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Mastering


The Basics Steps of Mastering are:

• Carefully listen to all the tracks and notate any differences in level and EQ between them.
• Apply EQ, compression and level changes to help balance tracks with each other as a whole.
• Cleanup unwanted track noise and make smooth "in and out" fades between all songs.
• Setup the spacing between songs for the smoothest feel during the transition between songs.
• Do final check of EQ, compression & level between tracks before laying down the Master CD File.
• Apply "finalization compression" to help set the final volume and run the "Master CD File."
• Insert ISRC codes, UPC codes, Artist name, Album Title, Song Titles & determine song lengths.
• Print out J Card, CD label and disc documentation information for delivery to duplication plant.
• Assemble Master Audio Reference CDs & create the DDP file for delivery to the duplication plant.

The master that is created will be the source from which all of your CD copies will be produced, so it is very crucial that you entrust your audio mastering to a trusted, experienced professional.

Laughing Tiger Music Production Studio's head music producer / engineer Ari Rios has been mastering records for over 15 years. He has mastered CD's in a wide range of styles, for both indie and major label clients such as Sony, BMG, Windham Hill and Motown. These years of experience have taught Ari that a different approach to mastering is needed for different styles.

People over the years have asked "what exactly goes on during mastering?" OK, here's the scoop.

In mastering, the primary goal is to adjust the tonal quality and volume of each track so that the individual mixes flow evenly from one track to the other and the project feels cohesive as a whole.

I have found that it is always helpful to get a sense of what you want your project to sound like. I request that you provide mastered CDs to use as a reference as this will help us understand the overall sound and volume that you're shooting for far more clearly than words alone can convey.

My first step in mastering is to put the tracks in the order they will appear on the final product. I then listen to all of the tracks as a whole, notating any differences in level and EQ along with any problems like excess sibilance or noise. Next, I apply EQ, compression, level changes and any other processing that is needed to insure that the album has a cohesive sound throughout.

After that, I make sure that each track transitions smoothly to the next by adjusting the spacing between the tracks and applying fade-ins and fade-outs. Once the spacing has been set, I do a final check of the EQ and levels between all the tracks, fine tuning and making any final changes.

After the overall sound and spacing is double checked, I then run the "Master CD File", applying "finalization compression". This step insures that your record is as loud as others in your genre.

The final step is to assemble your Duplication Master CD and your reference CDs for delivery. This is where we insert the ISRC codes, UPC codes, Artist Name, Album Title and Song Titles. This step is what is called "Authoring" and is done using "Soundblade" from "Sonic Solutions." From this file we burn your "Master Audio Disc" and "DDP" files which will be used in duplication.

Let's meet and give your project a listen. I guarantee that you'll be thrilled with your final master!

One look and listen and you'll be a believer! Just call (415) 485-5765 and come check us out. We are right off highways 580 and 101 at 1101A East Francisco Blvd. San Rafael, CA 94901 It's just 20 minutes from Oakland or San Francisco to our door and the quality is worth the drive!

"I take all my experience, knowledge and natural intuition into the studio for every mastering project that I work on and give each project the individual treatment it needs to sound its best."
Ari Rios ~ Producer, Engineer

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