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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.
EQing is usually the place that gets engineers who master their own mixes into trouble. There's a tendency to overcompensate with the EQ, adding huge amounts, usually on the bottom end that breaks frequency balance completely. Luckily, there are some rules can be followed to avoid this. The first rule is listen to CDs that you like first before you touch an EQ parameter. Remember, no MP3s, the more CDs you listen to, the better. You need a reference point to compare to, or you will surely overcompensate.
Try importing several mastered songs into your mastering session that you can constantly compare to. The second rule is a little EQ goes a long way. If you feel that you need to add more than 2 or 3 db, you're better off to mix the song again. Or in recording you might use large amounts of EQ at a certain frequency. Mastering is almost always in very small increments usually in tenths of a db, to 2 or 3 at the very most in rare cases. What you'll see is a lot of small shots of EQ along audio frequency band but in very small amounts.
For example, you might see something like -1 at 30 Hz, 0.5 at 60 Hz, 0.2 at a 120, -0.5 at 800, -0.7 at 2500, 0.6 of 8K. Notice that there's a little happening a lot of different places. If you have to add a lot of EQ, it's time to go back and remix. That's what the Pros do. It is not uncommon at all for a pro mastering engineer to call up a mixer and tell him where he is off and suggest that he do it again. Rule number 3 is equally important.
Keep comparing the EQ'd version with your original version. The idea of mastering is to make the song or program sound better with EQ not worse. Don't fall into the trap where you think it sounds better just because it sounds louder. The only way to understand what you are listening to is to have levels pretty much the same between the EQ'd and the pre EQ'd track. That's why an app like T-racks is so great for mastering. It has an AB function that allows you to compensate for the increased levels so that you can really tell if you're making it sound better or not. (music playing) Keep comparing the song you are currently working on to all the other songs in the project that you've previously worked on. The idea is to get them the sound all same.
It's pretty common for mixes to sound different from song to song even if they're done by the same mixer with the same gear, but it's your job to make listener think that the songs were all done on the same day in the same way. They've got the sound as close as possible to each other as you can get them or at least reasonably close as to not stand out. (music playing) Remember, even if you can't get the songs that sound just like your best sounding CD, your mastering job will still be considered pro if you can get all the songs that sound as same in tone and volume.
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