The Cutting Suite Digital Mastering

The Cutting Suite Digital Mastering

Digital mastering

Digital mastering is simply an updated service. This involves the sending a receiving of files between the mastering house and the customer using the internet. This way making the process more efficient and less time consuming so we can pass the savings onto you , the customer.

The sites we would recommend using to upload your tracks would be:

sendspace  or  wetransfer

Digital mastering is mastering and follows all the same procedures, allowing you to achieve the same results at a reduced cost and in today’s penny pinching climate this is always a welcome situation.

A little bit about mastering:

A piece of music goes through many stages as it transforms into a record.

After starting out as a bunch of ideas and emotions, little by little it becomes a reality. Listening closely to the music and having regular communication with you, the artist will allow us to enhance the song in the best way possible giving it the professional mastered touch that turns your track into a polished record. We believe the best masters are achieved through good communications with the client……   and we also like to chat, so feel free !

Sometimes the confusion about mastering means musicians/artists don’t understand fully what Mastering achieves, except that they need it (true for most commercial releases or for demos meant to impress). Luckily for some it can perform miracles on flawed mixes but on the whole not the case generally the best masters come from the better mixes.

The mastering process is entirely dependent on the music. Some tracks may benefit from broad band equalisation, soft compression and perhaps a little analogue saturation, whereas others may need something a little more drastic. Depending on the track it will have obvious issues that need to be dealt with. These can vary due to the style of music but most common are recording issues, mixing issues, pops and clicks, room issues or hiss. Mastering is becoming more and more important as budgets are decreasing.

Mixes are often in need of a little help to make them sound as good as possible and meet the loudness levels required in the current market. Over the last 20 years the job of the Mastering Engineer has evolved.  It is now a more of a “creative” process involving sometimes obscure or “secret” techniques giving the ability to transform mixes into something “punchier/more polished/more airy/bigger/ more expensive sounding/louder, etc…”

Mastering engineers now have to use a whole new range of skills to improve or correct the presentation of mixes and rely on many years of experience to produce amongst other requests very loud masters that can still sound clear and relatively free of distortion. A lack of resources or experience as engineers mean many artists turn to mastering as the last step in the production line. The aim is to make their music well received in terms of sonic presentation. This challenges Mastering engineers to use all their knowledge to perform the occasional miracle.

In the right hands mastering can be spectacular. Making low budget productions sound expensive/professional, or enabling poorly recorded or badly mixed tracks sound acceptable. One of the many skills of a Mastering engineer is to know just how little to do to a mix. Sometimes “less is more”. Being able to do this often shows the difference between a great & average Mastering Engineer.

You might ask……. ??  what’s the point of paying for something that can sometimes be so subtle ?

There are an array of answers to this:

  • Often it’s not that subtle ! If the job is done well, the mastered version will simply be better than the original, retaining everything good about it.
  • Where the difference is less obvious, it will only be difficult to hear when level-matched. The importance of increasing the level of a track to it’s own particular sweet spot without pushing it over the top, is hard to overemphasise.
  • Doing this for all of the tracks in an album, getting them balanced against one another in their final sequence is evermore important and valuable. This takes a great deal of skill and care – it’s almost impossible to achieve this simply by pushing the level up.
  • Ideally, the differences should be subtle. A great mix only needs the slightest of tweaks, but even these minor adjustments, over the course of a whole album, add up, leaving you with a quality finished product that you can be proud to place in the market.