What is mastering and why do I need it?

by Plugin Alliance

You could be a solo artist creating music with nothing but your Mac, or a band looking to cut its first demo. Regardless, you want your songs to sound as great to the world as they do in your mind. To achieve this, you need to transform those sonic ideas into a mixed and mastered listening experience that any audience on Spotify, the radio or even vinyl will appreciate.

To make this a reality, you need to master your music after it has been mixed! To understand why mastering is so important – just listen to the artists who inspired you to make music. From the driving Bass on a Kendrick track, to the hypnotic break-beats on a Bicep tune, or even the iconic discordant climax at the end of the Beatles A Day In The Life. Mastering plays a major role in transforming sonic ideas into a captivating listening experience.

If you are wondering why the song you have created just doesn’t live up to the idea you have in your head, mastering may be the answer. Mastering a record is like the final edit of a film or novel, it brings out all the best parts of a song, sanding down those unwanted edges to create a satisfying unified whole, so you can create the best possible listening experience for your audience.

Do I need to master my record?

You certainly can’t produce a professional sounding record without mixing but what about mastering? When producing a professional-quality record could only be done in a studio, many bands and artists simply couldn’t afford to unleash their track’s full potential with professional mastering. This meant that many bands had to live with the unpolished sound of an unmastered record. But these days there are a whole wealth of affordable options out there for mastering your tracks. Today you have the following options

Professional mastering (paid mastering)

If you’ve got the budget and the vision, nothing will help you realize your creative vision more than a mastering professional with all the experience, tools and know how. The right mastering engineer will adapt to your style and bring out all the best aspects of your mix. They will make your record sound more intentional and professional.

These days mastering plugins have made it possible for mastering engineers to work anywhere. This means you can find incredibly talented mastering engineers to master your records for much more affordable prices than during the pre-digital age. If you want one of those, here are some legends of mastering we recommend. Please note the concept of affordable in this case is entirely relative.

Auto-mastering (FREE online mastering and paid online mastering)

It is now possible to unleash the potential of a mix in minutes with free online mastering from mastering.studio. The platform’s process was designed by using algorithms to analyze legendary recordings from mastering pioneers such as Howie Weinberg, (Jimi Hendrix, Prince Madonna, Beastie Boys, U2).

These insights have created the recipe for our different mastering styles that create a studio-quality master of your tracks in seconds. This is the ideal solution for anyone new to mastering or looking for affordable professional results. You won’t have the same range of expression that paying for your own mastering engineer offers, but you will get a professional sounding mix that is informed by the proven experience of mastering legends. GET MY FREE MASTER NOW

Mastering your track yourself (Free Online Mastering and paid)

If you have recorded and mixed your songs using a DAW and Plugins. You may already have the skills, knowledge and equipment to master the record yourself. This is not widespread practice in the music industry because mastering engineers or automated mastering software provide an additional perspective that can really help a track to achieve its full potential.

That said, you might enjoy having total control over the music creation process. If you take on this challenge, be sure to give your mix a little time to rest before you start mastering so you can approach it with fresh ears. You also need to make sure you have the right audio setup for mastering.

Very few records are mixed and mastered with headphones, most mastering engineers invest in a good monitor and mastering-room setup. Factor this into your budget along with the mastering plugins you will need to get a professional sound. Of course, for every rule there is an exception and Glenn Schick is a producer who mixes with headphones but, as you can see from the video above, his headphones cost more than many sound systems.

What’s the best mastering strategy for me?

Weather its online mastering, professional mastering or DIY mastering, ultimately the choice is up to you but these days there should be an option that fits your price range and music production skills. If you’re really not sure, try FREE online mastering you’ve got nothing to lose, at the very least it will give you a fresh perspective and good idea of how legendary mastering engineers would master your track.