Music mastering is a very useful procedure after music has been recorded and mixed. It will be up to the record label, musicians or producer to choose a suitable place for the music to be mastered. In many instances the band will have worked with a reputable engineer and be able to ensure the quality of the results through experience with a competent individual. For many people it will be the fist time looking for a mastering engineer and as such they will need to research a little to find someone with the appropriate equipment and abilities. Of course the search engines will be a good place to start as with many products and services. However there are few things to be aware of in order to select online mastering that is both reputable and good value. The music industry has changed considerably over the last 10 years and the mastering process used to be very expensive and there were relatively few people offering the service. Now you will come across many online mastering studios. In fact almost too many and this is why it is prudent to apply some knowledge in selecting a high quality and reasonably priced service.
When searching for an online mastering studio your should make an assessment of the websites that you visit. The website will be able to give a lot of information about whether the mastering studio is credible or not. The very first thing to note is whether the website is purely text and graphics based. Many mastering websites can be set up for $100.00 per yr and so it is very easy to get a site online that may not be able to back up the claims. So search for websites that are willing to show pictures of the equipment that the studio owns and works with. An absence of pictures would appear a little unusual to me, some studios may show stock manufacturers photo’s of high end audio equipment but you will not see a picture of the equipment in the studio and in a rack. Any reputable mastering studio would surely need to show off the equipment that they proudly own.
I also recommend looking at the working history of the engineer, many studios skip over this important information. The skill of the individual who masters the audio tracks is going to have a direct impact on the end results. I suggest looking at the website and finding details of the engineers professional work experience and seeing if they seem to have appropriate experience and also length of experience. Mastering is not a time for trainees, the inexperienced or practicing on the job. Audio mastering is where final decisions regarding the tonal response of music are made, this can quite simply improve the music or have a detrhymental impact. So be sure of the engineers experience and employ an individual who has had many years of professional experience working in related audio fields.
Equipment for mastering is also important, most mastering studios will be using a combination of analog and digital equipment and it would be wise that any chosen studio has a choice of these two technologies. A mastering studio only using digital tools has opted for the low cost version tool set. Good work can be done with digital tools but the best mastering is always done in conjunction with high quality analog tools. Analog tools are often quite expensive but allow greater range of tonal qualities to be passed to the audio, something which is very desirable in these days of “in the box” digital music production.
One very significant piece of equipment that relates to mastering music is high end reproduction equipment, as in loudspeakers. In order to be a master of audio you must be a master of audio frequencies. if you cannot hear problems you cannot fix problems, as such high resolution, full range loudspeakers should be in use. It is suggested that anyone looking for online mastering should investigate if the monitors used by the studio are capable as reference speakers. This means large speakers and not small book shelf sized speakers which many low end operators seem to show on their sites.
Choose your mastering studio with diligence and care in order to get the best quality and best value end results for your music mastering project.