Raw Creation · Come Thru (before mastering)
Raw Creation · Come Thru (MASTERED) snippet

Why master?

The goal of mastering is to ensure that your audio will sound the best it can on all platforms. Even if you are recording and mixing in a million dollar studio, or recording in less than ideal conditions, you still need the final quality check of mastering. This makes sure your sound will be heard the way you intended it to be.

A good mastering job makes an album consistent and balanced. Without mastering, individual tracks can sound disjointed in relation to each other, and when compared to other music on various platforms un-mastered tracks will have much lower volume and subpar sound quality. 

What does mastering involve?

Audio restoration

This step fixes any imperfections in the original mix like unwanted clicks, pops or hisses. It also helps to fix small mistakes that stand out when un-mastered audio is amplified.

Stereo enhancement

Stereo enhancement deals with the spatial balance (left to right) of your audio. When done right, stereo enhancement widens your mix, helping it sound bigger. It can also help tighten your center image by focusing the low-end.


EQing corrects spectral imbalances and enhances elements that need to stand out. An ideal master is well-balanced and proportional. This means no specific frequency range is left sticking out. Ever played a song where ALL you hear is the 808, heavy S’s that hurt your ears, or the midrange in the vocals is way too loud to where half of the instrumental can’t be heard? Nobody wants that. A balanced piece of audio will sound good on any playback system.


Compression corrects and enhances the dynamic range of your mix and keeps louder signals in check while bringing up quieter parts. This process gives the overall audio a better uniformity and feel. Compression helps glue together parts that might not be as cohesive as they could be.


The last process in the mastering chain is usually a special type of compressor called a limiter. Limiters set appropriate overall loudness and creates a peak ceiling. Limiting makes the track competitively loud without allowing any clipping that can lead to distortion.

What’s the difference between mixing and mastering?

Though mixing and mastering do share similar techniques and tools, and are often confused, the two are very different. Mixing typically refers to a multitrack recording, whereas mastering is the final polish of a mixdown.

But remember!

To get great results from mastering, a well balanced mix with the proper file type is a must. You want your mix to be 44.1kHz and 16 bit or better and bounced (exported) as a .wav or .flac file. Mp3 file sizes are smaller but that’s for a reason, LOWER QUALITY. If you’re serious about your music and want the best sound quality possible then these details matter. Mp3’s can be mastered but you can only squeeze so much out of a lower quality file. You may think it sounds fine over studio monitors but think about how it will sound all the ways people listen to music: in the car, over phone speakers, a mono speaker, airpods, cheap headphones, etc. Also, it is absolutely important that your mix does not have any clipping… 

What is clipping?

Clipping is when audio from an individual track or the master bus is louder than the DAW can process. You can see this by checking the loudness meter. If any section is in the red, which means above 0dB, then you have clipping. You don’t want this because clipping equals distortion which causes loss in quality and clarity and can cause unwanted noise or drown out other areas of the mix. Unless you’re doing it strategically with 808’s or with a vocal track to get a raw grainy sound, you want to avoid this at all costs. If you find clipping simply lower the volume levels of all tracks until you get 1-3dB of headroom (dB’s under 0). Don’t worry if it’s not loud enough, you can turn up the speakers instead. During the mastering phase, volume will be brought up without causing clipping or losing quality. A good sound engineer will already know this but if you hear any issues or your doing the mix on your own be sure to check! Don’t be afraid to speak up.