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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.


My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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!

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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