What is mastering?
Mastering is the final process in music production in which the mastering engineer refines and enhances the final mix via digital and/or analog processing, as well as prepare the media for physical and digital distribution.
I am a D.I.Y. recording engineer, why do I need mastering for my projects?
One of the best things you can do is have your track professionally mastered by an experienced mastering engineer. There are many reasons to use a mastering engineer on your DIY projects - the main one is that the mastering engineer is another set of fresh and objective ears listening to your project. It is like a collaboration. A good mastering engineer has active relationships with their clients and provides trust through consultation and critical feedback. Many times, I find myself working directly with the mix engineers to make sure that the final product is the absolute best it can be.
Do I need to submit individual tracks or stems for mastering?
The only time you need to upload individual stems is if you are looking for mixing services. Mastering only requires the final stereo mix from the mix engineer.
What type of file format do I need to submit for mastering?
I prefer my clients to send me a stereo .wav formatted file with the PCM settings at minimum 16b/44.1kHz. Optimal quality/size ratio (in my opinion) is 24b/48k for music and film audio. This would be my suggested record/mix/submit format.
Is there noticeable difference between digital and analog mastering?
There is substantial difference between digital and analog mastering. Digital, while a little cleaner and more refined, due to more control over the frequency spectrum, cannot replicate "that" sound...The sound of electrons moving through components and tubes...vibes. Analog mastering provides "vibe" to your mix. Usually, analog masters come out a little warmer with robust low end processing.