Audio Mastering Techniques

Authors: Marc-Dieter Einstmann, Jonathan Wyner | Course Code: OMPRD-342

Mastering is the final, critical, step in the post-production process. Although considered by many to be a somewhat mysterious art, the truth is that audio mastering is a process that relies on a combination of real world experience and knowledge. Audio Mastering Techniques, authored by two working professionals with a total of 40 years of mastering experience, provides you with a thorough understanding of what is involved in creating a final master recording ready for duplication, replication, or online distribution.

The course begins with a discussion of acoustics, monitoring, and the digital audio "nuts and bolts" particular to the mastering process. You'll learn how to make a proper assessment of what needs to be done to a piece of music to fulfill the artist's vision and expectation, and engage in a step-by-step process of optimization, using equalizers and compressors, to reach that vision.

You'll learn the specific tools used to modify, enhance, and correct the sound of a recording. Topics include applying signal processing to enhance audio material, noise reduction techniques, advanced editing techniques such as album sequencing and manual gain riding, the importance of quality control, and disc / electronic delivery preparation. You'll also delves into other popular techniques in the field of audio mastering, including enhancing the stereo field of a master, and cutting edge filtering and fading techniques.

Throughout the course you'll study examples of effective mastering techniques and engage in step-by-step exercises that allow you to apply these techniques. You'll work with Izotope's RX and Ozone plug-ins, which you will use in conjunction with your DAW.

Audio Mastering Techniques will equip you with a professional level understanding of the day-to-day mastering process, which will enable you to create a level matched, hi-fidelity, error free, and duplication-ready master with associated documentation.

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

Apply appropriate signal processing to enhance audio materialUse advanced editing, noise reduction, and album sequencing techniquesUnderstand quality control and how to ensure the quality of a masterImplement the red book standard for CD preparationPrepare material for electronic delivery formats such as MP3 and AACProvide proper documentation to finalize the mastering job

Berklee Online and iZotope have come together to offer an educational discount on Ozone and RX software. Once you enroll in the course, you will be able to purchase software at the discounted price through the Required Course Materials link on your My Home page. Early enrollment is encouraged to ensure software delivery prior to the start of the course.

Lesson 1: Monitoring

Monitor TypesHeadphones vs. SpeakersMonitoring LevelsFletcher-Munson CurvesD/A Converters

Lesson 2: Digital Audio, Metering, and Volume

Digital Audio ReviewFixed vs. Floating Point DSPMetering: Spectrum, Correlation, DitheringL/R Balance, Clipping, and Inter-Sample PeaksApparent vs. Absolute VolumeRMS vs. Peak Metering

Lesson 3: Monitoring Functions, A/B Listening, and the Processing Chain

Clocking and JitterMonitor SwitchersM/S ProcessingA/B and A/B/C ListeningTypical Mastering Signal and Processing ChainsD/A/D Chain

Lesson 4: Equalization, Part 1

Corrective vs. Creative EQMatching Spectral ContentEQ TypesShelves, Peaks, and FiltersDynamic EQEQ Effects

Lesson 5: Equalization, Part 2

M/S EQ and base-width controlDirection SensingTightening Up the BassElliptical EQBaxandall EQThe Mastering Mindset

Lesson 6: Dynamics Processing, Part 1

Dynamic Ranges of Musical GenresCompressor ControlsThreshold and RatioAttack, Release, and Time ConstantsAuto-Gain CompensationAuto-SmoothingRMS vs. Peak Detection

Lesson 7: Dynamics Processing, Part 2

The Loudness WarsDe-essing to Reduce SibilanceSide-Chain Compression TechniquesMulti-band CompressionUpward ExpansionParallel CompressionAnalog vs. Digital LimitersWhere to Place Limiters in the Mastering Chain

Lesson 8: Removal of Noise and Artifacts

Common Noise SourcesExpanders and FadesFiltering TechniquesRemoving Impulsive NoiseSpot De-Essing and Plosives

Lesson 9: Advanced Editing Techniques

Editing Elements into SequenceRestoring fade tailsFade TechniquesEditing Cross FadesGain Riding and Musical EditsSegue EditingFade Workflow

