Mastering is the optimization of tonality and volume for an entire project.
A well mastered recording does two things:
1) The songs within the project "match" each other, both in volume and in the ratios of bass, treble, and midrange. The idea is not only to hear a seamless "flow" for a project when heard start to finish, but also to be able to go from song to song at random and not hear a difference in tone or volume.
2) The project "matches" sonically with other projects of its type. That is, your project should be as loud, big, and punchy as projects from other artists you like.
Did you ever listen to a project that a friend did in a home studio, then put on a CD done by one of "the labels". You immediately hear a big difference in both tone and volume. Mastering seeks to narrow any gap between your release and other releases.
We like to have the artist bring or send finished and mastered CD's
from other artists, that our client artist feels that their audience might
listen to back to back with the CD we're working on.
Also, this gives the mastering engineer and quick understanding of what you would like your project to sound like.
The idea is if the listener was hearing a bunch of similar CD's and your
CD comes on after, that your CD should sound just as good.
While it is not always possible to make one recording sound exactly like another, a good mastering engineer can improve the sound almost 100% of the time.
We convert a CD or DAT tape (via our Apogee converters) to analog, use various pieces of vintage analog audio gear, then convert back to digital for editing, project assembly, and CD burning of a Production master CD. This CD is is then sent to the plant for duplication.
Even though this is common practice at most of the larger and more reputable mastering houses (whose rates generally run $300.00 - $500.00 per hour), smaller and cheaper places do "digital mastering".
If a project has been recorded and mixed digitally, a lot of times adding some analog "fat" is just what it needs. This can't really be done very well digitally. Digital may be more "accurate" sometimes, but analog can add a certain "sweetness" to the sound, which tends to benefit a significant number of projects.
The answer varies from song to song. Sometimes we don't change the tonality at all, just the volume. Sometimes, we change stuff a whole bunch!
The "before" section in these files is the actual sound that was given to us by the client. The "after" section is the mastered production audio.
Our special thanks to Hitman Blues Band, Rob Taube, and Cousin D for permission to use their projects.
|Click on the "before" and "after" to hear what mastering can do for your sound. Available in .wav, .aif and MPEG format (wave files are strongly recommended to hear the full difference in quality. MPEG is encoded as MPEG-1, layer 3 bitrate = 128kbit/sec)|
|Genre||Before||After||For More Info|
|Alternative Rock||.wav||.aif||mpeg||.wav||.aif||mpeg||artist info|