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Radio Ready Masters – Make the Most of Your Radio Play (Part 2)

In the first part of our writing, we discussed what happens with our song when it plays on the radio. Professional Music Mastering for broadcasting industries plays a vital role to create our song radio ready. However, the quality of the output device is also responsible for how good your audio sounds on a device like a home speaker, car speaker, boom box or headphones. In the below segment, a brief discussion will take place about the 7 components of a radio broadcasting processor that plays the main role to create your song ready to play for the radio broadcasting.

What Actually Happens on a Radio Broadcast – The Typical Chain Process?

The below elements are the components of a chain process. The following section has designed in the order they appear.

  1. Phase Rotator: This is a chain of all pass filters. There are many waveforms in general and male voice in particular typically exhibit up to 6dB asymmetry. However, the phase rotator has the ability to reduce the waveform of a voice even up to 3 to 4 dB. Well, on the other hand, phase rotator affects the music quality when it plays on a boom box, car radio, home radio, and Walkman.

But with the invention of CD, the scenario got changed as a phrase rotator changed the input waveform completely without harming the balance of frequency. There was a myth that any sound modifies at the broadcast industry is less clean and clearer than modification made for the Compact disc. But thanks to phase rotator, because of this element the myth never crossed the line of reality.

  1. AGC: In the next step it comes to the average responding of AGC. According to the standard studio recording guideline, AGC is used for operating over a high dynamic range of 25dB. AGC has the ability to exclude all the long-term dynamics from your recording. It is easy to understand that all the radio show director and producer wants to play their show loud, but it may often cause, their listener are not meeting the satisfactory level. In the radio industry, we call it “dropping off the dial.”

AGCs can work on both multiband and single-band. While working on two different band channels AGC works slowly. But intermodulation of spectral gain is not a big problem because in the later stages compression works really quick.

  1. Stereo Enhancement: Not all the audio processor has the ability to enhance the stereo of an audio. This is why stereo enhancement takes place after the AGC in this chain. The main function of Stereo Enhancement is to make the audio signal more dramatic. In simple word, stereo enhancement is the process of applying more L-R energy into the center channel of an audio clip.

However, the excessive stereo enhancement gains the multipath distortion. But, the excessive enhancement reduces transmission power and loudness. At this point, I need to mention one more thing that the mono channel audio stereo enhancement is not only loudest but also cleanest.

  1. Equalization: This is a tricky part of an audio channel processing. So time to time it can be as easy as fixing bass boost frequency or sometimes it can be hard like fixing parametric multistage equalizer. Based on an EQ’s working principle it has two different parts. The first one is establishing the signature for a targeted radio station and the second part is limiting high frequency and dynamic processing of subsequent multiband.
  2. Multiband Compression and Limiting: Based on the manufacturer multiband compression and limiting can appear in two stages. While running and multiband comparison on four to six bands the limiter or compressor decrease the dynamic range. Every controller of this component has their own effect on an audio clip. In the radio broadcasting room, there’s no audio mastering engineer available who can optimize the technique of processing every new song they received. But in the case of mastering an audio file in a studio; the sound engineer is available there to optimize the process.
  3. Pre-Emphasis and HF Limiting: FM radio, in general, gets pre-emphasized at 0.00005 seconds to 0.000075 seconds. This time period depends on the law of the country where the broadcasting is taking place. It depends on the manufacturer of the processor where they want to put the compressor or limiter of the multiband. It can either or after. Limiting high frequency can make the sound quality of an audio file distorted, dull or even both.
  4. Clipping: The last and final process of this chain is clipping. In almost 80% of the processor, clipping is done to limit the peak. Clipping is an important part of radio broadcasting because in radio transmission a simple clipping does not work. In the late ’70s, a skilled audio engineer discovered the process of cancelling distortion from audio clips. This process refers to manipulation that takes place on the distorted spectrum band. This whole part is done by the clipper.

Quick Tips:

  1. Concentrate more on your song mixing than mastering. Even a good mixing song with poor mastering sound well. But it does not work the other way round.
  2. To create an ultra-loud mastering keep that in mind that the song must be kept in 2 dB to 4 dB, that also has high RMS for loudness. But do not measure the loudness of a song by its average RMS but dynamic range.
  3. If a master has poor dynamic range then do not try reducing the amplitude of the music for making it radio-ready to master. Try remastering the song again.

