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Mastering audio is the final stage in music production, where the final set of mixed songs are turned into a cohesive album through a variety of processes that make the music sound the best it can, wherever it's played. Join author and producer Bobby Owsinski in this course, as he teaches essential mastering concepts and techniques used by experienced audio engineers. Follow along as he works at Oasis Mastering, a real-world mastering facility, and learn how to apply these techniques to your home or studio setup and make your projects sound better than ever.
First, discover how to configure your monitoring setup, optimize your listening environment, and prepare and print alternative mixes that will allow you to make quick fixes during mastering. Bobby then reviews a selection of dedicated mastering tools that give you precise control over select signal parameters, from compressors to de-essers. He'll discuss the differences between mastering for CD, online distribution, and specifically for iTunes, and how to achieve the best results for each medium. The course wraps with lessons on mastering for high-resolution formats like Blu-ray, as well as delivering and archiving the master recording once the project is complete.
The volume level wars really began way back in the vinyl era of the '50s, when it was discovered that if a record played louder than the others on the radio, the listeners will perceive it to be better sounding and make it easier to become a hit as a result. Since then, it's been the job of the mastering engineer to make any song intended for distribution medium like radio as loud as the competition and of course this also applies to situations other than the radio as well, take the iPod, CD changer, or digital music stream. Most artist, producers, and labels certainly don't want one of their releases to play softer than their competitors, because of the perception that it doesn't sound as good if it's not as loud, which is not necessarily the truth. Take a listen to these two song examples.
(music playing) Your ear naturally gravitates to the louder one. Now all the listener has to do is turn the volume control up to make them sound the same, but that usually doesn't happen, that's why it's up to the mastering engineer to at least get the level in the same ballpark. Take a listen now.
(music playing) Competitive level is important if your songs are going to be played against other mastered songs.
Trying to squeeze every ounce of level out of a track to make it as loud as the next one is a lot harder than it seems, and that's where the art of mastering comes in. That said, sometimes all you have to do is get it in the ballpark.
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