September 2011

When it comes to making a record, mastering is usually the last thing on most people’s mind. After all, there’s a whole lot more that goes into it before you even come close to the mastering process.

However, this lack of forethought often causes a problem.

Too often people wait until the last minute (just after the mix has been completed) before they put any thought into their mastering.

This can be a costly mistake.

The biggest reason is that it often puts you and the mastering engineer “Under the gun” to get it done fast. And, when this happens, it’s often impossible to get the best possible sound from your music.


Well, the most important reason to get music mastering is the fresh, skilled, and independent ears. This is because they are the only way to catch mistakes and ensure your music has the “Hit” sound before it’s released.

Otherwise, only those who have a lot invested in the music (or people with some type of bias) are going to give you feedback on your music – and that’s how deadly mistakes often occur (Click here for more on this topic).

So, when you give the mastering engineer only a day or two to get it done fast, then there’s no guarantee you’re going to get the best possible result. 

Plus, you’ll often find that the best mastering engineers are booked weeks in advance and so they have to pass on your project to one of the less busy (and in relation, often less good) mastering engineers.

Yet, this is what most people do. They go with a mastering studio that promises to get their music done in a short time and expect the same results than if they went with a “Real pro.”

You see, the best mastering engineers take enough time as it takes to get the master right. If a song doesn’t need much, then they can finish their job more quickly. But, if there are serious changes that need to be made, then a pro is going to take his time to make sure the best possible sound is achieved. And since the pro has many happy clients because of this approach to work, he is often booked weeks in advance.

This includes talking with you to get a clear picture of what you want… and giving the music as many listens and adjustments as it takes before he feels confident in his work. If his ear gets tired from listening to the music too many times in a row, then he’ll take a break to let it rest – and have new ideas come-up.

Simply put, what all this means to you is simple… don’t wait until the last moment to start thinking about your mastering. You should begin by communicating with your mastering engineer during the recording and mixing phases to make sure you have the best sound for the engineer to master.

Because, remember, the mastering engineer can make a good recording sound great, but he can’t rid a bad recording and remove all of its flaws.

Then, when you finally get to the mastering phase, you should give the engineer as much time as it takes to work his “Magic”— because you know that rushing is going to mean you can easily miss-out on some killer improvements.

This means, if possible, pre-book a slot in his mastering schedule far in advance to make sure time is not an issue (because his schedule is too full to take in your project in your desired time frame).

About the Author:
Lorenz Vauck is an Audio Mastering Engineer, Musician, and Internet Entrepreneur from Dresden, Saxony, Germany. He is the Managing Director and Chief Mastering Engineer of XARC Mastering, one of the world’s first online audio mastering studios established in 2003.

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If you want to guarantee that your music has that “Hit” sound every time, then this short article may be the most important you will ever read.

Here’s why:

Too often people think that one type of music is better than another. Some people love country, but hate classical music… or they love classical, but can’t stand rap.

When in reality, great music is up to the listener. There really isn’t a good or bad because it all depends on what the listener relates to in the music.

But, here’s a key point that few of those in the music business think about.

What is it that makes a listener of your music become a fan? Or go from simply liking your music to wanting to play it non-stop in their CD player for years to come?

The answer is that your music touches something that comes “alive” inside the listener. You can’t really place what it is, but it makes it him or her boil with excitement.

Maybe it’s your lyrics the listener can relate to… or he just sees himself as the type of person who would be fan of your music (because of the image that is portrayed).

Simply put, the music is less about the quality (though still important) and more about emotions that are stirred-up when the person listens to the music.

And this is the secret key ingredient to mastering… focus on making your music pack an emotional punch in the listener.

By tapping into what the audience thinks and feels on daily basis, then this is how hits are made.

This means that when you make changes to your music (such as raise the volume or make certain parts of the song more cohesive), then you need to focus on stirring-up the right emotions of the listener.

In other words, a good mastering job can literally be the difference between your song failing or becoming a smash hit.

This is because you may have a created some great music, but it’s irrelevant if nobody can “feel” it. If it fails to reach what the listener cares about, they’re not going to listen to it.

Mastering gives your music that little extra edge needed to hit the “Sweet spot” inside your listeners – and make them raving fans.

And since the mastering engineer is an unbiased listener (not involved with any other parts of the music) he or she can adjust the music to give the listeners more of what they want.

For instance, maybe the drums aren’t prominent enough to get the listener going along with music… or, on the flip side, maybe they’re to loud and drown-out another important part the song the listeners want to hear.

Working one-on-one with the mastering engineer allows you to perfect your music during the mastering to give it the crucial emotional punch that creates hits!

About the Author:
Lorenz Vauck is an Audio Mastering Engineer, Musician, and Internet Entrepreneur from Dresden, Saxony, Germany. He is the Managing Director and Chief Mastering Engineer of XARC Mastering, one of the world’s first online audio mastering studios established in 2003.