What is Mastering?
The word mastering originated from the early days of shellac and Vinyl records. Mastering describes the process of creating a production master to facilitate manufacture of the final mass produced product. In days of old it involved a 1:1 transfer of the audio, which was engraved or cut as a modulated groove on to a master disk (lacquer). This master lacquer was used to produce a metal mother from which a multitude of stampers were produced. The stampers were fitted into a hot press. The press was heated with steam and the stampers were pressed into shellac in the early days and vinyl in recent times to reproduce the modulated groove that originated from the mastering process. It wasn't until the late 1960's and early 1970's that the transfer of audio started to be processed. Equalizers and compressors were used to obtain a more musical result which enhanced the detail of the recording making the end result louder and more exciting. Nowadays this processing has become more akin to Audio post production with the use of a multitude of effects and mixing devices to make the music shine within this highly competitive industry.
Hints for Premastering
Supply more than one mix - vox up, vox down, etc.
Mix down "no lead vox" mix, i.e., back track only and lead vox separately as a backup.
Sound fx and samples can be mixed in at the mastering stage.
If you're not sure about overall stereo compression, supply mixes with and without compression.
If mixing to digital, keep level below clipping.
The level on your master has no relationship to the level on the final production CD, keep the levels conservative.
Always cross reference to your favorite CD during mix down.
Remember pay more attention to the balance of the mix and not the sonic response, i.e., vox level to snare, bass and kick, etc.
If mixing to analogue tape, please supply line up tones at head of the tape, i.e., 1Khz, 10Khz to 15Khz and 100hz to 40hz at 0vu desk output, 20 seconds each. Also note the machine type, recording curve (iec, nab or aes) and flux level.
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