Audio Mastering - Essential Practices
Hal Leonard Book

Audio Mastering - Essential Practices

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Author: Jonathan Wyner

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Table of Contents

A Brief History
How To Develop Golden Ears
What Is Mastering?
Learning To Master
What Is A Master?
The Contemporary Mastering Mindset
What Are The Goals Of Mastering?
Tour of a Mastering Studio: Rooms, Gear, Software
The Mastering Studio
Project/Home Studios
Digital Vs. Analog: Does Digital Sound Cold?
The Mastering Process: Life Cycle of a Project
Project Assessment
Matching Gear To Projects
File Setup
DAW Session Setup
Project Assessment
Reference Recordings
Prioritizing Tracks
Adjusting The Sound
The Signal Processing Chain
Track Editing
Metadata And Q/C
Maximizing Fidelity
File Types And Structures
Bits, Dynamic Range, And Dither
Sample Rate
Matching Levels: Volume, Metering, Limiting, and A/B Listening
How To Determine Level
0 VU Vs. 0 DBFS
Complex Signal Chains And A/B Listening
Noise Floor
How Compressors Work
Using Compression
Determining Settings
Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range Over A Record
Is It Better To Compress In Mixing Or Mastering?
Customizing Gear
Specialized Compression Techniques
Upwards Compression
Upwards Expansion
The Sound Of Compression
Mastering With Presets
EQ: Corrective and Creative
What EQ Does
Types Of EQ
Fades and Sequencing Time between Tracks
Restoring Recordings: Ethics And Aesthetics
Quality Control and Delivery Formats
Digital Data And Error Correction
Evaluating A Master For Errors
The Kind That Is Contained Within The Program And Displayed On A Playback Device (e.g., CD Text), Or Used To Help The Playback Device Navigate To Points In The Program The Kind That Is Connected To The Program By Identifying The Program And Displaying Me
Mastering For The Web
PQ Offsets
File Headers
Monitoring And QC
Case Study 1: Big Money
Gain Staging
Tonal Issues
Stereo Image
Case Study 2: Continuity between Tracks
Analyzing Tracks
Transition Between Tracks
Plug-In Chain: EQ-Compressor-EQ
Specs of Common Delivery Formats
About The Author

Improve the sound of your recordings!

Mastering is the art of optimizing recorded sound, finding the ideal volume levels and tonal quality, and insuring data integrity necessary to produce a professional-quality duplication and distribution-ready master.

This book introduces the techniques and tools of audio mastering, suitable for commercial and home/project studio environments. Technical discussions address gear, studio setup, methodologies, goals, and other considerations for making tracks sound their best, individually and in relationship to other tracks.

The accompanying online audio examples support two detailed case studies where readers can follow a mastering engineer's manipulations step by step.


“As much as has been written about methods, myths, and methodologies in mastering recorded music, there's plenty of room for a thorough, up-to-date, and above all competent review of what excellent mastering is, and isn't. Jonathan Wyner has crafted a terrific new written work on the subject, and has gone further by illuminating the many various approaches and choices with step-by-step audio examples of how to apply art and technology thoughtfully, tastefully, and well.” – George Massenburg, multiple Grammy® award-winning producer, engineer, and inventor. Professor of Sound Recording, Schulich School of Music, McGill University

“This is a very easy-to-read but still comprehensive text on audio mastering techniques. Jonathan Wyner offers ample hands-on experience from his daily work as a mastering engineer. The step-by-step audio examples on the CD are invaluable. All in all, a must have book for anybody pursuing a career in audio mastering.” – Daniel Weiss, Weiss Engineering Ltd., manufacturer of equipment for mastering studios

“A fantastic overview of the mysterious world of mastering! Audio Mastering does a great job of covering both the technical and creative aspects of our art. A must-read for all record production professionals – those aspiring to be mastering engineers and those who simply desire to be better informed on the mastering process.” – Adam Ayan, multiple Grammy® and TEC award-winning mastering engineer (Carrie Underwood, Rush, Pearl Jam, Madonna, Foo Fighters, Rascal Flatts)

“Audio Mastering is an informative and entertaining read, with practical advice and insights into the techniques and tools of the trade that nearly any engineer will find immediately useful. The 'case studies' provide a rare, intimate, real-world look at the process, as if you're a fly on the wall at one of New England's finest mastering houses. Whether you are new to mastering or an experienced professional, you will find this book to be fascinating and practical.” – Tom Bates, multiple Grammy®-winning engineer and producer (Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Michel Legrand, the Metropolitan Opera, and Saturday Night Live)

“Jonathan Wyner demystifies what is perhaps the least understood stage of the recording process. This step-by-step manual provides a clear roadmap for musicians and engineers alike, whether the objective is communication with a professional mastering facility, or learning the art of mastering itself.” – Scott Billington, VP of A&R at Rounder Records and Grammy®-winning producer

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