Mastering is one of the final steps to producing a finished album. It’s often referred to as a dark art because so few people understand what’s really involved in this complex process. Fine turning a recording at this stage requires a practiced ear and refined skill with today’s audio technology. Understanding the fine art of mastering will help you choose the best person for the job.
Mastering Vs. Mixing
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If your expertise lies in providing outstanding live performances, you may not be familiar with the finer points of mastering and mixing that turn an audio music recording into a polished piece of art. Mixing takes place first. At this stage, the recording engineer applies effects to each instrument separately. This is the part of music production where you can add more echo to a vocal or a boost to a drum kick.
Mastering takes place after the mixing is completed. This process applies changes to the music recording as a whole. This is why it can be such a complex process. At this stage, it’s impossible to change a single element of the track without altering the entire piece.
Stages of Mastering
There are several stages of mastering. The process begins with a critical listening. The mastering engineer diagnoses areas that are ripe for improvement and meets with musicians to discuss the next step. Next, the engineer uses compression, equalization, and other techniques to refine the music. Fade outs and ins, volume adjustments, and gain levels are all addressed.
Finally, the engineer will evaluate the song’s gain levels in comparison to other songs if he’s working on an entire album. This does not mean that all songs are mastered the same, or even that they play at the same level. However, it does mean that the entire album has a cohesive feel as the songs are mastered appropriately in context with the entire finished work.
Benefits of a Professional Mastering Engineer
Today’s technology makes it tempting to attempt mastering yourself, but there are many compelling reasons to leave this job to the professionals. A mastering engineer gives you a fresh look at what you’ve produced in the recording studio.
A professional music studio like The Carriage House has experienced mastering engineers on staff who can provide an unbiased analysis of your music and help you identify weak or strong points. A professional mastering engineer can also supply better equipment and unparalleled knowledge and skill. While today’s computers can help you perform basic mixing and mastering tasks, there’s no real substitute for the skills of a professional.
One of the best ways to get an experienced mastering technician on your side is to work with a professional recording studio like The Carriage House. At Carriage House Studios, you have access to some of the finest professionals in the business. This Connecticut recording studio provides top quality gear, a professional space, and an outstanding team to help you bring your next album to life. Contact us to begin engineering your next big hit.