jrmasteringsmall

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

Why Do Songs Need To Be Mastered?

12 why need audio mastering

Why do songs need to be mastered?  I've seen this question on the Internet many times.  The answer I always see is "Because all songs on the radio have been professionally mastered, yours should be too."  This is a true fact, but not an answer.

 

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A/B Comparison In Mastering
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs.  In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.
 
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How Much Should I Charge For Mastering?

I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999.  I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100!  Some prices worked better than others.  Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge.  Read more....

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Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

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Here's the monitor speaker setup I use for my DAW, and the setup I recommend for your home recording studio.

 

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Can Anyone Become A Great Sound Engineer?

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I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training.  He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it.  And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn!  Ha!

 

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What Software Do You Need For Audio Mastering?

2 software for audio mastering

If you've mixed songs in the past, you more than likely can use that same software for audio mastering. As long as you can add effects to the stereo/main out bus, you're good to go.  Read more....

 

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Which Is Better For Audio Mastering Analog Gear Or Digital Software Plugins?

18 analog digital equipment

I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.  I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.  And also before they started making very high quality plugins. 

 

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Best Room Size For Audio Mastering DAW Home Recording Studio

6 best room size for audio mastering

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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Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
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These are the Top 17 most common music mixing mistakes I see daily.  Correcting them could will improve your audio mastering results and make your mixes sound more professional.
 
 
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What Is Chorus Effect In Music | How To Use Chorus

This article discusses what is the chorus effect in music and how to use it?  The chorus effect makes a single audio track sound like a group. It achieves this by taking a single instrument or vocal track, multiplying it, and then slightly detunes each newly created track. The result is a fuller lush sounding audio track.

 

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How To Prepare Your Songs For Mastering
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In this article, we'll show you how to prepare your mixes for mastering.

 

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#1 Best Website Hosting For Musicians, And Music Recording Studios

If you're looking for the best website hosting for musicians, bands, and music recording studios, here's my own personal experience with website hosting companies.

 

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Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

How to set mixing levels for each instrument is a question I see all over the Internet.  I'm going to explain exactly how to set mixing levels in this article.

 

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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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Best Free Redbook CD Burning Software
Yes, burning your own redbook master CDs is very easy!  Here's how to make your own redbook CD masters for free! 
 
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Mid Side EQ In Mastering

This is a quick video on how a mid-side processor works, and how to check the stereo field of your mix using a mid-side processor equalizer.

 

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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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What Does Mastering Do To A Song?

10 what is audio mastering

What does mastering do to a song?  Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.

 

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Why Does A Mix Need Headroom And Dynamic Range?

16 why do songs need mastering

Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range?  In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
 

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Best Mixing Levels Before Mastering

set mixing level meters

Correctly setting your mixing levels before mastering is essential for great mastering results.  Having the best DB levels for mixing is critical.  Here's how to properly do it! 

 

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Mastering Compression Techniques

This video shows one of the more imptotant compression techniques I use in audio mastering.  In my audio Mastering Secrets Video Series, I explain everything you need to know about audio mastering.

 

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Audio Mastering Software Processors

Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999.  In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them.  In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.

 

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How Much Headroom Before Mastering Should I Leave?

mastering headroom

How much headroom before mastering should you leave in your mix?  Here's the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.

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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?

 

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Audio Engineer Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

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Millions of people suffer from tinnitus.  A new study shows around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it in some form, but many have never even heard of it until they get it!  Unfortunately, I was one of those people.  It can happen quickly and it lasts a lifetime... 

 

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