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ÔBAXÉ_MUSIC - pure sound



What is mastering? (and: What does it not?)


Please listen how mastering changes the sound based on one example.

For being able to evaluate the differences in sound, it is necessary

to listen on a stereo with loudspeakers (not on the laptop or

computer with small loudspeakers). If you do not have good speakers

available, please use good headphones.

Here you can hear a "mixed pieces" - that is, the "Mix"

(EQ, pan, volume balance, etc.) has been done:



Here you hear now the same piece after the mastering process.

Please adjust the volume when listening (the mastered piece is

louder than the Mix), since higher volume per se

almost always sounds "better":






You will notice immediately that the mastered piece sounds different.

It is loud, it is "full", "detail", "spatial" etc.


So what changes in the mastering process?

When mastering I edit the "sum", i.e. the mix which is reduced on

2 tracks now (= stereo, i.e. left & right). Hence, I work less about details

(such as individual instruments) but on the overall picture.


-  The overall volume is increased

-  The overall sound is once more - if necessary - refined (by EQ)

-  The panorama is possibly widened (this creates a bigger "space")

   or made narrower (what makes the music more "compact")

-  The dynamic range (in other words the difference between the

   quiet sounds and the loud sounds) is possibly somewhat reduced -

   the loudest signals become a little quieter and so I can increase

   the total volume (this is called "compressing") -

   the music seems to become more "compact".

   But sometimes (when the mix is too compressed and thus sounds boring)

   I do the opposite - I "decompress", i.e. I icrease the volume peaks again

   and that seems to make the quiet sounds quieter -

   so the "natural dynamic" of music is strengthened again.


What many musicians and especially producers wish from mastering -

described in a sentence is:

That the music becomes more cool, loud, resounding and appears at least

on a par with other comparable music - and this is measured primarily

on the volume level (this seems to be stupid since you have a volume knob

but psychacoustic  works exactly this way).

This raises the question:


What is mastering not able to achieve ?


-  Mastering does not make the music more dynamic than it was

   originally played, it can only try to support the dynamics

-  Mastering does not push the entire band equivalent "forward" -

   because this is simply impossible (as well as in reality, there are always

   parts / instruments in the music which appear "quieter" or "louder" -

   and that makes music so well

-  mastering does not make the sound of the instruments better

   than it actually was when recorded, it can only try to

   draw a pleasant, precise and contoured overall sound.


-  Mastering can not increase the volume unlimited without

   making the sound definitely worse - for this you can find enough

   examples in the music industry and in the

   sound of the radio stations.


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