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 13, 2020

3-Credit Tuition

$2,760

Non-Credit Tuition

$2,560

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Take the self-assessment quiz to check your readiness for this material.

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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Syllabus

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

  • The Mastering Studio
  • Level: Measurements and Definitions 
  • Distribution Format Research
  • Streaming Distribution Platform Research
  • Distribution Format Analysis
  • On Mastering: Bob Olhsson
  • Assignment 1: Level Roadmap from Mix to Master

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

  • Setting up a Reference Level
  • Diving into Genre
  • Classical
  • Jazz, Acoustic Rock, Singer/Songwriter
  • Rock
  • Pop
  • On Loudness: Ian Shepherd
  • Assignment 2: Aesthetic Roadmap from Mix to Master

Lesson 3: Processing Choices, Types, and Sequencing

  • Setting Up Your Signal Processing Chain
  • EQ Types, Uses, and Behaviors
  • On EQing: Darcy Proper
  • Compressor Types, Uses, and Behaviors
  • On Compression: Gavin Lurssen
  • Limiter Types, Uses, and Behaviors
  • Assignment 3: Mastering Treatments: EQ and Compression

Lesson 4: Sonic Adventures in Mastering, Nonlinear Processors, Audio Repair, and File Delivery

  • Sonic Adventures in Mastering
  • Nonlinear Processors: When to Use Them and Why
  • On Mastering: Paul Blakemore
  • Introduction to Audio Repair
  • Types of Audio Repair
  • Delivery Formats
  • Assignment 4: Mastering Treatments: Tape, Tube, and Triode 

Lesson 5: High PSR: Mastering Classical, Chamber, and Symphonic Programs

  • Evaluate Timbre, Panning, and Correlation
  • Loudness and RMS Level Strategies
  • Editing
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation in Downloads/Streaming and Disc-Based Presentation
  • On Mastering: David Bowles
  • Assignment 5: Master Two Classical Pieces 

Lesson 6: Medium PSR: Mastering Acoustic and Electric Jazz and Singer/Songwriter

  • Evaluate Timbre, Panning, and Correlation
  • Exploring Level, Dynamics, and Loudness
  • EQ, Timbre, and Low Frequency Balance
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation
  • Assignment 6: Master Four Pieces

Lesson 7: Higher Integrated LUFS: Mastering Rock

  • Evaluate Timbre, Panning, and Correlation
  • Exploring Level, Dynamics, and Loudness
  • EQ, Timbre, and Low-Frequency Balance in Rock
  • Evaluate Track Spacing and Metadata Implementation
  • On Mastering: Adam Ayan
  • Assignment 7: Master Three Rock Tracks

Lesson 8: Even Higher Integrated LUFS: Mastering Modern Pop

  • Pop Masters of the Masters: Evaluate Timbre, Panning, and Correlation
  • Understanding the Tradeoffs and Loudness Potential
  • Translation to Playback Systems
  • The Loudness Wars: Looking Back to Look Ahead
  • Assignment 8: Master Three Pop Tracks 

Lesson 9: Mastering EDM and Preparing for Delivery

  • EDM Level, Tonal Balance, and Correlation
  • EDM Mastering Strategies: Clipping, Imaging, and Gain Staging
  • Editing and Automation in Mastering
  • Track Spacing and Editing in Electronica
  • On Mastering: Luca Pretolesi
  • Assignment 9: Master One EDM Track

Lesson 10: Final Project Week 1

  • Outcomes: Choosing Your References and Target Levels
  • Workflow: Iteration and Commitment
  • Thinking about Deliverables: Sample Rate and Bit Depth
  • Version 1: The First 90 Percent Takes 50 Percent of the Time
  • Assignment 10: Final Project: Version 1

Lesson 11: Final Project Week 2

  • Delivering and Receiving Feedback
  • Incorporating Feedback
  • Delivery: WAVs, DDP, Downsample, and Transcode
  • Delivery: Mastering for Vinyl and MP3 Transcoding
  • Dither
  • Metadata
  • Assignment 11: Final Project

Lesson 12: Archival, Restoration, and Automated Mastering

  • Archival
  • High Resolution and Fidelity
  • Restoration
  • The Future of Mastering

Requirements




Prerequisites

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)
  • A subscription to the streaming service TIDAL

*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

  • 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 

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

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.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Advanced Audio/Music Mastering: Theory and Practice can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Major

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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