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  • Kasper Topp

What is mastering?

Mastering is the final polish that makes sure the music sounds as desired, regardless of playback source. Typically done by ensuring a healthy frequency balance and a controlled dynamic flow through a song - from section to section - and, also as an entire album, from one song to another. Why do you need mastering? What is the point of mastering? Part of it is quality control. Making sure that the music sounds as desired, regardless of playback source.


What is a typical mastering session? A typical mastering session is done in two parts: A preliminary listen to determine what needs to be done and a production-based listen where the specifics are decided upon and executed. The process begins with an initial set of changes and adjustments using EQ, compression, limiting and whatever else may be necessary to make the song or album sound better before proceeding with the final adjustments which are based on everything learned in the preliminary stage.


How long does it take? The amount of time needed for a mastering session varies greatly depending on the number of items being mastered, the needs of the client and other factors. However, a single song should take less than 30 minutes to master. With multiple songs, and / or versions there will be more time needed. Getting an album mastered can take anywhere from one day to three weeks depending on what needs to be done. Making changes to some sort of compression or limiting may not require more than 5-10 minutes per track but EQing every track in the entire album may require several hours.


Then there’s the final technical stage. This stage is about embedding meta data, such as ISRC codes when creating a DDP master for CD production.

What is DDP? DDP stands for Disc Description Protocol. It’s a format for describing a CD-ROM master, so that it can be replicated exactly. This is a format used by professional CD manufacturers.


What is the difference between DDP and Red Book? The Red Book standard is the standard used by all CD players, while DDP is only used by professional CD manufacturers. In other words, you can play a Red Book CD on your home stereo, but you need special equipment to play a DDP master. But hey, don’t worry about it - we’ll take care of all the technicalities.


How do I get my music onto the internet? We’ll take care of that too! We’ll upload your music to iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services - if you want us to, of course!

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