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Mastering also known as 'pre-mastering' is the process of optimizing all individual frequency levels to meet 'industry standards'. It guarantees your final product will translate on all playback systems and not just the studio where the music was recorded in.
It is also a last chance to present the music production to a world wide listening audience as best as you possibly can. Professional mastering usually involves quality control and disc assembly to ensure compliance with all cd manufacturing requirements.
Some mild processing may also be required to adjust dynamics and frequency content, however, this process is for the most part source dependent and thus the better your mix, the better the results.
In order to preserve and control quality, a mastering engineer needs a certain amount of headroom to operate his equipment, which is the space between the highest peak and the full scale digital limit or -0 dBFS.
And, while some engineers argue that mastering is primarily a function to ensure that all frequencies are properly balanced across the spectrum, others contend that it is also a function for adding a sonic stamp through the use of analog hardware.
Until today, there are 3 three methods to do mastering: 100% Digital, Hybrid (Digital & Analog) and Analog which is still used in vinyl record plants, albeit the idea of a full analog master is an illusion these days.
What is Mixtering?
Mixtering marries the creative aspect of music production with the technical aspects of mixing and mastering in one single processing environment. A mixtering engineer can be referred to as someone who mixes and masters audio using a mixing console or a mastering deck, usually in combination of a digital work station and/or a multi-track reel to reel tape system.
Mixtering engineers would normally work directly with all the elements of a mix or audio tracks, but the actual recording of all of tracks (or tracking) may also be included at the pre-production, production and post-production stages.
Mixtering can be applied to all individual tracks and elements of music recording, or just a few audio stems, usually in stereo or both, mono and stereo files.