What is a Mastering Engineer?
A mastering engineer is a type of audio specialist that finishes tracks for release. This is different from the mixing process as it comes after the mixing has been completed.
The mastering engineer only has one piece of audio to work with and cannot adjust the level of individual elements. Instead, they will make changes to the overall sound. Things such as bass, mid and treble as well as volume dynamics, stereo imaging and more are manipulated subtlety to improve the track.
These type of audio engineers often work remotely in dedicated mastering suites with a small collection of high end equipment. These people use many of the same processes as a mix engineer but the mindset is very different. It is arguably a more technical and less creative process than mixing.
A world which recognizes craft and training in audio itself which is not disdaining;
Where overall excellence is what we seek and art comes from long-worked technique.”
– Bob Katz
Ok, well…..with prose such as this it can be no wonder that mastering is considered by many to be a dark art! Whilst there is some kidology going on there is a kernel of truth here. The mastering engineers are indeed much fewer in number than other audio professionals. Those at the top of their game are using multi million pound studios and charging thousands of pounds for a single track. That said – there is no inherent magic contained within an expensive processor. To use one’s ears is the real ‘secret’ as any professional will be keen to tell you!
Do I need a Mastering Engineer?
If you’re serious about your project, a mastering engineer should be a central consideration. They provide a failsafe against potential issues with your track that may have gone unnoticed. It’s also a last chance to grab a few additional percentage points. More punch, more clarity, more volume etc. It will give your track more consistency with different playback systems.
If you have not mixed your track either don’t worry! We mix tracks too, just click here.
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