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Mastering within an audio editor program.

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  • Mastering within an audio editor program.

    I've always mastered my finished recordings within a wave editor program. I still use Cool Edit or Wavelab for these tasks because they are accurate and have VST compatibility so I can load my best plugins. I also use a different computer for mastering and see the job as mastering a completely different task from mixing.

    In case you haven't got a dedicated editor program for mastering, you may want to try one of these 25 free editing programs. I haven't tried any of these but something like Wavosour with its VST plugin compatibility may do the trick. There are others mostly for MP3 which may be OK for splicing up LP recording conversions to digital, but for the most part MP3 stuff is amateur consumer level stuff that lacks resolution so using VST plugins wont be of much use.

    The trick to mastering is you keep your sample rates the same or higher then what you had tracking and mixing, then mix it to a stereo wave file. From there you move it into an editor program for your final polishing and bringing it up to commercial volume and quality levels. Done properly you can make what was otherwise a decent demo quality song sound like a store bought commercial recording. Even if you aren't that good at it right off, it will teach you many things you are doing right and wrong when mixing.

    3 critical tools are usually involved in getting a good master, EQ, Multiband, and then a Brick wall limiter, used in that order. The EQ corrects the overall frequency balance, the multiband evens up the dynamic punch at specific frequency ranges, and the limiter brings up the track volume to commercial levels. In order for those tools to work right, your mixdown cant be too hot or you wont have the headroom to properly use the mastering tools. Heres a tutorial on mastering you can use within an audio editor program. I've used this particular process for many years and it works great. You don't always have to use all the tools if you have a really good mixdown but the limiter should always be used before CD burning. The editor program should allow you to down sample to CD quality of 16/44.1 and dither at the same time and even go straight to MP3 is you want.