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In the world of music production, mastering is the final cherry on top of the recording process: in this stage, the song is fine-tuned and prepped for replication and broadcast. A mastering engineer can be compared to a photographer who specializes in image retouching: they manipulate the track using different tricks and plugins to get it to sound its very best.

In short: mastering is like Photoshop for audio.

According to audio website Production Advice, the following steps are done in the mastering phase:

Just like a photographer that turns a model into an airbrushed cartoon, it is easy to go overboard with these tools. If you’re not too familiar with the process of mixing and mastering as an engineer, you may want to hire a professional.

Full disclosure: I use a version of the mastering channel strip created in Logic Pro, customized to my liking. Don’t be afraid to have presets: you will have to tweak each time to fit the song you’re working on, but presets will considerably cut down your prep time.

If you’re an autodidact like me, you can read up on how to master your own records using the resources below:

Orondé

Orondé Jenkins is a multidisciplinary artist and media consultant based in Nashville. No Average Journey was born out of his desire to help artists grow in their lives and careers.