The point of this post is to go through a cheap way of mastering , for those with a low budget that want to get a demo mastered before sending it to labels or for net labels looking for a way to master artists music at a reasonable cost.
The term Mastering is given to the process of taking an already mixed down audio file and preparing it for distribution for multiple formats such as CD, Vinyl and Streaming. During this process tools such as limiting, compression and equalisation are used to ensure the consistency between multiple tracks on an album, where your music will sound good on all platforms such as headphones, monitors and a sound system in a venue.
A thing to remember is that Mastering wont fix a bad Mix , its essential to work on your mix down while creating a good stereo image. I have a post on some mixing tips , which can be read here.
Mastering on a Budget
There are many ways to get your music mastered with a mastering engineer being the best option available , generally expensive ( around $50 a track ) but being able to communicate with an engineer during the process is invaluable along with the results achieved.
One of these methods is the use of online mastering services, where a website will allow you to drag and drop your music and get your audio file ready for distribution within minutes.
CloudBounce is one of these services that uses a mastering engine to both analyse and apply several processing tools, such as a compressor , limiter and stereo imaging to your music , which also allows you to tweak your music several times before finalising.
24 bit Wav and 320kbps MP3 will then be available to you for distribution, although I personally dont see any point in mastering down to MP3 as it is not a lossless format.
With this service , your first track will be free then you can get 5 tracks mastered for under $10 or an infinite amount mastered for under $30 a month or $199 for the year (these options would be ideal for Net Labels on a budget).
Online services wont replace an actual mastering engineer but CloudBounce gives great results on a budget, its worth signing up and getting your first track mastered for free , id you are happy with the results then you can get an additional five tracks done for under $10.
Free Mastering Plug in
A simple master can be achieved in Ableton using an effects chain, which contains tools which are used by mastering engineers , this Ableton mastering tool is available for a free download , its ideal for mastering stems in preparation for a live set or getting your tracks as close to being mastered as possible. The To master in Ableton , simply drag and drop the effect into you master channel.
I can send this effects rack to anyone for free if they want, just leave a comment below.
My next post will be a tutorial and free download on another Audio Visual device for Ableton Live.