There’s an often repeated cliche that mastering is a kind of ‘dark art’ – a deep and impenetrable science that is beyond the capabilities of mere mortals. However, given the amount of tutorials, courses and mass-market plugins out there, all designed to tackle the mastering process, this is clearly nonsense.
In recent years, more and more artists are starting to master their own tracks. Take Four Tet, for example, who claims that none of his recent albums have been passed by a mastering engineer. In fact, there are now several online services out there, such as LANDR and BandLab, which claim to be able to master your tracks automatically, using algorithms in place of professional mastering experts.
That’s not to say that the process doesn’t require a fair amount of skill and expertise, but given the power of modern DAWs and plugins, these are now techniques that even the most cash-strapped producer can get to grips with at home. Head for this issue’s cover feature, on page 28, and let’s dive into some essential mastering tools and techniques...