Mastering is the final step of audio post-production: call it the icing on the mix cake. The purpose of mastering is to balance sonic elements of a stereo mix and optimize playback across all systems and media formats.
In today’s world, this translates across as mastering for streaming standards coupled with hard copy presses. The role of the mastering engineer has not changed. But the tools and knowledge have had to be adapted. Online streaming criteria and potential hard copy presses are now often required to supplement a catalogue or provide niche content for those that like to use vinyl or CD.
Stem and Stereo Mastering
Unlike traditional mastering, in which the mastering engineer refines and enhances a stereo file for commercial release for the various mediums, stem mastering combines multiple “stems” or stereo groups of instruments to create a final master.
It is quite common nowadays for customers to supply mastering engineers with both a raw final mix/production in hi resolution stereo and group or instrument stems. With a well produced mix quite often stereo mastering benefits the customer more than to have the mastering engineer impart their methodologies and colour on a mix using group/instrument stems.
With labels I often receive raw stereo mixes to master as they will have invariably paid a named producer to impart his/her colour onto the mix. However, with songwriters/artistes and mix engineers I often receive both the stems and the final stereo mix.
The stereo mix acts as a guide for the mastering engineer to not sway too far from the direction of the mix and the supplied stems are there in the event the mastering engineer needs to rebalance certain instruments/groups for the final master.
Whether you are after stem mastering or stereo mastering drop me a line and we can run through your needs and aims over a virtual coffee. As I have been a mix engineer and producer for the best part of 35 years I am quite adept at stem/stereo mastering irrespective of genre.
In fact, I love a challenge and I recently mastered a 14 minute piece for a theatre performance! Whether it’s Rock, Hip Hop, EDM or Armenian accordion Folk music I will master it. Due to the current Covid climate working remotely ensures our safety and, to be honest, it hasn’t hampered any of the services I offer.
Working online has never been easier.