Mastering is the process that takes place after your record has been mixed to stereo and is the final stage to make your record ready for release.
Although I am happy to provide mastering for tracks I have recorded and mixed, it is common practice to have the recording mastered at another studio as this provides a fresh pair of ears, room and equipment. I can recommend mastering services if you would prefer to have your recordings mastered elsewhere. Likewise, if you have had your records mixed at another studio, I will be happy to master them.
Mastering involves some or all of the following steps…
Listening and applying EQ to the mix as a whole, rather than on individual tracks. This calls for a neutral listening environment and monitoring. Very slight adjustments are usually made to boost or cut areas of the frequency spectrum to optimise the song for all kinds of speakers.
Compression is applied to smooth out any peaks, add more punch, and bring up quieter elements of the song. Multi-band compression can be used to compress certain frequency ranges without affecting the other areas of the spectrum.
I don’t often add effects during mastering, but occasionally, subtle reverb or saturation may be added to a record to give all the tracks on an album or EP a unifying sound. Stereo widening may also be used.
Limiting is the process of raising the level of the track so that it is as loud as it can be before clipping. It helps the record to hold its own against other commercial releases in terms of loudness. Care must be taken whilst limiting to ensure that the dynamic range of a song isn’t squashed to the point of compromising it’s musicality.