How to Master Your Recording.

by Ken

in Music Recording Techniques

Mastering means taking your final mix whether stereo or surround sound, and applying enhancements to it to produce the best possible sonic quality results. But what enhancements? And where should I start?

(This is the 2nd part of our Mastering Overview. If you missed the 1st part, click here for “Mastering Matters”)

Read on to…

Mastering involves a variety of activities:

  • Track volume optimization
  • Equalization levels
  • Tonal balance adjustment for consistency
  • Edit the final arrangement of spacing between songs
  • Create and edit PQ sub-code
  • Creation of CD master ready for mass duplication

Tip: Use a professional! He’ll find and fix problems you would probably miss

What problems are fixable in the mastering process?

  • Relative levels between songs
  • Poor fade-ins/outs at the start or end of tracks
  • Application of reverb or other effects to the whole song
  • Use of compression to adjust the average sound level of the track
  • Use of equalization to adjust the overall tonal balance
  • Adjustment of silent time in between tracks for best overall flow through the CD.

What is Not fixable?

  • Poor original recording
  • Overdrive distortion
  • Over-use of reverb, or other effects
  • Poor sound source balance – for example vocals and guitar in conflict as far as panning or equalization are concerned

Did you know:

“Sweetening” is the mastering engineers’ term describing changes to be made – for example, in reverberation or other effects.

Of course, sweetening is a matter of personal preference. Yes, during mixing, you’d add equalization and reverb, but at the mastering stage you can increase the application of these effects.

Back shortly with the final part on mastering – What if I can’t afford professional mastering services?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ERIC PRATER December 23, 2008 at 12:17 pm


2 Andrew A. Sailer January 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey, just read this article, very informative. I will definately be coming back. Can’t wait to read through some more of these blogs…

3 Mattie Lennon May 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

Is there a website where I can find pre-recorded “applause.”?

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