Mastering a song is a process that helps you make your music sound professional and competitive. It also ensures that your tracks have a clean sound without any flaws.
Before you start mastering it, it’s essential to understand how the process works and what you need to do. Here are the key steps to take:
Listen to the track
You should thoroughly listen to the track before making any changes. Once you’ve identified the mixed problems, you can address them using various tools and techniques. This includes EQing the song, fixing sibilance or low-frequency loss, and adding compression.
One of the best ways to listen to your track is on a stereo system. This will help you identify sonic issues that need attention, such as poor instrument separation or a lack of bass definition. A reasonable stereo adjustment will also enhance the sound while reducing phase issues and improving definition and clarity.
Another good way to hear your track is on a pair of headphones. Good-quality headphones can be a lifesaver for musicians and audiophiles as they will allow you to listen to every nuance of the track.
Finally, if you have the budget, consider having a specialist mastered at a professional studio. You’ll have a better chance of securing the ultimate prize-winning mix that will make your record sound amazing in any playback system. Hiring an expert in mastering songs is like getting writing help from a certified writer for completing an essay or any other type of paper for you. The result will be the same – a service of the highest quality.
A few more essential points to remember are: a sound mastering engineer will have plenty of experience with your song, so they’ll be able to recommend a solution that will suit your needs best. You may need to be patient and trust their judgment, but you’ll have something special once they’ve done the job.
Create a Master Checklist
The mastering stage is a time when you can take the time to focus on your song and make sure it’s at its best. Creating a master checklist can be a helpful way to achieve this, as it will allow you to address any issues systematically.
Such a checklist is a great way to track what you need to do on your next project. It will make your life much easier and help you stay organized.
A master checklist can be compiled on paper or digitally. The benefits of using a digital checklist are that you can share it with others, and it doesn’t require any pen or paper, which makes it easy to edit.
Another advantage of digital checklists is that you can create multiple versions. This is useful if you need to work on the same master at different times or if you need to compare your version to others.
You can also use the checklist to ensure you’re not introducing audio processing or other issues into the mix. These can include normalization, limiting, and compressors. These processes can be very time-consuming, resulting in audio clipping and other problems if you aren’t careful.
Some other essential tips to consider for mastering a good-sounding song:
- Before mastering, you should do your best to create a set of reference tracks to compare your track. This will give you an idea of what a great master should sound like and can be used as a guide to making changes to your mastering process.
- When you’ve created your reference tracks, you should match them with your track to ensure they are both in the same loudness range. You can do this in various ways, e.g., using Ozone referencing.
- It would be best if you never used compressors that saturate the track during mastering, as it can quickly muddy up the sound. If you need to apply compression, try using a small amount and keeping it subtle. Compression can also be a helpful tool for getting rid of clicks, pops, and plosives during mastering.
- If you have a graphic analyzer, this can be used to compare the two tracks’ frequency spectrum visually. This can be useful for identifying trouble spots in the frequency spectrum, especially if you are not a sound engineer.
- Another helpful technique is to use a monitor with a lower volume level than average (called a dim position). You can set up this in your DAW with any simple gain plug-in. You can then decide if you want to have the track mastered in this setting.
- It is best to avoid adding normalization during mastering because this can cause audio clipping. Moreover, it can also cause phasing problems if you’re not careful.
- After a break, listen to the track again to see how it performs. This is an excellent opportunity to spot any subtle issues that need fixing. Write down any problems you notice on this listen so you can address them systematically during the mastering phase.
- Once you’ve listened to the track again, it’s time to make any final changes to the mix. A little tweaking goes a long way in this phase and can make a difference to the overall sound of your track. This is where you’ll need to use the tools available in your mastering software. A compressor can help bind your tracks together and make them sound more consistent, while a bass enhancer can boost the low end of your track to ensure that it sounds full on any system. Reverb can help add a sense of space and dimension to your tracks, while an exciter can bring the song to life by adding harmonics.
In conclusion, mastering a song is a long and thorough process. But nothing will please you and your listeners more than the final result and the perfect sound of your music.