Mastering is the final stage in the recording process.
At ValveTone, my goal is to provide musicians with world-class mastering services at affordable rates.
I specialize in mastering independent artist and label releases, and use only the highest quality analog and digital signal chains.
My approach to mastering includes five steps:
- Evaluate your recordings, goals and reference material
- Sonically polish each song to achieve its full potential
- Assemble the album, including setting song spacing
- Submit the first master for client review and changes
- Generate the final master, perform quality assurance on that master and prepare paperwork for manufacturing
First, your material is evaluated in an acoustically accurate room, using a high quality monitoring chain (Focal Speakers, Dangerous Monitor control and D/A). If you have albums you want me to reference, I’ll listen to these as well. During this process, I’ll get a sense of each of your songs and of the album as whole. Are your mixes too bright? Are they too dull? Do they lack bass? How do they compare to your reference material? Are the mixes consistent with one another? How could each song best fit into the sonic context of the entire album? Does a given track sound great and not need additional processing?
Next, each song is carefully sculpted and processed to achieve its full sonic potential and to best balance it against the entire album. Here at ValveTone, this usually involves high-quality analog equalization (GML, Dangerous, Manley and Great River) and compression (GML, Dangerous, Pendulum, API and Rockruepel). Occasionally, other processing is used, such as stereo expansion, multi-band compression, M-S processing, noise reduction or other sonic restoration techniques.
Once each song is treated, the tracks of your album are assembled in order. The beginning and ending of each track is examined and cleaned. The spacing between songs is carefully set and any cross-fades are applied. CD track start and end markers are created. Then, the relative volume of each song is adjusted to create a balanced listening experience. If industry-competitive loudness is desired, the necessary processing is applied.
If you are attending the session, you get a reference CD to take home and review. If you are not attending the session, I create reference audio files and send them to you. Once we are both satisfied, I send you a final set of audio files and a DDP Master and give you the paper work for disc manufacturing. You review the master one last time and send it off.
Now that’s not so complicated is it?
If you want to discuss mastering your next album with me, please reach out and contact me.