Creating a better dynamic range for your song does not mean it will only improve the quality of the broadcasting. The quality of your recording will be enhanced.

Radio Ready Master FAQ:

  • Does radio-ready master really exist?

Whenever a new song released, the producer of the song sends a file to the targeted radio station. First of all, the concerned person at the radio station reviews the song and after that, they come to conclude a decision. After the process, your song can be either selected or rejected. So if your song can be rejected so there’s must a standard that must match the radio mastering quality. So the answer to your question is yes.

  • Why does a Radio Station refuse to play a song?

Some songs are just not ready to play on the radio. As a result, the management team of the radio broadcasting station takes the decision of rejecting the song. In simple words, if a song is not ready for radio master will not be played on the radio.

  • What will you do if your song gets rejected?

If your song gets rejected then it is time for you to understand the fact that your song is terrible. In that case, you might consider a re-master. But what I like to suggest you considering a re-mixing will be more effective for you.

  • Does a radio station have their own compression?

Of course yes. Every small and big radio broadcasting channels have their own compression and they typically apply it to the songs they will broadcast.

Conclusion:

Radio broadcasting is a sophisticated and complex job. One needs several years of practice to do this correctly. So I would like to suggest my readers who are running a radio broadcasting channel to take the helping hand and recommendation of Online Audio Mastering Service provider’s. It will help them with slow compression and equalization. And of course, they can apply other effects that a typical audio mastering engineer uses in the studio. As a result, radio broadcasting channels will achieve the ability to play the sound which will meet the desired level of their audience. Overall I can say that following this guide will help you broadcast a song with more punch, loud, life, and clarity.

Radio Ready Masters – Make the Most of Your Radio Play (Part 1)

Technology is meant to change. Even radio broadcasting is not out of this trend. Like all the technologies, radio technology is developing and changing constantly. With the invention of a digital radio system, our way of working has changed and that reflects on how we record a sound and struggle with the infidel internet radio. It is important for us to reproduce most of our recorded audio for quality analogue FM radio. Have you ever give it a thought what exactly happen to your songs when it broadcasts on a radio channel or did you ever made a strategy to make the most of your radio play?

The article you are going to read today is inspired by the by the famous book “Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science”. Mr. Bob Orban and Mr.FrankFoti wrote this book over 15 years back. In the year 2002, Focal Press published the book. Bob Orban is the founder of Orban Audio Processing Company. This international company is in the business of making an audio processor for television, radio and internet broadcasting. On the other hand, Mr. Frank Foti is the CEO of Telos Alliance that manufactures professional audio mastering products for broadcasting industries.

Orban processing
At the top, you will find the cuts of the music with enhanced visual density and loudness. At the bottom, you will find the same music that has passed through the radio processor of the Orban

The book contains many technical terms and radio mastering best practice terminology. As a result, it could be difficult for newbies and amateurs for understanding the professional music mastering process for broadcasting. The purpose of writing this article is to present radio mastering process into a simpler way so that anyone can get the glance of Mixing and Mastering Services for radio broadcasting. The writing will be published in two parts which will reveal what happens to your song when it plays on radio and what actually happens on a radio broadcast (Understanding the Chain Process). So let us move forward to the first part of our writing.

What Happens to Your Song when it Plays on Radio?

Many of us, who belongs from the professional mixing and mastering industry, know how to process a crude piece of recording before it plays in the FM airwaves. My purpose of writing this blog is to remove all the myths and misapprehension regarding the secret art of radio mastering. Most of the radio stations worldwide use an audio transmission process from station’s transmitter. The main function of the processor is controlling the transmitter’s peak modulation. This peak modulation’s frequency should match the standard regulatory body of the nation where the radio station is situated.

Just, like the other way round, there are only a few radio stations use limited functional peak. In reality, most of the radio stations use a complex chain of an audio. Using this technique, allow the broadcast station to play music louder within the maximum peak level. This maximum peak level is different for radio broadcasting in different countries. For example, the VU meters used in Australia and USA is recommended by EBU for radio broadcast in different countries in Europe. The IEC recommendations are as follows:

Analogue Peak Programme Meter: IEC 268-10
Digital Peak Programme Meter: IEC 268-18

Cancelling Noise and Increasing Loudness: Best Online Mastering Service provider and designer of the broadcast have achieved the knowledge of getting the maximum loudness that also consist audio punch and cleanliness. The mantra behind this success is very simple. Broadcasting an audio clip via radio depends on the quality of the source. So the bottom line is the relation between the quality of the broadcasted audio and the source audio is directly proportional.

