Part 1 – Introduction To Audio Mastering

In this step by step tutorial I’ll explain how to become a good audio mastering engineer. I’m explaining the guidelines here but you don’t have to apply them in the exact same order. As an experienced audio engineer I always use different mastering techniques on different music genres. And the order I use for the enhancement of audio files will vary every time.

Izotope Ozone 5 - Meterbridge

Izotope Ozone 5 – Meterbridge

Besides the final inspection of the mix, audio mastering is also a creative step in music production and you’ll need to experiment to achieve the best result. First I’ll explain what audio mastering is. As you probably know, audio mastering a great way to fix an intermediate mix and bring it to a professional level. There are some boring steps in audio mastering and you’ll need to understand them before you can begin with the fun stuff. If you are serious in becoming an audio mastering engineer you probably want to learn these steps too.

 

The definition of audio mastering

Audio mastering is the final creative step before mass production in a CD plant. A better word would be pre-mastering as mastering itself is the process of creating the glass master. The word mastering comes from mastering vinyl where the final creative step is combined with the cutting of vinyl.

Demands for a good mastering engineer.

  • Good ears
  • Can identify several types of music genres
  • Have a musical feel
  • Dedication for the job
  • Must work in a fine tuned acoustic environment and monitoring system

 

Audio mastering equipment - TC Electronics Finalizer

Audio mastering equipment – TC Electronics Finalizer

 

Usual sequence of audio mastering processes

As I explained earlier you don’t have to apply them in the exact same order and only if they are necessary.

  1. Analysis of the audio
  2. Correction
  3. Editing
  4. Enhancement like
  5. Broad equalization
  6. Reverberation
  7. Multi-band compression
  8. Stereo imaging
  9. Harmonic excitation
  10. Loudness maximization
  11. Overall track leveling
  12. Dithering
  13. PQ coding and ordering

 

OK, now you know what audio mastering is. It’s time to read part two of this course.