The goal of mastering is to make your recorded tracks sound their absolute best. Often, it’s the difference between a decent raw track and a professional sounding masterpiece. However, many still take the process into their own hands and fall short of these desired results. Mastering is a notoriously complex business, requiring a seasoned set of ears and the technical know-how of a recording studio veteran. Thankfully, there a number of professional mastering experts on-hand to transform your music into distribution-ready perfection.
A professional mastering process ensures that every part of your track is giving its all, and sitting in its perfect place alongside all the other elements. Getting that ideal sound is no mean feat; manipulating sonic characteristics and whipping every tone and limit into shape can sharpen your music and breathe life into a raw recording. However, unprofessional or amateur mastering can distort and warp your beloved treasure. So, keep your goods in the hands of those you can trust – those with the years of experience to prove their mastering mastery.
The first benefit of professional mastering comes with experience. A professional has spent years defining tracks and pulling out the winning parts. It’s these expert ears that often separate a stunningly smooth mix from a riotous cacophony. A professional can also help you go that extra step, finding techniques and sounds that work with your ideal sound and manipulating your work to ensure the right tone is achieved. Finding an expert on the same page as you in this respect is invaluable.
Mastering also helps your tracks form a whole, unified album. Coherency throughout the track listing is achieved through the process of level matching, compression, and volume consistency. Taking on this process yourself, without the appropriate ear or experience, can often leave an album sounding flat. A professional will help make each track shine by itself, while also creating a tonally refined collection.
There’s also the hard truth that better equipment really does equal better results. You can hack your way through free trial software or an old mixing station, but today’s top of the range technology still produces the clearest, punchiest results. Unfortunately, it’s rare you’ll find this gear lying around so submitting your work to a professional with access to, and deep knowledge of, the latest technologies will give your tracks the best possible starting position.
Mastering also takes a considerable amount of time. Done right, every layer of every tone must be considered, manipulated, tuned, and polished off. It’s a process of learning where each track is coming from, and where it should end up, that takes hours of concentration and technical know-how. What’s more, learning how to master in the first place is a meticulous and time-consuming process.
It’s likely you already have a sound understanding of the technical musical elements that make up your track. Sadly, that’s rarely enough to master a track to today’s high standards. The process is extremely technical and requires inside-out knowledge of sonic manipulation, in-depth software, and complex processes. Professional mastering will see your tracks in the hands of experts who live and breathe these procedures, meaning they will stand out amongst the rest.