When it comes to mastering, many artists want to do it themselves so that they can have full control over their music. However, few realize just how much goes into it… and not everybody has what it takes to do a pro job.

This then results in music far short of what it could be when those (not realizing how much goes into mastering) sit down and get to work with mastering software on their home PC.

So, what does it take to get top results with mastering? There are 5 key points:

1. Patience. A good mastering engineer must carefully listen to the audio and know that not every adjustment is going to work out. You’ve got to test, tweak, and listen, until you get the best possible sound.

This means you never know how long it’s going to take to master even a short track. It may need a wide range of adjustments… or not much at all to bring out the best possible sound.

2. Good ears. Just like a photographer or artist needs “good eyes” to create the picture with the best color coordination, a good mastering engineer needs “good ears” to pick-out potential problems… and find the best combination for all of the sounds.

This often takes training and a natural gift to be able to do this well.

3. Experience. Mastering is not something you can automatically do a great job with after reading a book or having just a little bit of hands on training. Every audio you encounter is going to require different adjustments to some degree.

Only experiencing a wide range of music and situations is going to allow you to know the best solutions for all of your music.

4. Knowledge of the equipment. This goes back to having experience. It often takes an engineer a good amount of years and clients before they feel fully comfortable with their tools.

Simply knowing what needs to be applied to music is pointless if you don’t know how to do it the best way with your equipment.

5. Ability to communicate with the client. A common problem with many mastering studios is that they don’t listen and communicate with the client well enough.

As a mastering engineer, your job is to help complete the client’s vision. If you can’t get a clear picture of their final vision, then you’re going to have a lot of unhappy clients.

Additionally, you as the artist, can never do a good job mastering if you’re not clear yourself in what you want. Talking with the mastering engineers allows you to understand what can be done to your music during the mastering process.

Probably, the standard for learning about mastering is Bob Katz’s book, “Mastering Audio: The Art and Science.”

Of course, the single biggest advantage of going with a mastering engineer is the fresh pair of independent, skilled ears. Without them, then you’re never going to reach the “Sonic perfection” your music deserves – and increase your chances of having more success.

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.