In Are You Listening?—an iZotope video series—professional mastering engineer and iZotope Education Director Jonathan Wyner guides you through audio mastering principles like critical listening, how to set up your room, and using techniques like EQ, compression, and limiting in mastering. Learn mastering fundamentals and tips and tricks with Ozone.
In Episode 1, learn what audio mastering is. Practice your skills at home by downloading a free trial of Ozone, iZotope's mastering software!
What is mastering?
Mastering is a game of inches. Half a dB makes a monumental difference, and as your last chance to edit a track before sending it out into the world, it's important to get it right.
Mastering uses a lot of the same tools one uses when mixing., but there is a difference. You EQ, compress, use limiters, and change levels. But despite the similarities, it's important to inhabit a mastering mindset, separate from mixing. Just as it's challenging to produce your own vocals, it's challenging to master and mix simultaneously (even subconsciously!).
Level vs. loudness
A level is how high the average is in a given meter in your DAW, while loudness happens in your brain. Always consider whether the level is right for your distribution platform (for example, are you mastering for SoundCloud or Spotify?).