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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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If I compared a hair stylist to a mastering engineer, hair length would be mix headroom.  If someone came in with 18" of hair, the skies the limit as to how she could style it.  But, if they came in with only 1" of hair, her style choices (options) are very limit.  In audio mastering, no headroom limits your options.

In the audio mastering process, a series of EQ boosts and cuts are performed.  Most of the time you're going to need to boost something, even if it's only a little +2db boost at 100hz.  Well, if the song is already at 0 volume level or higher, you might not be able to make a necessary boost without distorting.

And if a song has very low dynamic range (the meter barely moves) it's probably over-compressed. Which means it could lack punch, power, clarity, or could even limit EQ options.

I want a song mix with some headroom and decent dynamic range. "I" want to EQ it as necessary, "I" want to compress it as necessary, "I" want to be able to set the overall volume as necessary, and I don't want to work with a distorted mix.

This section actually ties in with a previous one where I talk about not giving the mastering engineer a song that's already 75% mastered by you.  Don't do it!  And if you do, just master the other 25% yourself and save your money.  Read more....

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

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!

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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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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Creating Headroom In A Mix

17 how create headroom in mix

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

 

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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 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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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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The Sound Engineer SCAM! Does More Expensive Mean Better?


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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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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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?

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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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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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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Learning And Calibrating Your Speakers For Your DAW In Audio Mastering

3 calibrate speakers audio mastering daw

Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process.  When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style.  Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc.  I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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