Mastering is the process that comes after mixing a multitrack recording into stereo. In professional work, mastering is done by a specialist mastering engineer. It is widely thought, usually correctly, that mix engineers who venture to 'master' their work are stirring up trouble, possibly creating additional work for the real mastering engineer later on.
Mastering in the days of vinyl involved manipulating the audio so that it fell within the capabilities of the vinyl medium to store and reproduce.
For instance, excessive low frequency level causes wide 'excursions' of the groove, which limit the playing time of the record. Any out-of-phase low frequency information additionally can make the groove shallow, to the point where the playback stylus might not be able to follow it. Excessive high frequency energy can make a groove that is impossible for the playback stylus to react to. This causes distortion, and damages the groove leading to an increase in distortion on repeated plays.
The principal difference between CD and vinyl mastering is that CD doesn't have any technical limitations. Anything you can record onto disk or tape (analog or digital) can be transferred to CD with no problem.
The only technical issues are these:
Other than that... do what you like!
The artistic issues are very similar to vinyl, and are these:
Mastering is widely regarded as one of the 'voodoo arts' of audio. The mix engineer is responsible for creating a great mix from the original multitrack recordings, but it is the mastering engineer who turns that mix into something that really sounds like a record.Come on the FREE COURSE TOUR
Great home recording starts with a great home recording studio. It doesn't need to be expensive if you know how to select the right equipment for your needs.Download Now
Get the Audio Masterclass Newsletter, subscriber-only info and special offers too.