Mastering is the final step of producing music. The purpose of mastering is to balance sonic elements of a mixed song, EP or album and optimise playback across all types of sound systems. When mastering, the engineer will typically work with only the final stereo mix, but may also use stems for extra precision and control. Mastering studio’s are acoustically treated rooms that aim to replicate the balance and stereo image as accurately as possible. Engineers then make decisions to use their specialised equipment to bring out the best that exists in the mix. Along with best-in-class AD/DA conversion, the tools usually used are EQ’s, compressors and limiters, but it is the knowledge and experience of an engineer that uses these tools delicately to make the music sparkle.
Why doesn’t my music sound as loud or clear as my favourite artists?
Whatever people say about the loudness wars, mastering engineers do make music ‘louder’. We can even increase the perceived loudness with extra limiting or clipping, but this can destroy the dynamic range and energy within a track. With the advent of so many new ways to distribute and consume music, standards in loudness levels are now being set. Some streaming sites even use loudness normalisation, meaning if a master is too loud, the service will reduce its gain to align to a target. Having your track professionally mastered by an experienced engineer will make your music sound right in place on any streaming service, as well as on vinyl, CD or even cassette tape if that’s your flavour! If you want your music to sound loud and clear, it is highly advisable that you do not have any processing on your master output, and mix the track at around -6db (with the master fader at 0db).
Can I just master my own music?
You absolutely can, and should at least try it. However, having an objective set of ears listen to your mix closely for the first time can be like shining a light into a dark cupboard. There is a multitude of reasons you might be missing a vital piece of information about your mix. Likewise, as producers we can be prone to making slightly biased decisions about our mix. A good engineer can rebalance elements to provide a coherent end product, ready for the club, radio, car etc.
Do you offer Stem Mastering and what it the difference between Stem Mastering, Mixing and Stereo Mastering?
We do offer stem mastering as well as mixing. Mixing typically takes place from project level or on each individual track. Stem mastering is generally done with 2-6 audio files that break the music down into its constituent parts such as drums, bass, synths, percussion etc. The end goal is the same: to sonically enhance your track and get the best out of the audio before preparing and transferring recorded audio to a data storage device (the master). Mixing would typically consist of 6 or more tracks and focusses on individual parts as well as group processing.
Why not use a less expensive automated online mastering service like Landr or E-Mastered?
Automated digital plug-ins mastering can’t compare with professional, digital and analog hybrid mastering. Automated digital services are the sonic equivalent to microwave cooking. If your music is important to you, use a professional mastering engineer that works with high quality tools, and will use their ears and years of training to make the correct decisions for your music. Furthermore, we can engage in meaningful dialog to get the best results for your music or film, and we wont charge any extra for revisions.
How should I submit my music for mixing or mastering?
There are some very comprehensive guides over at decloakmusic.com that you can read here for mixing, and here for mastering. Should you still need further guidance feel free to drop us a message here. To send your pre-master files to us directly you can do so here.
Are your mixing & mastering prices negotiable?
We will always be happy to discuss your budget and your project. Our goal is to make your recording sound its best. Click here to request a quote.
How can I make an order and how do I pay?
Use our quote form here to book in work. We accept payment via card (online checkout), PayPal or bank transfer. You will be invoiced once the work is complete and you only have to make the payment once you are 100% satisfied with the work.