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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.

 

Yes, everyone has their own slight preference adjustments like a little more bass, brightness, etc., but overall you want to be at least 80% similar to the current industry standard. The only exception is if a client specifically requests an old school master.  If that's the case, then you're going to have to replicate the sonic qualities of songs from a past era (specified by the client).

Once every couple months, a client tells me they don't want their songs to sound like songs on the radio, because they don't listen to the radio.  That's a good reason.  Ha!  Then they give me a few crazy mastering requests like "Make my song's volume level -8db below industry standard, or keep the song real muffled, etc."

My two favorite requests happened while writing this book:

Genre Hip-Hop, "I want my CD to sound soft and analog." Ok, you want me to master the first soft analog Hip Hop CD?  I talk more about this at the end of this article.

Genre Heavy Metal, "Can you make my CD soft and warm." That's like saying, "I want an ice coffee, but can you make it hot?"  Or, "I'm buying a Ferrari because I like to drive real slow."

When this happens, I pretty much refuse these requests.  Here's why.

Any song I master is at some point going to be played along with other professionally mastered commercial songs.  If a song is very poorly mastered and way off industry standard, it will be painfully obvious to any listener when played right after a professionally mastered commercial song.

When I first started in the mastering business, I did whatever crazy request a client gave me, they approved the masters and paid the balance.  Job well done.  Or was it?  Note - This is also why the customer isn't always right when it comes to audio mastering.

The problems came weeks later after their family and friends listened to these ridiculously poor masters.  That's when I got a nasty "You don't know what you're doing" email and a demand for a full refund!  Even though I gave them exactly what they asked for.

My Point Proven - While writing this book, a guy uploads 20 hip hop songs.  I master an initial preview (like I have 10,000 other hip hop songs) and upload it for him.  He tells me him and his producer want the songs warm and analog sounding.  I tell him no one has ever requested warm analog hip hop songs in my 17 year career (which should mean something).  They don't care.  They know more than I do about audio mastering.

So, I send him another preview with the bass up and brightness cut, a nice warm hip hop song.  Also, I noted this is wrong for hip hop.  He tells me its great, that's exactly what he's looking for!  I proceed to master all 20 songs this way (which I told you not to do in the previous paragraph).  Ha!

Update - The guy got all 20 warm analog hip hop masters, but I didn't hear from him for about two months.  Then I get an email requesting a refund of his 50% deposit, because him and his producer don't like the warm analog hip hop songs.  Really?  I'm so surprised they didn't like songs that have the OPPOSITE sonic qualities for their genre!  Shocking!!  Since the client went past the 30 day money back guarantee, his 50% was kept as a non-refundable labor fee.

Just another example of why you don't go against the standard sonic qualities of a genre.

The general public is used to, and expects, the sonic qualities of today's music.  This is why your goal is to try and replicate it.  If you don't, the general public will know it.  PERIOD!


The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

Fixing A Bad Mix With Mastering

A lot of mastering engineers are afraid to make drastic changes to a mix they are working on.  That, or they're stuck in the familiarity of always making only small changes. 

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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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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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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Should Your Mix Sound Close To A Mastered Song?

13 mix sound like master

Note - This section is basically a tip for those of you working with clients or if you plan on submitting your mixes to a mastering engineer.

 

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How To Prepare Your Songs For Mixing
prepare songs for mixing

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

 

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Cheaply Soundproofing Your Room For Audio Mastering

1 cheaply soundproofing room studio

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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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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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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What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

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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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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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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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Mastering Hardware Equipment You Need For Your DAW Home Recording Studio

7 mastering hardware equipment daw recording studio

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

 

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Can Anyone Become A Great Sound Engineer?

11 become great sound engineer

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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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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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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Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
audio music mixing mistakes
 
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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How Long Does It Take To Master A Song?

How long does is take to master a song?  There are several extra song mastering procedures I offer that other mastering engineers will not do. 

 

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Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

4 speaker placemnt daw home recording studio

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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Audio Engineer Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

5 sound engineer prevent tinnitus

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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Mastering A Song For Radio

14 song ready for radio

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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John Rogers - Danceur Magazine Interview (July 2018)

Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS.  Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes.  During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released.  It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!

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Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.  Read more....
 
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What Is Audio Mastering?

9 what is audio mastering

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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My First Music Video!

Here's the first music video I directed, Mahalin Muli by JAI, released on July 10th, 2018.  I also wrote more than half of the script. 

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