jrmasteringsmall

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 Serie
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

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!

 

Read more ...
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:

 

Read more ...
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.
 

Read more ...
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! 

 

Read more ...
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.
 
Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
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.
 
 
Read more ...
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....

 

Read more ...
Creating Headroom In A Mix

17 how create headroom in mix

OK

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

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
Stereo Widening Techniques | How To Use Stereo Widening In Mastering Music

Here are a few great stereo widening techniques and how to use them in music.  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!

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
How To Prepare Your Songs For Mastering
preparing mixes for mastering

In this article, we'll show you how to prepare your mixes for mastering.

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
What Is Headroom In Mastering?

15 what is headroom in mastering

In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
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. 

Read more ...
#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.

 

Read more ...
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.

 

Read more ...
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!

 

Read more ...
What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

8 difference between mixing mastering

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

 

Read more ...
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! 

 

Read more ...
How To Mix And Master Songs

If you're into "do it yourself projects" my mastering book will show you EXACTLY how I mastered every style of music on this website.  Get it here Audio Mastering Secrets!

Go to top