Most people are well aware of the process of recording music at a concert or in a studio. You record individual fragments or individual performance on tape. Ultimately, all of these fragments need to be collected in the final master copy, which is then sent to the factory, where replication is carried out. The process of making the final master copy is called mastering. It involves three stages:
1. Installation: All necessary tape recordings are transferred to the digital editing console. The compositions are arranged in the correct order and between them certain intervals are made. The beginnings and ends of songs are reduced to complete silence or to the natural background of the concert hall, or are made out in accordance with your wishes. Pops, clicks, and noise can often be eliminated at the mastering stage, depending on their source and volume.
2. Processing: From the early days of vinyl, this stage is considered the heart of the process, during which transparency, softness, dynamism and richness of sound can be improved, depending on what is needed for this type of music. If the quality of performance, arrangement and recording is initially good, then the final master copy will sound even better than a phonogram. This is exactly what is needed for record companies, especially those that work in the pop music market – high-quality sound and competitiveness.
3. Release: Final versions of the compositions are transferred to appropriate media for replication. When replicating cassettes, most often preference is given to 4 mm DAT cassettes. When stamping compact discs, either 3/4 inch standard U-matic films (also called 1630 films) or CDRs (recordable compact discs) are preferred. The mastering studio makes a reference DAT-cassette or CDR-disk for the final quality assessment by an artist or record company.
Is mastering necessary at all?
If your sound engineer is one of those rare unique ones that can simultaneously mix and master, then you can achieve good results by directly transferring from the mixed film, but there are at least three reasons why professionals send their recordings to the mastering studio:
1. Usually this contributes to a significant improvement in the quality of the mixed phonogram. The market has stringent requirements. If you want your disc to meet modern requirements, then it should sound absolutely flawless. Just like in the case of expensive shoes – if they are not polished, hardly anyone can appreciate how beautiful they are. Suppose that different compositions were recorded at different times during the week or longer, this leads to differences in sound level and overall sound character. Mastering allows you to create a single whole from separate musical fragments.
2. The mastering engineer has vast experience in listening to music of various styles and has a fresh perception of music. By the time the mixing finishes, everyone involved has already melted the brains. It’s hard enough to notice any omissions after you listened to the recording about fifty times. Fresh from the outside, a new set of listening skills tuned to evaluate the overall impression, rather than the details of the compositions, may be very appropriate. A mastering engineer must feel confident in both the artistic and technical fields of the music business. Good interpersonal skills are also very important, as a huge number of terms are used to describe sound. For example: “It is necessary for the recording to sound impressive, powerful, dense, warm, natural, modern, soft and lively. ”Air, depth, brilliance, pressure, sharpness, sharpness, and certainty must be present.”
The goal of the mastering engineer is to understand and follow the instructions of the producer or customer and then add or remove what you need, no more. Often the changes are elusive, but the reaction of the producer or client will always be like this – “Wow! Wow!”
3. The mastering studio is equipped with processors of exceptional quality, which are designed specifically for processing stereo signals. It’s obvious that it’s one thing to let only the guitar through the limiter and equalizer, and it’s quite another to let all the instruments go through them. The final mix is a complex and subtle thing and can be messed up as easily as it can be improved. Studio equipment is usually not suitable for mastering. In the next question it is considered in more detail.