What is Mastering?

Frankly, it’s a question we get asked a lot! To help make sense of the mystical world that is audio mastering, we’ve put together a snappy infographic that outlines (some of) the basics of music mastering.

Click on the infographic, or head over to our What the $%!# is Mastering?! page to see the full image! For those who prefer old fashioned HTML text, just scroll down!

What the $%!# is Mastering?! - Infographic - Mojito Mastering, Toronto, Canada

Created by @MojitoMastering of Mojito Mastering


What The $%!# Is Mastering?! 

 “Mastering is the process of turning a collection of songs into a record by making them sound like they belong together in tone, volume, and timing”    –   Bob Owsinski

Makes Songs Balanced and Clear

Mixing adds EQ, effects, and adjusts volume levels to individual instruments within each song; making them sound balanced in relation to one another. Mastering takes all the songs within an album and makes them sound balanced as a body of work.

  • Mixes made as loud as possible without conceding quality
  • Volume levels and Tonal balance are evened out
  • Mixes are given more depth, punch, and clarity
  • EQ and Compression are applied


One Master to Rule Them All

After all your songs are mixed, mastering turns the final mixes into the “master”: the version of the album from which all other copies will be duplicated. This includes:

  • Fixing imperfections that may have been missed in the mix
  • Setting all the fades and the time between songs
  • Creating that master that can be formatted into different versions: CD, Mastered for iTunes, digital release, etc.


Why is Mastering Important?

  • Make your mixes sound louder and clearer. Audiences interpret these attributes as sounding “better”
  • All professionally released recordings are mastered. If you’re going to compete for airplay and audience attention you need to match on volume and quality
  • Balanced levels means you audience isn’t changing the volume for each song. It creates a smooth flow between songs that delivers an enjoyable listening experience
  • Radio stations, record labels, music supervisors, and audiences are used to hearing professionally mastered audio, and demand this level of quality
  • Makes the final version of the album sound great wherever it’s played: whether that’s on a stereo, your iPod headphones, or in a YouTube video

A Fresh Set of Ears

“When a guy writes a book, he doesn’t edit the book himself. He sends it off to an editor, and the editor reads it with a fresh set of eyes, just like a mastering engineer hears it with a fresh set of ears  –  Dave Collins

After spending a lot of time with their mixes, artists and engineers can sometimes lose perspective. A mastering engineer gives your songs an objective and professional second opinion.

Their finely tuned monitoring system can pick up details not heard elsewhere. This can correct and enhance the sonic presentation and tonal balance, and ensures the artist’s vision translates from the studio environment to the audience’s ears.


Brought to you by Mojito Mastering