The Basics of Audio CD Mastering
Recording a CD is a complicated process
which calls on the skills of a great many people. The musicians must prepare the
initial musical material before heading into the recording studio to lay down
tracks. The recording engineer is responsible for capturing the sounds and
mixing them together. The mixing stage may be followed by an editing and
processing stage, at which point the recording is ready for audio CD mastering.
Audio Recording is changing, but the
basics remain the same
Audio CD mastering is a specialized field requiring musical knowledge, a
technical background, and excellent ears. The mastering engineer has to be
familiar with a broad range of musical styles and able to produce a final
recording that sounds good on a variety of sound systems. He has to consider the
requirements of the artist and the producer and present a final recording that
is satisfying to everyone involved.
Music is often recorded on multitrack tape, and after the tracks have been
recorded, they need to be mixed down to stereo. Each song can take anywhere from
several hours to several days to mix down before beginning on the next song.
Various songs may be mixed down at different time of the day and with different
people giving their opinions. This can result in an uneven sound between songs.
The purpose of audio CD mastering is to give a consistent overall sound to the
entire CD project.
The mastering engineer should preferably be a different person from the producer
who mixed down the music. This will allow the music to be heard from an
independent perspective. The mastering engineer uses sophisticated processing
equipment to provide an overall polish to the sound of the CD project. Audio CD
mastering is the final stage before pressing the CD and releasing it
Audio CD mastering should be done in a mastering studio which is different from
the mixing studio. The mastering studio should be acoustically inert to prevent
any coloration to the sound. The equipment used for mastering must be of very
high-quality so that the engineer can hear all the details of the sound.
Once the CD has been mastered, it is sent to a pressing plant for mass producing
the CD. Without going through the audio CD mastering stage, the CD would lack
the professional sound that is required for commercial recordings.
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