequencies have limited range to reproduce a recording.
They cannot reproduce the full range of the human ear.
Also many small stereos systems such as a car stereo may not handle the same kind of dynamics that a larger system can.
Because of these limitations the mastering engineer must know how to
control the dynamics without degrading the recording.
Another major issue mastering engineers deal with is Equalization.
If you ever hear someone say, "my recording sounded great in the studio but not so good when i took it home."
The reason for this is many recording studios may not have a completely accurate listening environment.
Maybe the problem is the monitors, maybe it is room acoustics, maybe a combination of things.
The mastering studio needs to be a scientifically designed environment.
It needs to be completely accurate.
Very often the mastering engineer will reshape the frequencies of a recording so that it will sound its best on many different types of playback systems.
3.Sequence and editing
The mastering engineer will take each song one by one, work with the mastering issues, then edit the start and end points of each song.
After this is done the next step is to place the songs in the correct order and make sure all the levels match from song to song.
On every CD is a hidden file that holds the index.
This index is the information that the CD player used to playback the songs and list the song names.
In order for this index to work correctly each song has to be properly sequenced.
CD players need to read both start and stop information for each song and the entire CD.
The general rule is 2 seconds of time before the start of the first tune.