Over the years, Ambient Digital has been trusted with thousands of masters from a diverse array of
major recording artists and record labels.
But… what is mastering?
In short, mastering is the process of ensuring that the music is balanced and optimized to make the best impression with your listeners and fans. Well mastered music feels balanced – both in spectrum (frequency) and dynamics.
In the past the mastering engineer was responsible for making the transition to vinyl where the recording level and spectral balance was critical. If printed too low, the master disc could have excessive noise, while extreme levels could endanger the disc and the cutting stylus too. Mastering engineers found ways to increase the level and balance the sound of the disc above the noise by applying equalization, compression, limiting and other tools. But more importantly, they also found ways to bring out the detail, clarity, and body on the final master.
Producers and artists began to notice that certain records actually sounded better on the radio, and that impression on the listening audience often translated to better sales in the end. This led to a new breed of mastering engineer, this one with some input into the final sound of a project.
Today’s mastering engineer is able to shape and mold the variations of frequencies and dynamics of a project using tools that provide unbelievable balance and control.
Mastering should be considered the final stage in a project. Not only can you polish what is already there, but often you can correct problems that can only be addressed with the kind of control good mastering provides. A project that has been mastered at a quality facility with an experienced engineer simply sounds better. It can lend a professional quality to your project – no matter what style of music. This is because the mastering engineer can contour the EQ and dynamics to make it sound richer and translate better to its final medium.
The best masters rarely come from a quick solution or a single software plug-in thrown across the mix. Initially, these ‘quick-fixes’ can sound powerful and impressive, but there is a reason that high end mastering houses don’t just all have the same magic black box. Just like any good craftsman, an experienced mastering engineer brings a wealth of knowledge about the process and the tools he uses to achieve the best results.
No matter what you’re working on, if you want people to hear your music at it’s best, you should have your project mastered by an experienced mastering engineer.
Each project brings it’s own set of challenges. The experience garnered in solving those challenges is what is brought to each successive project. Mastering can be the difference between your project sounding like a demo and sounding like a “record.”
Mastering just brings it all together.