Lesson 10: Bits, Dither, and SR Conversion

Bit Depth 16/24/32/48Float vs. Fixed-Point ResolutionDither TypesSample Rate ConvertersSR Conversion Tools

Lesson 11: QC, PQ Coding, CD Replication, and Data Integrity

Release and Delivery Formats/MediaCD Meta DataDisc Description Protocol (DDP)AAC and MP3 encoding techniquesOnline DatabasesID3 TagsData Integrity and Replication IssuesQuality Control (QC) and Null-Tests

Lesson 12: Finalizing the Mastering Job

Starting a New ProjectProper Labeling of Source MaterialsFinalizing a Mastering ProjectArchiving Settings for Session Recall and MediaFLAC vs. DSD Archival FormatsMagnetic vs. Optical MediaArchiving Responsibilities

Marc-Dieter Einstmann

Author & Instructor

Marc-Dieter Einstmann is the chief mastering engineer at Einstmann Mastering Studios, based in Hamburg and New York. Since 1987 he has worked for artists and producers, such as Dave Stewart, Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jagger, Mary J. Blige, David Lee Roth, Notorious B.I.G., Dru Hill, Doug E. Fresh, D’Angelo, Tricky, Depeche Mode, KD Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Costello, The Neptunes, Frankie Knuckles, Flood (U2), David Kahne (Paul McCartney), Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson), Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails), Imogen Heap and Cindy Lauper, among others.

Einstmann’s mastering career began in 1997 in Boston, where he founded Sonic Silver Mastering, working on releases by local and international award-winning artists in New England. During this time, he also served as an assistant professor in the Music Production and Engineering department at Berklee College of Music, before relocating himself and Sonic Silver to New York City. From 2002-2005 he was a mastering engineer at Sterling Sound, a large mastering facility in New York City. In addition to mastering, he has worked as a freelance recording and mix engineer, as well as taught at the Institute of Audio Research and SAE. He has been involved in audio post-production, location recording, and live broadcast, in addition to live sound and studio installations. Playing trumpet, drums and percussion, he holds bachelor’s honours degrees in classical music from Keele University in England and in music production and engineering from Berklee College of Music.

More information:

Jonathan Wyner

Author & Instructor

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.

More information:

Critical Listening or equivalent knowledge and experience. You should have a good understanding of the principles of digital audio, and be comfortable using a digital audio workstation (DAW). Some experience with using compressors and equalizers is strongly recommended. To meet the DAW proficiency requirements, you may benefit from taking any of the following courses: Producing Music with Logic, Producing with Pro Tools or Producing Music with Cubase.

Audio Mastering - Essential Practices by Jonathan Wyner

This book introduces the techniques and tools of audio mastering, suitable for commercial and home/project studio environments. Technical discussions address gear, studio setup, methodologies, goals, and other considerations for making tracks sound their best, individually and in relationship to other tracks.

Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science by Bob Katz

One of the most famous mastering engineers has written the definitive work on mastering, and in the process has created an indispensable resource for anyone working with audio.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA digital audio workstation (DAW) for importing, editing, and saving audio. Viable programs include Digital Performer, Logic Pro, Cubase, SONAR, and Pro Tools. The DAW must support RTAS/ AudioSuite, VST, MAS, Audio Unit, or DirectX plug-in formatsiZotope Ozone mastering plug-iniZotope RX5 audio restoration plug-in

Berklee Online and iZotope have come together to offer an educational discount on Ozone and RX software. Once you enroll in the course, you will be able to purchase software at the discounted price through the Required Course Materials link on your My Home page. Early enrollment is encouraged to ensure software delivery prior to the start of the course.

Your computer must meet the minimum hardware and software requirements for your DAWA monitor speaker system, preferably full rangeHigh-quality headphonesAn SPL meter is recommended


Got a question? Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

Contact an Advisor

Mon-Thu, 9AM-8PM ET
Fri, 9AM-5PM ET
Call or Text Us at

Int'l: +1-617-747-2146

Create an Account

Secure form. Berklee Online will not sell or rent your email address to third parties. Our privacy policy.
Sample a Lesson