Whether you are producing CD’s,
vinyl records or going with an Internet delivery medium, your music needs to be mastered. Here are some answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding mastering.
I’ll start with the two most obvious.
WHY DO I NEED MASTERING?
Mastering is one of the most important links in the chain of music production. Yet, it is probably the least understood. And it is rapidly becoming the most abused.
You can be assured that no music is released by a major label or competitive indi label that has not been mastered. Before we explore what mastering is, let’s look at what can result if a project is not mastered.
An album that has not been mastered may exhibit one or all of the following telltale signs:
1. The CD is low in volume compared to others. Or, if on cassette, it is noisy and distant sounding.
2. The songs are uneven in volume. Some are too loud, some too soft.
3. The songs do not have a consistent sound. Some have more bass than others, some are brighter and thin sounding etc.
4. The album doesn’t seem to flow properly.
5. There is noise between the songs.
6. There is no spaciousness to the sound. It sounds confined between the two speakers.
7. It sounds O.K. on big systems, but it doesn’t sound good in the car or on boom boxes.
8. It can’t be played at a loud volume without the stereo system distorting.
9. It doesn’t sound like other albums. The EQ has to be adjusted for it to play back correctly.