This article was written on December 1, 2012 and is the copy written intellectual property of the trustees of TheMasteringStudio.com.

The Online Music Mastering Process

We get a lot of questions about what an online mastering studio is and how it operates. TheMasteringStudio.com is actually the online presence of a successful mastering studio located outside of Nashville Tennessee. We have a physical brick and mortar, purpose built, mastering studio. All we do is mastering. We don’t have equipment for mixing, we don’t have microphones, and we don’t have equipment for recording. We have an audiophile listening environment that has been carefully tuned to be able to know what is going on with your music and your masters. We can accurately predict what your music will sound like after it is mastered on a wide variety of playback situations. The equipment we have is tailored only for mastering. As has been mentioned in other articles on this website you may not recognize some of the brand names of the equipment. In fact, this is a good sign when choosing any mastering studio. It shows a commitment to using and acquiring equipment that is specific to the mastering process. This equipment is and should be different than equipment used for mixing and tracking.

The online mastering service we offer is not just a ploy to make extra money. In truth, the online business of TheMasteringStudio.com was designed to offer high-quality masters for lower budget recording projects. We operate a mastering studio that charges high premiums for ultra high quality masters. Sometimes we have customers come to the studio for their mastering sessions, other times we don’t. We have done Internet mastering for many years and have customers, and repeat customers from all over the world.

We have come to realize that many producers, musicians, bands, and record labels spend a lot of time and money making their records. When it comes time for mastering, is often the same case that they are out of time and they are out of money when it comes to mastering. In our brick and mortar mastering studio, if we charged rush fees, we would probably all be millionaires. After the costs of tracking, overdubbing, mixing, and tweaking there is often not time nor money for mastering.

We have developed TheMasteringStudio.com to address this and try to solve the problems for the multitude of artists and record labels facing this situation.

Of course one can’t get something for nothing. So what we have to do in order to be profitable in the online audio mastering business is to cut out some of the costs for things that people actually don’t always need anyway. In our brick and mortar mastering business we have noticed that many people don’t actually need physical compact discs anymore. TheMasteringStudio.com only offers electronic file delivery. We would never consider using lower quality processes or spending less time on your project. So we had to find ways to be profitable which would not affect the quality of the final Masters. The only way we could do this was to make TheMasteringStudio.com a fully online business. We cannot meet personally with customers. Meeting with customers takes many hours of time and ties up the studio for an entire day or two. We reserve those kind of mastering sessions for people who are paying a lot more money for their mastering. Yet when you send masters to TheMasteringStudio.com we perform the mastering in a state-of-the-art, acoustically tuned mastering facility using the highest quality mastering gear available to anybody. The only caveat is that these are exclusively unattended mastering sessions and the files will be delivered to you over the Internet. This is a way that we can keep the mastering costs down yet still deliver a very high quality product to you for way less money than you would expect.

The business model we use for online mastering is this: We use the Internet to try to attract new customers. We use the Internet to try to educate the customer on how to choose a reputable online mastering service. We feel that if the customer is educated on how to choose a proper online mastering service that many of them will choose TheMasteringStudio.com.

Once the customer chooses TheMasteringStudio.com, they will upload their files to us.

Once the files are uploaded to us we will perform a sample rate conversion usually up sampling to 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz. Of course if the files are already at 88 to kilohertz or 96 kHz that we will not perform a sample rate conversion.

At this point we may or may not do a leveling of the tracks. Leveling the tracks means making the tracks the same apparent loudness with respect to each other. We may or may not do this because some tracks are intentionally meant to sound softer than others. But in a lot of cases customers want each of their tracks to sound like they’re the same apparent loudness.

Once the sample rate conversion and the track leveling has occurred we will then apply mastering techniques to make both technical and aesthetic changes to your mixes to make them technically and aesthetically compatible in today’s music market.

This is the meat and potatoes of the mastering process. This is the part of the process that takes years of experience and the highest quality mastering gear to achieve. This is also the step in the process that requires a very accurate listening environment.

Some of the processes that may take place in this step are equalization, broadband compression, and multiband compression. Also in this step of the process a high quality digital limiter will be applied.

Many people who experiment with mastering on their own or mastering their own music think that applying a digital limiter is all there is to mastering. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The digital limiter should only be a very small part of the mastering process. In fact, digital limiters are very destructive to the audio. In actual fact, anything you do to your mixes in terms of processing is usually in some way destructive. That is why mastering facilities need to use the highest quality gear that is designed only for mastering. TheMasteringStudio.com uses this gear. We use only the highest quality mastering gear available as any reputable mastering studio would.

Once this step of the processing is complete a sample rate conversion is performed down to 16 bit 44.1 kHz for compact disc delivery.

This sample rate conversion is not to be taken lightly. Many people think that all sample rate converters are equal. It is easy to fall for the marketing when buying or looking at sample rate converters. But the truth is: reputable mastering facilities will shoot out and compare sample rate converters and choose the best sample rate converters for each project that comes in. We have spent many years evaluating, researching, and working with software developers to achieve the finest sample rate conversion available. In comparing sample rate converters we know the process we use is the best available anywhere. So… we do keep it a trade secret. But you can be sure every process we choose has been evaluated, researched, and collaborated with manufacturers, to find the best solution for every step of the mastering process.

“Dithering” is the part of the process of converting higher bit depths to lower bit depths. Again we have chosen our dither algorithms very carefully through years of experience, years of evaluation, and research. Again it is a trade secret for us as to what we have arrived at. But you can be sure that the time we have spent researching and working with software developers has paid off in the crystal clarity of your final project.

Once the sample rate conversion and dithering has been completed we deliver the files back to the artists or record label. We then offer the customer the ability to pay in a variety of ways using credit cards, PayPal balances, or debit cards.

Operating an online mastering business benefits both of us as the mastering studio and you as the mastering customer. If you as the consumer choose a reputable online mastering facility, you can get tremendous bang for your buck when it comes to mastering your project. You can also get mastering results faster than at any other time in history. Those two things combined make TheMasteringStudio.com the ideal solution for your mastering needs particularly when you are low on budget and low on time.

This article was written on December 1, 2012 and is the copy written intellectual property of the trustees of TheMasteringStudio.com.