As I’ve spoken about before, the most important thing for building a fan base for your music is making and releasing quality, professional songs. So today I want to talk about mastering, which is that final step to give your songs that finished feel.
I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t really know a whole lot about mastering, but from this post a few weeks ago you should know that mastering is one of the few things I’m actually willing to pay for when releasing new music. It’s important, and I don’t have a whole lot of experience doing it. So I pay for it.
Anyway. Mastering is important for a few reasons. It will make your tracks more cohesive. It evens out the volume levels over all your tracks. Subtle EQ and compression can really smooth out your mix.
But rather than explain it to you, I thought I’d just show you can example. I released my new EP called Passage a few weeks ago and I had it mastered by Matt Slaven. Here is an unmastered version of one of the songs called Roaring Forties.
And here is the mastered version.
I’d really recommend taking a few good listens to each in order to fully hear the subtle but wonderful things that mastering can do to your tracks. One of the first things you’ll notice is a loudness increase. It’s good to give your mastering engineer a mixed track that has some headroom (meaning, it’s not as loud as normal tracks) so that they have some room to play with EQs and compressors and such. But if you listen closely you should hear the increased clarity of individual parts that comes from subtle compression and EQ. Hopefully you’ll also notice an overall warmth to the track. This is due to the high quality analog gear that Matt ran all these songs through. I record and mix completely in my computer, so it’s nice to get a little analog warmth on the track at the end.
If you have any more questions about mastering, please feel free to email me! But I hope that just listening to these two tracks side by side can help you get a better feel for what mastering actually is. And if you’d like Matt’s contact info to master your tracks, email me for that as well! He does a great job for a great price and has some great gear. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the comments below, tell me some of the differences you noticed between the mastered and unmastered track?