Self-mastering

You can skip this lesson if you have sorted a mastering solution.

Self mastering is an option that I would really only recommend to those who have some form of engineering experience. It’s a very fine art, and isn’t just about making everything louder.

Often mastering is about what can’t be heard, examining the space between sounds, the frequencies we can’t always hear, and having an incredibly well-tuned ear for sounds across the whole spectrum – as well as the right equipment and a strong understanding of how it all works, from simple volume and EQing to compression and limiting and beyond.

If you intend on risking it by self-mastering, then you may find something like LANDR (an online instant-mastering service) helpful. You may also wish to consider software such as iZotope’s Ozone plugin.

Both of these options still come with a cost however. Ozone costs $249 to buy, and LANDR will cost you $39 a month to get wav files (essential – forget mp3 files – you can’t upload them to Bandcamp or send them to any stores).

Even replicating the process of mastering “in the box” with Ableton Live may not be ideal. The EQ8 plugin does not allow for effective brick walls, the multi-band compression only allows 3 frequency ranges, the reverb plugin is often criticised, there’s no standard “maximiser” and often people feel that Ableton’s plugins may colour the sound somewhat.

Have a question? Ask it here!

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Chris Balmer -

Not sure this needs to be in it? Maybe you could shorten this to a paragraph or two in the previous section. Not sure many people who were going to self release would risk mastering tracks themselves.

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