The Competition of Being Loud – Radio Signal vs. CD: Singers, composers, and producers wanted to get the loud production of music. And on the other hand radio stations wished to offer the loudest signal. This war stayed for around 25 years. Before this competition started, radio stations were used to make simple audio clips louder. Mixing and mastering services providers for radio broadcasting has learned this technique for over 25 years. But now the technique has drifted to the CD Mastering Services industry.

Radio Broadcasting

Problem Today with Radio Broadcasting: The biggest problem with radio industry is facing today is that powerful and sophisticated sound processing for radio broadcasting transmission is no longer coexist today. Perhaps a professional who offers audio mastering services online can help you to deal with this. If someone limits the multiband compression of the source digitally that also reduces the peak of the short term to average ratio. As a result, the processor of the broadcast station handles the mastering material less naturally and less gracefully than it handled the source stuff.

Broadcast Process Affects Hyper-Compressed Material – Fact or Myth: The process of broadcast affects the hyper-compressed stuff. This is true only if there is no dynamic long-term range is coming in. In that case, broadcasting processor’s AGC will no longer be able to reduce it any further. However, a typical processor will still operate the hyper-compressed stuff and it will reduce its peak to the average ratio.

Not to mention it additionally, a hyper-compressed stuff does not sound loud when it plays on air. It sounds like the music is broken or distorted and flat. So your listener does not enjoy the music much. As a result, they pay no attention what is playing, or even worst they turn off the radio.

What Happens when Hyper Compression Combines with Major Market Broadcast Processing Level: When Hyper Compression get combined with broadcast processing, it exclude the drama, feel and life from the music. In extreme cases, the sound is completely distorted. The mastering sound seems flat, small and busy.

The quality of the Receiver’s Output Also Plays a Big Role: Even if you have done all the radio mastering process correctly and followed all the tips revealed here, you cannot be sure how your mastered audio will perform at the output speaker. The reason behind this many car users use a cheap quality of car speaker that can affect the quality of your audio mixing. On the other hand, economical ear buds and boom box can also be responsible for a poor output. So maybe your music is really sounds great but that does not mean that it will perform well on the output device. Errors in transmitting process and techniques can also play a vital a role in order to diminish the quality of your song. Well, that is none of your lookouts. You just focus on your part of the job and let the rest to happen the best.

Bottom Lines:

Time has come to sign off. Hope the article was helpful to you. If you have any quarries regarding the first part of radio broadcasting, feel free to ask me by using the comment box below.

What is waiting for you in the Next Post?

The post does not end here. Today we only discuss what happens to a song that played on a radio broadcasting station. That includes cancelling noise and increasing loudness and sound wave celerity, completion of being loud between radio signal and CD, the problem that we are facing today about mastering, effects of the broadcast process on hyper-compressed material and what happens when hyper compression combines with major market broadcast processing level.

So it was a quick recap of what we learn today. When we will come back with the next post, an in-depth analysis will take place on what really happened to your music broadcast and how mastering music online can enhance the audio quality while radio broadcasting. At last, I will provide you some valuable quick tips which will help you to perform a Professional Music Mastering and answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to radio mastering.

Why Mastered For iTunes Matters In Music World?

There are many consumers and pro-audio press, who are well aware of the introduction of Mastered for iTunes technique. But there are some music producers, who do not know about the details of this procedure, as well as its advantages and utilization in the real world. This article will help you to know about Mastering for iTunes program and importance in the music industry.

Which are Better- Masters or Premasters?

As like the other digital music distribution channels, iTunes really do not require the master, they require the premaster. The mastering process is related to both’s ides, but in an operational manner, it is having two discrete divisions-

  1. The process of premastering has all the aesthetic decisions that are related in making the set of mixes for the audiences. The premaster helps to answer all the questions that are related to what the track is going to sound like.
  2. Then next is the process of mastering, it is the process of making the delivery media, that will allow further the listener to access the material. In the case of mastered for iTunes, this includes the encoding on the AAC file of Apple and then adding metadata. At London mastering studio, you can see this type of mastering service.

