“Whats the deal with audio mastering?” (Jerry Seinfeld)

Current situation.

I’m currently getting a number of audio tracks mastered as we speak. I’m quite relieved to have handed the tracks to a couple of independent parties for processing. Having rendered my final mixes in 24 bit/ 44.1 kHz (just look for the 16 or 24 bit options as you export audio wise from your DAW) all mastering will happen in the 24 bit domain, subsequently being dithered down to 16 bit CD quality.

What am I expecting?

I’m expecting the various tracks to be tighter. I’m expecting maybe greater stereo width, along with a fair bit of balance across the audio spectrum for each track. In other words, bass not to bassey, treble not too irritating, etc. In addition to all of this, the various tracks will be consistent in volume and mastered to particular redbook audio standards, thus being able to listened to comfortably in a range of situations. I’ve already noticed the enhanced clarity that comes with 24 bit files, along with improved detail and volume. One of the mastering guys who is helping me with all of this (Justin Humphries) has described mastering as sort of taking the blanket off of a track.

Why not do it yourself?

I have attempted to do some basic mastering on some final tracks in the past using a thing called T Racks, but I haven’t felt too comfortable with the results. Its nice to be able to let someone external to the whole process check things out. Its also nice to come up with something creatively, do the final mix (be really sure about your final mix) and then hand over the the whole thing to an independent party. I’ve got to say its also mainly all about time. Yes the T word. I just want to keep creating. Enough is enough on the technical side. As Frank Zappa said to someone when they asked about how he knew when a track was finished, he said “when I’m sick of it”. Its very hard to go thru all of the various stages in creating something (from the idea to recording to quality sounds to a final mix) and then have to keep going. As I said, enough is enough.

I’ll put up a track or two before and after mastering when I get them back shortly. People can then judge for themselves.

In the meantime below is a nice overview of the whole mastering issue from Sound On Sound  magazine.



~ by gazlington on December 11, 2011.

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