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Understanding Mastering Software
Ever wonder how to do your own audio mastering? Here are mastering tips that the pros use. Read here to know more about mastering software, CD mastering tricks, the mastering signal chain, and everything you need to know to master yourself.
A real mastering engineer does nothing but mastering, in a room that is setup for mastering, with an ear that is trained for critical listening to something that he/she has not mixed or recorded, and does it day in and day out.
There is a demand for such people and there are pros that are doing this for the top level talent.
In fact, artists and labels have shown consistently that they’re most loyal to the mastering engineer, more than the facility or the studio. More often than not, its the trust of a mastering engineer that counts more than the location, size or signal path of the facility.
Mastering Software Plugins
A mastering software or plug-in can no way replace this engineer who has tons of experience on his side. A software can only aide him/her to do the job better!
Having said that, mastering software are quite powerful, but in the hands on an experienced person, it can easily screw the mix and make it sound worse.
It is important to note that though a mastering software will let you master you mixes, it may not be the right thing to do, or it may be best if you master somebody else’s stuff with the aim of becoming a pro in this area.
A mastering software plug-in usually has the following components that you can use:
Multiband Compressor and Limiter
Video tutorial explaining the basics of Mastering
Mastering Needs to be Subtle
One of the more common challenges with the mastering scenario today is dealing with the “loudness” phenomenon, where everybody wants their songs to sound louder.
Overdoing compression is the norm and people have forgotten how important dynamics are. One needs to remember that mastering involves making subtle enhancements to the tracks, and not changing them completely.
For instance how loud any song should be also really depends on the genre of the music.
If the music genre is something like jazz, classical, indie folk, etc, then the loudness levels has to be different from say metal and other types of dance music where loudness is equally or more important than dynamics.
Imagine mastering your mixes without causing the lifeless, squashed, and over compressed sound that has become so common in modern music. We have all been at the mercy of the “loudness wars” for several years now. Masters have become louder and louder, at the expense of the music becoming harsh and lacking punch and dynamics.
One of the main causes of this epidemic is the use of the Peak Limiter to achieve increased levels in the mastering stage. Peak limiters attenuate transients and often reduce punch, stereo imaging, can greatly alter mix balances, and cause a fatiguing result to the ears.
Most of the software allows you to easily tidy up the sound quality of mastered or un-mastered recordings while preserving the original intent of the producer and/or recording engineer.
A quick look at some of the features of most mastering plug-ins reveal that they contain a collection of modern and vintage compressors, limiters and equalizers to tailor your sound.