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Music Mastering Terms for Every Musician

If you’re a musician, music producer, or audio engineer, you know that mastering is an essential part of the production process. Mastering is the last step in the production cycle before releasing a song to the public. It involves making adjustments to ensure that an artist’s song sounds perfect on any platform. Today I will give you an overview of the most common mastering terms and explain them as simply and understandable as possible!


Music mastering terms for every musician.


Table of Contents:


 

1 - Balance Your Frequencies


The first step in mastering your track is making sure that all frequencies are properly balanced. This means ensuring that bass and treble frequencies don’t overpower each other, as well as making sure that different parts of your mix don’t conflict with one another. To do this, you can use an equalizer plugin on your DAW to carefully boost or lower different frequencies until they sound balanced together. It is super important to do just slight adjustments. If you ever notice that you need to do more than just small changes, make sure you go back to the mixing process and fix all the bad stuff in the mix! Remember that mastering should just be about adding loudness and the cherry on top of the cake, it's not about making huge changes!


Fabfilter equalizer plugin.


2 - Compression


Another important tool in mastering is compression. Compression allows you to adjust the dynamic range of a track so that it has more consistent volume levels throughout. This helps prevent sudden spikes or drops in volume that could otherwise disrupt the mix as a whole. Additionally, compression also helps make certain elements stand out more in the mix, allowing them to be heard over other parts without increasing their overall volume too much.


Fabfilter compression plugin.


3 - Dynamic Range Compression


Dynamic range compression (DRC) allows producers to compress their dynamic range so that all levels are heard at equal distances and volumes; this creates a fuller-sounding track with more energy and punchy transients without having to increase the overall volume of their track. When applying DRC, be careful not to overcompress as this could lead to an unnatural sound that might turn off listeners rather than draw them in


Fabfilter multiband compression plugin.


4 - Stereo Image


Stereo imaging is another key component of mastering. This involves adjusting the panning settings on different elements within a track so that they are panned left or right depending on what sounds best for that particular instrument or vocal track. That works great if you master it right in the mixing file. However, I noticed that most producers export their mix as a .WAV file and do all the mastering in another project. Same for me. I would recommend doing all the panning right in the mix. Just add some small improvements with VSTs like Ozone Imager in the mastering process. This helps create a wider stereo image and adds depth and width to your mix as a whole, making it sound larger than life!


Ozone imager plugin.


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