LEARNING HOW TO MASTER YOUR MUSIC PROPERLY WILL DRAMATICALLY IMPACT EVERY SONG YOU PUT OUT THERE
Music is more than just a pastime activity to some people; it’s a passion and a profession. However, this does not mean that everyone can afford the astronomically high rates of professional music studios. This has caused many people to turn their homes into makeshift studios. While I respect their decision, I feel that most house studios aren’t up to the mark when it comes to making music. However, if you follow these steps, you can make sure that the music you produce is as pure as it can be.
The first thing to do if you want to master your music is to listen to every single track on the album. This will help you better understand the theme of the album and make you better equipped to present it in the simplest and most impactful manner to your listeners. Often, track sequence is crucial to the success of the album. If you place tracks with similar sounding notes and chords one after the other, you run the risk of your music sounding monotonous. Therefore, make sure each track is in its natural position and everything ‘fits’ together. It’s best to think of each track as a brush stroke which can make or break the bigger picture (in this case, your album). Remember, if two songs sound absurd in a particular order, either keep them far away from each other or add a track that can act as a transition between the two extremes.
One cannot talk about mastering music without bringing up the term equalization. Often, equalization is the deciding factor in the success of an album. For example, if a song has too much bass, it can make the audience feel annoyed and irritated. Thus, it is necessary to make sure that all the frequency bands in your unmastered track (bass, mids, and highs) are mastered properly. Remember, your bass must not sound too muddy, your mids must not cause the track to lose its dynamics, and your highs must not sound too harsh on the listener’s ears. It is important to listen to your unmastered music again and double check if it has these problems. If it does, rectify them as instructed; otherwise, proceed to the next step.
Have you ever listened to a song where the guitar riff is so loud that you can barely make out what the vocalist is saying? While this may very well be a niche or genre in the music industry, the fact is that when sounds get overwhelmed or drowned among other acoustics, it can cause an irritating effect on the listener. Some people have flat out stopped listening to a song just because one instrument was way louder than another. Thus, it is critical that you avoid this at all costs. You need to make sure you normalize the louder instruments and sounds in your track so that they are brought on a level playing field as the quieter notes. After that is done and you feel like your music is too hushed up, you can always increase the overall loudness of your track by using any of the countless software available on the internet for free.
If you (like me) belong to the generation that listened to music on CD players, you must have noticed that every album had ‘blank spaces’ between two songs, where the music of the first track would quiet down until no sound was heard for a couple of seconds. In the music industry, these blank spaces are called gaps and are crucial in separating one track from another on the same album. However, these gaps should be of a modest length. If they are too long, the listener may think that their music player has broken down. This can greatly annoy the user, so it is something that you should avoid. Similarly, if your gaps are too small, they may be mistaken for fades and your audience may think that two separate tracks are one. Thus, before proceeding to the last step of mastering your music at home, I want you to go back to your music and make sure that its gaps are alright.
The last thing that you can do to make sure your now mastered track or music is alright is by monitoring its track levels. This will give you an excellent summary of everything that we have discussed so far. If you feel that one verse of your music has lower track levels than, say, the second verse, make sure it is normalized before you publish your music.