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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.
In mastering, the Compressor is the primary way of raising the relative level of the program and giving the master both punch and strength. Relative Level is how loud we perceive volume, rather than the Absolute Level, which is what's displayed on the meter. Usually, the ratio of the mastering compressor will be set very low from about 1.5:1 to 3:1 in order to keep the compression fairly gentle sounding. The higher the ratio, the more likely is that you'll hear the Compressor working, and it will sound unnatural.
(music playing) The key to getting the most out of the Compressor is the Attack and Release controls, which have a tremendous overall effect on the mix and therefore are important to understand.
Generally speaking, transit, response, and percussive sounds are affected by the Attack control setting. Release is the time it takes for the gain to return to normal or zero gain reduction. In a typical pop style mix, a fast attack setting will react to the drums and reduce the overall gain. (music playing) If the Release is set very fast, then the Gain will return to normal quickly.
This can result in the audible effect of reducing some of the overall program level and attack of the drums in the mix. (music playing) As the release the set faster any gain changes that the drums caused might be heard as pumping, which means that the level of the mix will increase then decrease noticeably.
Each time the dominant instrument starts or stops, it pumps the level of the mix up and down. Listen to this example of a mix that exhibits a lot of pumping. (music playing) Compressors that work best on a full range of full program material generally have very smooth release curves and slow release times to minimize the pumping effect.
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