All the tracking and mixing leads up to the final step: mastering. Song mastering, or music mastering, is the full optimization of the final song mix.
During a song’s post-production phase, mastering acts as the last step in the process. The purpose of song mastering is to polish the audio, giving it a clean and cohesive feeling all around. This step is what makes the track sound exceptional wherever it’s eventually played — in your earbuds, your car stereo system, or on a concert grade sound system.
What goes into song mastering?
A song must go through a mastering phase to be ready for distribution and ultimately get the download and streams by fans. A mastered song can be easily distribute ready across various formats like vinyl, CD, radio, and streaming.
Mastering works out any kinks missed during the mixing process, ensuring the final version is free of unwanted clicks, hisses, etc. The balance of the mix is enhanced with tools like equalization, compression, audio restoration, saturation, limiting, and stereo enhancement to achieve a fully mastered sound that can compete in its level of quality with other commercially produced and distributed songs.
Can I master my own recordings?
If you’re familiar with mastering recordings and have the kind of tools available to do so, you certainly can. However, due to the details and complex nature of mastering songs this is one step in the recording process that you will likely want to leave to a professional, even if you are pretty good at the tracking and mixing phases of the process.
Mastering your songs can get expensive especially when you’re just starting out. So in a pinch you can get by with some of the blanket mastering software solutions out there to help boost the levels of your final mix. Things like iZotope, eMastering, or even BandLab, but if you have the means and access to a mastering professional, hiring them to master your song recordings is your best path.
You’ll be glad you did.