It really does not matter that you are dealing in a direct manner with the iTunes, or you are self-released artist having the aggregator, iTunes always require the digital audio premaster so that the professional can perform the premaster in-house. So, now what professional really require is that how you can know that your song’s master is going to be like. This is what the mastered for iTunes is all about.

What is Codec and Compensated Premaster?

The main objective of the digital audio codec is to take an HD resolution or CD-quality file and then generate an encoded file that has the same quality but with the reduced size. If you are music is going to be sold on the Apple’s iTunes, it should be encoded by Apple using the bit rate about 256kbps AAC-LC format regardless of other’s opinion. This gives rise to a problem that is Apple AAC is not lossless. The sound of the master is different from that of the premaster. The key to managing the off-site encoding problem is to get a reference of the mixes and then premaster through the help of the round-trip codec plugin that offers the real-time auditioning of the Apple AAC. Apple has offered the AURoundTripAAC Audio Unit for this particular purpose. Additionally, the Sonnox Fraunhofer Pro-Codec offers the similar facility to the users. The main aim of using this tool is to create the encoded masters, but when the professional want audition by using the same technology, it will be done in the off-site. If the workstation in which you are working do not have the technical specs for running those tools, Apple has offered the of convert utilities. This tool helps in the process of off-line encoding using the codec technology.

The Best Type of Practices to do-

With the help of Apple AAC code, you can get better and high-resolution digital audio input that is better than the CD-Quality input. Various reviews confirm the advantages of this tool. Apple’s practices for mastering for iTunes display the recommendations of the WAV file deliverables like the-

  1. A perfect master that is having 24-bit 96kHZ resolution
  2. Do not up sample file to a higher resolution than the normal format.

Almost all the professional mixers and the engineers use the reconstruction metering for managing the inter-sample audio levels. Lastly, Apple wants 24-bit premasters with the original sample rates with the peak headroom.

CD-DA is not a primary music delivery. The mastered for iTunes practices are not at least esoteric. Even they are the good standard for the virtual premaster delivery. The process of mastered for iTunes is one of the simple standards to offer predictable good results for the music distribution channels. It is an excellent chance to create a pro audio community to get good habit for accommodating music distribution.

This is the detailed description of the mastered for iTunes importance and how it is used in these days. So, before you are hiring the mastering engineer, for Professional music mastering, be sure that he knows mastered for iTunes as it is widely popular nowadays.

Mastering for iTunes- Latest Technique to Improve Sound

The mastering for iTunes from Apple is creating the latest buzz in the recent years. Even, there are lots of confusion regarding this matter among the musicians and the music composers. Mastering music for the iTunes is a common process yet it is gaining importance due to its wide acceptance among the music lovers. There are four ways through which the mastered iTunes can be discussed. Have a look on them in brief-

  • Mastering Sound for iTunes is Set of Rules and Guidelines

You will happy to hear that the easiest way to know the guidelines of the iTunes mastering is by reading this article. Mainly, it is a set of rules for the people to go through, for ensuring that you are getting the best versions of the tracks that are available in the iTunes Music Stores. Companies like Apple include the free guidelines that help you to preview how your tracks will sound after encoding. These rules are great. They will certainly encourage you for submitting the high-standard files and then suggest how you can avoid facing the traps that affect the sound quality. For instance- you can avoid the clipping and the over-cooking of the music level for the Loudness wars.

At this particular moment, the final tracks are still having 44.1 KHz kbps AAC files. So, they are actually the encoded files those use the lossy compression and the high-class mp3s. The concept of feeling the difference of submitting 24 or the 96 version of the sound is debatable. I think there is not much difference in both. But companies like Apple gives hint that in the upcoming years, the audio mastering professionals will certainly use high-standard masters to get better downloadable versions in the future. Professional mixing and mastering studios will be having all the equipments for high quality masters.

  • Mastered for iTunes is the Part of iTunes Store-

Here the concept gets a little messy. The Apple has made a particular section of the iTunes stores for the tracks that have completed the process of mastering according to the concept of ‘mastered iTunes’. But, here are some of the examples that do not follow the rules. Take into account the example of the title like Metallica’s beyond magnetic and Red hot Chilli Peppers’s I am with you. Both the tracks are having the loudness wars. They are mastered at high levels, and thus there are many distortions. They may be revealed as the hi-resolution file, but when the vinyl sounds even better, you can feel that there is something wrong.

