Why master your music? Everything I wish I’d known
I spent months mixing my first album – I thought it would change my life. So when I finished, I sent my tracks to a renowned mastering engineer.
It cost $1,000. He gave me the indie rate.
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I was beyond excited. But after the first listen, I felt a little defeated. It wasn’t as different as I expected, and some parts were squished where I expected them to boom.
Remastering wasn’t really an option.
It cost a lot of money for something I didn’t really understand, and wasn’t sure it worked.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS MASTERING?
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In the days before digital, mastering was largely about duplication (remember vinyl and tape?). But as technology progressed, and digital recording became the standard, mastering has evolved into fine-tuning how your music sounds.
Still, it’s an often misunderstood—kinda complicated—sometimes confusing artform…
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Mastering is all about making your tracks sound as good to everyone else, as they do to you – smoothing out the wrinkles of your final mix without losing the character that makes your music yours.
Using a combination of tools like tasteful compression, EQ, limiting, stereo enhancement plus other tricks like aural excitation – mastering is the glue, varnish and polish that makes your music presentable to the world.