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 In this article I will discuss how to master movie soundtracks, classical, and jazz songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own movie soundtracks, classical, and jazz music.

This article not only gives you my mastering approach for the genre, I also factor in client feedback so your audio masters will make them happy too. But remember, A/B comparison and matching is always your goal. This section assists you in doing that.
 

How To Master Movie Soundtracks, Classical, And Jazz

Ratings - I rate each sonic quality on a scale from 1-10 (5 is an average amount). Except for overall loudness, I use my ReplayGain recommended levels.

Clarity (6) Each genre could vary, but overall they all have that "big warm sound" in common.

Brightness (6) This genre has a slightly above average amount of brightness, mainly because the instrumentation could include violins, bright trumpets, chimes, etc. You definitely don't want your master to be too bright and digital sounding, losing its warmth.

Most clients from this genre aren't very good at high and low pass filtering their instruments. They basically mix all their instruments raw "as is" which leaves the entire mix thick, and the UPPER-MID instruments peaking too brightly.

I've found cutting EQ around 2-3k will usually soften and cure this bright peaking problem.

Bass Volume & Boominess (6) I put this sonic quality at slightly above average because it pretty much depends on the song.

If there are big booming kettle drums throughout most of the song, or maybe there's a big bass jazz solo, you might be looking at 7-8 for bass and boominess.

All the genre's in this section need warmth, and extra bass helps with that. So, you definitely don't want the bass to be below average.

Overall Compression (4) Here's where a bit of controversy comes in. Myself personally, I cut the top off with a high THRESHOLD in the UPPER-MIDS. This is what's done with commercial songs and this is the correct way to do it. But you'll find a lot of clients want no compression in these genres.

My previous article "Vocals And Instrumentation May Change Your Sonic Approach" talks more about this situation.

Stereo Width (8) These genres typically have the most instrumentation that fills the entire stereo field. They need to be wide, especially the epic movie soundtracks. I've personally never heard a narrow movie sound track, jazz or classical music song.

Overall Loudness ReplayGain Number (97) This genre is one of the lowest in terms of volume. Sparing usage of the loudness maximizer will make the master warmer and more dynamic.
 

For more of my articles on mastering your own songs, check out - Audio Mastering Secrets. 

The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

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