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Audio Mastering 101: Everything A Beginner Needs To Know

audio mastering 101
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Audio mastering is the final sheen you apply to a song or album before it is packaged up released. Here’s everything you need to know…



If you’re new to the world of music production, you may have heard the term “mastering” thrown around without fully understanding what it means.

The good news is that mastering is fairly easy to understand as a concept. Here’s a simple definition: 

Mastering is the final stage of audio post-production, where a mastering engineer optimizes the final mix of a song for distribution. This involves adjusting levels, applying EQ and compression, and creating a cohesive sound that translates well across all playback systems. The final master is then used to create all copies of the song for distribution via streaming, physical media, and other formats.

The bad news is that mastering is a bit of an art form; no one born good at mastering. You have to learn it, study, and get familiar with a range of music production tools. 

If you’d like to learn how to start mastering your own music, without spending any money on tools or plugins, I have developed a framework that anyone can understand and implement based on my 20+ years’ of recording studio experience. 

It’s a framework that you can follow, step-by-step, that condenses down into 50 pages a process that took me over 20 years to learn.


ELECTRIKJAM Presents..

Mastering 101: The Complete Beginner’s Framework

This step-by-step framework is the exact process I use to master music professionally. It is the culmination of 20+ years of experience, condensed down into a single, easy to follow workflow


What You’ll Learn

Simple To Follow, Step-by-Step Process For Professional Audio Mastering

No Expensive Software Required, You Can Do It All Using Free Tools

Achieve consistent volume levels that match industry standards

Perfect for beginners or anyone that wants to learn the subtle art of audio mastering (without spending thousands of dollars)


What is Audio Mastering?

At its core, audio mastering is the final stage of music production. It’s the process of taking a mixed track and putting the final touches on it to create a polished, optimized sound that’s ready for distribution.

Mastering involves a variety of techniques, including adjusting levels, applying stereo enhancement, and monitoring for any clicks, pops, or other imperfections. 

If you’ve heard a professional recording, and then play one of your bedroom-produced tracks after it, you’ll hear the difference mastering (and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment) can make. 

Mastering makes the music louder, gives it more presence, more clarity. It pulls the mix together in a cohesive fashion that is designed for ALL possible formats – from headphones to audiophile-grade stereo systems. 

Why is Mastering Important?

If you plan on releasing your own music, mastering is a hugely important step. It is the final step. But it is one that a lot of bands and artists ignore – always to their detriment. 

There’s nothing worse than hearing a great song on Spotify or Apple Music that isn’t mastered properly – or at all – so it sounds weak, too quiet, or just dull. 

Audio Mastering 101: Everything A Beginner Needs To Know

Bands like TOOL and other big name artists spend months mastering their albums. They have millions to spend. You don’t. But you can learn to master your tracks to a professional-level by following my simple template. 

The template itself is based on my exact mastering workflow, the workflow I use to professional master music. And the best part? You can do all of it using free tools like Reaper. You don’t even need Cubase or expensive (and totally useless) AI mastering software. 

Benefits of Mastering Your Music

  1. Consistency: Mastering helps create a consistent sound across an entire album or EP. This means that all of the tracks will have a similar level and tone, creating a cohesive listening experience.
  2. Translation: A well-mastered track will sound great on any playback system, from high-end studio monitors to cheap earbuds. Mastering ensures that your music will translate well to any listening environment.
  3. Loudness: Mastering can help make your tracks sound louder and more impactful without sacrificing dynamic range or clarity. This is especially important in today’s digital age, where listeners are often consuming music on mobile devices and streaming platforms.
  4. Professionalism: A professionally mastered track will simply sound better than an unmastered one. It’s the difference between a demo and a radio-ready song.

The Mastering Process

As noted earlier, I have formulated my entire mastering process into a framework which is now available to buy from inside our store. It took me 20+ years to get this framework down to where it is today, and I learned most of the tricks and processes from some of the best audio mastering engineers in LA. 

Audio Mastering 101: Everything A Beginner Needs To Know
A Snippet From My Mastering 101 Framework

Whenever you sit down to master a new track or album, there’s some predefined steps you ALWAYS go through. These processes are what every mastering engineer has to not only understand, but also be able to perform instinctively with their preferred stacks of software tools. 

Here’s a basic overview:

  • Preparation: The mastering engineer will receive the mixed tracks from the artist or producer and import them into their mastering software.
  • Leveling: The engineer will adjust the levels of each track to ensure that they’re all sitting at a consistent volume.
  • EQ and Compression: The engineer will use EQ and compression to shape the overall tone of the track and create a balanced, polished sound.
  • Stereo Enhancement: The engineer may use stereo enhancement tools to create a wider, more immersive stereo image.
  • Limiting: The engineer will use a limiter to boost the overall level of the track without introducing distortion or clipping.
  • Dithering: Finally, the engineer will apply dithering to the track to reduce any quantization noise that may have been introduced during the mastering process.

Choosing a Mastering Engineer

If you’re serious about your music, it’s worth investing in professional mastering services. Look for an engineer with experience in your genre and a proven track record of success.

However, be warned: mastering is NOT cheap.

I charge $2000 for an album and $200 to $350 per track. And I am considered a fairly affordable engineer by industry standards. 

Audio Mastering 101: Everything A Beginner Needs To Know
A Snippet From My Mastering 101 Framework

The top guys working in the mastering industry charge five figures and up, so my advice, if you’re just starting out, is simple: learn how to master your own music – it’ll pay dividends in the short, medium and long term. 

Plus, if you want to be a musician, you’ll know being in a band doesn’t pay very well. But if you can master tracks to a professional level, you have a valuable skill that you can make a lot of money with. 

And with my framework, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do. Just follow the steps, rinse and repeat, and after you’ve gone through it 10 or 20 times, mastering your own music, you’ll be able to start charging artists and bands in your area to master theirs. 

Final Thoughts

Mastering 101

Mastering may seem like a mysterious and intimidating process, but it’s an essential step in creating professional-sounding music.

As someone that has worked in the music business, both as an artist and a producer and a mastering engineer, I can tell you that mastering makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. 

If your music – or even your individual tracks – is not mastered, it will sound flat and weak. And that will make it hard for the music to stand out in a mix, especially if someone is listening to a playlist featuring your music. 

To make a good first impression, your music needs to sound HUGE with lots of clarity.

That’s what mastering does.

And if you’re serious about being a working musician and you want your music to standout from the crowd, you’ll focus some time and energy into learning how to master like a pro


ELECTRIKJAM Presents..

Mastering 101: The Complete Beginner’s Framework

This step-by-step framework is the exact process I use to master music professionally. It is the culmination of 20+ years of experience, condensed down into a single, easy to follow workflow


What You’ll Learn

Simple To Follow, Step-by-Step Process For Professional Audio Mastering

No Expensive Software Required, You Can Do It All Using Free Tools

Achieve consistent volume levels that match industry standards

Perfect for beginners or anyone that wants to learn the subtle art of audio mastering (without spending thousands of dollars)

[LEARN FROM A PRO]

Master Your Music To A Professional Standard Even if You’re A Total Beginner

This step-by-step framework is the exact process I use to master music professionally. It is the culmination of 20+ years of experience, condensed down into a single, easy to follow workflow

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