In This Article i am going to talk about basic mastering process and what technical things are taken care of during mastering process so lets go
By the traditional definition of mastering, which was to prepare audio material to get released in various distribution medium such as vinyl, cd etc. Hence The most basic way to master or to transfer audio program material to a storage media is bouncing your songs off the DAW to HDD/SSD and write it down to a CD using various music burning softwares available.
Issues with This Basic Approach
With the above approach, when you listen to the CD, the tonality may be far different from that of professional recordings, and to some people, tonality is everything. If the mixes were 24-bit and considering that CDs are 16-bit, bit truncation would have occurred. Also, the loudness may be uneven and lower than that of commercial releases. Professional duplicators/replicators may refuse to work with the CD for a number of reasons. Basically, it might not sound professional and is not yet ready for duplication/replication. These are some of the main issues with which mastering is concerned.
Basic Mastering Processing Chain
Digital audio workstations (DAWs) usually include equalizers, compressors, limiters, and dithering. Also, DAWs have a way to arrange the processing in any order you wish. For mastering, a good starting point is a sequence of equalization, compression, limiting, and then dithering. The processing sequence is very important in mastering.
The equalizer is the main tool for adjusting tone, which is a major part of mastering. Perfecting the art of professional equalization is something that takes considerable time. For quick-start purposes, I will list a few basic techniques.
Plug-in equalizers usually sound best if they have a linear phase mode and it is selected (as with the Logic’s Linear EQ). If necessary, try using parametric equalization with a medium Q (a value of 1-2, but perhaps as high as 4) to reduce any resonant frequencies in the lower midrange (120–400 Hz). Resonant frequencies are actually quite rare, but if present, they sound like a ringing and may affect the entire spectrum. You may boost to find them and then cut to reduce or remove them.
Harshness is very common, unlike resonant frequencies. Use a parametric equalization bell, at 3 – 3.5 kHz, with a Q value of near 3.5 to reduce harshness.
A bell with a broad width (lower Q value) may be used to affect large areas of the spectrum.
Use shelves to adjust entire ranges, such as the entire bass range (120 Hz and below) or the entire high-frequency range, if necessary. No adjustment should be made unnecessarily.
When just starting out, barely use any compression, and consider using none at all. Compression is basically an automatic loudness control. It’s much less of a factor in professional mastering than most people think.
Limiters are processors with two main controls: a gain control and a ceiling. The gain control is used to adjust the loudness of the recording, and the ceiling is the maximum level that can occur. The ceiling has much less of an impact on the perceived loudness than the gain control. This is so because it is the average level that gives the perception of loudness much more than the maximum level.
Okay, so how do you set the limiter? The limiter’s gain control should be set for each recording in such a way that when you listen, each recording of the album or extended play (EP) has the same or similar loudness. You might compare your limiting to a recording in a similar genre. You also might just set the limiting where loudness is maximized but without too much of the negative side effects that can come from limiting. Also, it is very typical that the output ceiling is set to –0.3 dB.
Compare the Processed Version with the Original
When comparing the processed and original recordings, each must be compared at the same loudness. a gain control can be added at the very end of the sequence of processors. Gain controls allow the loudness of a recording to be altered. Basically, you’ll be using this gain control at the end of the chain so that when all plug-ins are bypassed, the loudness is the same as when they are all active. Be honest about making the loudness the exact same; otherwise, the louder version may always seem better, even when it is not. Remember to bypass or delete the processor used for loudness matching when exporting.
A sound is represented in the digital world with many points called samples. The sample rate is the number of digital samples in time that make up an audio waveform. DAWs usually display the sample rate, so it’s easy to find. If the audio sample rate of the recording at hand is not 44,100 (often abbreviated as 44.1k), then it must be converted to create a CD. Conversion to a sample rate of 44.1k is usually preferred to be done in sequence just before dithering.
While the sample rate is the number of digital samples, the bit rate is the range of the samples. Dithering is noise added in with audio to help reduce the effects of converting from a higher bit rate to a lower one. Dithering is performed as the last step before converting to a lower bit rate. This is important because mastering processing is typically performed at 32 or 24 bits, and the final output is 16 bits. Many limiters have a dithering feature, as well as most DAWs.
Export to CD
It’s easy to create a Red Book audio CD; you just need the right software. Just export a WAV file at 16 bits, and burn it with CD-burning software or use the burning feature of your DAW. Use burning software that allows the creation of a Red Book master and that allows you to enter CD-Text details.
Exporting for Internet Release
If a recording is intended for an Internet release, then usually an MP3 file will be needed. MP3s are best created from your 24- or 32-bit sources instead of from the 16-bit CD files. After the mastering has been performed, most DAWs have an MP3 export option that can be used to easily create MP3 files.
Please keep in mind that this is a basic guide. It helps in getting started and helps frame the topics related to mastering.