Mastering broken down
EQ, Dynamics, Spacial image (width and depth)
The first step in the mastering process is EQ, without a balanced frequency spectrum dynamic processing is difficult to get right. We aim to increase balance in a mix, take away resonant frequencies and enhance pleasant frequencies.
We use a combination of trained ears and spectrum analysis within an acoustically treated room and Barefoot MM27 x Focal monitoring system. We also utilise Mid/Side EQ to clean up stereo information in the low end and widen the image where it benefits. Goto Eq’s are Neve 8803 (Hardware), Elysia MusEQ (VST), UAD Manley massive passive & Fabfilter’s Pro Q. Utilising this combination allows us to smoothen frequencies, add colour and surgically remove problem frequencies. This combination allows us to master music and make professional decisions that aren’t available in a home studio situation.
Dynamics and loudness is a sensitive part of the mastering process, It takes experience and is a very competitive area. Incorrect processing can lack body and depth, dynamic content allows us to get more creative in this area. We utilise a combination of valve, solid state and digital compression & limiting. Our goto compressor is the Thermionic Culture master compressor, it adds glue and warmth that is not achievable in a computer. Our mastering engineers also utilise digital dynamic processors that allow us to get a transparent/loud mix in the final stages. Our goto digital processors are UAD precision bundle, Cytomic Glue and Fabfilter’s Pro-L.
When working with the spacial image we look for phase issues and stereo information in problem areas as well as sweetening the stereo image where it benefits. Stereo information in specific frequencies is a common issue with content thats delivered to us. Utilising Mid/Side processing enables us to clean up problem areas and widen where it may benefit. Source material is also an important factor for us to consider, If its content for a night club or music that’s listened to at home there is often a different approach, free mixdown feedback and online mastering available.
All songs, mastered at Plasma Studios