This post will give you an overview of what Mastering is now and what mastering was some times ago. this difference can be more clearly perceived by comparing the audio processors chain during old days and modern days. we will start this article with a general definition of old and modern mastering and then we will look at the audio processors.
Traditional or Old Time Mastering :- Traditionally mastering was the process to set the final level of the audio program specific to various release medium like vinyl, cd, cassettes etc. In this kind of mastering only signal processors which were required are the Limiters for brick walling the out ceiling and and sometimes compressor for milder limiting.
Modern Day Mastering :- After many creative kind of audio engineers starts to get into mastering they realized that, by using a small amount of eq, more specialized compressor like multi band compression they can kind of enhance a musical piece further apart from only making it ready for the release medium. This is the time when mastering becomes how we know it today. Modern day mastering crosses the traditional limitation of what mastering was and become a more creative endeavor. From only setting final level to start given a subtle character, energy to the mix.
Audio Processors Common In Tradition/Old And Modern Day Mastering –
1. Compressor :- Compressor are present in mastering processes from old days. Compressor are used to get a mild limitation of the level in old days buy now days it can also have some more elaborate uses some time.
2. Limiters :- Limiter or BrickWall limiters are one of the main audio processor in old times and is still one of the main audio processor in mastering process. In old times it is used to brickwall the final level of the audio program according to the reales medium. Nowadays it is used for same purpose of limiting the final level but it has extra uses as loudness gainer or squeezer.
Following are the audio processors inclusion of which makes modern day mastering process different from traditional mastering which was not present or presence of this processor was very low during the tradition mastering days :-
1. Equalizer :- Now days every modern Mastering engineer use a very clean and subtle mastering quality equalizer in order to give the mix that commercial energy, that policing. It is also not rare to see mastering engineers using more specialized Eq like M-S (Mid-Side) Equalizer to shape the mix like cutting the lows from the side etc. Equalizer are kind of a rarity specially M-S Eq in old mastering days.
2. Multi Band Compression :- Multiband compressor is a truly modern day mastering addon, a multiband compressor is noting but a frequency dependent compressor. Because of this quality its find, its way in modern mastering engineers signal chain. A multiband compressor which is nowadays has become a staple audio processor for mastering engineers arsenal finds its uses on containing and shaping the overall frequency balance of the mix like compressing high less than mids etc
3. De-esser :- De-esser was also a kind of nowadays audio processor which was not present in old time. In modern day many mastering engineers use De-esser to remove some harshness from the mix.
4. Reverb :- Reverb not commonly used in mastering, got a very specialized use in hands of a experienced mastering engineers. Like some time after squeezing the mix for the loudness, some time mastering engineers sprinkling a small amount of reverb from high quality reverb machine to the fight the perceived dryness as the result of the squeezed loudness.
5. Stereo Width Wideners :- Stereo Width widener are also a nowadays more frequently used audio processing unit. As the name suggests it widen the perception of stereo filed of the mix. Nowadays it is mostly used with its frequency band split feature so high can be widen more than the mids.