Music Mastering is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device. The purpose of mastering is to balance sonic elements of a stereo mix and optimise playback across all systems and media formats. Mastering requires critical listening; however, software tools exist to facilitate the process. Traditionally, mastering is done using tools like equalisation, compression, limiting and stereo enhancement. Results still depend upon the intent of the engineer, the accuracy of the speaker monitors, and the listening environment.
Mastering bridges the gap between artist and consumer. It is standard practice to make a copy of a master recording, known as a safety copy, in case the master is lost, damaged or stolen. Mastering engineers may also need to apply corrective equalisation and dynamic compression in order to optimise sound translation on all playback systems. The term itself comes from the idea of a master copy. All copies or duplication of the audio come from the master. These copies can be distributed on multiple formats like vinyl, CD’s or Tape, and streaming services like Spotify, iTunes and Sound Cloud.
The process of audio mastering varies depending on the specific needs of the audio to be processed. Mastering also ensures uniformity and consistency of sound between multiple tracks on an album. Mastering engineers need to examine the types of input media, the expectations of the source producer or recipient, the limitations of the end medium and process the subject accordingly.
Following Process while Mastering :
- Adjust the length of the silence between songs.
- Transferring the recorded audio tracks into the Digital Audio Workstation.
- Sequence the separate songs or tracks as they will appear on the final release.
- Process or “sweeten” audio to maximise the sound quality for the intended medium.
- Transfer the audio to the final master format like CD-ROM, Reel Tape, PCM 1630 U-matic tape, etc.
Ultimately, what mastering does is create a clean and cohesive feeling across all your audio. Without mastering, individual tracks can sound disjointed in relation to each other.