  • Mastered for the iTunes is a Matter of Chance

Just think if the mastered iTunes version of the song “I am with you” followed the guidelines of the Apple. It will definitely sound like the vinyl mastering. In this particular case, I would be having no such restrictions in declaring that this process is quite vital. The disadvantages of the lossy encoding are completely overweighed.  Here, little to be done with the sample rates and the bit depths at the initial source. CD mastering services in the form of itunes are gaining importance.

  • Mastered for iTunes will use the New Lossless Format

When I was writing this post, I came to know information that Apple is upgrading the iTunes library. As a whole, Apple is using the new HD-AAC format that allows us to get the fully lossless access to the tracks that will be mastered in iTunes in the upcoming years.

These four points will help you to know about themastered iTunes. The part from these, you should all know that mastered for iTunes is a professional audio mastering process as well as the distribution format. The mastered for iTunes technique ensures all the artists that they are getting the benefits from this format and the premium format of this type of mastering helps in mixing and mastering engineers for publishing music in higher fidelity.

The same mastered for itunes technique that the mastering engineers follows is applied to the “Apple Music” stores. We all know the process is geared to the AAC format used by the itunes, any type of streaming service that uses any somewhat lossy encoding will get the benefit from the mastered itunes process.

It is obvious that the Mastered for iTunes sound will sound better than the uncompressed master will. There is a reason behind it. The “mastered for iTunes” use the lossy format. Thus, if you want to get a better sound, try the “mastered for iTunes”.

Have a Clear Overview on Barcodes Used In Music Industry

If you realize that your item will be distributed and sold through the usual wholesale or may be the retail channels, you should then definitely consider paying the additional cost for the bar codes. The barcodes that are generally used in sales and marketing come in two different formats- one is the EAN13 and the other is the UPC-A. The first one is common. The second one has the advantage of being readable in most of the places in Europe and USA. But the EAN13 is more generic to the European market.

EAN-13

There is always a common misconception regarding the barcodes. It is that the information that is given about the numbers and the products that are related is held on to some database at a particular place. But, in the actual terms, it is not the case. It is true that we always keep the records of the numbers that we have allocated to each of the products. However, the barcode is pointless to anyone unless someone like retailer or the distributor buy the product and at the point when enter the stock control system. Here, the barcode is tied to the product details like the artist name, record label, catalogue number, price and the title. The barcode now becomes meaningful to that particular retailer or the distributor. Online mixing and mastering services first keep in mind how to use the barcode.

Where can you Get the Barcode?

The GSI UK administers the barcode number system. Now the GSI has the scheme for all the musicians and the labels for getting the individual barcodes. Alternatively, you can also get the EAN format barcode that is given on the products that are manufactured on behalf of the customers. If you give a small administration fee, you will be getting the barcode number that will be allocated to each of the product. This actually does not include creating the barcode graphic.

On the other hand, if you are selling the download version of the album on the site, you may be already having the barcode number that is allocated to the album. This will allow you to use the same number on the product, but it is important to find the barcode at first. If you are not having the barcode facilities in the design software, you can then add the barcode to the artwork and send it to the music engineer for mastering music online.

Know how you will Design the Barcodes for Artwork

If you want to design your own artwork and you are having the barcode facilities in the design software, you can then create the barcode graphic from the barcode number and then add to the artwork.

The edges of bar should be sharp, so that the resolution of the barcode is less than 600 dpi. When the barcode is created in the design programme, the barcode is having the standard size. The size is reduced normally to 80% and cropped to the top half of the bar, as the entire vertical height is not required. Be sure, that the barcode color is having a grey scale or 100% black.

Jonathan Wyner of M-Works Mastering discusses about ISRC, mastering – metadata, quality checks, UPC and and other important information

The GSI, the original source of barcode is the one that creates the confusion between the UPC and EAN. The UPC code is the original format for the product barcodes.  The demand of barcodes is increasing day by day in countries like Europe, Asia and Australia, and thus the country codes are added.

The UPC code is the 12 digit number and the EAN is the 13 digit number. The EAN number is the number that is associated with the album, merchandise item, EP or the single track. The ISRC code is used for identifying the individual recording but the UPC or the EAN code is used for identifying the group of recordings or products.

