The first stage in audio mastering is very important because this is the first time you’ll listen to the song and you are not prejudiced yet. With fresh ears you’ll notice mixing errors the engineer didn’t observed during his hard work on the mix.
Be sure you listen very carefully to the audio with a good monitoring system in a balanced acoustical environment. You’ll need to know your audio system and gain knowledge about a lot of music genres. How does it sound on my system and ask yourself constantly how it would sound on different audio systems like a car or crappy and old computer speakers.
In this step of audio mastering you should make notes. Write down every drop-out, error, wrong part, noise, musically idea and make decisions about what to do with the mix. Now choose the gear you want to use for audio mastering. For example do you want to use analogue or digital mastering or a combination of those two.
Editing in audio mastering can be of two types
Maybe you want add effects like a tape stop, flanger, delay etc. Or you have ta make a radio edit. Be sure the producer agrees with your creative ideas.
In this type of editing you can think of replacing damaged parts, adjusting the intro and outro of the song and create fade outs. Make sure that the intro needs approximately 150 milliseconds of blank (silence). The outro needs at least 1 second of fade out on reverberation / cymbals / background and noise tail. If you create a fade out you must use curve with a slow in and fast out. This sounds linear to the ears.
Clean up the mix
In the listening stage of the audio mastering process you’ve made notes of drop-outs, errors, wrong parts, noises etc. Now it’s time to correct them with the help of the following hardware devices and / or software plug-ins.
Broad and narrow band noise
– Software like Waves X-Noise, Sonic Foundry Noise reduction, Digidesing DINR,
– Hardware like the Cedar DHX
Low frequency rumble
– Use a HPF set to 30 or 40 Hz
– Use a split-band de-esser
Stereo image shifts
Stereo imaging plug-ins like Waves S1 or use the build-in one in Izotope Ozone.
OK, this was the boring stage of audio mastering and let us begin with some fun.