What is Mastering for CD?
You’ve been in the studio concentrating on every track, probably one at a time, with the same solid focus to each one. Each song is composed and performed to the same high standards that you expect from you and your production team. When it comes to putting out your individual tracks, or putting a collection of them on to CD or on a playlist, it is important that they all ‘flow’.
Just take any seminal album that you know and love and consider ‘perfect’ in every way. That album, whether or not you’re thinking as a musician, engineer, producer or manager, will simply flow. Flow from one track to the other building your anticipation to the next track and satisfying you, the listener. Reading the sleeve notes, that album might have been recorded by several production teams in differing studios across the world on different equipment and at different stages of an artist’s career. Nevertheless, the music still ‘flows’ doesn’t it?
That so-called ‘flow’ is down to the mastering engineer making sound judgements on each of the tracks to ensure that the album does indeed flow. Each track and album needs individual attention to detail to perhaps make the changes necessary. These might be making things the right level (more on this later), matching the equalisation between tracks, making the tracks sit together side-by-side by adjusting the gaps between tracks (or taking them out all together if required), repairing sonic deficiencies such as hiss, rumble, wow and flutter where possible, adding the PQ, ISRC, UPC/EAN codes and preparatory information for the master and simply making your music sound as good as is possible.