What is Mastering Music?
... and, why is it so important?
Mastering is usually the final step of the audio production process. This is where we look at the big picture, and make adjustments affecting the entire composition.
On top of adding that extra sparkle, a mastering engineer ensures that the listening experience is consistent throughout the entire film, EP or album.
This is also the stage where we start to consider the music in a wider context. We reference audio with other recordings, ensuring they’re up to standard and sound great no matter where they’re played.
What is a mastering engineer?
Mastering is widely considered the most technically challenging part of the production process. Mastering engineers have very specific training and experience geared towards this.
Really great mastering requires highly accurate playback systems, incredibly fine-tuned listening environment, and a combination of clean and precise digital audio equipment and well-manufactured analog processors.
It is essential that mastering is undertaken only by a third party; it is a process which requires very detailed critical listening, which is near impossible unless one is able to approach the music with fresh ears.
Let's get specific...
Below, we break down many of the things we do at Sound Sauce to achieve the level of sonic quality and consistency we’re known for.
Note that our team engineer many of the technologies used in-house, so much of our approach is exclusive to us.
We use upwards of ten different metering systems at Sound Sauce, allowing us to analyse and assess absolute peak loudness, relative loudness, perceived loudness, frequency balance and stereo image of a piece of music.
This is, of course, coupled with the ears of our expert team of engineers.
Your music has been composed, written and recorded with intent and respect. It’s our job to keep that intact. We bring out and enhance the warmth, power or sparkle of your music with various equalisation, saturation and dynamics techniques, while leaving the musicality and tone of your music true to you.
Sound Sauce also employs the use of magnetic tape, a recording technology widely acclaimed for its gentle and appealing analog saturation and compression.
We often don’t think about the placement within the music we listen to, but stereo imaging is really essential to our listening experience. Besides the huge creative options provided by stereo imaging, it’s also important to get things right from a technical standpoint.
We’re often asked to apply our highly specialised audio restoration tools and knowledge, removing digital recording artefacts such as noise, hiss and hum. This often requires highly creative problem solving; no two projects are the same.
One of the most essential steps in the mastering process is loudness control, and ensuring that a piece of music meets technical standards for loudness.
We have a number of different approaches when it comes to loudness control. We use a range of digital and analog processors, many bespoke for us, including dynamic range compressors, upward expanders, and our fantastic zero-distortion, zero-pumping digital limiter.
Conversion and Release
The final step in the process is to prepare the audio files for commercial release. When releasing music for online streaming, we must employee sample rate conversion and dithering to ensure perfect compatibility and quality. When releasing on CD, the preferred approach is to use a DDP image file, which embeds all song data along with ISRC codes, making your music incorruptible during transfer.
How does it sound?
Below are some examples of our mastering.
Want to hear it on your own music?
For standard masters, prepare your music for commercial release on all online streaming services.
1x 16bit/44.1KHz WAV
For commercial release on multiple formats, add a specialist master for release on CD.
2x 16bit/44.1KHz WAVs, 1x DDP file
For the perfect master, run your music through our unique modified Studer tape machine.
2x 24bit/88.2KHz WAVs, 1x DDP file