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What is music mastering?

The term "mastering" often confuses many people. It's not voodoo or magic, although I can see why people might think it is, but a skill that takes many years to perfect.

It is the last phase in the creation of a CD. Once the disc is mixed, the mastering engineer must place the songs in a certain order and equalize them (using signal processing) so that they sound as clear as possible. Finally, and most importantly, the mastering engineer must make all the songs on the CD sound like one cohesive unit, sonically equivalent to what is out on the market at the time. This is a difficult task, since an album is generally recorded at different times using several studios with varying temperatures. For a more in-depth explanation of mastering, please check out my articles on this site.