25-step music production process checklist and video workshop >>>

Forget that Music Mastering Tutorial on Youtube and Do This Instead:

Here's the deal on music mastering. You want to know how to master your music,  and for this reason I suggest you don't. I suggest you follow the short music mastering tutorial below which shows you how to have your tracks mastered by a mastering engineer.

You see,  mastering music is a highly specialized skill which makes use of state of the art equipment and involves extensive training. It's a voodoo you and I don't do!

A good mastering engineer will take your final mixes and produce a master disc ready for manufacturing and public consumption.

You can find a good mastering engineer by looking at the back of CD's of albums in your genre you like.  You know the work of the engineer is good because you like the way the album sounds.

Why not just do it yourself?

You wouldn't be reading this music mastering tutorial if you were a mastering engineer! You can do it yourself of course, with training, experience and a ton of money to spend on your studio. Why bother, though?

It's so much easier for a pro mastering engineer to spot and correct issues and bring your track up to a radio- or club-ready standard.  They come to the production with a fresh set of ears which you cannot do.

So,  you won't find a DIY music mastering tutorial below.  You'll find guidelines you want to consider when you send your album or tracks for mastering.

Things to consider while you mix...

A mastering engineer will not be able to make bad mixes sound good so it serves you well to watch for common issues during your mix down sessions:

Try to avoid...

  • ... over-compression or too much compression.

  • ... normalizing your audio.

  • ... too loud a mix without headroom left for the engineer to work with.

  • ... too much bass, especially in the 50Hz to 80Hz frequency range.

  • ... too much energy in the abrasive 2KHz to 5KHz frequency range.

You should never place any limiters or compression on your master outputs (the overall mix).  The mastering engineer will get your mix to the right loudness level.

Things to do before you take your tracks for mastering...

  1. Book the mastering session in advance so you have plenty of time to prepare.

  2. Create a list of your requirements.  This can include noise and click removal and EQ.  You should also specify how you want fade-ins and fade-outs to be and also how long the gaps should be between tracks.

  3. Gather CDs in the genre which you can provide to the mastering engineer for reference.

  4. Create a printed list of the tracks in the order you want them to be on the album.

  5. Get IRSC codes for each of your tracks.  You can find out which rights body to approach in your country, here.

  6. List the track titles on your CDs and CD cover insert sleeves along with the artist name, contact details, track format, bit rate and IRSC codes.

You will find most mastering studios accept data on CD in WAV and AIFF format.  Make sure to mix your tracks in the best quality your DAW can handle.

You'll find online mastering services available where you can send your tracks online via e-mail or FTP.  These services may be far away or won't allow you to sit in and discuss the session with the mastering engineer.  It's always better to be able to interact with the mastering engineer face-to-face.

You'll also find cheap "mastering" services.  Be careful though,  as good mastering engineers are a rare breed which means quality mastering won't come cheap.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Be prepared to invest in a good mastering engineer as this is essential for creating your own commercially viable music.

"OK. I read your music mastering tutorial and I still want to do my music mastering myself..."

You can get good mastering results with the right knowledge, good tools, an excellent acoustic environment and tons of experience.

Haven't got these? I suggest you then get your music mastered by someone who does while you work on your own skills. That said, I know you're a Renegade so you'll do what you want regardless of my advice. In that case, here's a little presentation which explains the basic processes of audio mastering for you:

Hand on mixing desk with text. Text reads: What's that? You want more?

Learn to understand equalisers and frequencies to supercharge your mixing skills and get results, fast...

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