you're reading...

Mastering Music – Explained

A part of the music production process that is often overlooked is mastering. On the Music Producer’s Forum Linkedin discussion board, one of our members Grammy nominated Adrian Carr of ACMastering posted a discussion on this Topic.  His words, explain nicely to us, what is normally a mystery, and a part of the process often under appreciated. Read on to have mastering explained.

What is Mastering? If you think you know the answer, please read on! – By Adrian Carr

A common question I get is, “So what is CD Mastering and how is it different from mixing?” By the time you’ve finished recording and mixing, you feel like you’re finished. I know, I went to Juilliard and have been a musician all my life. However, where you leave off as a musician is where the professional mastering engineer begins. Mastering creates the experience –the listener– will have with your music. That is why mastering has become so important from a first time indie performer to a major label artist. Creating a great experience for your listener is going to help you sell more records, get more professional acclaim and land you better reviews! So it’s not just about you anymore – mastering is your first step launching your music into the world. Here’s the why:

1) A professional mastering engineer does only mastering. With years of practice as a mastering engineer, I’m not only listening to the needs of your music but making decisions about how to optimize the sound of your CD to compete favorably against major label albums in your genre. Besides the primary element of sound, other things like the spacing of songs, order, fades (and ISRC codes, so you get paid from iTunes) and sometimes even very creative things get done in Mastering. The important thing to remember is that it’s all about creating the experience of how your CD will sound to your listener. As a mastering engineer I loan you my trained ears and experience to help you make the best decisions for your album.

2) With the advent of the home recording studio, a professional mastering room, which is a normalized and tested listening environment, has become more important than ever. Any shortcomings in your home or recording studio monitoring environment can be heard and corrected by the mastering engineer before you get the 1,000 CD Copies!

3) Any professional mastering room has the expensive, specialized tools and technology of a mastering studio. Although home recording may have gotten cheaper, a Universal Audio 1176 limiter has only increased in price. And the plug-in does not do quite the same thing.

4) It helps if you have a great teacher. I worked with Vlado Meller who is a world class mastering engineer, with 15 Grammy Nominations in 2009! In working with Vlado and his many clients like Barbara Streisand, Linkin Park, Rage against the Machine, Celine Dion, I’ve learned what can make the magic in mastering and the difference in your music.


Please feel free to comment on your experiences in Mastering.

About Jomar Reyes

Jomar Lectures in Creative Industries as well as Digital Media in Marketing at the Danish Institute of Studies Abroad. He also runs the Strategic Media Company, a corporate consultancy agency based in Copenhagen.


3 thoughts on “Mastering Music – Explained

  1. “What exactly IS mastering?” – A common question posed to producers and engineers as an artist nears the completion of their recording project.

    Great post. Clear and to-the-point.

    Mastering can definitely add that final “polish” to push your recording to the next level.

    Damon Cisneros

    Posted by damoncisneros | 29 January, 2010, 5:50 am


  1. Pingback: Tips for the Mix to the Master « Music Producers Forum - 3 February, 2010

  2. Pingback: Monthly Mix: June 2010 Music Producers Forum Update « Music Producers Forum - 8 June, 2010

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Join the Music Producers Forum

By submitting your details, you will receive information, notification of new articles, newsletters and special invitations to industry events that the Music Producers Forum is involved with.

Register to receive career development news

Music Producers Forum is a proud media partner of

Read our review of the 2012 event

MPF Group on Linkedin

Follow us on Twitter


%d bloggers like this: