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Would you like to know how to master a song or how to master your own music?  So many people think just making the volumes the same level for every song is "mastering" their CD.  Well, mastering is a lot more than just that! 

 

My name is John Rogers, and I have now mastered over 40,000 songs for over 7,500 satisfied clients.  I've pretty much seen everything, and can diagnose and master a song in about 5 minutes. 

My teaching methods elimate needless settings and concepts, and help you focus only on the important processes and settings in audio mastering.  This approach will save you a countless number of hours, and you'll be confident that your audio mastering techniques are in fact correct! 

Here are the basics that I use during the audio mastering process.  You can use a variety of different DAW programs which includes Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, FL Studio, Audacity, Ableton, Garageband, Presonus, Reaper, Motu, Or Reason.  Read more....

What Is Mastering?

When you "mix" a song, you're working with the individual tracks (kick, snare, vocals, etc.) putting effects on them, panning the tracks and balancing their volumes against each other.  In "mastering" you're working with only ONE file.  A stereo .wav mix of a song.  You're applying the effects to the entire song as a whole. 

It's kind of like when you turn up the treble on your car stereo.  You're adding a high-end EQ boost to the entire song.  If you recorded the result, this would be considered one step in the mastering process.

 

The Main Goals In Mastering

1. You want your songs to sound consistent with your genre/style of music.  The closest they can to a great commercial master.

2. The songs on your CD should sound consistent with each other from song to song.  But not only in "volume level" but in ALL areas of the mastering process.  Read more....

 


Don't spend 1-2 years (please never), 6 months, or even 6 weeks learning how to professionally master audio.  Not to mention waste a ton of money too.  Not when I can show you EVERYTHING you need to know in ONLY TWO HOURS with my Audio Mastering Secrets Video Series!

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The Effects Used In Mastering

This isn't the exact order I use each effect, but these are all the effects I use when mastering:

 

1. Equalization 

Each song needs to be properly EQ'ed, both middle and side.

EQ is the addition or subtraction of specific frequency range(s) in an audio track or sound. 

It can be used on a single track or on a raw mix (in mastering). Read more....

 

2. Reverb

I don't use this often, but sometimes a song can use some extra reverb.

The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a song, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc. Read more....

 

3. De-esser

Yes, you can de-ess an entire song and it will hit the vocals.  Just make sure it doesn't drastically effect the instruments around 5-6k, or you can't do it.

A DeEsser is used to reduce bright sibilant sounds in a vocal track, like “Sss, Shh, and Zzz.”
In theory, when the “Sss” sound gets too loud and bright the DeEsser automatically reduces it. This is achieved by reducing the volume level of the frequency range where the sibilance resides, but only when the track’s volume level passes a set threshold. Read more....
 

 

4. Spectral Enhance / Add Harmonics

This is for all 4 bands, from low end to high end.

A spectral enhancer cleans up and brightens audio tracks. A few models can also thicken bass tracks.
Some spectral enhancers can also add separation to the tracks.  It's strange how it can do this since the song is already mixed, but it can.

All spectral enhancers have a different sound to them, but they all achieve their sound by adding harmonics and phase correction to some extent. Read more....

 

5. Compression

This is also for all 4 bands.  And you can gain and cut the bands here too, not just compress.

Audio compression is used to reduce volume spikes in an audio track, and it can also be used to reduce its dynamic range (the range between the loudest part and its lowest part in an audio track). This is done by reducing an audio track’s volume level once it passes a set threshold. Read more....

 

6. Stereo Widening

You don't want to use too much of this, but it will give your entire song more width if needed.

When you listen to music on a car radio, you want that wide stereo sound that extends from the left door to the right. Not just two feet wide right above the stereo!
The stereo widening effect simply increases the perceived stereo width of a track or entire song. This is basically done by changing the phase, character and/or adding a delay to the left and right channels of the input signal.
Some stereo widening processors can also add side coding to a track, which allows it to turn a mono audio track into a stereo track.
Note: Stereo widening is not a solution to a seriously narrow mix.  Panning and Haas effect of the instruments during mixing is the solution. Read more....

 

7. Loudness Maximization

Last but not least, this is what you use to make each songs volume level comparable with each other.

A loudness maximizer allows you to make your song as loud as possible without distorting, of course, provided you use the right settings.  Read more....
 


The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

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Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
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How To Master A Song In Only 5 Minutes!

Would you like to know how to master a song or how to master your own music?  So many people think just making the volumes the same level for every song is "mastering" their CD.  Well, mastering is a lot more than just that! 

 

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I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.  I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!  Ha!

 

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What Is Reverb Effect In Music | How To Use Reverb

This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?  The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.

 

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Mastering A Song For Radio

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Here's another popular question I see online, always with the wrong answer! "There's no such thing as radio ready mastering!"  REALLY?  Read more....

 

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Here's the basic hardware you need to master music:

 

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What's The Vibrato And Tremolo Definition In Music | Differences Between Tremolo And Vibrato

The vibrato and tremolo effects both have their differences.  But the vibrato and tremolo effects also sound very similar; both slightly wave and pulsate the pitch of an audio track. You have to hear it for yourself to understand the sound.

 

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Audio Mastering Software Processors

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Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
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What Is Audio Mastering?

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What is audio mastering?  I've seen a lot of different answers on the Internet to this simple question.  Some were pretty technical and confusing.

 

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Top 20 Audio Mastering Tips, Techniques, And FAQ
 
 

 

 

 

 

Here are the top 20 audio mastering tips, questions, and answers that I've been asked over the years.

 

 

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How To Master Pop Rock, Punk, Alternative, And Country
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In this article, we'll show you how to prepare your mixes for mastering.

 

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Creating Headroom In A Mix

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OK

To create a mix for mastering with proper headroom is pretty simple. 

 

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How To Master Hard Rock And Heavy Metal
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Best Room Size For Audio Mastering DAW Home Recording Studio

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So, what is the best room size for audio mastering in your DAW home recording studio?  Technically, you can properly mix or master in any room size.  But, I believe a smaller room is better than a very large one for someone who's just starting out. And when I say smaller I mean closer to 12'x15' than to 20'x30'.  I've mixed and mastered songs for a number of years in a 20'x30' room.  It took me a few days to get used to it, but after that I could do it.

 

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Mastering Compression Techniques

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In this video I show how you can turn a weak mix (definitely wouldn't call it bad) into a great sounding master, simply by pushing your levels a little more than you might be used to.

 

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In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.

 

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What's the difference between mixing and mastering?  A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.

 

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The sound engineer scam, the online recording studio ripoff, whatever you want to call it.  I hear about it 3-4 times a month from my clients, since 1999.  It never changes!

 

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