#1
Short and sweet, I don't feel like I have a very good understanding of the mastering process. I'd like to fix that. So, I have two questions:

1. What is involved in it beyond using an EQ and a multipressor to balance the track? My audio production class focused on mixing over mastering, and I didn't get a chance to ask the professor much about mastering before he got canned. Is there anything additional?
2. What purpose does bouncing the song down to a single file serve? It's still the exact same sounds, what benefit does bouncing the whole thing down to a single WAV file for mastering serve? It doesn't make sense to me.

Any advice or tips or anything you guys can provide would be good too.
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#2
Mastering is the process that consists in making a mix sound the best possible on most listening mediums possible.

You may use whatever effect processors you feel would help you achieving that goal, there's no specific rule, though the most used tools are limiters and linear phase EQ's.
You though would probably not wanna use a linear phase EQ.
There's a hell of a good tutorial about what they are and what they do on FabFilter's youtube channel - now that I think of it there also are a couple videos about mastering, so you may wanna check that as well.

I'm not sure I understand the second question.
If you mean why you bounce down to single files the songs you wanna master, it's because you already mixed your song, so you don't need to adjust the levels of the single tracks in your project.
If you needed to do that, you'd be mixing the song again and then you would ideally have to master it again.

You may as well place your mastering chain in your master bus, though since mastering is a thing you usually do when you have to release a collection of more than one track you would ideally use the same mastering chain on more songs, so you bounce them all down to single tracks, you put them on the same track in a new project of your DAW and then you put your mastering chain on that track.
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#3
Appreciate the input And yeah, you do have it correct what I meant by bouncing down. I do have a few additional questions though with what you added:

1. How exactly are you supposed to use certain effects on the entire thing? Like I understand using an EQ or a multipressor, but what situation would make you want to put a chorus or a delay on the entire song?
2. Isn't use of additional compressors on top of the multipressor what caused the loudness war?
3. Why wouldn't I use a linear phase EQ?
THE FORUM UPDATE KILLED THE GRADIENT STAR

Baltimore Orioles: 2014 AL Eastern Division Champions, 2017: 75-87
Baltimore Ravens: 2012 World Champions, 2017: 4-5
2017 NFL Pick 'Em: 92-54
#4
Im no expert on any of this really, but its my understanding that mastering also involves, making sure that all the tracks on an album have the same levels, continuity of an album, pauses/or lack thereof between songs, and sound of the overall album.
#5
1. I wouldn't put a chorus or delay on an entire song in most cases, but say I might wanna put some stereo spreading on a certain frequency region - I might as well do it.

I didn't really think of choruses and delays though, I meant there's no reason why you wouldn't use a delay and/or a chorus on an entire song if you feel like the song would benefit from such processing.

2. loudness war is a fancy term for generalized over-compression.
Loudness war was caused by record sellers wanting to make their products sound better in non ideal listening environments.

Say you're on a crowded train and you're listening to a recording of the third peleiades dance.
It has a relatively broad dynamic range, and if you turned the volume low enough not to make you uncomfortable when listening to the loudest sections you would not even hear the quietest sections because of the background noise.

Compression addresses and solves that issue, though everything sounds more compressed and some people don't like it.

Some people also use veeery high amounts of compression, which are so high to be considered un-musical.
They put up a hell of a mess for death magnetic in particular IIRC.

Putting a compressor after a multi band compressor may generate no compression, a very gentle compression, a heavy compression, or a veeery heavy compression, depending on the settings of both compressors, and the practice of chaining compressors isn't in any way accountable for the start of the loudness war.

3. because in mastering you don't care for shit about what happens to the phase of the audio you're working with.

It might make sense to use it when mixing stuff where you're on a hurry and you don't wanna mess with phase correlation, but using a linear phase EQ in a mastering chain is useless.

Then why do they market linear phase EQ's as mastering EQ's?
Well that's bullshit marketing spiel.
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#6
Mastering is saved for those with highly trained ears who can give your track the right equalization to fit in with the industry standard of what ever style you choose.

Technically everything should be done in the mix, however that isn't very realistic. Mixing engineers are trained to blend each individual instrument together and mastering engineers are trained to tweak the final mix.

A mixing engineers goal should be to make it so the mastering engineer doesn't have to do anything at all.

If the mix is too far out of wack the mastering engineer will likely ring the mixing engineer and ask him if he really wants something a specific way(dry vocals, excessive delays, etc). If not then it will be up to the mixing engineer to fix it and send it back. That's why the mastering engineer don't need much more than dynamic and EQ processors.
#7
I agree with most of the above. The overall goal of mastering is simply to insure that all of the songs are compatible with each other when complied onto a CD. You need them to be compatible in volume and overall tone. If you are listening to a CD and you have to keep adjusting the volume or EQ settings every time another song plays on that CD it has been mastered poorly (or not at all). The basic idea is to make the whole collection of songs flow dynamically. Even individual tracks that will not be part of a collection of songs generally need mastering to balance the song from beginning to end so volumes do not spike or dip even when passages are louder or softer.
I have been recording since my early 1970’s analog (Teac 3340 and mixer) days and I never understood “mastering”. About 15 years ago I recorded ten songs for a local band who wanted to release of their own CD. After I recorded and mixed the songs I found I had a few dollars left in the budget and decided to send out the tracks to be mastered at a (not too expensive) mastering studio. Actually I guess it came from my portion of any profit I would get from doing this project but I was really curious to see if pro mastering really made a difference to my work. When I got the CD back a week later it was shocking. The sound of my mixes was incredible. The fade outs were cleaned up and much smoother, the overall volume, tone.. well just everything was better. The CD also had all of the correct ITTS standard text info imbedded on each song (song title, group name etc.) and I was told the CD met the industry standard “Red Book” specifications required for professional CD replication should the band want to do that. At the time I wasn’t even aware of such things but that’s also a part of professional mastering.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 21, 2014,
#8
Mastering by a trained engineer with a fresh set of ears and no emotional attachment to the songs is nearly always a win. They take your baby and dress her up for public presentation.
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#9
Also, there is a cool point in being able to master your own music, but you should always send it to someone else to have a listen-over afterwards. The bias that CitricAcid mentioned depends on how objectively (or not) you listen to your own music.