I finished another track! And mastered it!
One of the most important parts of finalizing a track is mastering. This is a crucial part to getting the best first impression out of a song. There are many parts to mastering I’m going to list and explain each of these.
- Pre & post equalizing: There are two types of equalizing, pre & post mix. The pre-eq is the more substantial equalization because it’s when you create the biggest boosts or cuts in the mix. Post-eq is more for cleaning up a mix after you’ve run through the other components of a mix.
- Dynamics: Certain parts of a song need to be louder than others; this is what dynamics are. This is one of the most important parts of the master because the louder a mix is (without having saturation* occur) the better it sounds. Dynamics also help songs with movement, as I talked about in a previous blog post, because you can have the quiet part of the song lead up to the loud part of the song.
- Exciting & Maximizing: These are both more specific types of equalizing. Exciting is kind of like adding extra frequencies to/manipulating a mix to make it larger. An example I like is an opera singer breaking glass with their voice: you have to hit just the right frequencies to make the voice strong enough to shatter the glass. Maximizing is exactly what it sounds like. Kind of. Maximizing increases the perceived volume (across the entire bandwidth) by using a special kind of dynamics called limiting**.
- Imaging: Imaging is as old as stereo systems are: its just audio panning! Spreading the mix across both ears is very important. If used correctly, it creates an interesting effect. Almost that of sitting in front of an orchestra, and hearing all the different parts from different angles.
* Saturation is when there is too much high, mid, or low end frequencies being boosted. This causes the frequencies to “fight with each other” for mix space, which essentially makes your song sound bad.
** Limiting (a type of compression) is when you use specific dynamics to increase the volume of the mix at certain points, in a more targeted way than dynamics.
All of this is very important for making a track sound professional!