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Something to think about -
All major label and most independent releases are mastered prior to release
for commercial sale. Why? Well, let's look.....
What is mastering?
Mastering is the optimization of tonality and volume for an entire project.
How is that important to me?
A well mastered recording does two things:
1) The songs within the project "match" each other, both in
volume and in the ratios of bass, treble, and midrange. The idea is not
only to hear a seamless "flow" for a project when heard start
to finish, but also to be able to go from song to song at random and not
hear a difference in tone or volume.
2) The project "matches" sonically with other projects of
its type. That is, your project should be as loud, big, and punchy as
projects from other artists you like.
Tell me more.
Did you ever listen to a project that a friend did in a home studio,
then put on a CD done by one of "the labels". You immediately
hear a big difference in both tone and volume. Mastering seeks to narrow
any gap between your release and other releases.
How do you do that?
We like to have the artist bring or send finished and mastered CD's
from other artists, that our client artist feels that their audience might
listen to back to back with the CD we're working on.
Also, this gives the mastering engineer and quick understanding of what
you would like your project to sound like.
How will this help me?
The idea is if the listener was hearing a bunch of similar CD's and your
CD comes on after, that your CD should sound just as good.
Is this always possible?
While it is not always possible to make one recording sound exactly like
another, a good mastering engineer can improve the sound almost 100% of
How does Hot Sound do mastering?
We convert a CD or DAT tape (via our Apogee converters) to analog, use
various pieces of vintage analog audio gear, then convert back to digital
for editing, project assembly, and CD burning of a Production master CD.
This CD is is then sent to the plant for duplication.
How is that different from other places?
Even though this is common practice at most of the larger and more reputable
mastering houses (whose rates generally run $300.00 - $500.00 per hour),
smaller and cheaper places do "digital mastering".
Is that bad?
If a project has been recorded and mixed digitally, a lot of times adding
some analog "fat" is just what it needs. This can't really be
done very well digitally. Digital may be more "accurate" sometimes,
but analog can add a certain "sweetness" to the sound, which
tends to benefit a significant number of projects.