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The Mastering Engineer’s Handbook, 3rd Edition by Bobby Owsinski

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1The Essence of Mastering

THE TERM “MASTERING” IS EITHER COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD OR SHROUDED IN MYSTERY, but the process is really pretty simple. Technically speaking, mastering is the intermediate step between mixing the audio and preparing it to be replicated or distributed. Up until recently, we would define it as follows:

Mastering is the process of turning a collection of songs into an album by making them sound like they belong together in tone, volume, and timing (spacing between songs).

That was the old way to explain mastering when the album was king. Since we live in a singles world today, the definition has to be tweaked for our current production flow. Let’s use this definition instead.

Mastering is the process fine-tuning the level, ...

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