Apart from these barcodes, the copyright licensing is very important. Before manufacturing several copies of CD, cassettes, vinyl and DVD, you require thinking about the copyright licensing. Without the copyright licensing, anyone can use the tracks anywhere. So, it is very important to have a copyright for each of the individual tracks.

Audio Mastering Explained at Red Mastering Studio London

Audio Mastering
Audio Mastering at Red Mastering London

What is Audio Mastering?

Audio mastering is the final and last step in the process of creating that perfect sound that we so often hear everywhere. While to us mere mortals, it may only be seen as a complex post-production behind-the-scenes step, the actual process of mastering audio is a lot more interesting and intriguing than it sounds. Simply put, audio mastering is the process of taking a mix and preparing it for distribution, but as we all know, nothing is as simple as it seems and there are many factors that feature in audio mastering.

Audio mastering as we know it was first born into the music industry with the introduction of the first commercial tape recorder (Ampex 200 model) in 1948. Prior to this, all audio recordings were made by printing directly to a wax disc in real time and the role of the mastering engineer was not a separate discipline but that of the recording engineer. But with the appearance of the tape recorder, a new era of audio mastering was born.

And if 1948 was not exciting enough for the music industry, Columbia records also introduced the Long Play (PL) Vinyl record that same year, which meant that each vinyl could play for more than 20 minutes per side compared to less than 5 minutes per side previously.

As the entire record industry was quick to move with the emerging technology everyone soon adopted recording on tape as a new industry standard and a separate engineer was needed to transform the tapes to a master.

The Mastering engineer (or transcription/transfer engineer at the time) was given the difficult task of preparing master discs from the tapes they were given by the recording studio from the recording sessions. Since the belief at the time was that the tape-to-disk transfer was a technical step, many industry professionals had the view that a mastering engineer had to simply replicate the sound on the tape and was not allowed to use any creativity or artistic license during the mastering process.

Pop Music and Audio Mastering

During the pop music boom from 1950’s to 1980’s, audio mastering became seen as a highly prized skill allowing the mastering engineer to use creativity and more freedom as it was found that by making simple adjustments to the equalisation (amplitude of sound at different frequency bands) prior to the cutting of the master, the record would sound much better.

Before the 1990’s all form of audio mastering had to be analogue and done using electro-mechanical processes, but since the creation of digital technology, audio mastering can now be done in a studio using a digital audio workstation (DAW), and while there are still many engineers in the music industry that specialise in analogue mastering, the use of the digital audio workstation is proving to be one of the most popular choices in the industry today.

Audio mastering requires experience and critical listening, in this modern age of technology, there are many software tools that exist in order to make the process easier and clearer. A good mastering engineer needs to have technical knowledge as well as great equipment. The accuracy of speaker monitors as well as the listening environment will have a huge factor in the outcome of the final master. Experience and skill is needed to apply corrective equalisation and dynamic compression in order to achieve a well-balanced record with optimum translation for all playback systems.

Having an organised audio mastering engineer is always a good idea too as it’s always worthwhile making a copy of the master recording in case the original master is damaged or lost (in the industry we call this a safety copy).

With all the technological advancements in the music industry, the process of audio mastering has become a lot more creative and the role of the audio mastering engineer has now become to shape and enhance the music instead of simply replicating it. This makes audio mastering a far more interesting and creative process that is seen as a crucial step in the production of audio and music.

Let’s see what modern-day digital audio mastering entails here.

Audio Mastering, Mixing and Creating Great Music!

Audio Mastering And Music Creation

Whether it is commercial music or audio for other purposes such as movies, you can be sure that the audio has been through quite a long process of being created, recorded, edited, mixed and finally, mastered. While the creation of music by artists still remains the most important element of the process, the music would not exist on record without the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to release this music in many different formats which can be played on modern technology.

listopad-064-pp-1024x640
Red Mastering London Studio

So let’s have a look at what the process of creating music involves and what role audio mastering plays in it…

Audio Mastering Explained

Step One – Rehearsing and Recording Audio in the Studio

The first step is for the artists to rehearse and record their sound at the studio with the help of the producer and recording engineer. The recording engineer can enhance the talent that already exists and can add extra spice to the vocals or instruments that are being played. Usually this is done through the knowledge and understanding of the studio as well as choosing the correct equipment for each individual piece of music. This is why it is very important to choose the right studio and recording engineer as whatever your sound may be, you want it to come out sounding the best that it can. By choosing an experienced recording engineer that has good extensive knowledge of the studio equipment, you can ensure that it will do just that!

