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Why Mastering Your Audio Is Vital
Sometimes referred to the "black art", mastering is the most mysterious and least understood audio process
By Micheal John
(more articles from this author)
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Mastering is the most mysterious and least understood audio process. Sometimes referred to the "black art", there are many misconceptions around it. Many budding audio producers and composers confuse it with mixing. Mixing and mastering are 2 separate processes and have completely different processing goals. Mastering is a final and the most important step in getting your audio to sound like a million dollar. You might have mixed your audio in the best of the studios, but it still needs mastering to sound professional. Here are some reasons why mastering is so important for your audio tracks:

1. Add further depth, sparkle and shine to your mixes. Mastering makes minute adjustments to the highs/mid/low balance, the stereo field etc to add the final sparkle and crispness to the tracks.

2. New perspective: You need a new set of ears to evaluate your tracks. Every producer and mix engineer has their own set of preferences as to how the final should sound. This results in a biased sound. An experienced mastering engineer can evaluate the track in a better way than the mix engineer or the artist, who sometimes can get "too close" to the song. An independent assessment helps in fixing the bias and making the sounds more rounded.

3. Loudness maximization: Mastering helps in achieve the "loud" levels which help in better perception of the songs. A certain level of loudness is necessary, so that the songs don‚t sound low quality when played side by side with other commercial released songs.

4. High end Equipment: Mastering employs very high end audio chains and gear. The accurate acoustic environment and superior monitoring helps in better judging the overall frequencies of the songs. This aids in balancing the overall frequencies of the song perfectly.

5. Album consistency: mastering give a consistent feel and tone to the entire album. Consistent dynamics and audio levels across the album makes the listening experience smooth and the listener doesn‚t have to keep adjusting the levels when going from track 1 to track 2

6. Translation: mastering ensures that your tracks‚ sound consistent and similar when they are played in different stereo systems. There are a wide variety of audio playback systems, from the ipod to big stereo sound systems. If a song is not mastered, it might play well on one system and might fall flat in the other!

So if you have your songs already mixed, head to a mastering studio. There are many online mastering studios as well, but you need to be careful of what you choose. Make sure you don‚t go for cheap mastering studios, as they might not have the required gear or expertise to master your tracks.

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