There's lots of reasons to want to skip the mastering process and get on with releasing your music. You've already spent a long time on the writing, recording and mixing, you want to hit a deadline or maybe you don't think your project *needs* mastering but please read on and I'll explain why every project really does need mastering, no matter how good the song, the recording or the mix.
Inconsistent Sound Quality:
One of the most prominent indicators that your music needs mastering is inconsistent sound quality. If you find that your tracks sound significantly different when played on various devices, speakers, or headphones, then it's time to consider mastering. A professional mastering engineer will work to balance the frequencies, adjust dynamics, and optimise the overall sound so that it translates well across different listening environments.
Lack of Clarity and Definition:
When you compare your tracks to professionally mastered songs, do you notice a lack of clarity and definition? If your mix sounds muddy or lacks depth, mastering can help address these issues. A mastering engineer can apply equalisation, stereo enhancement, and other techniques to bring out the details and improve the overall sonic quality of your music.
Have you ever experienced your music being significantly quieter or louder compared to commercial tracks? Inconsistencies in volume levels can be a clear indication that your music requires mastering. A mastering engineer will use compression and limiting techniques to ensure your tracks reach an appropriate loudness level while retaining dynamic range and avoiding distortion.
A well-mastered track has a balanced frequency response across the entire audio spectrum. If you notice that certain frequencies, such as the bass or the high-end, are overpowering or lacking presence, then mastering can help address these imbalances. By carefully equalising and enhancing the frequencies, a mastering engineer can create a more cohesive and pleasant listening experience.
Polishing the Overall Sound:
Mastering is the final stage where your music receives a professional polish. It involves fine-tuning the stereo image, adjusting the fades, removing any unwanted noise or clicks, and ensuring smooth transitions between tracks. The goal is to make your music sound as polished and professional as possible, ready for distribution and various platforms.
While it's possible to achieve decent results by self-mastering using software plugins, professional mastering can take your music to the next level. If you're serious about your music and want it to stand out in the highly competitive music industry, investing in professional mastering is highly recommended.
Perhaps the biggest thing a mastering engineer can bring is a fresh and unbiased perspective on your songs. It's so easy to become blind to certain aspects of a project if you've spent hours listening to the same thing on loop and as well as a knowledgable perspective, a mastering engineer will listen in a dedicated acoustically treated room with the highest quality monitoring system available. As well as hearing everything in detail a mastering engineer can preview the exact compression codecs online streaming services use to deliver your music so we can hear EXACTLY how your music will sound when being streamed and make any adjustments to get your music sounding its absolute best.