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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.

 

Your songs need to be mastered because you want them to have the same qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, and this can only be achieved by using effects on the stereo/main out bus.  Which is what mastering is, using effects on the stereo/main out bus.  Many critical processes can only be done in mastering.

Here are couple of examples of why a song needs to be mastered:

  • Do you want to be able to play your song loud without it breaking up? Then you need mastering. In mastering, you can compress the entire song as a whole (or in separate BANDS) so it doesn't peak too hot or distort during loud playback.  Compressing a song in mastering also kind of meshes everything together.  In mixing, you can only compress individual instruments like the bass, vocals, etc.  This does nothing for loud playback nor does it mesh the song together as a whole.
  • Do you want your songs to be as loud as the songs on the radio?  Then you need mastering.  In mastering, you can use a loudness maximizer and make your songs as loud as needed without distorting.  You can't do this in mixing by cranking up your levels.  You will distort before reaching your desired loudness.

This question is kind of like asking, "Why does my cake need to go in the oven?"  If you want it to be a real cake, and be similar to other cakes, the oven is the final process to get it there.  You don't have a cake unless it goes in the oven!  You only have raw mixed ingredients.  The oven meshes everything together to be like other cakes.


The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

How Long Does It Take To Master A Song?

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Mastering A Song For Radio

14 song ready for radio

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Audio Engineer Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

5 sound engineer prevent tinnitus

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What Is Chorus Effect In Music | How To Use Chorus

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Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

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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.

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Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
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Best Free Redbook CD Burning Software
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Which Is Better For Audio Mastering Analog Gear Or Digital Software Plugins?

18 analog digital equipment

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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 Mastering
preparing mixes for mastering

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

 

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John Rogers - Danceur Magazine Interview (July 2018)

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Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

4 speaker placemnt daw home recording studio

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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 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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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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Audio Mastering Software Processors

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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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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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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....

 

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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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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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My First Music Video!

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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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