#1
Hey guys, this might sound like a pretty stupid question, But I've been wondering lately - what does it mean to master an album?

I mean, I've heard unmastered and mastered tracks, and they sound massively different, but I can't figure out how exactly it's done.

Sorry if it's a stupid question, I know all this theory and junk, but now I'm going into the category of recording, and just want to know some about this.

Can someone please explain it?
"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start..."
Charles Bukowski
#2
played better, better recording equipment
most mastered stuff is done later in time
e.g. Megadeth mastered all their albums about 10 or 15 years later from each other
am i right>?
Quote by Johnljones7443
She looks like Rusty Cooley with tits.


#3
Mastering = the final part of making an album before it gets shipped off and duplicated and all that.

It usually involves a large amount of fancy EQing, normalization and compression. The individual tracks have allready been mixed before in mixing.
Mastering is usually done in with very high quality gear (good speakers! the kind of speakers that might even cost more than a small car in top studios)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastering


Remastering is when they go and get the original recordings of an album/song and master it again with better modern gear.
Last edited by seljer at May 22, 2006,
#4
Sometimes remastering is done just to get a different sound and the gear is irrelevant.

Mastering has a lot more to do with the mastering engineer than his gear. Which is one reason that very few people master their own albums, even if they're good at mastering. Because part of the whole reason to master to begin with is to get someone who's completely objective to give your product that final touch.
#5
just to reinforce what these guys have said...... mastering generally involves

1) finalizing every nuance of the song, from arrangement to gear used to the way it is miked and recorded (tape/digi)
2) mixing the tracks down properly (as opposed to a unmastered copy where the drums might have a whacked out pan hard left or something weird that was just done at the moment to get it recorded)
3) proper volume and level equality (so no one instrument is overpowering the other as can happen in unmastered demos and things like that) along w/ massive EQ overhauls so that the entire spectrum is properly used.
#6
Mastering on a proffesional level also involves mixing down the song so that it'll play well on your crappy car sound system or whatever it is likely to be played on, they seriously mix down some stuff now so that it sounds okay through mp3 players. This is why the unmastered stuff sounds weird through your computer speakers.
#7
Quote by Def
Mastering on a proffesional level also involves mixing down the song so that it'll play well on your crappy car sound system or whatever it is likely to be played on, they seriously mix down some stuff now so that it sounds okay through mp3 players. This is why the unmastered stuff sounds weird through your computer speakers.


It involves basically listening to the song on as many different sound systems at possible so you'll know it'll sound decent wherever you hear it.

UNmastered stuff sounds wierd prettymuch everywhere.
#8
What I've seen in these posts are partially correct, not completly. Mastering is the final mixing stage of multitracked recordings. That's basically it in a nutshell. Setting the volumes of each track perfectly to each other, adjusting the master volume, adding any effect like reverb and such.
Guitars:
Fender Standard Strat
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass
Martin DX1

Amps:
Peavey Classic 50/212

Pedal Board:
Gator 8-Bus
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Digitech Bad Monkey
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
ISP Decimator
Dual button footswitch
#9
A lot of you are confusing mixing and mastering.

Mixing involves setting the levels of every instrument. Adding effects where necessary. Setting the panning of variosu instruments. EQ'ing individual tracks etc. Basically mixing is the process of combining individual tracks within a song to create a complete song.

Think mixing is done to create a SINGLE SONG.

Mastering is done to create a COMPLETE ALBUM. It involves taking each song and adjusting their levels so that each song is roughly the same volume. But it's also so much more than that. It involves EQ'ing and compression and like one guy said above, basically to make the entire album sound good regardless of what sound system is on. It also involves a bunch of smaller stuff like arranging the songs on the album in their correct order and setting the CD info etc. Mastering does not care about tweaking individual tracks/instruments in a song. Mastering is done on already-mixed material.

So to rehash ... Mixing = creating a INDIVIDUAL SONG .. mastering = creating a COMPLETE ALBUM.
#10
Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate everything!
"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start..."
Charles Bukowski
#11
I belive mastering is when the tape that was recorded is sent to be finalized and put on the CD. Mixing and balancing will always be mixing and balancing, not mastering.