Mastering is both the last stage of production and the first stage of manufacturing or digital distribution. It is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master); the source from which all copies will be produced (via methods such as pressing, duplication or replication). It is the last chance to alter the sonic presentation and is where the various parts of an album are brought together into a cohesive whole.
In order to make a deterministic process, mastering requires critical analysation and listening; there are both hardware and software mastering tools available to facilitate this last step, but results still depend upon the source material, the mastering engineer, accuracy of speaker monitors and room acoustics. The source material is processed using equalization, compression, limiting, noise reduction and other processes. More tasks, such as editing, pre-gapping, leveling, fading in and out and other signal restoration and enhancement processes can be applied as required during the mastering stage.
The mastering process is vital to release your tracks on Beatport, Itunes, Spotify, Amazon and other digital channels. Many labels also expect your tracks to be mastered just to even be considered for release or demo submissions. With the playing field being some what leveled due to the rise the internet and Electronic Music you should want your music is sound as good as possible at all times.
We have done thousands of masters. With that comes years of experience in knowing how different styles of music are supposed to sound. Our goal is to deliver the highest quality product that is attainable. On top of that we take pride in our service.
We transfer the audio tracks into our Mastering & Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
We critically listen to the music and thoroughly analyze every aspect of the recording and mix. If there are any issues? We check the EQ for tonality or clarity, the dynamics, distortion, phase, stereo width and other subtleties. The key to achieving a great sounding master is to START with a great sounding mix.
If there are any serious issues we communicate this with the client. Mastering can compensate for minor problems in a mix but it is not a fix-all solution. On ocasion we may ask a client to make minor changes to a mix (i.e., louder vocals, more or less compression and the leveling certain tracks better etc..). If all is well we proceed.
Applying noise reduction to eliminate clicks, dropouts, hum and hiss; all based on the clients preferences after communication.
Process or "sweeten" audio to maximize the sound by adjusting stereo width, adding ambience, equalization of audio across tracks, adjusting volume, dynamic range expansion or compression, peak limiting & dithering.
Sequence the separate songs or tracks as they will appear on the final release. Adjust the length of the silence between songs
The audio is then transferred to the final master format (i.e., DDP, WAV, AIF, Audio CD).
Every Master that comes from QS Sound Lab is checked from beginning to end for dropouts, digital flaws, cracks or other potential glitches. We also verify that the information from the label copy matches the info on the final master. This is a vital part of the mastering process and one of the things our customers value the most.
We will forward you a preview of your final master(s) for approval.
Mastering is the final creative tweak that is applied to your musical creation before manufacturing or digital distribution. It's important for you to understand that its not how "loud" your music sounds compared to others but how good it sounds. Our goal is to find that perfect balance. Whether its a pumping EDM track that needs to be club ready but still vibrant and not tiring to the ears or the art of keeping a ballad or pure acoustic number open and very dynamic. The musicality of the tune is important to the amount of energy that ultimately comes out of the speakers.
We are here to assist you and ultimately make "your" music sound better. Feel free to ask us questions or better yet just check out our mastering discography to see our list of credits for mastering & restoration. "It speaks volumes".