The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
What is mastering??? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 18th March 2010
  #1
Gear Addict
 

What is mastering???

???
Old 18th March 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Cellotron's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Here's the answer I have up at What Is Mastering? -

Quote:
Mastering is the final creative step in audio production. At it's most basic level it is simply creating the part (such as a CD-R master disc, or correctly encoded digital audio file) necessary for manufacturers or digital music distributors to make duplicates or replicas of your music.

Beyond this mastering allows the enhancement of your final mixes through the tasteful use of equalization, compression and other processes, so that your audio will sound the best it possibly can, allowing more "impact" and emotional involvement from the listener.

Mastering also allows an album to smoothly flow from one track to another, so that the end listener never feels the need to adjust their volume or tone controls during listening through its entirety, and so that your album can become a cohesive entity in itself and not just a collection of tracks.

Professional mastering allows your mixes to best translate to the widest range of playback systems, so that no matter what device the listener chooses to play your tracks with your music will still sound great.

By having your music mastered in a professional dedicated mastering studio you gain the chance for a fresh perspective on the mixes from an experienced engineer, in a highly accurate and revealing listening environment (so that any processing decisions made will be the right ones) with excellent processors and an ultra-clean signal path (so that any processes done will be made at the highest quality possible).

The end result is that the masters created will be to the exact specifications needed by the replicator - and that the tracks you release will sound the best they possibly can be!
Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 18th March 2010
  #3
Gear Addict
 

So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
Old 18th March 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

^Yeah, from what I've learned. Those are the basic steps.
Old 18th March 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
1. Matching the tracks to each other.
2. Sequencing and track transitions.
3. "Sweetening" / "Finalizing" the mix. This can and often includes eq'ing, compressing, stereo widening.

The third step often gets the most emphasis - and to the credit of mastering engineers, the good ones really do great things. But 1 & 2 are equally as important.
Old 18th March 2010
  #6
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Mastering? Never heard of it.
Old 18th March 2010
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I didn't know about the first two, Storyville. Thanks!
Old 18th March 2010
  #8
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
No. That isn't even funny.

If you're serious, look here:
TechTalk 5

How about:
1. critical listening in excellent monitoring environment
2. clean transfer
3. as little (or much) processing as needed
4. sequencing
5. assembly
6. PQ coding
7. clean transfer to properly formatted master for replication
8. prepare log
9. careful QC (error check, nav check, listening pass)
10. see #9.
Old 18th March 2010
  #9
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
Mastering? Never heard of it.
I think it's this, no?

Old 18th March 2010
  #10
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood View Post
I think it's this, no?
Ah yes; isn't that Chris Athens?
(Sorry Chris, I couldn't help myself. I'll buy you a beer next time I'm in NY!)
Old 18th March 2010
  #11
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Old 18th March 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
gees. you've successfully & comprehensively made a list of all the things people think mastering engineers do.
but you left out that all important, 'multiband compression'
I love how you opted for, 'using a frequency analyzer' instead of 'using your ears'.
Old 18th March 2010
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Eh, I'll just keep reading this thread until I know more than the "common knowledge" of mastering.
Old 18th March 2010
  #14
Gear Addict
 
Bubbagump's Avatar
 

Old 18th March 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
1. Normalize the songs
2. Liberally apply Aphex Exciter
3. +6Db 100hZ Lows
4. +9db 10KhZ Highs
5. Mutlibend Compreser
6. 6DBs limit L1
7. Har-Bal
8. add jitter
9. Burn it TAO to a CD-R at 52x
10. rip to 64K MP3
11. Loose the disk

(warning: intentional humorous disinformation)
Old 18th March 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
^^^^ just kidding!
(leave off the Har-Bal)
JT
Old 18th March 2010
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundroid View Post
gees. you've successfully & comprehensively made a list of all the things people think mastering engineers do.
but you left out that all important, 'multiband compression'
I love how you opted for, 'using a frequency analyzer' instead of 'using your ears'.
Homeboy your ears ain't gonna tell you how to smooth out the eq curve.
They ain't. This is why you use a frequency analyzer you see the curve with all the spikes in the audio and where they at exactly frequency wise and how wide they are and then you patch in a parametric and smooth it out.

If you play a commercial cd from a major release and look at the curve of the eq you see its smooth and round coz somebody mastered it. If you play a cd mastered at joe blows mastering who ''just used his ears'' you see all the horrible spikes all over the place like lol here is a guy who thinks he is a mastering engineer. See those spikes over there? Give me my money back!
Old 18th March 2010
  #18
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
No. That isn't even funny.

If you're serious, look here:
TechTalk 5

How about:
1. critical listening in excellent monitoring environment
2. clean transfer
3. as little (or much) processing as needed
4. sequencing
5. assembly
6. PQ coding
7. clean transfer to properly formatted master for replication
8. prepare log
9. careful QC (error check, nav check, listening pass)
10. see #9.
Please elaborate. What does all this mean for you? What tools do you use typically and why? Give us some info. Now picture this. You are getting way more work than you can handle and now you have to train somebody to do mastering in your studio. What do you patch in when and why?
Old 18th March 2010
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubbagump View Post
Hey it's not like I have any more input on this subject so I might as well keep reading.
Old 18th March 2010
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
Ah yes; isn't that Chris Athens?
(Sorry Chris, I couldn't help myself. I'll buy you a beer next time I'm in NY!)
Naughty boy.

My sword is WAY bigger than that guys.
Old 18th March 2010
  #21
Lives for gear
 
dcollins's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
Partial credit for number 6.


