Music Production: Commercial Sound Through Professional Audio Mastering

 

Author: Rahul Rungta

Music industry today is highly competitive. Thus composing great songs is not enough to gain popularity and climb the rankings. A music album that is well mixed and mastered is the need of the hour. Here lies the importance of professional digital and analog music mastering: A process that can transform the music and turn a simple song into a sonic masterpiece. With the development of new innovative techniques more punch and clarity can be added to the music as well as an extra touch of spatial depth and dimension. Once the songs are recorded, they are mixed and brought in an audio mastering studio for further enhancements. The mastering engineers play a crucial role in a music mastering procedure. One of the prime job of a mastering engineer is to identify the various sonic gaps and mistakes that came with the recording and mixing processes. In an audio mastering studio the tracks get screened through ultra-precision mastering monitors. The whole process is done by highly experienced audio experts.

Inside the studio various sound mastering techniques are applied that shape, sculpt and sweeten the music: Equalization, compression, harmonic saturation, stereo image adjustments and other types of audio processing help to enhance the quality of the tracks and give them a professional sound quality. However as most music mastering experts agree, the tracks should not be over compressed as it can sonically hurt the project rather than refining the tracks. According to experts music mastering should always be performed in dedicated audio mastering studios as these particular studios are well equipped with acoustically treated rooms, state-of the-art speaker technology and fine tuning and equalization instruments that are essential for elevating the sound quality of the tracks. The techniques should be suitable applied so that the frequencies fall in the right place, the tracks get a coherent spectral balance and bass, mid and treble frequencies are neither to weak nor too loud.

In every music mastering session carried out in an audio mastering studio the following actions are

performed:

The average and peak volume levels of the music tracks are optimized for attaining a proper loudness

The tracks are arranged in order for the final sequence

Signal processing is done through proper compression, EQ and audio limiting

Proper timing between the tracks are maintained

A homogenous ‘sonic character’ is established for all the tracks

Placing track markers at the head of all the tracks

Removing unwanted hiss, clicks, glitches and noise from the tracks

Cleaning up the start and end of each track including the fades

Insertion of the Master Track Log

The creation of professional PMCDs (PreMaster CDs)

Considering the above advantages, the money for music mastering in a professional audio mastering studio is well spent. Besides the traditional mastering houses, a lot of web based audio mastering services offer fairly priced flat rates for CD mastering on-line. You simply upload your music to the mastering studio, where it will be treated professionally. So even an indie label or a home studio producer can nowadays afford a professional music mastering for his their audio productions.