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 material
  • Use advanced editing, noise reduction, and album sequencing techniques
  • Understand quality control and how to ensure the quality of a master
  • Implement the red book standard for CD preparation
  • Prepare material for electronic delivery formats such as MP3 and AAC
  • Provide 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 Types
  • Headphones vs. Speakers
  • Monitoring Levels
  • Fletcher-Munson Curves
  • D/A Converters

Lesson 2: Digital Audio, Metering, and Volume

  • Digital Audio Review
  • Fixed vs. Floating Point DSP
  • Metering: Spectrum, Correlation, Dithering
  • L/R Balance, Clipping, and Inter-Sample Peaks
  • Apparent vs. Absolute Volume
  • RMS vs. Peak Metering

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

  • Clocking and Jitter
  • Monitor Switchers
  • M/S Processing
  • A/B and A/B/C Listening
  • Typical Mastering Signal and Processing Chains
  • D/A/D Chain

Lesson 4: Equalization, Part 1

  • Corrective vs. Creative EQ
  • Matching Spectral Content
  • EQ Types
  • Shelves, Peaks, and Filters
  • Dynamic EQ
  • EQ Effects

Lesson 5: Equalization, Part 2

  • M/S EQ and base-width control
  • Direction Sensing
  • Tightening Up the Bass
  • Elliptical EQ
  • Baxandall EQ
  • The Mastering Mindset

Lesson 6: Dynamics Processing, Part 1

  • Dynamic Ranges of Musical Genres
  • Compressor Controls
  • Threshold and Ratio
  • Attack, Release, and Time Constants
  • Auto-Gain Compensation
  • Auto-Smoothing
  • RMS vs. Peak Detection

Lesson 7: Dynamics Processing, Part 2

  • The Loudness Wars
  • De-essing to Reduce Sibilance
  • Side-Chain Compression Techniques
  • Multi-band Compression
  • Upward Expansion
  • Parallel Compression
  • Analog vs. Digital Limiters
  • Where to Place Limiters in the Mastering Chain

Lesson 8: Removal of Noise and Artifacts 

  • Common Noise Sources
  • Expanders and Fades
  • Filtering Techniques
  • Removing Impulsive Noise
  • Spot De-Essing and Plosives

Lesson 9: Advanced Editing Techniques

  • Editing Elements into Sequence
  • Restoring fade tails
  • Fade Techniques
  • Editing Cross Fades
  • Gain Riding and Musical Edits
  • Segue Editing
  • Fade Workflow

Lesson 10: Bits, Dither, and SR Conversion

  • Bit Depth 16/24/32/48
  • Float vs. Fixed-Point Resolution
  • Dither Types
  • Sample Rate Converters
  • SR Conversion Tools

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

  • Release and Delivery Formats/Media
  • CD Meta Data
  • Disc Description Protocol (DDP)
  • AAC and MP3 encoding techniques
  • Online Databases
  • ID3 Tags
  • Data Integrity and Replication Issues
  • Quality Control (QC) and Null-Tests

Lesson 12: Finalizing the Mastering Job

  • Starting a New Project
  • Proper Labeling of Source Materials
  • Finalizing a Mastering Project
  • Archiving Settings for Session Recall and Media
  • FLAC vs. DSD Archival Formats
  • Magnetic vs. Optical Media
  • Archiving 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:

http://www.einstmannmastering.com


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:

http://www.m-works.com

Prerequisites

Completion of Critical Listening 1 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. 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: Pro Tools 101, Producing Music With Logic or Producing Music with Cubase.


Required Textbook

Audio Mastering: Essential Practices by Jonathan Wyner, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard


Recommended Textbook

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


Software Requirements

  • A 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 formats
  • iZotope Ozone mastering plug-in*
  • iZotope RX5 audio restoration plug-in*
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, or Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

*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.


Hardware Requirements

All Users

  • Your computer must meet the minimum hardware and software requirements for your DAW
  • A monitor speaker system, preferably full range
  • High-quality headphones
  • An SPL meter is recommended

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • Webcam

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Webcam

Comments

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Next Term Starts September 26


  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
    $1,479
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition
    $1,229

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