DC
Old 18th March 2010
  #22
Gear Addict
 

What is mastering???
Old 18th March 2010
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
Homeboy your ears ain't gonna tell you how to smooth out the eq curve. ...(SNIP) See those spikes over there? Give me my money back!
Yea maybe some homeboy can't use their ears, but a pro ME can. If you can't clearly hear which NOTE (frequency) with which there is a discrepancy, then you may be tone deaf or simply ill trained (or you have a whack playback system, G). You can't learn everything from books and forums...especially mastering. What you can learn from the internet is where TO GO to HEAR truly accurate equipment, and OBSERVE the LOGICAL PROCESS involved in setting up a mastering chain for a project. Sometimes its just a matter of turning the volume up and down at the right times with a quick run through the SRC to finish the job.

Spikes? So there should never be a snare hit? What if the artist WANTS a nice spike, at sayyy, 2.8 khz? 3.2? "HE SAYS SPIKES, GIVE 'IM SPIKES!" You need to get HarBal, its marketing would appeal dearly to your logic. Thats all you need if all you want is a flat spectrum analyzer output graphic. Its true, the best mixes usually show up relatively flat on a spectrum analyzer, but this is not the result of post-processing. Flat response is usually the result of a well tracked and mixed source, with good instrumentation. Sometimes spikes sound good. Real life has s***** sounds. Why shouldn't a recording?
Old 18th March 2010
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterer View Post
Naughty boy.

My sword is WAY bigger than that guys.

Lol. I wish I still had those He-Man toys, I would play with them too lol. Whoa I just had an awesome idea, I'm gonna go look for laser tag sets on eBay! Sweet.
Old 18th March 2010
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
Yea maybe some homeboy can't use their ears, but a pro ME can. If you can't clearly hear which NOTE (frequency) with which there is a discrepancy, then you may be tone deaf or simply ill trained (or you have a whack playback system, G). You can't learn everything from books and forums...especially mastering. What you can learn from the internet is where TO GO to HEAR truly accurate equipment, and OBSERVE the LOGICAL PROCESS involved in setting up a mastering chain for a project. Sometimes its just a matter of turning the volume up and down at the right times with a quick run through the SRC to finish the job.

Spikes? So there should never be a snare hit? What if the artist WANTS a nice spike, at sayyy, 2.8 khz? 3.2? "HE SAYS SPIKES, GIVE 'IM SPIKES!" You need to get HarBal, its marketing would appeal dearly to your logic. Thats all you need if all you want is a flat spectrum analyzer output graphic. Its true, the best mixes usually show up relatively flat on a spectrum analyzer, but this is not the result of post-processing. Flat response is usually the result of a well tracked and mixed source, with good instrumentation. Sometimes spikes sound good. Real life has s***** sounds. Why shouldn't a recording?


Yeah right the fact that the best cds show up looking nice & round on a spectrum analyzer has nothing to do with all the coin they droped to get the record mastered professionally with someone with actual credits in the industry instead of using the services of joe blow mastering engineer who masters records in his garage and ''just uses his ears''.

Sorry to burst your bubble but the best cds all show up looking round on the frequency analyzer because somebody took the time to fix the spikes. Somebody polished it so there is no ear fatigue. Somebody mastered it. They did that by looking at the frequency curve and then applying a good parametric and fixing the spikes in the audio. You are the mastering engineer should I be telling you this?
Old 18th March 2010
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Apostolos Siopis's Avatar
 

Verified Member
troll alert
Old 18th March 2010
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odeon-Mastering View Post
troll alert
Excuse me? I asked a very legit question and some people take it upon themselves to turn this into a personal attack.

What is mastering?
What does it involve?
The only person who provided some actual info was jayfrigo but I would like him to elaborate further on the process of mastering and how he approaches the whole thing.

A DVD perhaps of a respectable mastering engineer mastering music in his studio with the actual tools of the trade not on some infomercial trip?

That would be cool
Old 18th March 2010
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Bob Yordan's Avatar
Originally a process that included adding tracks onto a master, that was used to print copies from.
Old 18th March 2010
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Yordan View Post
Originally a process that included adding tracks onto a master, that was used to print copies from.
you don't say...
Old 18th March 2010
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
So what are the steps of mastering?

1 Noise reduction
2 Compression to archive desired gain (loudness)
3 stereo widening
4 introduction of harmonics warmth through exiting the audio (there are several products out there that do this. )
5 smoothing out the frequency curve using a frequency analyzer and a parametric or passive graphic EQ
6 Limiting

Do these steps pretty much cover what mastering is about?
In a word "NO"

If you want to see what a real mastering engineer will do for your music schedule some time with some one like Brad Blackwood, Bob Katz, Glenn Meadows, Chris Athens or someone else from this forum who is on the "A" list.

The question you are asking has been asked and answered numerous times before and a quick search will bring up all those threads. IMHO I think you are trying to do some "trolling" and just want to provoke something by asking questions when you already seem to know the answer you are looking for.

If you really WANT some answers check out these sites.

Mastering - MASSIVE Mastering - Digital, Analog, Audio & CD Services - FAQ

mastering-techniques | m | audio-faq

Audio mastering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and even this (but take a lot of what he says with a LARGE grain of salt)

What to Expect From CD Mastering

If after reading all the other such questions on this forum and reading the sites listed above you still want to know more I suggest purchasing this book.

Amazon.com: Mastering Audio, Second Edition: The art and the science (Book) (9780240808376): Bob Katz: Books

Read it from cover to cover at least twice and I think you will have answered your own question.

FWIW and YMMV
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
dreamsongs / So much gear, so little time
59
mittebewohner / So much gear, so little time
8

Forum Jump
Forum Jump