Once the audio is rehearsed and recorded, it then goes to the next stage of the process; audio editing.

Step Two – Audio editing and DAW

Nowadays, audio editing is mostly done on the computer using a Digital Audio workstation (DAW) by an experienced audio editing engineer. This process ensures that the audio is “cleaned” up and allows for the editing of any flaws such as clicks, hums and hisses.

A digital audio workstation is commonly found in many audio editing facilities and is the centre of the studio. It will usually be a desktop computer with a graphic user interface (GUI), at least one mixing console, a control surface as well as an audio converter and data storage. DAW is the interface where all your equipment is connected and all your files are stored and its primary job is to simulate studio equipment.

Most of the audio editing is performed using software such as Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, Steinberg Nuendo and Logic Pro.

This prepares the audio for the next phase of mixing which is done by an audio mixing engineer.

Step Three – Mixing Audio and the Audio Mixing Engineer

Choosing the right audio mixing engineer is extremely important as during this process, depending on the taste and style of the sound that the client is trying to achieve, there is a level of creativity that can be added. The audio mixing engineer can add subtle changes to the music and make small tweaks to give it a flavour of a particular style of music.

Once the mixing process is completed, there should be no more changes made and this should be seen as the final version of the music. Once everyone is happy with the final result, the audio then goes on to its last and final stage of the creation process and is passed on to the audio mastering engineer.

Step Four – Audio Mastering and the Audio Mastering Engineer

When music reaches the audio mastering engineer, their main job is to listen to what they have been given. They will usually listen to the audio a few times; maybe first just to listen, then to analyse and then to decide what must be done to meet the client’s needs and requirements and enhance the audio. Depending on how the audio is recorded, edited and mixed, it may not require a lot of input from the audio mastering engineer and may only need the very basic enhancements.

As this is the first time the mastering engineer has heard the audio, the advantage is that it will be heard with a fresh mind and fresh ears allowing for very critical listening.

After listening to the audio a few times, the idea and picture of what must be done to the audio are created and from that stage, the audio mastering engineer knows what steps must be taken to achieve this, allowing the engineer to be organised and precise when mastering. Once the mastering engineer knows the correct steps to take and can get practical with mastering that sound we all love so much!

Previously audio mastering did not involve much creativity and the mastering engineer’s job was to produce a transparent master that was a replica of the original sound, but with the advent of technology, the role of the mastering engineer has grown and now there is a demand and requirement for creative input during audio mastering.

This can breathe life into the audio and bring that something special to an already finished mix. By listening to what’s already there in the audio, an experienced mastering engineer can quickly tell what is missing. For this, state of the art equipment is required as well as a good ear and years of experience. By finding out what the emotion, rhythm and vibe of the song is; the mastering engineer can use his knowledge to add depth and colour to the audio and enhance it. Of course, as every piece of audio is different and individual, the creative process of audio mastering can be different for each client.

The mastering engineer will master the audio in his studio using his Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) specifically designed and set up for audio mastering. This has many benefits and allows the engineer to do many different things such as apply noise reduction to eliminate clicks and dropouts, adjust stereo width, add ambiance, adjust volume, etc. Removing any minor issues is usually the first point of call and is done before any other adjustments to the track are made.

If the track contains any faults that may be bigger, sometimes the mastering engineer will need to go back to the mixing engineer and isolate the problem.

The importance of having good quality equipment and monitors is also extremely important at this stage as this allows for a much finer tuning system to find all those little mistakes that previous engineers may have missed. Once the issues are resolved, the creativity can start to flow, which can be anything from changing the EQ, the base or anything else that may improve the quality and sound of the audio.

The mastering engineer can ensure that there is balance throughout all the instruments and no part of the audio becomes overbearing so that there is equality throughout the music. Sometimes the client requires more creativity and sometimes they need more transparency which must be followed down to the ‘t’ to ensure a happy and satisfied customer.

If more transparency is required during the mastering process, then there will be less changes made to the audio and if more creativity is needed, well, how long is a piece of string!

