Available services include: mastering for digital/streaming, CD, video, casette, and vinyl-premastering. All mastering clients will also recieve mix review/coaching at no extra cost, if desired.
Quotes are based on the type(s) of mastering your project needs and total length of your music to be mastered, so contact me to discuss your project.
What is mastering?
Mastering is the final step of the process before your music is released into the world. It can be seen as two kinds of quality control in one process: technical, to ensure your music translates perfectly across various mediums and playback systems, and artistic, to make sure your music is as emotionally and sonically impactful as possible. In an effort to further clarify this dark art of audio, here is a description of what a mastering engineer can do for you:
- A mastering engineer will listen carefully to your music with highly trained ears on a reference playback system that they know intimately.
- They will provide a fresh perspective on the mix
- Based on their listening to the music, the engineer may:
- Recommend changes in a mix (I offer free mix consultations as part of the mastering package)
- Change the overall level of a song (usually to make it louder*)
- Make big-picture tonal balance changes across a single track or between multiple tracks in an album to increase musical and sonic cohesion
- The engineer will understand the emotional and energetic intention of the music and use all the sonic and technical tools at their disposal to make sure that energy translates as well as possible
- Do nothing. it’s true! human mastering engineers may receive a mix that is so polished, no sonic changes are necessary. This is not the case with online automated mastering services, which will change your audio 100% of the time regardless of mix quality. If I encounter a mix polished to this degree, I will only charge for the preparation of your release files (described below)
- At the end of the process, the mastering engineer will:
- generate audio files for:
- online streaming distribution
- CD manufacturing (DDP)
- vinyl master cutting
- use in videos
- other formats as requested by the client
- embed the appropriate metadata into the files (such as song and album title, artist info, ISRC and UPC codes, etc)
*a note about loudness
The word “loudness” gets used a lot when talking about mastering. It is true that mastering engineers will often make a track “louder,” but it is crucial to understand what this means. Using compression, limiters, and clipping reduces the dynamic range of a recording, which makes our brains perceive the track as being louder overall- but there must be a balance. Without dynamic range, music becomes fatiguing to our ears and brains and makes us want to turn it down or off completely. By default, all streaming services remove the level differences from track to track, album to album, and artist to artist (this is called loudness normalization). Because of this normalization process, a heavily compressed (“loud”) track will be turned down in volume relative to a more dynamic track, thereby making the more compressed track sound small and constrained in comparison. It is for this reason that I encourage all my clients to aim for a master that retains as much dynamic range as is feasibly possible while being punchy and exciting- this will make your music sound better in the long run, on streaming platforms, and will be less fatiguing to listeners. With that said, if you know your music stylistically should be utterly and epically loud, just let me know– I can make that happen too.
Gear (if you’re into that kind of thing)