Mastering Your Final Track
IN THIS CHAPTER
Enhancing the mix with EQ
Controlling dynamics with compression
Reaching competitive loudness with limiting
Using audio references to improve your mix
After a track has been mixed, a mastering stage puts the final polish on the track. The level is matched to reference levels, and if needed, EQ and dynamics processing is applied. In the case of an album project, the mastering stage can include making global refinements, song sequencing, and cataloging.
For professional situations, the best practice is to hire someone to master your track. Someone with a fresh set of ears and nothing but the best equipment can raise the level of your mix and turn it into a golden master. Sometimes, just sending a signal through a high-end compressor or EQ can improve the sound. Other times, a mastering engineer will need to adjust the sound to compensate for a poorly tuned room. Then, if the project warrants it, let go and let your work be improved.
However, not all projects need outside mastering. Sometimes it’s not practical to pay for a mastering ...