Once the mastering is completed, the engineer will usually go back to the beginning and simply listen to the track to make sure everything is as it should be and sounds just right, sometimes even leaving the track for a few minutes to have ‘fresh’ ears again and really be able to hear any last minute issues.

When the mastering engineer has decided that the audio is the best that it can be, CD markers will usually be inserted along with the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) and any other information that is needed to replicate the CD.

Audio Mastering and mixing at our Red Mastering Studio London

Mastering Audio at Red Mastering studio London

Red Mastering studio London is an audio mastering studio specifically dedicated to high quality audio mastering and mixing. We have created a professional audio environment that allows us to work in the fast-paced and ever-changing music industry, and allows us to provide only the best service to our clients at affordable and competitive prices.

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Red Mastering studio London

Red Mastering studio London has audio mastering engineers with over twenty years of experience in the music industry and as such, we are able to meet the demands and requirements of all our customers whether they are already established in the business or just starting out.

Find the Right Audio Mastering Engineer

We understand how difficult it can be to find the right audio mastering studio for your needs and we aim to provide a friendly, professional and relaxed environment where you can get the most out of your music. Whether you require transparent audio mastering or an injection of creativity, we can help to master your music in a way that reflects you and enhances your sound so you have that perfect finished product.

Through the hard work and growing reputation of Red Mastering studio London, our clients have come to expect only the best service software that is personalised and competitive.

Music Mastering is an art and we have a wonderful team and studio to support you through every stage of your journey with Red Mastering London for all your online audio mastering and mixing needs.

Whether you are simply looking for information, technical advice, or need our services for mastering and mixing, please feel free to get in touch through our website Onlinemastering.org.uk or browse through our pages to find what you are looking for.

A warm welcome from Red Mastering Studio London and the team!

Using Free Best Mastering Software

Music tracks can be the equivalent of noise, or they can be something more, if an engineer has competently mixed or arranged the sound elements. While even the best mastering software is just a tool, and cannot replace the skill of a professional, much can be said for using a good mastering app to edit the tracks. This can vary from a base program to a number of plug-ins.  Red mastering uses the best paid tools in each such category, rest assured. But for those who have acquired some skills, but may be lacking in the budget department, the below examples of free and affordable tools can get the job done.

Equalizers M/S.  Among the top freeware apps in this category are BaxterEQ by Variety of Sound, MQ57 by J1000, and NCL Phase EQ by matt42 (all three programs are in Windows). For equalizers that are linear-phase, there’s Marvel GEQ by Voxengo (Mac, Windows), ReaFIR by Cockos (Linux, Windows), and SplineEQ by Photosounder (Windows).  Apps for dynamic equalizers include DuckEQ by HeelAudio (Mac), IQ4gui by Platinumears (Windows), or Smash Pro by Jeroen Breebaart (Windows).

Compressors. The best mastering software for free in this area (clean) are TDR Feedback Compressor II by Tokyo Dawn Records (Mac, Windows) or ReaComp by Cockos (Linux, Windows). Compressors for coloring include DCAM FreeComp by FXpansion (Mac, Windows), Density mkIII by Variety of Sound (Windows) and Molot by VladG Sound (Mac, Windows). Among multi-band compressors are 5ORCERY by Platinumears (Windows), Broadcast by Jeroen Breebaart (Windows), C3 Multi Band Compressor by slim slow slider (Mac, Windows), and ReaXComp by Cockos (Linux, Windows).

Limiters et al. Effects tools of this type include  Barricade Pro by Jeroen Breebaart (Windows), Limiter №6 by VladG Sound (Mac, Windows), along with LoudMax by Thomas Mundt (Mac, Windows). Two saturation programs  controlling for that factor are IVGI by Klanghelm Audio (Mac, Windows) and TesslaPRO mkII by Variety of Sound (Windows). Exciter programs  include Thrillseeker XTC by Variety of Sound (Windows) and You Wa Shock ! by Image Line (Windows).

Other programs provide help for miscellaneous effects like clippers, transient shapers, M/S, spectrum analyzers and mastering suites, among other functions. Use of these applications can help one ‘master’ their mastering and mixing skills and familiarity with such software, until they may move on to better paid programs. In the meantime, freeware like BaxterEQ, TDR Feedback, Density mkill , Limiter etc will more than get you by.