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Why do I need mastering?

Your tracks have been recorded, mixed and you're just about ready to package and ship to distributors so lets talk about whats next in the production pipeline. Mastering. Why should you care about mastering? Here are a few of the reasons:

  • It makes your mix sound the best it can ever be. Not just in the studio but on all consumer grade speakers, audiophile speakers, pro speakers
  • It is a science and an art. You want your recorded medium to be looked at in this lens by a professional because mastering engineers know about things like subsonic garbage that wreak havoc on your final product and mastering 'plugins' don't know about.
  • Your track won't compete with mainstream, professionally produced music if you don't. (most genres)
  • If you do it right, your album could just be picked up and backed by a label AS IS, which is awesome.
  • You'll learn about what to listen for when identifying a good mix/bad mix and that makes you a better at what you do

Mastering is such an amazing, finely tuned process. In the mastering domain, you'll see and think about your music in a way you never have. Mastering engineers are seeing the lifestories, lessons and soul you put into your recordings as both sounds with emotional quality/aura and also data. Whether you've recorded to digital or analog media, mastering inpects the sonic information and qualities unique to your song and your tracking/mixing process. Mastering engineering is just as much about knowing frequency ranges as it is intimately knowing their own signal chain.

A well established mastering engineer might have several signal chains (sets of gear) for different types of jobs or not they could hone a single chain and conform to the recording at hand. We have techniques and methods to handle all kinds of situations that may have risen during the recording or mmixing processes to augment, fix or repair, tweak aspects of each song we work on. In some cases, I might even kick the track back down to a mixer with some recommendations. Why? Well, mixers often look for a tight balance of sepctrum but may not know or have ever before mixed-up to the next phase of production. If a mixing engineer mixes well, a mastering engineers job is easy.