Music mastering is both an art and a science!
Mastering is the final creative and technical step prior to pressing a CD, uploading for digital distribution and iTunes including hi-resolution MFiT (Mastered for iTunes). COS Mastering enhances your music with the goal of retaining and presenting the best musical character your music has without technical processes getting in the way of or damaging the music itself. Really great mastering is a process that is completely transparent allowing only the music to be experienced as you intended, not the processing.
The Art of Music Mastering
Music mastering is much more then the normal volume optimization that is referred to as mastering in many places. The music mastering engineer is a specialist who constantly spends their time perfecting the craft of mastering. Music mastering is performed in a dedicated studio with quiet, calibrated acoustics, and a single set of wide range monitors. Signal paths are kept to a minimum plus customized gear and tools are used. The monitors should not be encumbered by the interfering acoustics of large recording consoles, racks or outboard gear. In other words, the acoustics are first optimized, and all other considerations must be secondary to the acoustics.
Attending Mastering Sessions
Due to acoustic considerations the attendance is limited to no more that two people. Out of the maximum of the two people attending sessions one must be the final authority when it comes to making any decision that your mastering engineer may ask. Most of the time session attendance is only necessary for the initial consultation at the time the final mixes, song sequence, and any documentations are delivered to the mastering engineer. The other instance would be after your material is successfully mastered and ready for a final listen and editing and of course the final QC of the Pre Master (PM).
In most cases the producer in charge or an agent for the record company is the sole person that makes any decisions about such issues as song sequence and transitions between songs. Your mastering engineer may also help you in making these important decisions if you are unsure.
Finalizing Your Master
After you have lived with your reference CD for a day or two and are completely satisfied then the certified PM is created along with your registered documentation and test results of the PM media. This is the product that goes directly to your replication or pressing plant where it is used for the glass master creation. This product is registered to it’s own set of documents that accompany it to the pressing plant and requires a professional product be delivered back to you.