COURSE DETAILS: The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Mastering


The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Mastering

Basic mastering processes
The mastering process starts with topping and tailing, and fixing faults in the stereo mix. This module examines these important processes of preparation.
Investigation of clipping
Clipping is a serious problem in audio. It should be avoided, but it does happen all too often. A mastering engineer needs to have a good practical and aural understanding of clipping problems, from minor to major.
Equalizing the mix
It is a rare stereo mix that has a fully finished frequency balance, suitable for a wide range of listening systems. The mastering engineer's knowledge, skills and experience will help create a mix that sounds great anywhere.
Compressing the mix
Although not essential, compression can often bring the sound subjectively more forward, without actually making it louder. This module will explore the effect of compression on the mix.
Limiting is usually considered essential in mastering. Until recently the trend was to make the master as loud as possible. Current standards however call for the master to have a controlled subjective level. A full understanding of the mastering limiter will be significant in this.
Low-frequency merge
Some applications of mastering, particularly for electronic dance music, call for the bass to be accentuated. But turning up the level of the bass can make the limiter kick in in the club's playback system. Merging the left and right channels can however make the bass louder without such problems.
Although not so useful for radio plays, it is quite common on an album for one track to crossfade into another. This is both a technical and musical skill that is explored in this module.
Stereo width
The mastering engineer has control over the width of the stereo image. The width can be reduced if the mix is too wide and sounds uncomfortable on headphones or earbuds. Or the width can be expanded if it is too narrow.
Dropout repair
Sometimes tracks that are faulty require mastering and there is no way of going back to the original multitrack. This module examines how a tape dropout can be corrected.
Harmonic generation and warmth
Digital recording can sometimes be too clean, clinical and sterile. Adding warmth to the finished master can bring the mix to life.
Multiband compression
Multiband compression has been used in the past to maximize subjective loudness, and this is still an important technique to learn. It can also however apply compression tastefully to the parts of the frequency spectrum that would benefit from it without affecting others.
Complete mastering project
In the final module of the course, the student is asked to apply most or all of the techniques previously learned to create a finished master from a stereo mix.

The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Mastering

This course covers all of the processes of mastering that are in regular use in recording studio operations. The twelve modules cover preparation for mastering, resolution of mixing errors and defects, equalization, compression, limiting, and harmonic enhancement. Applications include mastering for CD and download, meeting current market requirements for mastering, repurposing and mastering of compilations.

The course is entirely practical and is assessed solely on the learner's practical assignment work. Text and graphic support materials are provided as appropriate, and the course includes audio example files demonstrating mastering techniques.

The outcome of the course will be an enhanced level of knowledge, skills and experience in mastering techniques.

Flexible Learning
You can study the Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Mastering online or by downloading all of the course materials to your own computer. The course can be completed in 12 weeks, or you can spread it out over up to one full if you wish. (All course materials can be printed, saved or downloaded to keep permanently.) You can work on the course at any time you choose, and take breaks whenever you like.

Each of the twelve modules of this course includes a practical assignment project that you can work on in your own home recording studio using digital audio workstation software. The assignments include tasks that are typical of a professional recording environment. The challenges are tough, but full instruction is given, often with audio examples and demonstrations.

Study Methods
This is the fully-assessed version of the Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Mastering. Study centers around the practical assignment projects of the course and the assessments you will receive.

You can submit each of your twelve practical assignment projects to Audio Masterclass for our assessment, comments and advice. Our assessments are detailed, friendly and helpful. We will tell you exactly what you are doing right, what could be better, and how you can improve. Re-submissions are welcome.

You will receive the Audio Masterclass Professional Certificate in Mastering on successful completion of the course.

Course content

Course introduction
Module structure Knowledge
Notes on file format Knowledge
Foundation content
Pre-mastering Knowledge
De-clicking Knowledge
Noise removal Knowledge
Topping and tailing Knowledge
Mastering for vinyl Knowledge
Level vs. noise in vinyl mastering Knowledge
Acceleration limiting Knowledge
Mistracking Knowledge
Vinyl side duration Knowledge
Relative stylus-to-groove speed Knowledge
The vinyl mastering engineer Knowledge
Mastering for CD Knowledge
Bit depth and sampling rate Knowledge
Maximum duration Knowledge
PQ coding Knowledge
Mastering for download Knowledge
MP3 Knowledge
AAC Knowledge
Artistic aspects of mastering Knowledge
EQ Knowledge
Dynamic range Knowledge
The mastering (brickwall) limiter Knowledge
Multiband compression Knowledge
Clipping Knowledge
Notes from a professional mastering engineer Knowledge
Mastering for acoustic music Knowledge
Check questions Quiz
Model answers to check questions Quiz
Audio examples
Unmastered audio Audio examples
Normalization Audio examples
EQ Audio examples
Compression Audio examples
Limiting Audio examples
Clipping Audio examples
Multiband compression Audio examples
Module 1: Basic mastering processes
Module introduction Knowledge
Pre-mastering Knowledge
Normalization Practical assignment project
De-clicking Practical assignment project
Noise removal Practical assignment project
Balancing channels Practical assignment project
Topping and tailing Practical assignment project
Versioning Practical assignment project
Intersample peaks Practical assignment project
Module 2: Investigation of clipping
Module introduction Knowledge
Sine wave clipping Practical assignment project
Drum clipping Practical assignment project
Clipping music Practical assignment project
Module 3: Equalizing the mix
Module introduction Knowledge
Mastering examples Audio examples
Match the frequency balance of two tracks Practical assignment project
Notes on preset EQ curves Knowledge
Module 4: Compressing the mix
Module introduction Knowledge
The loudness war Knowledge
Mastering audio examples Audio examples
Compressing the mix Practical assignment project
Normal compression Practical assignment project
Parallel compression Practical assignment project
Module 5: Limiting
Module introduction Knowledge
Problems with limiters Knowledge
Look-ahead limiting Knowledge
Limiting without problems Practical assignment project
Investigation of clipping in limiters Practical assignment project
Investigation of attack time Practical assignment project
Investigation of release time Practical assignment project
Module 6: Low-frequency merge
Module introduction Knowledge
Low-frequency merge in vinyl mastering Knowledge
Investigation of varying degrees of low-frequency merging Practical assignment project
Module 7: Crossfading
Module introduction Knowledge
Consistency of level Practical assignment project
Butt editing Practical assignment project
Crossfading Practical assignment project
Module 8: Stereo width
Module introduction Knowledge
Control of stereo width using pan Practical assignment project
Conversion to MS (mid-side) Practical assignment project
Control of stereo width using MS technique Practical assignment project
Super-wide stereo Practical assignment project
Module 9: Dropout repair
Module introduction Knowledge
Example of dropout repair Audio examples
Dropout repair Practical assignment project
Module 10: Harmonic generation and warmth
Module introduction Knowledge
Investigation of clipping for harmonic generation Practical assignment project
Parallel clipping Practical assignment project
Filtered clipping Practical assignment project
Compressed clipping Practical assignment project
Module 11: Multiband compression
Module introduction Knowledge
Example of multiband compression Audio examples
Band splitting Practical assignment project
Multiband compression Practical assignment project
Parallel multiband compression Practical assignment project
Module 12: Complete mastering project
Module introduction Knowledge
Equalization Practical assignment project
Fader riding Practical assignment project
Compression Practical assignment project
Harmonic generation Practical assignment project
Final EQ adjustment Practical assignment project
Limiting and normalization to a prescribed level Practical assignment project
Topping and tailing Practical assignment project
Dither Practical assignment project


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