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The Most Difficult Thing About Mastering is…


…mastering more than one song at a time.

You see, making one song sound good isn’t that difficult.

We’ve talked about this before, and you should be familiar with the steps needed to get a good sounding master.

But when you throw a few more songs into the mix it becomes trickier.

Because the goal is to make this collection of songs sound like an album.

Mastering the Songs As a Whole

Mastering is like making a ragtag band of teenagers play as a team. – Click to Tweet!

You need to make every song sound like they belong together.

You can’t have one louder than the other and they need to sound similar both in dynamic range and frequency response.

A great way to start is to make sure each song is at the same volume.

I use Waveburner for mastering and it’s easy to raise or lower the gain of each song so that they all flow together nicely.

As for frequency and dynamic range goes, I use multiband compression with very similar settings across the board and I always use a reference track to gauge how my masters sound compared to a commercial track.

Back and Forth Comparisons

After that, it’s all about going back and forth between songs to make sure they blend well with each other.

Use metering tools to gauge the loudness and frequency response of each song. Looking at the frequency response in your meters might sound like cheating, but it is a good way to see if one song is lacking in a certain area.

And finally, like I said, compare. Go back and forth between all the songs until they sound like a record.

Because it’s easy to make one song sound good. The tricky part is to make your ragtag collection of demos sound like a record.

If you’re still struggling, go check out Ian Shepherd’s Home Mastering Masterclass.

This fly on the wall course shows you exactly how to make masters that sound great. He shows you how to master a range of genres and takes you through all the steps needed to make your masters sound like professional records.

Click the link below to get your mastering lovin’:

Home Mastering Masterclass <———- Click there 🙂

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

  • There are some who would argue that it ain’t mastering unless it’s more than one song, just as it ain’t sex unless it involves more than one person. While in today’s market of one-song MeTube entries, that may be a bit strident, I can’t completely disagree with that sentiment..

    I have encountered two slightly (?) different methods for starting out the multi-song mastering process. Bear in mind that there is no ONE RIGHT way to record, mix or master, any more than there is ONE RIGHT way to play an instrument. I’m just including these extra options here as part of the conversation…

    The first method, and the one I personally prefer, is to start with the “quietest” song in the collection -quiet not based on recording or mix volume, but rather on the characteristics of the song itself, such as over all density of the mix (usually a quiet ballad vs. a power anthem, or barring that choice, the song with the highest RMS-tp-peak dynamic ranje (a.k.a “crest factor”.). Master that song to it’s maximum desired density and level without sounding smashed, and then use that as the guide to match the rest of the songs to by apparent listening loudness to your ear (NEVER to some RMS or other metered measurement.).

    The second method is identical, except to start with the “loudest” anthem song instead of the “quietest” ballad, and then match apparent listening loudness to that mastered song. Frankly, this is the method preferred by most of the pro mastering engineers I associate with, even though I have never been able to understand the sense of it myself, as it seems to me to just be begging that one push the quieter songs farther than they want to or should go. But who am I to argue with these pros? Which is why I include this option here.

    Note that in neither of these options is the idea of comparing one’s work to another mix/master. While many of those new to the engineering game would like to have this option as a guideline, it is frankly not a very reliable one. It’s comparing apples and oranges. With no idea why the other guy’s song’s original trackings and mixes sounded like, what kind of DR they had, what kind of gear was used, what level of expertise they had, yada yada yada, there is no way to reliably use that as a way to judge what you should do in your own situation.

    All you have to work with are your own mixes with your own gear in your own room with your own ears. Those factors and those factor alone will decide just where and how far your material’s DR, volume and coloration can and will go, and listeni8ngto some foreign project will tell you nothing about any of that and could (and usually will) lead you right off a sonic cliff.

    Just one guy;s POV…

    G.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Awesome! Thanks for the great comment. I might quote you on that 😉

  • There are some who would argue that it ain’t mastering unless it’s more than one song, just as it ain’t sex unless it involves more than one person. While in today’s market of one-song MeTube entries, that may be a bit strident, I can’t completely disagree with that sentiment..

    I have encountered two slightly (?) different methods for starting out the multi-song mastering process. Bear in mind that there is no ONE RIGHT way to record, mix or master, any more than there is ONE RIGHT way to play an instrument. I’m just including these extra options here as part of the conversation…

    The first method, and the one I personally prefer, is to start with the “quietest” song in the collection -quiet not based on recording or mix volume, but rather on the characteristics of the song itself, such as over all density of the mix (usually a quiet ballad vs. a power anthem, or barring that choice, the song with the highest RMS-tp-peak dynamic ranje (a.k.a “crest factor”.). Master that song to it’s maximum desired density and level without sounding smashed, and then use that as the guide to match the rest of the songs to by apparent listening loudness to your ear (NEVER to some RMS or other metered measurement.).

    The second method is identical, except to start with the “loudest” anthem song instead of the “quietest” ballad, and then match apparent listening loudness to that mastered song. Frankly, this is the method preferred by most of the pro mastering engineers I associate with, even though I have never been able to understand the sense of it myself, as it seems to me to just be begging that one push the quieter songs farther than they want to or should go. But who am I to argue with these pros? Which is why I include this option here.

    Note that in neither of these options is the idea of comparing one’s work to another mix/master. While many of those new to the engineering game would like to have this option as a guideline, it is frankly not a very reliable one. It’s comparing apples and oranges. With no idea why the other guy’s song’s original trackings and mixes sounded like, what kind of DR they had, what kind of gear was used, what level of expertise they had, yada yada yada, there is no way to reliably use that as a way to judge what you should do in your own situation.

    All you have to work with are your own mixes with your own gear in your own room with your own ears. Those factors and those factor alone will decide just where and how far your material’s DR, volume and coloration can and will go, and listeni8ngto some foreign project will tell you nothing about any of that and could (and usually will) lead you right off a sonic cliff.

    Just one guy;s POV…

    G.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Awesome! Thanks for the great comment. I might quote you on that 😉

  • Mastering is literally something I never mastered (excuse the pun). I’ll have to check out Ian’s course as I keep hearing a lot about it.

    Have a good day.

    Cheers
    Mike

  • Mastering is literally something I never mastered (excuse the pun). I’ll have to check out Ian’s course as I keep hearing a lot about it.

    Have a good day.

    Cheers
    Mike

  • kjell159

    Linux DAW in the picture, I like that. 😉

  • kjell159

    Linux DAW in the picture, I like that. 😉