How to master your tracks

So over the years I have read many texts and watched many videos talking about mastering and how to master your tracks to sound just like the big boys. But, you know, no matter what super-duper plugin or process I tried I could never get things to compare to a professionally mastered track. Many people on the net simply dismiss the mastering process and say, “ohhh you will never get it to sound like the pros unless you have thousands of dollars worth of hardware”. And while I know it is usually worth while to get someone else to master your track just so another set of ears can hear it, I also know that many electronic musicians do master their own stuff and get good results, and lets face it, electronic music is ephemeral and not made to last the ages so it really only needs to sound good on a big sound system and probably gets played only a handful of times.

The other problem I have faced is that 99% of stuff on the net talks about mastering rock/pop kind of stuff, mastering dance music or heavily electronic orientated hip-hop is very different. For instance, when mastering rock/pop music for the radio you might put a high pass filter in to cut everything below say 40hz since there is very little musical content there that would add to the music. But, if you do that with dance or 808 style hip-hop all the phat-ness is taken out of the track and on a big loud club system the subs get very under utilised… hmmm subs, we love subs….! The other thing is that dance music has to be loud! very loud! Screw the loudness war, most people complaining about things being too loud are referring to rock music and music played by real people, dance music has to be 110% LOUD all the f’ing time!

Anyway to get to the point, of all the info I have taken in over the years this video is probably the best one I have seen. The guy breaks it down into simple steps and takes time to explain what each stage is for. It also helps that before I watched this I had already played with pretty much every plugin he uses and have a fair idea what they do and how to use them, but it’s the usage, processing order and reason why each plugin is used that is important. Sadly once again, he is talking about mastering some crappy rock/pop track so ignore that and try it out. The proof is in the pudding, and today I was able to use the principles talked about in this video to turn what was a fairly lifeless mix into a punchy, exciting and loud mix! My track itself is pretty boring, but I was very pleased that I was able to play the track on many different system and it stood up well in relation to loudness and frequency response.

So give it a try even if you use similar plugins built into your DAW or any of the many free plugins that are available. And oh I have also signed up for the free pdf and course that he conducts so I will let you know how that goes.

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