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What is Mastering and Why is it Important?
Mastering is done to correct mix balance issues and enhance particular sonic characteristics, taking a good mix (usually in the form of a stereo file) and putting the final touches on it.
This involves adjusting levels and general “sweetening” of the mix. Think of it as the difference between a good-sounding mix and a professional-sounding, finished master.
This process can involve adding broad equalization, applying compression, limiting, etc. This is often actually referred to as “pre-mastering” in the world of LP and CD replication, but let’s refer to it as mastering for simplicity.
Modern mastering ensures your music will sound the best it can across streaming platforms, media formats, devices, and speaker systems. Some formats include vinyl, CD, Tape, and digital audio files. While streaming services include Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and more.
Mastering also ensures the tracks on an album or EP have consistent volume levels. Matching levels for each track improves the listening experience. For example, you can listen to an entire album without adjusting the volume between songs.