Advanced Audio/Music Mastering: Theory and Practice

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Authored by Jonathan Wyner

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Course Code: OMPRD-662

Next Term Starts January 14

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

In Advanced Audio/Music Mastering: Theory and Practice, you will develop your analytical and practical skills to be able to tackle the demanding signal processing challenges presented to professional mastering engineers. You will learn theory and techniques to deliver high-quality masters in a variety of genres, for various platforms, including vinyl, lossy codecs, and streaming platforms. You will also learn to analyze audio according to its technical attributes and musical style. You will evaluate audio according to audience and market expectations; then develop and execute strategies to adapt mixed audio to fit those expectations, and learn to output flawless masters for various distribution channels.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Create flawless masters for various distribution channels
  • Synthesize mastering strategies to solve signal-processing challenges
  • Select techniques to deliver high-quality masters
  • Properly analyze audio according to its technical attributes and musical style
  • Evaluate audio according to audience and market expectations
  • Develop and execute strategies to adapt mixed audio to fit those expectations
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Platform Analysis of Fs, Bits, Level, File Type, Codec, Analysis of Level

  • Level: Measurements and Definitions 
  • Distribution Format Research
  • Streaming Distribution Platform Research
  • Distribution Format Analysis
  • Assignment 1: Mastering to Distribution Standards for CD/AAC/Vinyl/Loudness Normalized Streaming

Lesson 2: Analysis of Musical Examples According to Aesthetic and Established Technical Benchmarks 

  • Classical 
  • Jazz, Acoustic, and Electric
  • Rock
  • Pop/EDM
  • Assignment 2: Mastering to Desirable Targets for the Associated Genres (Role of EQ, Dynamics Processing, and Imaging Tools)

Lesson 3: EQ Matching and EQ Ear Training

  • EQ Match 1
  • EQ Match 2
  • EQ Project 1
  • Survey of EQ Tools, Their Uses, and Artifacts
  • Assignment 3: Mastering Treatments: Tonal and EQ Changes

Lesson 4: Compression Matching and Ear Training Exercise

  • Compression Match 1
  • Compression Match 2
  • Compression Project 1
  • Survey of Compression Tools, Their Uses, and Artifacts
  • Assignment 4: Mastering Treatments: Dynamics and Compression  

Lesson 5: Practice: High and Low LRA Values

  • Analysis: Maximizing Perceptual Loudness
  • Practical: Maximizing Perceptual Loudness
  • Analysis: Maximizing Level
  • Practical: Maximizing Level
  • Assignment 5: Research and Analysis: Tradeoffs Between Level and Musical Values

Lesson 6: High LRA: Mastering Classical Program, Chamber, and Symphonic Program

  • Measuring LRA across Multiple Programs
  • Measure LUFS and Peak Levels
  • Evaluate Timbre/Panning and Correlation
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • Assignment 6: Master Three Classical Pieces

Lesson 7: Medium LRA: Mastering Jazz, Acoustic and Electric

  • Measuring LRA Across Multiple Programs
  • Measure LUFS and Peak Levels
  • Evaluate Timbre/Panning and Correlation
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • Assignment 7: Master Three Jazz/Acoustic Pieces

Lesson 8: Mastering Rock

  • Measuring LRA Across Multiple Programs
  • Measure LUFS and Peak Levels
  • Evaluate Timbre/Panning and Correlation
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • Assignment 8: Master Three Rock Pieces

Lesson 9: Low LRA Mastering Pop

  • Measuring LRA Across Multiple Programs
  • Measure LUFS and Peak Levels
  • Evaluate Timbre/Panning and Correlation
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • Assignment 9: Master Three Pop Tracks

Lesson 10: Mastering EDM/Dance for Clubs

  • Measuring LRA Across Multiple Programs
  • Measure LUFS and Peak Levels
  • Evaluate Timbre/Panning and Correlation
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • Assignment 10: Master Three EDM/Dance Tracks

Lesson 11: Final Project Part 1

  • Track Sequence and Mastering Treatments
  • Group Feedback
  • Dither
  • SRC (Sample Rate Conversion)
  • Assignment 11: Final Project

Lesson 12: Final Project Part 2

  • Group Feedback
  • Select Dithering and SRC Tools
  • QC Report
  • Archival

Requirements

Required Textbooks

None required


Recommended Textbooks

Audio Mastering: Essential Practices, by Jonathan Wyner, Berklee Press

Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science, by Bob Katz, Focal Press


Software Requirements

  • DAW - Samplitude, Sequoia, Pyramix, Studio One, Wavelab preferred
    • Pro Tools, Logic Pro, or equivalent accepted
  • iZotope Ozone 8 Advanced*
  • iZotope RX Standard* 
  • iZotope Insight2
  • Hofa DDP Maker (if DDP function not present in student's DAW)

*included in required iZotope Music Production Suite Bundle

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Hardware Recommendation

  • Sennheiser HD 600 headphones (or equivalent open-back headphones)
  • Grace m900 D/A headphone amplifier 

Instructors

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Author

Jonathan Wyner is an associate professor in the Music Production and Engineering department at Berklee College of Music and owner of M Works Mastering Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Throughout his career, he has worked with artists both well-known and more esoteric, including James Taylor, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Kiri Te Kanawa, Pink Floyd, Cream, Richard Stoltzman, Miles Davis, Nirvana, Aimee Mann, Juliana Hatfield, Tiny Tim, Snakefinger, John Cage, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Wyner mastered the first interactive CD game ("Play It by Ear"), the first recorded opera ("Madame Butterfly," recorded in 1912 by the BBC), and what's believed to be the longest CD (80:32 for Razormaid Records). He holds a bachelor's degree in French horn and composition from Vassar College.

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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