When you have finished mixing all the songs for your album you may think that it is now ready to be presented to your eagerly-awaiting public. Not so! There is one more all-important stage your tracks must go through.
Commercial recordings are almost always “mastered” after the final mixes have been completed. This is usually done by a “mastering engineer” in a “mastering room.”

Mastering room

It can however also be done by the people at the manufacturing plant where you plan to get your CD copies produced.

One way or another, your “final mixes” should be “mastered” by a professional. They will sound even better.

A mastering room is a bit like a recording studio with a specialized selection of extremely high quality equipment.

One of the functions of this mastering stage is to increase the loudness of the overall recordings. This is done using a delicate combination of compressors, limiters and equalizers.

Mastering software

This ensures that all your songs are the same volume and all have the same tonal quality so that they blend well as a cohesive sounding album. The engineer also determines the varying lengths of silence in between each track.

Experience really matters here. All of these processes could easily mess up your mixes. That’s why it’s important to use a great mastering engineer who has had lots of experience in different styles of music. Age really counts here. A youngster will not have had enough experience.

It is a stage which can cost a few hundred dollars but everyone who has ever had it done all agree that it’s money well spent.

If you can’t afford to go this extra step, home-studio mastering software is available but you really have to do your homework to make it work properly. Lots of trial-and-error.

Sound waveform for editing

The mysterious mastering stage is completely explained in great detail in our course because we know some of our graduates go on to become professional mastering engineers.

And by the way, when you are shopping for a place to get your CDs manufactured, check the small print in the companies ads — CD replication is better than CD duplication. (Much more in the course).