Album Mastering Basics

In this post i will give an overview of what  goes during Album mastering . These are the certain things which every mastering engineer have in mind while mastering an album.

Long Story short :-  Songs of an album are put together one after another. Then by playing those tracks, one after another or jumping from one song to another in non linear fashion the Mastering Engineer is going to achieve a well balanced sound in terms of  Loudness and Frequency. once the cohesive tonal quality and loudness of the album is achieved. Its then matched up with the loudness of  other commercial released album of same genre. And in last step the process of conversion to various release medium specific formats like CD, Digital Audio, Radios, Youtube etc are done.

Long Story : Details Of Album Mastering Process

Like mastering of a song in album mastering the primary audio processor used are the same infamous trio of mastering the equalizer, compressor in conjunction with its multi band variant and limiter; but in this case these are going to be used to achieve a cohesive  sounding album.

Once the mastering session has started, The typical workflow in the course of creating a final master album that contains multiple audio files is as follows.

1. Putting Tracks In Order :- The very first step of  album mastering is to arrange all the tracks of a album in a one after other fashion.

2. Loudness Matching Of Tracks:- Mixing of a album may occur over several days, weeks, or even months and may be some times multiple engineers work on a mix, due to these mixing factors there can be a difference between loudness level  among various tracks of the album. Hence all of the musical pieces need to be balanced for loudness level so that they sound like they are essentially the same volume, when played together one after other or jumping from one song to another in non linear fashion like what is going to happen in real situation after the release of the album. This loudness balancing between various tracks  gives idea that all tracks belong to the same album.

3. Frequency Balancing :- To get overall balanced tonal quality of the album or in other words to craft the cohesiveness of the album; Adjusting the frequency balance of the various tracks of the album so that they all sound relatively similar. For example, one song may sound like it has more bottom end than another. Taken individually this may not be a problem both songs sound great but when they are played one right after the other or jumping from one song to another in non linear fashion, one song may suffer in contrast to the other. So, the mastering engineer will adjust the low frequencies of one of the songs (more on the song that has less low end, or less on the song that has more or a little bit of each) to achieve a similar balanced frequency between songs.

4.Loudness Matching With Reference :- After achieving a cohesive and balanced sound of the album, now its time to match the loudness of the album to various commercial released albums.

5. Preapairing Audio For Various Releases :-  After achieving the desired loudness and tonal charecter of the album, usually compact discs [CDs, or Disc Description Protocol (DDP) files used to manufacture CDs], and in case of digital release MP3 accompanied with uncompressed Audio File (WAV,AIFF) are created.