Mastering Matters

True mastering requires deep technical knowledge, experience, musical sense, a fresh set of experienced ears and an array of high-end gear.

Professional mastering is an essential process.

No one has ever produced a major hit without it.

Even the highest quality recording, with the best production value will not stand out in the industry without the help of a professional mastering engineer.

An experienced mastering engineer will bring years of expertise. They will be able to perceive the vision of your mixing engineer, but with a fresh perspective. A plugin could never provide this level of understanding and quality.

Professional mastering provides:

  • a fresh, critical and objective ear
  • the best techniques and gear available
  • increased perceived volume level
  • larger, clearer and wider sound
  • equalization and compression to increase warmth, depth and punch
  • elimination of environmental or production noise
  • consistency and cohesiveness across the entire release

Can I master my own album or have my mixing engineer do it?

The difference between you and a pro.

Despite what the equipment advertisements say, mastering is not done by simply running your audio through a specific device. It is an art that relies on a skilled ear, good taste and experience over various genres and styles of music.

The Gear: The pro master has an exceptional listening environment and monitoring system. He has top of the line equipment specifically for mastering like high end analog/digital converters, ultra-smooth outboard compressors and equalizers. The equipment required for mastering is not the same equipment needed for mixing. You will never get the same quality from a plugin that you will get with a professional mastering engineer.

The Ears: The mastering engineer is the key to the process. Mastering is his focus and expertise, and he has more experience in this process than you or your mixing engineer. Great mastering requires meticulous attention to detail and the ability to hear the subtle differences compression and equalization can make.


Music Connection Interview – By Rob Putnam

Do not even think of recording or mixing your next record until you’ve taken the time to digest the expert mastering advice in the following interviews. (Especially if you’re thinking of mastering to vinyl!) The four experienced mastering engineers in these roundtable-style interviews will save you time and money—and avoid the headaches and frustration that can result from ignorance and poor preparation.