Trying to learn more about mastering? There are many affordable resources now to get your music mastered. Online mastering is a great way to go. If you are attempting mastering at home, here are some tips from Mix Pro Studios, an online mixing and online mastering studio.
Tip 1: Don't "fix it during mastering"
It's easy to get to the end of a mix and hear some issues and say to yourself, "we can fix this with mastering". It's really important to get your song sounding great during the mix. Can you fix issues or problems with mastering? Yes. However, don't rely on it if you have the option to get it right during your mixing session.
Tip 2: Clean up your track
It's important to have a clean track before you send it out for radio, television, or duplication. Here are a couple of things to check off your list as you work on your track.
Song start: Trim your track to 0.5 to 1.0 seconds before the first audio starts. You don't want to have too much space before the song starts so be sure to trim it. Also, don't trim it too close to when the audio starts. It can sound un-natural and the start of the song can possibly get clipped off on some CD burners/players.
Song end: Take your time and listen to the last note or fade of the song end. If necessary, you can add an additional fade to smooth out the end of your song. Make sure to trim any extra time off the end after the audio is completely silent.
Tip 3: EQ your track
In mastering, a little bit of EQ goes a long way. Be extremely careful when EQing an entire track. You can end up with a recording that sounds like a hack job. Try to only boost or cut in small increments, and always listen and compare with your EQ bypassed to make sure you are actually making the track sound better with your EQ. A high pass filter at around 35-40hz can help clean up the low end on a song without compromising the low end.
Tip 4: Compression
Putting a compressor in your signal chain before the limiter can help by taking some of the work load off the limiter. It will help you achieve a smoother sound. As with anything in mastering, go easy with the compression. You don't want to squash your track and squeeze the life out of it. Just try to catch some of the peaks so the limiter won't have to. Basically, by using a compressor before your limiter you are sending the limiter a smoother track with less peaks.
Tip 5: Limiting
The limiter should be the last step in your signal chain for mastering. Everyone always wants to know how to get their track to sound loud. The limiter is the tool for the job. The limiter will push the volume of your track up to make it louder. Set the ceiling of your limiter to -0.1db so your track won't clip as it get louder. Always listen and compare your audio processing and effects to the track without any processing. Make sure what you are doing is adding and not taking away form the quality and sound of the track.