Starting your career as the musician can be hard and tedious. And after all that comes the story about audio mastering. A cherry on top, both in the matter of quality and the pain you’ve been through along the process. What is Audio Mastering and what does it do, we will demystify in this article.
Audio mastering is the final process in making your song that prepares it for publishing and adapting it to different playing media, like CDs, Vinyl, or different digital formats, including online music stores. It balances the sounds and different parts of the song further from mixing and gives the right equalization to the song so it sounds coherent and wholesome. It removes the unwanted frequencies and polishes the song for different media. Finally, it unifies the loudness of songs across an album to fit the loudness standards and prevent unnecessary volume shifting for the listener.
Let’s go in-depth to the most important elements of the process
Equalization, Saturation, and Stereo Enhancement
The equalizer is a well-known tool in the music industry and is often used in mixing. The final step of mastering however unifies the equalization across the song and prepares it for different sound systems and playbacks. By mastering different sound systems are able to play your song better.
Saturation refers to the amount of sound across the frequencies your song possesses. Too many frequencies of a similar spectrum produce an oversaturated song. Vice versa, a ‘hole’ between the frequencies makes the song sound robust and incomplete. Saturation during mastering balances these problems out to make a wholesome sound.
Stereo enhancement widens your song. It prepares the placement of channels across the sound system to give more dimension.
Compression and Audio Restoration
Whether going to a publisher or preparing a song for online music stores, the song will always have a data signature on a physical medium. Different parts of the song can be unnecessarily large, making the storage more difficult. On the other hand, different mediums save the data in different compression rates. Mastering prepares the track by compressing it to the specified compression for the given medium.
Audio restoration can save the damaged parts of a song, if so happens for any given reason. This is what mastering does in “re-mastered” works, movies, and audio. Using different methods, the mastering team can freshen the sound of old songs taken from old analog mediums, clean up clicks and squeaks in a song, and make clearer the unclear parts. This is all within the limits of reality.
Volume limiting and loudness management
Maybe the most important part of the mastering is to turn the song down to the allowed decibels. The issue of different volumes across numerous songs is also fixed, so the final product doesn’t necessarily vary in volume.
Finally, mastering can also manipulate the perceived loudness by different methods, such as through harmonic distortion, dynamic processing, subtractive equalization, marking space, etc.